Category Archives: Nora at home

Serendipity

I had a solid work week, the routine I like best. Get up, fiddle around, get to work, knock off, work out, have a glass of wine, think about dinner.
 
We had some ridiculously spring-time temps, then winter roared back. I believe my beloved tulip magnolia–my favorite early spring bloomer–is fried. The cold won’t hurt the daffodils popping up, and the forsythia will probably make it though–even if we get this winter storm and 10 inches of snow they’re warning us about.
 
But it’s still damn cold.
 
My lemon tree gave me a slice of summer. Only two lemons–one big, one small, but I just love having them. The tree needs a bigger pot, fresh soil–and may give me more fruit next time around. I need to get to that soon.
 
But at the moment, I’m busy with another gift.
 
12 years ago my pal Pat Gaffney let me know about a woman who bred Lab/Retriever mixes. She’d gone to check it out, and came home with Jolene. I went to check it out, and came home with Homer. Best dog ever.
 
A week or so ago, Pat struck up a conversation with a woman at her book club lunch. Pat’s been sad as she lost Joleen and her sweet Finney within three months of each other this winter. Pat said she and her husband were ready for another dog.
 
The woman told Pat about her daughter who with her husband has a farm in the area. Every year, with her family, Mary spends a month on St. Lucia, taking a good winter break. And for the past several years when down there, Mary’s worked with an organization that helps rescue, treat, neuter and place many of the strays on the island–so many poor little puppies. Every year, Mary brings back three or four of the puppies–now treated by a vet, fed, cared for. She fosters them while they adjust, then works to place them in forever homes.
 
That’s an amazing thing.
 
Pat contacted Mary, and the short version is she now has the perfectly adorable Louie. At the same time, she fell pretty hard for one of the other puppies, but they’d decided–and were firm–it was time for a smaller dog, and the other puppy wouldn’t qualify.
 
She emailed me, sent a picture. And that was that.
 
I contacted Mary. A little more magic came into play as it turned out Mary had to be about ten minutes from me yesterday. She could and would bring the pup, let him get acquainted with us and the big guys, and when she finished her business, she’d swing back by.
 
Not only was it pretty much love at first sight for me, but Parker and Pancho went into full body wags. Parker, especially, was insanely happy. The pup let it be known, straight off, he could handle himself, barking them back until he felt comfortable. He got comfortable pretty quick.
 

Atticus
He has sweet, soulful eyes, a cheerful nature, great curiosity and is really well-mannered. I named him Atticus. It just suits him.
 
He now follows Parker pretty much everywhere.
 

Getting to know Parker.
It’s been 12 years since I had a puppy–both Parker and Pancho came into our lives at age 3 and 2 respectively. It’s work. Countless trips out to Poop City a day–and in the dark. And thanks to this stupid turn in the weather, the cold. It was 17 degrees when I took Atticus out this morning at 5:30 by the clock–4:30 by my body clock. Thanks, Daylight Savings Time.
 
We’ve had more misses than hits with our first full day of housebreaking, but he’ll catch on. He’s a bright boy. You have to watch them, learn their tells–and make sure you provide lots of chew treats and toys. And try to keep the older dogs from stealing from the little guy.
 
Atticus will, no question, interrupt my work often for awhile–and I have to say, the book was rolling.
 
But it’s so worth it.
 
I wish I’d had a camera in my hand when Logan dropped by yesterday afternoon. His face just lit up–and Atticus bounded straight for him. Puppy, the boy thought. Boy, thought the dog. With equal delight.
 
We brought Homer’s dog bed up for Atticus. It’s a three dog night here now.
 

Three dog night.
We also rolled up the brand new rugs I just put down to set off the new upholstery. Better safe than sorry, and I’m confident Atticus will learn how things roll.
 
Clearly, he was meant to be ours, we were meant to be his.
 
It’s really lovely when a gift falls into your hands.
 
Atticus was being raised in a storm drain with his littermates, by a mama who was doing the best she could. Now he, and pups like Pat’s Louie, are healthy, safe and loved.
 

Louie and Atticus
We’re so grateful to Mary, who–also clearly–has a heart of gold, and the volunteers of St. Lucia Animal Protection Society. They care for the sick, the lost, the helpless, the neglected for the sake of caring. Bright blessings on them, and all who do this kind and important work.
 
It’s about time to take Atticus out to Poop City again. Hopefully we’ll hit. Either way, he’s home. His humans and his brothers couldn’t be happier.
Nora 

A Lot of Bits And Some Pieces

Just not much going on around here because it’s hibernation time.

Delighted to report that Logan–who’s grown another inch according to the Nana Hug-O-Meter and verified by measuring tape–scored a three-pointer to help his team win his basketball game. And Kayla–running the 3200 and the 4×800 relay–helped the Boonsboro Girls Indoor Track Team win the State Championship.

Kayla (left) in relay. Photo from HeraldMailMedia.com

Pretty sweet all around.

Meanwhile after work and workouts, I played (a little obsessively) with a Christmas gift from Jason and Kat. When we vacation together, we do fun panorama photos, with staging and considerable choreography. So for Christmas, they got me a jigsaw puzzle comprised of four of those panos. Fun, challenging and unique. And accomplished! Even if a piece appears to have gone missing from Sorento.

The perfect gift

I’m also thrilled my newly reupholstered living room furniture is now in place. And relieved it received potentially future interior designer Kayla’s approval. I like the cheerful, bright and warm look of it, and that I successfully played off the bird pillows I’m so fond of, and the gorgeous throw my agent brought me back from a trip to India.

Otherwise I’m deep into the book, socked in and happy to be so.

Since I’m here, I’m going to (once again) address a few points, as apparently there’s been a revival of chatter, misinformation and odd assertions on the internet.

Roarke is Roarke. Period. No, no, a thousand times no, he was not named Patrick after his despicable father. He is not, has never been a junior. He is very simply, now and forever–before and after and always–Roarke.

Readers dissatisfied with that are just going to have to accept it.

And just because Roarke rhymes with stork doesn’t equal baby. There will be no baby, biological, adopted, fostered, in dreams or conceived by Eve and Roarke in an alternate universe. (Also no to pregnancy scares which is just silly.) This is simply not going to happen for reasons I’ve explained many times. And no, Eve and Roarke will not babysit for Bella. Why in God’s name–seriously–would they? I really think Mavis and Leonardo can handle finding their own child care when necessary.

Eve will not find long-lost relations. This will not happen. Period. Done. Please??? And her father is DEAD. Really most sincerely dead. Doornail dead. Dead as Moses.

Supporting characters will not take the spotlight as Eve and/or Roarke are sidelined by injury, kidnapping, amnesia or alien abduction. They are, and will remain supporting characters.

I’m never, ever going to ask for reader input into storylines. I do not, as some believe, take reader suggestions and work them into a story, or adjust future stories, character traits, dialog or actions due to reader chatter (be it positive or negative). I write in my own little bubble, and that’s never going to change. If a reader feels ‘it’s time’ I shake things up, freshen things up, it may be that reader needs a break from my work. Nothing at all wrong with that.

In very practical terms, in logistical terms, by the time the chatter starts on a new book, the next is already written and with my publisher–and often the next two as the books are published every six months, and my personal process is to work about a year ahead of publication.

So the chatter doesn’t apply for me from a practical or a creative standpoint. Especially from the creative side.

As a writer, as a creator of a long-running series with recurring characters, I have to think both of the long view and each individual book. It all has to make sense within the world created, for the characters drawn, for the interpersonal relationships of those characters.

Trust me, I know the world and the characters.

Now, I’m going to drop myself into a different work with different characters. I like it in my bubble.

Nora

Nothing Much

 Which is what’s going on around here. I’m in hibernation mode–mostly–so it’s just work, work out, dinner, sleep. Repeat.
 
It’s what I call the best.
 
I do break hibernation a bit here and there. The kids are allowed into the cave. With Kayla off to run in States–go, team!– to end her track season, and Logan’s basketball season winding up, I may see a little more of them. That’s always a bright spot in this relentlessly gloomy winter.
 
As a sign they’re pretty grown up, what was once a toy room/guest room is now, after my purge, just a guest room. Nobody plays with the toys any more, so it’s time to pass them on. A little sad, but then I remember a couple weeks ago after a sleep-over, Kayla and I putting our makeup on together in the bathroom mirror. Every stage has its little pleasures.
 
Plus, I picked out new paint and bedding for the room. I’ll enjoy seeing it freshened up. And our Sarah who often bunks there after a book signing will, too.
 
And thanks to Sarah’s gift of an amaryllis kit, I have a gorgeous February bloom.
 
While I ‘appeared’ in New York to celebrate my first release with St. Martin’s Press, I didn’t have to leave home to do it. My amazing publisher projected the cover of Echoes In Death, front and back on the Flatiron Building. This is just too cool. It’s also pretty sweet having a publishing team who thinks of the just too cool–so I can stay home and write while they do innovating marketing, create fun contests and design fabulous covers.
 
I can’t count the ways I love my home with them, and the people in it.
[Note from Laura:  Because I DO leave my house in the winter, I drove to NYC to see this in person and “reported” on the display. https://www.facebook.com/jdrobbauthor/videos/10154891568726132/]
Last weekend I serious broke hibernation when BW and I went into Fit In Boonsboro to take their first Cize Alive class. I’m a big fan of Cize and of Shaun T, and use his DVDs regularly in my workouts at home. Knowing this, our manager Heidi gave me a little nudge to attend. And since my pal JoAnne planned to go, and added a second nudge, in I went. And BW decided to give it a go with me.
 
Fun stuff–fun, sweaty stuff–with a happy class and seriously energetic instructors in Heidi and Teri.
 

And we have video! Oddly, muscle memory goes to crap when you turn from the front of the room to the side to get the video, but I think the class pulled it off. I’m absolutely sure Fit’s members are going to love this addition.

The last break–and it will very likely be the very, very last until spring–hits today. If you’re a fan of NPR, you’ll have listened to Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. If you haven’t, you’re missing something. I’m delighted they invited me to be their guest on the Not My Job segment. I recorded it live Thursday night–by phone–and it airs today and tomorrow on NPR. You’ll want to check your local listings if you’re interested.  (And the segment is now online.) 
 
Now with the annual house purging done and nothing on my schedule for WEEKS that takes me out of the house, I’m hunkering down. I’m working on the second book of the new trilogy, and can say without hesitation, it’s sucking my brain dry by the end of every day. It’s hard, complicated writing, and I couldn’t be happier doing it.
 
So nobody better poke the bear until April!
Nora

 

Bright Spots

We’ve had a gray and gloomy couple of weeks. The sun took a winter holiday and left us in dim and dank for far too long. Cranky rain, a little ice storm, and late night a dusting of snow.
 
I’d rather have the snow. At least it’s white and bright.
 
I may not notice the gloom so much when I’m into the workday, but before and after–gloom, gloom, gloom.
 
Gotta find those bright spots elsewhere.
 
A friend gave me some narcissus she’d started forcing–so sweet. And now they’re tall and lovely and give me one of those little bright spots. Another gave me an amaryllis I’ve just started. Can’t wait to see it grow and bloom.
 
I’ve been purging every weekend–and leaving myself brighter spots as I go. I really have to stop buying scarves–I won’t, but I really should. And jackets. I try not to leave the house, so why do I need so many scarves and jackets?
 
And yet.
 
A big bright spot was dinner with the kids. Not much brighter than happy, chatty kids–and all with excellent report cards. As Nana pays for As, they’re currently rich, happy, chatty kids.
 
Kayla came to hang with me on Saturday–more bright–and I had bread dough rising, a pot roast with the trimmings on the simmer. Since I had the girl, why not purge the bathroom–and my makeup drawers? Much more fun with a girl pal, and one who loves samples (I had a ton) and makeup as much as I do. She left with a bag that made her happy, and I’m left with more organized drawers and baskets, making me happy.
Sourdough with sesame and poppy seeds.
Pot roast for BW.
And BW’s happy with a pot roast for dinner. Good deal all around.
 
More purging Sunday–one more weekend should do it–then . . . is that the sun? I believe it might be. For a minute or two anyway.
 
Logan asked me to come to his basketball game–and how could a Nana say no to that? BW had a photo commitment. He’d entered some photos in the annual contest the Washington County Museum holds. He’d meet us if he could.
 
Lots of games scheduled in the Boonsboro High School gym. I get there as one’s nearly over. Nice for Logan his mom’s parents came, too. And his sister and little brother. We can hang out on the bleachers until it’s his game time and form a solid rooting section. And just before, here come’s Grandda–feeling pretty bright himself as one of his photos took best in Washington County.
 
Logan’s not a big guy, but with his recent growth spurt–he’s just past the five foot mark now–I note Number Two is no longer the shortest on the court. He’s little, but he’s fast and feisty!

 

Nana’s action shot from the bleachers.
Ready for the rebound.
The kids are good, and I like that the bleachers clap or respond to good plays by both teams. Good sportsmanship starts with coaches and parents. These are good sports.
 
Logan’s team won, both teams played hard and well. More bright spots in him getting many rebounds–and scoring two baskets. Biggest bright spot of the day, his flushed and happy face when we hug goodbye.
 
Now the weekend’s behind me, and the workweek begins. In the gray, apparently. No sun out there today. So my bright spot will be the book that’s going pretty well, no need to put on a scarf or a jacket and–at least on this Monday morning–a reasonably well ordered house.
 
That’ll do. I hope if you’re caught under these gray skies you find the bright here and there.
Nora

Some Days Just Suck

When a day planned for the keyboard and the book ends up being spent in the car and in two dentist’s chairs–with the bonus of a root canal–it definitely sucks.
 
But I now know I can get from my pajamas into street clothes, slap on enough makeup as to not frighten small children in approximately five minutes. When the goal is to make an emergency dentist appointment at an office forty minutes away (if no slow pokes hog the road in front of me), with fifty minutes to make it with a banging tooth, it can be done.
 
I’m grateful my guy squeezed me in so fast, and when the issue required the specialist, they booked me an appointment the same day. Enough time to get to the pharmacy in Boonsboro to fill the Rx for antibiotics–and pop the first of those suckers in the parking lot. Enough time to consider running back home to get the phone I left, in my rush, on the kitchen counter, then scrap that and live dangerously.
 
So a couple hours poking around at Turn The Page before driving back to Hagerstown, and into another dentist chair. But got the four tubs of books signed while I was there.
 
I don’t like needles–who does?–but I’m thinking: Jab that thing in there and numb this bitch. And ahhh, numbness=relief of pain. And the endless drilling will mean fix. This is not my first root canal, and I try to find my Zen. Not an easy task, but you gotta try.
 
Six and a half hours after my mad dash out of the house, I’m home again. Yay.
 
I find it almost inevitable that a crazy tooth thing will explode on me over a weekend. Is this a test of character? I’d like to skip it next time.
 
However, on Saturday it was just sore and annoying, with my plan to call for help on Monday morning. It wasn’t bad enough I skipped my workout. In fact the workout was a nice distraction. Domestic stuff also distracted. Time to shovel out the rest of the holiday stuff, start putting the house back together.
 
I’m having my living room furniture reupholstered–Kayla is pleased with me here–so my empty living room echoes.
 
With my house back in shape, and my man preparing to have an evening with football, I get myself ready for A Night With Nora at the inn.
 

We’re going to do a little meet and greet over wine and cheese, then a Q&A, then some photos. An easy, fun evening–despite the crap weather. It’s warm and cozy at the inn, so who cares about the ugly, chilly rain spitting outside?

A rapt audience.
Nancy and Nora.
Group shot — though Nancy had gone upstairs.
I think we all had fun. Enough I’ll definitely consider doing this again. We had husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, girl pals–such a nice, happy mix of people. And the ice held off, so driving home wasn’t bad at all.
 
However, waking up before dawn with a tooth banging like a hammer? Not fun. Working out distracted, a little, and I started my annual purge. Gotta keep the mind off the banging! I hit my One More Room, which is always satisfying. Then my shoe closet. I think my friends who wear size seven will be pleased.
 
I decide to make soup because I know I’m going to need it.
 
Kayla has her State champion cross-country team here for a little celebration–and the surprise of State Champ jackets Nana and Grandda bought. In rural area schools, especially, football gets all the bucks. These girls ran hard, and deserve their rewards.
 
I can hear them chattering and laughing down in the family room–this is after a scavenger hunt outside, and a trip from here down to the mailbox at the start of our lane. A quarter mile. The coaches come up to thank me while I’m cooking–and happily say they expect Kayla to use that quarter mile for training over the summer.
 
The team gets to swim, eat pizza and snacks, enjoy each other. These are, seriously, delightful girls.
 
I pop Motrin–and actually consider taking one of BW’s pain meds. Sanity comes back when I calculate he’s got fourteen inches and about ninety pounds on me. I’ll stick with Motrin and add some wine to that.
 
Can’t pop the Motrin for another four hours, but you can always pour another glass of wine. I do.
 
Colt comes up to hang with me. He’s had enough of girls. Nana doesn’t count! So he eats his pizza at the counter while I cook, and distracts me from the banging.
 
The girls come up to give me a framed picture of the champs. I’d just told BW I wanted to get a picture, and boom–wish granted. And they’ve all signed the mat inside the frame. I love this, a lot.
 
I’ll say again, absolutely delightful girls with caring, devoted coaches. Kayla chose well–and we’re told qualified to run in the County meet (she’s doing indoor track over the winter) this Friday.
 
Run, Kayla, run!
 
When the soup’s simmering and the house is quiet again, I decide to get into my pjs and watch bedroom tv. Actually fall asleep for about twenty minutes. Pain is lessened. I know–from experience–this means the abscess is leaking, relieving the pressure. I don’t really care as the pain’s gone from ringing the bell at ten to about a five. I’ll take it. And the soup BW brings me on a tray.
 
So a crappy, annoying weekend can still have it’s high points and bright spots. And now it’s in my rearview mirror. Bye-bye!
 
My jaw is sore and tender this morning, but that’ll pass. And there’s always wine at the end of the day! It’s gloomy out–the world outside my office window is gray and brown. I don’t have to go out into it. Instead, I’m going inside a story–the best distraction ever. And may just write in my pjs all day.
 
Best job in the world!
Nora

2017

It’s here. All new, 365 blank pages waiting to be written–and won’t that be fun?

Around here we ended the book of 2016 with friends and family, cooking and chopping and stirring for our annual New Year’s Day open house feast. For me New Year’s Eve starts early. Time to get those red beans I soaked overnight on the simmer with a ham hock, spices peppers and onions, and let’s add some wine to that water. Eggs to boil for later deviling. Can’t forget that old standard green bean casserole, but lets add some grated cheddar this year. Keep those herbs and spices out for a whole buncha ground round for meatballs.

Laura arrives in time to help roll 151 meatballs–I counted this year–and Sarah and Kayla are close behind. With a kitchen full of helping hands and girl power three dozen eggs are peeled, veggies peeled, chopped, sliced for roasting. Kayla makes brownies for the trifle, and my pop’s bread pudding.

Sarah and Laura at the Waldorf salad chopping portion of the day.

Kay;a on bread pudding duty.

And here are Kat and Jason with more supplies and more helping hands. My men head down to hang the gorgeous new sign by our bridge before they run out to get ice for all the coolers we’ll stock in the morning with soft drinks, beer, wine.

The new sign.

They have manly work to do, and I’m more than happy to be in the kitchen with my girls. There are two big-ass hams to bake, a million more veggies to chop for the crudite–and Kat’s got a design in mind for that. She is Kat, after all.

Champagne for the big girls and ginger ale for Kayla as we work through the afternoon. Chop, chop, chop fruit for a Waldorf salad. Girl pals are the best of the best.

Please keep those dogs out of my kitchen! Especially after we discover Parker has snatched what was left of the now discarded hamhock (that hadn’t quite made it out of the kitchen trash to the outside trash) and is gnawing on it on the living room rug.

After Laura and Sarah–thanks ladies–leave for their own New Year’s Eve celebrations they rest of us finish up. Let’s boil up some pasta and test out those meatballs. Mmmmm!

Hams glazed and done, food stuffed in fridges, with spillover outside–with dogs locked off the deck. And since Kayla’s staying over it’s time for games. A little Wii bowling–I am champ–a lot of Pictionary–BW and I are soundly defeated.

And the ball drops–three, two, one. Happy New Year.

2017 starts early for me, too. Get those hot dishes in the oven to warm, tidy what didn’t get tidy the night before, and soon my girls and boys are pitching in. Dogs banished from the kitchen. Up the stairs for this bowl or platter, down the stairs for this or that. Haul up the little bar, fill those coolers, light the candles.

From Kat’s brilliant mind and hands.

Kat’s crudite is, naturally, a piece of cheerful art.

Food everywhere–on the table, on the counter, the buffet the little server. And before long we have a houseful to enjoy all that labor in a big, noisy, happy celebration. Kids in the pool or game room, football fans in front of the big screen, friends here, there, everywhere. It’s time to spice some shrimp. Always time to open another bottle of champagne.

Lots of hugs, lots of laughs, LOTS of wine and food–a fine, fine way to write that first page on the book of 2017.

By ten the house is quiet. By about ten-fifteen I’m out for the count.

Up early again, but today I pack for a week at the spa. And let me say ahhh. The 31 pages of December, 2016 were written with the busy and the bright, with the happy and the occasional panic, were written with friends, family and a couple of tons of cooking time. I love ending the year with girls in the kitchen, beginning it with a houseful of friends.

The family holiday photo.

And love knowing I’m going to have a week–again with family and friends–where I won’t so much as boil a pot of water and at some point on any given day somebody will rub every kink and knot out of my body. I may write. I will definitely read what someone else sweated over. I expect to come back recharged, ready to hunker down and hibernate and write my way through the rest of the winter. Stories, on the literal page and the symbolic one, are waiting to be written.

I hope you all write happy and well through the year.

Nora

Happy, Merry and Bright

This weekend all the wrapping, planning, prepping, baking come together for the big crescendo.

I started my holiday weekend yesterday by knocking off at noon to get that workout in (likely the last of the weekend!) and baking a couple of sour dough rounds for Christmas dinner with Love, Actually on the kitchen TV.

Now that’s a happy day.

Today I’ll bake Italian bread and lasagna for Christmas Eve with the kids. We’re going to set up a sundae bar for dessert. I suspect they’ll care little–even Kayla at fourteen–about what’s on the plate. It’s all about what’s under the tree, what’s in those bulging stockings.

Santa Bruce buys scratch-off cards for the stockings every year. Hope springs.

I’m looking forward to the untying of ribbons, the ripping of wrapping, the happy faces.

A part of me might miss those late Christmas Eve sessions dealing with the Some-Assembly-Required for little guy Santa gifts, but those are memories in the bank. And Nanas get more sleep!

Tomorrow, it’s my Pop’s pancakes–a long-standing tradition– bacon, sausage, eggs, a pretty bowl of berries and mimosas for Christmas brunch. Then the adults get to empty stockings, untie and rip wrapping.

Then it’s hang-out time, hauling out the trash, doing whatever strikes until dinner. (Gotta marinate that pork loin tonight!)

Lots of food, lots of family, lots of happy.

Before the day begins I’d like to wish you all Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Yule, Happy Kwanzaa or whatever celebration you use to mark the season. May your day be all you wish for, and just a little more.

So light the candles, pour some wine (or the libation of your choice) embrace the magic with the wonder of the child in all of us. And grab some moments to bank those memories.

Nora

A quick PS from Laura:  Thank you to everyone who stops by, comments, commiserates and celebrates  with Nora (and me) on a regular basis.  Here’s to a wonderful holiday season and the happiest, healthiest of New Years.  

In the Spirit

It’s hard to be otherwise around here, despite breath-taking cold with some ice tossed in. In the middle of a busy, scattered week, we took a little time off for fun, and a new tradition.

BW and I invited the employees of our Boonsboro businesses to a little progressive holiday shopping. It’s a good, happy way to gather other busy people together, make connections, and let everyone see what the other businesses have to offer.

Just add wine and camaraderie.

The crowd at Turn the Page.

From Turn The Page to Gifts Inn Boonsboro, from Gifts to Fit In Boonsboro, and from Fit to the inn. It’s a nice way to give managers and staff a chance to show off their own and socialize.

The Gifts Inn BoonsBoro display.
The Fit In Boonsboro staff.

We ended the evening hosting a dinner for all at Vesta. And boy, did Vesta show off its own.

The Inn, dressed for the season.
The Courtyard at Inn BoonsBoro.

Good times, good people, and an excellent new tradition.

Saturday was for long-standing traditions. Cookie baking at Christmas has been part of our holiday festivities since my boys were just little guys. I have memories of them at every stage from pre-schoolers to teenagers.

Measuring.

We continued on with grandchildren. A big part of my enjoyment this time around was watching Kayla and Logan instruct Colt as I had instructed them. How to measure and stir, how to break an egg. (Nana picks out shells when necessary.)

Cutting.

It’s a full, fun-filled, messy day with happy, calorie-loaded results. Chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, mint blossoms, peanut-butter blossoms, and the traditional finale of painted sugar cookies.

With, naturally, much tasting included.

I see how cooking with Kayla has paid off as she competently puts the snickerdoodle dough together while I clean up behind–and deal with the ovens that have chosen today to go wonky. Just won’t hold the temperature.

Everyone paints the cookies.

Appliance repair, stat! I have a lot of cooking to do the following week.

We cap this tradition off with another–the early Christmas present. One gift, chosen pretty much at random for each kid to help them hold off for the endless week before the big day. Colt gets Legos, Logan a Risk game, Kayla some sweatpants.

And with that along with a big bag of cookies to take home.

And just about that time BW gets a call. Water is pouring out of the door of his studio in town. Uh-oh. Off he goes, so I push up my sleeves and deal with the mess, which is usually his job. Obviously he’s dealing with another mess which could be a lot more trouble than washing dishes and cleaning off counters spotted with cookie paint and sprinkles.

Plus I have time to catch my breath and have a glass of wine before he gets back. Sprinkler system busted, rained down. Water now shut off, mess dealt with and yet another repair coming.

Breath caught, it’s time to clean myself up, do a little prep for another tradition. My girl managers holiday party. A cheerful gathering of smart women’s a fine way to spend an evening. Some wine, some pretty food–and lots of home-made cookies along with easy conversation and plenty of laughs.

Today, after I write this, it’s time to workout. Maybe add a little extra cardio considering cookies. Then BW is off to a football game with Jason and pals.

I intend to do a whole bunch of absolutely nothing. A nothing-filled alone day to recharge the batteries for the rush and spirit of this last week before Christmas.

I wouldn’t mind making that another tradition.

Nora

Weekend Countdown

While I always get an early jump on the holidays, I invariably end up squeezing bunches into the last couple weekends before Christmas.

I don’t mind so much. I have an agenda, and it usually works.

It even works, usually, when life–as is will–tosses out extra stuff. Right now, we’re in the process of redoing the backroom of Vesta, transforming it into more of a loungey, cozy feel with sofas and chairs, board games, new lights. New paint, new art. This means those sofas, chairs, tables, lights, paint colors and so on have to be found, chosen, ordered.

I am a goddess of on-line shopping, and after BW grew frustrated in his search, I took over. About thirty minutes later, in my pjs, I’d outfitted what will be Vesta’s new space. You gotta love when it works. With the furniture ordered, I could get out the paint fan and find the tones and colors to compliment it.

And done.

In addition we found a fun and fabulous surprise when the crew tore off the drywall and plaster so we could expose the old brick. A fireplace! A little dance of joy! We’ll install electric logs–no open flames–scrape and paint one of the old mantels that came out of the building during one of its renovations, and have a terrific focal point.

Under-the-drywall surprise.
Under-the-drywall surprise.

It’s a busy time of year to deal with this, but it’s coming right along. I especially like that my part of it is complete.

Then there are parties and events–a booksigning, a Girls Night Out, a traditional shopping get-away with girl pals, prep and plans to entertain friends and family at home.

Girls shopping trip.
Girls shopping trip — Elaine, Pat, Mary, Nora, Mary Kay and Laura

Decorating. I want the festive around me, and was pleased to be able to schedule this year’s tree trimming when the kids were around.

Then there’s the wrapping. The wrapping. The wrapping. The most excellent Kayla did a big chunk of this for me–and she actually wants to! But I still have what I think of as wrapping marathons on weekends. Today, I hope to have my last of the season. I wrap in The One More Room with schmaltzy Christmas movies on the little TV. I also appreciate the schmaltzy this time of year.

This marathon was on yesterday’s agenda, but one must be flexible. I worked out, baked bread (on the agenda). BW requested pretzel bread, and that takes a bit more time with those extra steps. And he requested tortilla soup, which is fine as it can be put together while the dough rises. BUT, he also found a rack of ribs he’d somehow stuck in TTP’s freezer, and decided they really needed to be cooked. The way I make them requires they marinate overnight in the barbecue sauce I make, so add those to the late afternoon list, and reschedule the wrapping marathon for Sunday.

Pretzel bread.
Pretzel bread — candle and bubbles.

Being flexible means I’ll make herby roasted potatoes to go with the ribs BW will grill tonight–but the upside is between the soup (which was most excellent) and the ribs, I shouldn’t have to cook this week–especially as we have an outside event mid-week that involves pizza.

Maybe I spent six full hours in the kitchen (with schmaltzy Christmas movies on the TV–the pool for them is not shallow)–and I expect to do a schmaltz double feature before the wrapping’s done. But, I see a little window for Absolute Me time today, and I want it.

The work week’s coming right up, and next weekend is cookie baking with the kids–a long, fun, interesting day, and some at-home entertaining.

Then boom, it’s The Solstice, then it’s Christmas, and before you catch your breath, New Year’s.img_1771

So I don’t mind the busy weekends, the long hours in the kitchen or at the wrapping table, writing Christmas cards (done and dusted), the on-line shopping or poking through crowded stores. Because time moves fast, and appreciating, embracing, enjoying the special times–no matter the work–are what make it last, make the memories, bring the joy.img_1770

I hope you find and take those moments with all the rush and work and carve out time to embrace and enjoy the holiday season.

Around here, we got a light dusting of snow overnight–the first of the season. It’s a little icing on the holiday cake.

Nora

The Register – 11/4/16

For the rest of the year, I plan to compile a weekly round up of social media goings on, photos that appeal to me and tidbits of  info that just don’t fit into other posts.  So, not a Cranky Publicist post (like the one I’ve drafted in my head about how can you be an In Death fan if you misspell Roarke???)  but a neater way to keep you all filled in on what’s new and what’s not.

First up:  the Inn BoonsBoro package featuring an Evening with Nora sold out within hours.  I’m pretty sure if it goes smoothly, there will be another one in the future.  Stay tuned.

Next, St. Martin’s continues to be super excited about their first book with Nora/JD — Echoes in Death.  They will release small bits — one liners really — over the weeks to come to whet appetites even more.  Here’s the first one. echoes-whim-1

(BTW, Heroes & Heartbreakers has some excellent features about and by authors, reviews, reveals and other fun reader-y things. This morning starts with a discussion about Nora Roberts or Nora Ephron — have to love a good Nora, right?)

Continuing on the St. Martin’s Press theme (they are more excited than anyone about working with Nora!):  they have an ongoing sweepstakes tied into Echoes in Death.  The last two prizes are up for grabs soon — the last one is an Eve style leather coat!  Details and rules* are here.

They also created an amazing pop-art poster for Echoes in Death and will giveaway to readers in the US and Canada (ex. Quebec)** who upload their pre-order receipts before midnight, Feb. 6, 2017. All details are listed here.

And, because excitement this big can’t be contained, they’ve revealed the cover for September 2017’s Secrets in Death.9781250123152_fc

I’ll have more information about it next week. Pre-order links are coming on line, but it’s still a little too early for some.  Will list all the pre-order links next week.  Promise!

Third:  Love Between the Covers is now available on Netflix and will be out on dvd on December 6 — same date as Island of Glass.  I posted about the documentary here.

Finally, at Saturday’s signing two readers (names escape me right now) told me all about one of their phones that took photos by saying  “Cheese!” “Shoot” or “Capture!”  It was a Samsung 7 and I have a 6.  Nora will attest that I pouted about not having that amazing capability — which just made us laugh.

Back at the Fortress of Solitude that night, I googled voice triggered photos and found out that I could make my Samsung 6 do it.  And it did!  Here’s the evidence.

20161029_183943
Nora, Sarah and Kat enjoying my thrill of snapping a photo by saying “Cheese!”

Then we set BW’s Samsung up as well.  So happy faces all around, except for Nora’s pout that her iPhone didn’t take photos by talking to it.

Still she smiled for the photo.

OK, that’s week one of The Register.

Comments, questions, things you’ve found on your own?  Share in the comments.

Laura

* While we love our worldwide readers and hate they have to miss out on the fun, there are varying rules and regulations regarding contests and sweepstakes in countries outside the US and Canada making it problematic and extremely difficult to create global contests.

**  Canadians in Quebec can’t enter due to their own tight rules on sweepstakes.  All other Canadians must answer a math question to make it a test of skill rather than chance.