Back To Our Regularly Scheduled

So that* happened.

And before it did, I’d planned to blog a bit about our holiday feast.

Your monthly dose of Griffin

In the time of Covid, we’re focused on staying safe. We have a bubble going with Jason, Kat and Griffin with all the adults working at home, not going out other than when necessary. Masks, sanitizer, hand washing, and all of it.

2021 has to be better, and we all want to get there.

Kayla’s also part of our bubble when she’s here. Before she drove home from college, she and her dorm mates got tested, then switched to all on-line classes to self-quarantine. They didn’t want to bring anything home but themselves.

Smart girls!

So we could have our little group for our big feast.

And I had a lot of help in the kitchen.

Pie baking—apple and pumpkin on Wednesday, and a pasta meal.

The most efficient diner in the house.

Griffin turned two the end of October, and he’s spent about ten months now at home, just his parents. We didn’t see them for the first three or four months of the pandemic, so the boy and I had to inch our way back. It’s a long time in a toddler’s life.

He’d play on the floor with me, walk outside, babble. But I was not allowed to pick him up or hold him. Uh-uh, Mom or Dad only! So no snuggles through spring, summer, into the fall.

We had a breakthrough—more to be grateful for. Last October I bought him this crazy little robot toy on the way to New York. It plays an incredibly repetitive nonsense song while it dances around and shoots out light.

At one, it terrified him. So away it went.

Now, he’s two, so let’s see what he thinks of it.

Interesting….let me stand way over here and observe it. Okay, now I must touch. And laugh. And dance. Nana dances, too. And for the first time since February, he wants me to pick him up. And we dance with the robot.

I lift weights three times a week, but the boy weighs 35 dense pounds. As my arms give out, I think we’ll sit on this kitchen stool and watch the robot.

No, we won’t! Dance, Nana, dance. And I get a hug for it.

Worth spaghetti arms.

A bonus for the feast.

We’ve got turkey, stuffing—and a meatless dressing for our veggie. Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, roasted Brussel sprouts, roasted cauliflower—much peeled and chopped by Jason, veggies roasted by Kat as I handled making the gravy and other dishes. Homemade cranberry sauce, succotash, deviled eggs, a pretty round of sour dough bread.

A thankful meal

Pie for days.

Nobody went hungry.

Before and after I’ve been at the keyboard through the week, working out after the writing day, then, with zombie book brain, signing tubs of books from TTP, and crashing.

On weekends, since we’re still stuck in COVID, it’s clean. No more weekly housekeeper—not since March. So I scrub toilets and floors and all the rest with my faithful sidekick BW. And I cook, and I bake.

Trying some new breads—and as Jason has become a pandemic bread baker, or as Kat calls him The Bread Wizard—we’ve exchanged recipes.

I made his Irish Soda bread—yum! Then tried my hand at Stottie bread. Also yum.

Irish soda bread.


Stottie bread
Italian bread

And since Christmas is coming, I shop on line.

Which is finished!!!!

Since it’s finished, there’s wrapping (Kayla’s helping!) gift bagging, and shortly shipping gifts to pals I can’t gather with this holiday. I miss them!

And there’s decorating. We all need some cheer, especially in 2020. I’ve got a start on that, and will likely finish this weekend.

Just the start of the display

It’ll be a quieter Christmas than usual, with no New Year’s Day Open House to follow. But we’ll stay safe, look out for each other, take the blessings we have and treasure them.

Wishing the same for all of you through the holiday season and beyond.

2021 can’t possible suck this much.


*What happened? Basically, comments in The Awakening discussion thread were picked up on Twitter and six days after Nora dealt with the issue, we had a blog breakdown from all the people rushing in to read the comments. No need to add anything, just filling you in. ~Laura

45 thoughts on “Back To Our Regularly Scheduled”

  1. I’m always torn between wishing I could quarantine like this, or grateful I don’t have to. Being an essential worker means the mask is the only difference for me. We have our small bubble of people we allow ourselves to see still, but we’re not doing nearly as much as we normally do. I agree 2021 has to be better.

  2. Your feast picture brings back memories. I remember succotash at Thanksgiving! All of us kids hated it. 🙂 Maybe because my Granma put tomatoes in it, which I see yours doesn’t have. It’s good to hear you had a lovely time, especially with Griffin cuddles.

    1. We pretty much had what you did except for the succotash (I have not willingly eaten lima beans since 1975). Pimento cheese added to our relish tray this year much to the delight of my almost-grandson-in-law. I was rewarded with Ghirardelli chocolate which is a great trade-off.

  3. We’re in our bubble, too. Masking up & all the rest for errands. I agree that 2021 has to be better eventually. Wishing you & yours happy holidays! Looking forward to reading Faithless in Death. That’s definitely one good 2021 thing.

  4. Wishing you and yours the happiest – and healthiest – holiday season!

  5. What is stottie bread? I’ve never heard of it and I do love me some bread. Is there a recipe for it that you would be willing to share?

      1. And I should add (thanks, Laura, for posting the recipe) I kneaded by hand, as I prefer it. And I used the 3-loaf recipe, but divided in two as I wanted larger loaves..

  6. Oh my, I swear I could smell the bread while looking at the pictures. Griffin. . .his little face is so enchanting. Hoping you all have a wonderful Christmas.

  7. Thanks so much for the update. Love, love Griffin’s cheeks! God’s blessings on all of you and yours (and Laura and her family, too) during this holiday season and for the new year.

  8. Loved hearing about dancing with Griffin, and laughed with your description of a dense 35 pounds. I’m a grandmother of four grandsons and the youngest, Jake, was dense in pounds. Of course I was about 9 years older when Jake came along and it was time to sit and get all the love and hugs from him when he became a toddler. Your feast looked yummy!
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family, Nora! Thanks for all of your wonderful writing! I collect your books and absolutely love them all!

  9. Reading about working your way back to cuddles and hugs from Griffin and then the video made me cry. My 4 year old grandson is my heart and the time away from him was worse than anything, ever. There is nothing in the world like the hugs and cuddles and kisses (although those are on hold right now) from your grands.

  10. Thank you for sharing a glimpse into your personal life…Griffin rocks…that innocence is so special! Kudos to your granddaughter for her responsible actions in the middle of this overwhelming time!!

    Wishing all of you the most amazing holiday season ever…and, please, oh please may you be right about 2021…this is wearing very thin!!!

  11. Oooh, I know that zombie book brain as I had it myself finishing off a big book at the end of November. The food looks marvelous!

    Our Thanksgiving was very quiet. We spent a 3-hour Zoom with my son and his housemate (for part of the time, then she was off to Zoom with her family). The two of them were planning to have a Thanksgiving feast later on. Ours was pretty simple–a quick bread stuffing loaf made with turkey drippings and turkey gravy over it plus veggies. We had cooked the big 25-pounder earlier in the week–with no pan big enough to hold it, I resurrected my memories of butchering chickens when younger to cut off legs and wings to make it fit.

    And pumpkin pie made to fit my wheat, dairy, and egg allergies. We’d had snow earlier but it was just cold and the mountains were stunning (Wallowas).

    No littles here, alas. And the son’s girlfriend with the daughter broke up with him earlier. So no smalls to go into Christmas with….

  12. Thank you for sharing some of your life with us:). Love the candles. Did you watch your holiday movies as you wrapped? I highly recommend Holiday In the Wild. It’s on Netflix. Rob Lowe 🤤. Sigh
    A blessed Christmas to all.

  13. It us so good to read about your Thanksgiving with your bubble. So happy to hear about your beautiful boy Griffin! We made the most our Thanksgiving with my wonderful family all who have been working at home since Spring. As was our tradition we traveled a few mile to my younger daughters bubble fo the wonderful dinner. That short ride with us wearing our masks and so many windows and sun roof open was great. Not having been anywhere except doctors visit since March it was a feast for the eyes to see beautiful scenery. On Saturday this same bubble led by my beautiful granddaughter Julia hosted my 90th birthday Zoom party. It was great to see friends and family near and far. I am so happy that we were together and could talk for a short time. As Christmas nears I am so thankful for my good health and the health of all my family. Wishing the same to your bubble a very healthy holiday season.

  14. Thanks for sharing your lovely holiday with your bubble folks with all of us. Loved the video with Griffin. Can’t get enough of his cuteness. Stay safe and keep on telling your lovely stories.

  15. Nice read! Thanks for sharing. Gotta admit I’m a little tired of the Debra thread. By now I’m sure she’s feeling a little down over the whole thing. While Nora handled it with class many of the commenters haven’t. Name calling and uncalled for aspersions. Basically tearing down a person they don’t know over an exchange that has nothing to do with them… The whole thing is getting pretty mean spirited… big sigh.

    Nora is one of my favorite people in the world who I’ve never met. Love your work.

  16. Nora, I sympathize with your bubble. This virus is not a friendly sort and people of all ages and constitutions have died from it. So like you, my family has taken the precautions and hide in our own bubble. I want to be able to hug friends and have big potlucks at church and sit around for hours after just enjoying the company of friends. So not happening this holiday season. But we will have our daughter and her family over for the traditional meal and gift opening and talk to faraway relatives and close friends by Skype or Duo. It won’t be the same as the big parties of past years but we will look forward to next year. It’s the children who are missing out on the joys of this wonderful season – school parties and friends visiting and shopping themselves for gifts (Hi, Amazon!). Personally, I am staying up New Year’s Eve, not to celebrate the New Year (well, sorta), but to make sure 2020 leaves. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2021 to all.

  17. I only had my younger son and his wife and two dogs on Thanksgiving. My bubble…Oh my your food looks fantastic. But that apple pie!!! Wow…to die for! My favorite always is the irish soda bread….that could stop traffic! Griffin is such an adorable little guy. Don’t they grow up too fast? I remember dancing around with my grandsons. Alas, they are now 23 and 19 and would rupture something if I tried that now. Stay safe and as always, thanks for sharing.

  18. Thank you for sharing a little of your world with readers. That little grandson of yours is adorable!
    Finished reading The Awakening in both book form and audio. It is fantastic! Love!
    Holiday greetings to you, your family and to Laura!

  19. Griffin, as always, looks adorable. So happy he’s back in Nana’s arms. Hugs and cuddles are very important to both participants. I’m happy you are able to be with part of your family and still have the traditional Thanksgiving feast. The 2020 holidays are so different than what we’re all used to, but we are resilient and 2021 will be better. Thank you for sharing your life with us. Your books make me happy and keep the COVID blues away. May the blessings of Christmas warm you and your family and keep you safe and healthy.

  20. I too have been in a bubble. The first lockdown was hard and a little upsetting as i am a tactile person and love hugs so not to be able to hug my parents was so very hard. I work with small children as an early years practitioner so i get your feelings with Griffin it’s so hard for them to comprehend how things have changed. I live in the UK and as its coming up to winter the garden is not the brightest so I’m bringing the pretties to the indoors to cheer us up. I’ve gotten into up cycling things too! Very satisfying lol! Xx

  21. I love the thought of making bread by hand. But every time I try it never comes out right. Even my Irish soda bread is lacking. So I use my handy bread machine and tell lies to myself and say it’s the same. Lol. Maybe one day the bread Gods will take pity on me and gift with with their love. Until they do I will look longingly at other people’s hard work. Nora, Laura and all who read this. I hope your Yule tide is filled with love, light, great Heath and good cheer.

  22. It looks like your Thanksgiving was plentiful and full of food, family, and love! That’s what it’s all about! Griffin is growing so big and strong. I bought that robot for my granddaughter when she was 1, but she never took to it. After we tried when she was 2 and she jumped on me to get away from it, we donated it along with toys she no longer played with, plus new ones, to the Angel Guardian Home (a place for children without parents due to death, incarceration, or being unfit). I started donating toys to them when my daughter was about 4, she’s now 56. I’ve adopted your travel trip with Kayla for me and my ggranddaughter Raven, who will be 13 next week. I buy her a few things I think she’ll like, but save the big shopping for our trip. This year with COVID-19, we’ll do it by mail order. This way she gets to pick exactly what she wants! Pants are a little difficult. She’s been taking dancing lessons for 10-1/2yrs, so her buttocks and legs are quite well muscled. She prefers leggings and sweat pants over jeans and slacks, so she wears a size larger in them usually. She’s a petite, as only 5ft tall, but for some reason photographs as much taller.
    I wish you and your family bubble, Laura and her family, a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Things have got to be better, eventually, in 2021.

  23. My one and only attempt at bread making was reminiscent of the I Love Lucy episode with her and yeast. That was decades ago, maybe I should try it again. Looked very tasty. So glad you’re all staying safe. I’m considered a triple threat, so stayed at home and roasted my turkey thighs and squash – very tasty. Let’s all come out the other side of this and celebrate then, okay? That Griffin is getting to be a heart-breaker – those eyes! Stay safe!

  24. Love all the pictures. So glad Griffin has warmed back up to you!
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family.
    2021 has to be better!
    Loving the Awakening and anxiously awaiting the release of Faithless in Death.
    Thanks fir all you do.

  25. Thank you Nora, as always for the glimpse into your ‘ bubble’ ..I think most of us have them to one degree or another. I think i might try the recipe Laura added for us. It sounds yummy! My daughter, 2 granddaughters ( 19 & 17) spent the day in Boonsboro m, today! Happy Birthday to me! We did some retail therapy (😉), introduced the girls to the town & had a yummy lunch @ Dans! Looking forward to 2021 & some Book-signings & seeing you, Laura & the other authors.
    Blessings to all in your Bubble & beyond! 🎄🎊📚

  26. I’ve never baked bread, & flop at cakes, but i’m a great cook. Nora, It amazes me seeing all the talents you have. I’m with you on the family bubbles & the isolation. My son lives in another state, & his 12 year old goes to school & mixes w/other kids- this is going to be the first year, in 25 years, that we will not be getting together for the holidays. It’s so sad, but it’s not worth the risk.
    Stay safe. It is lonely and isolating, but i’m grateful for boring as long as we are healthy.

  27. The story about Griffin is the sweetest. I am glad you had time with your Bubble for Thanksgiving! This was our 1st in our own home with just our 4 children. Our parents are in their 80s, so I dropped off catered dinner, wine and pie for them on Weds. to keep them safe, and then had a Zoom the day of. I have been reading many of your Irish books the past month, and it’s lovely to see the Soda bread that is so often referenced. Hope you have a great Christmas and New Year. Thanks for being awesome. (A fellow Marylander:)

  28. Thanksgiving is a quiet holiday for us. My husband cooks the turkey on a charcoal kettle grill. Always comes out golden brown and moist. Sage & mushroom dressing, sweet potato souffle, roasted potatoes, mushrooms, asparagus with pancetta then tossed. This year the husband added a new tradition. After leftovers were in the fridge and the turkey carcass disposed of. I turned around to see he had set the turkey platter on the floor. All the grown cats were getting their share with Delilah my new (formerly) feral kitten watching. DH gave her a piece of turkey and there was no holding her back. Her little bobtail twitching nonstop.

  29. Always enjoy reading your updates, Nora! Wishing you and your family a healthy, safe, and enjoyable holiday season! I’ll be hunkering down with your books I’ve ordered from TTP! So looking forward to 2021 and hopefully making it to one of your signings! Like you said: 2021 has to be better! 😃

  30. Thank you for sharing your-self with us!! I’m an astrologer and I can tell you that we are not done yet with “all that” just yet BUT, we are soon entering a major energy shift (called the Great Conjunction or the Great Mutation) which is a gift for all the world. On December 21st, look at the sky at sunset…a big ball will be seen – that’s Jupiter and Saturn and they’ve just entered Aquarius together! Haven’t done that in centuries! Especially good for those Librans Ms. Nora!! And FYI – from the descriptions of Eve and Roarke – she’s a Scorpio and he’s a Libran. Just sayin’ LOL
    Thank you for all your words. Love them all!!

  31. Until I read your post, I hadn’t thought about the very young children having to re-acquaint themselves with family members again. I was thinking mostly about the seniors and others in adult care facilities, nursing homes, hospitals, and hospice who are missing family members. But yes, little ones, who are cautious to begin with, would indeed need time to warm back up to grandparents and aunts and uncles they haven’t seen in months. I loved the video with you and Griffin dancing.

  32. My grandson got that robot when he was 1 year old and he was scared of it also. (He is 5 years old now). It was passed down to his 2 year old twin brothers and they love it.

  33. I love to have succotash with my turkey and dressing, I was so glad to see that you like it too!

  34. Enjoyed the video. Certainly understand the little ones. Just had my son & daughter in law and two little ones over for Thanksgiving. All (except of course little ones) tested before coming over. What bedlam. Declan is two and Nyree is 10 months. Took a couple of days to warm up but after that it was into everything, pots, pans, bowls, tupperware everywhere. What fun we had, but exhausting. Yes they weigh a ton, but love them lots. To add to the enjoyment, they cooked so I could play.

  35. Was Jason’s Irish Soda Bread the inspiration for that bit in Hideaway?

  36. Thank you for sharing this wonderful pictures! I have a 3year old at home and especially for kids it is so difficult with no other kids! It is the biggest gift to have loving family!
    In video with laura your mentioned a perhaps zoom meeting with you nora, i have no Facebook and eventually a passed it:-(?
    You are so blessed with so much loving people around you,please stay healthy and i hope all of you can enjoy the life despite the pandemic which nearly take a year from our normal lifes….
    My mother and stepfather are very ill and i wish i could take them in a bubble like you! Thank you for the wonderful books and Blogs who let my soul enjoy! Sina

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