In With The New

I moved from North Carolina to Maryland in 2014 and for the first time in a decade was able to make the New Year’s festivities at Nora’s house. Thanks to the affordable long distance movers I was able to save money and join the festivities. Since I could, I pitched in a little too.

A quick note about the food. Nora and I cook exactly the same way:  you check a basic recipe for a guideline, then tuck it away and play with the ingredients.  So there won’t be any sharing of recipes but if something strikes your fancy we encourage you to use The Google and find something that you can make yours for years to come.  Happy New Year!  ~Laura

In our house we actually welcome the new with the old. Traditions, friends, family. We’ve been hosting an open house on New Year’s Day for at least 20 years. When you pack your house with people, you’d better pack it with plenty of food and drink.

So New Year’s Eve is a day spent in the kitchen. But luckily for me, I spend that with friends and family, too.

bread pudding
Bred Pudding
brownie trifle
Chocolate Trifle


This year my oldest granddaughter, Kayla, expanded her role. I’ve passed on the family bread pudding recipe and duties to her for years now, and added the wonder of chocolate trifle this time around.



One of my favorite moments was the wonder and delight of a 12-year-old girl that whipped cream could be made from a little container that looks like milk! And this almost teenager wasn’t too old or dignified to turn down licking the whisk afterward.

Deviled eggs
Deviled eggs

One of my staples is deviled eggs, and their popularity means I make three dozen. It’s not so bad making three dozen when someone else peels them! Thanks Laura and Sarah.

new year ham


I bake two big-ass whole hams with pineapple glaze BW slices for sandwiches. I make huge amounts of sides like red beans and rice, pasta salad, a winter fruit salad, spiced shrimp, meatballs. I double the recipe for what I think of as the icky green bean casserole, and there’s never any left.

When the wondrous Kat arrived I put her in charge of chopping and slicing veggies for the crudite. And being Kat, she fashioned a few decorative veggies for accents. So clever, my best girl.

crudite platter

Lots and lots of food cooked, stirred, baked, whipped. But the best part is that lovely little female circle, and the genuine delight of my Kayla in being part of it. She got ginger ale as a beverage for all the hard work. The adults got champagne, well earned.

The next morning there’s more to do–with my boy Jason and BW doing a lot of manly hauling and cooler filling and bringing up dishes already prepped from the downstairs fridge. And Kayla, Kat and I (then Laura who came early to help) making what needs to be made on the day of, reheating what’s done, setting things up and out.

We open from one to whenever. By two the house is full of people, and it’s amazing how often trays and bowls need refreshing. Something in the air this year, a happy something, as there’s such good, strong energy (and good, strong appetites) through every room in the house–and packs of people in every room. Kids in the pool, or playing Wii with great noise in the family room, people snuggled into the library or crowded in the kitchen, sprawled around the living room.

I’ll add not a spoonful of Kayla’s trifle or bread pudding remained.

My oldest brother and his lovely wife are serious bakers. He’s brought my mother’s pound cake, tubs of biscotti and his truly amazing peppermint patties. (I’m seriously tempted to stuff the peppermint patties away for myself, but I resist. Happy New Year all who benefited.

Cute moment to share. My boy Logan comes up with one of his pals. Pal has water in his ear from swimming. Logan often has this issue, so I have drops that deal with it. Fix pal’s ear, and off they go. About two hours later, Logan’s back with all four of the pals who came with him. Water in ears. So I have a line of ten-year-old boys in the bathroom waiting for their turn for drops. Boy steps up, tips head, drops go in, wait for it, hand boy a paper guest towel. Next?

A fun, busy, noisy first day of the year–and considering how much food was involved an astonishing lack of left-overs. Lots of laughter, lots of hugs, lots of memories. (And today despite Jason and Kat pitching in after the party, lots of clean up.)

Good friends, family and good food. It’s a fine way to welcome a new year. I hope all of you were able to ring out and ring in with as much pleasure.



31 thoughts on “In With The New”

  1. Happy New Year to you Laura and to you Nora and both your families. I love the multi colored bowl in the crudite tray I have a similar one and use it all the time. For mixing and serving. Love it. Sounds like a great time was had by all. Here is to all blessed new year for all.

  2. How much fun it all sounded! The food looked and sounded great (good job on decorating, Kat), bet you didn’t have any ham left, either. I always get assigned to make the deviled eggs – for one of our reunions I did five dozen and couldn’t look at eggs for a month after. Next time you make the icky bean casserole, try the cream of mushroom with garlic soup – it makes an amazing difference! My niece also puts a thin layer of cheese over the top. So glad you had a wonderful open house with nothing more serious than ear triage. Hope Laura survives her first northern winter okay!

  3. Happy New Year to Nora & Laura! Sounds like a wonderful day for everyone. Hope you didn’t wear yourselves out too much. Always a labour of love, though, when cooking and hosting for family and friends. The food looks amazing and I especially was drooling over the hams. One of my favourites. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Wow! I cannot believe how many things you all made to eat! You all really do it up big. I don’t think we have ever had that many things to eat-even at our family reeunions. But one thing we have for sure–deviled eggs! So strange how many people like those. Looks like everyone had a super time so mission accomplished! Happy New Year.

  5. Happy New Year to you all. Looks like you had a great open house. I’ve enjoyed you family home postings for the holidays. I also love the vacation ones. I don’t get around well these days so it is great live through you all. Oh, and Kayla, wow 13, I remember you showing me baby pictures just after she was born. Didn’t realize it was that long ago. Again, Happy 2015 to you all.

  6. Happiest of New Years to you and yours Nora and Laura! Looks like such fun! No auto chef needed at Nora’s house!

  7. Happy and sweet New Year to you, Laura, and your families! That looked and sounded like a food coma spectacular! I’m so small I could have stashed myself in the library with some deviled eggs and ham. Yum! Thanks for sharing your festivities. Blessed be.

  8. New Years in Minnesota consisted of baked ham, baked sweet and russet potatoes with green beans and chocolate cake for the menu. Having various visits from his daughter and son. Cruising the internet with various Scrabble games to play while I overhear the men complain their is NOTHING on tv. Another year on the farm begins.

  9. Sounds like a great time. Glad Laura was able to participate this year. Have a wonderful New Year!

  10. Visiting the kids in VA this long weekend.

    For New years eve, the day we arrived it was Chinese takeout, I chose shrimp and mixed veggies, excellent.

    For new years day it was Italian delivery.

    My dil and son are recovering from the annual sibs weekend of low maintenance on the cooking The dil is one of 7 and each yr in rotation a sib takes a turn hosting the entire family including children grands and S.O.’s which make for a very huge gathering. She cooks for a week.

    The Italian I chose was a hot veggie hoagie which was wonderful also but I have discovered it is the bread that make the Sandwich. In my long time adopted hometown of Pgh do not do Italian bread well. No VA as well as Philly and NJ do.

    Must remember to make deviled eggs more often. My recipe has been passed down to my daughter who makes them often. We do great

    Loved the menu Nora.

  11. I always have our adult kids and their families for homemade fettuccine and my Alfredo sauce with steaks and lots of drink and apps, added my homemade chocolate mousse for dessert, ends with all playing pictionary ! Lots of fun and laughs. Your idea of a New Year’s Day open house sounds like lots of fun, enjoy New Year’s Eve quietly and party early New Year’s Day! Only thing is my pool at the KOA campground is outside, too cool !!
    Happy new year Nora, Laura and Kat, see you Feb 7th.
    Judi Durham
    Hagerstown KOA

  12. This is just like holidays at our home except the year my oldest niece wanted to join the cooks and asked if she could make her Aunt Julie’s usual contribution, pecan pie. My sister was delighted and told her it was easy, just follow the recipe on the Karo dark syrup bottle, since that was all she used. Helen was in tears when the pie was unveiled. It was not even close to the delicious pecan goodie Julie always arrived with. “But I followed the recipe exactly!” the poor teen wailed. “I don’t understand what went wrong!” I stared at Julie. “You told her to follow the bottle recipe?” I demanded. “Of course,” Julie replied in a puzzled tone. “It’s what I always use.” I looked back at my tearful niece and shook my head in disgust. “Your Aunt Julie lied like a rug, baby!” I informed her. “Your aunt always tosses in more pecans until the syrup only coats them, then puts them in the pie shell.” Julie winced at the look of betrayal she received from her niece. “Oh, yeah, I forgot about that part…” she offered feebly. Helen learned to ask for details after that.

    1. that sounds like this brownie recipe that we have in my family. it didn’t come off a bottle or package, actually its been around so long we aren’t sure exactly where it came from. but I have given the recipe to a half dozen people and the all come back to me going ” they didn’t turn out” to which I reply “did you follow the recipe?”. I have discovered that I have to show people how, I can’t just tell them or give them the recipe that I have made so many times over and over that I can make them in my sleep. I’m not sure what gets lost in translation or if it is my fault for altering the recipe over the years but it never works.

  13. What a great way to spend New Year’s Day! Wishing you and yours all the best in 2015.

  14. Dear Nora and Laura, I hope you both and all of your family’s have a happy and healthy New Year! I hope you are resting, relaxing and recovering over the weekend after that awesome open house!

  15. Happiest of New Years to you all! You work very hard so it’s only right that you get to play hard also! Love the memories you are making for yourself and your grands. I can just “see” all the boys waiting for their ears drops… I have grandsons of my own. I love that you included Kayla with the ladies… my eleven year old granddaughter is entering that betwixt and between stage herself this year. Congratulations on getting someone else to peel the eggs…that’s the most dreaded part of making them for me! My hubby proposed to me on Halloween the year we got engaged and our first Thanksgiving with his family all I knew how to cook and bring was deviled eggs. I’ve been in charge of them for 43 years now!

    1. Too funny? What do you put in yours? I actually like a bit of my homemade sweet pickle relish in mine.

  16. Sounds like a lovely time! I’m assuming you have an indoor pool, because I can’t imagine anyone being nuts enough to swim outside in Maryland this time of year. So you have Logan, who is around 10, and you have a grown boy old enough so that you have a nearly 12 year old granddaughter? Do you mind if I ask the age ranges of your boys (I think I read somewhere that you have all boys)? And how do Logan and Kayla get along with each other?

  17. I live in New Zealand so it’s Summer here and we tend to have a mix of the hot foods from generations past who came from cold climes and the cooler salad type foods to cope with the heat if we’re lucky. This year we were. I wish everyone a Happy New Year and I hope 2015 is good for us all.

  18. Nora and Laura,
    Sounds like a wonderful time had by all. Thanks for sharing! I so enjoy reading your blog! These glimpses into your life always bring a smile.
    Our family tradition is a seafood fest on New Years day. We always have snow crab legs (our favorite) but we’ll also add a couple more seafood items (i.e. shrimp, stuffed scallops, etc). Generally having baked potato (sometimes we get fancy and do twice baked) and salad, with homemade rolls for sides. Although this year I overslept and didn’t start the rolls on time so the family had to settle for store bought. After our feast we dismantle the Christmas tree, which I find just as much fun as putting it up 🙂 I leave my collection of snowmen out till March (when they get replaced by my collection of Irish themed nicknacks) but the rest gets stored away for another year.
    Wishing you and yours a blessed year!

  19. Dear Nora and Laura,
    Enjoyed reading the blog and a “Happy New Year” to you both. I live in a retirement facility in Virginia and we always have a huge spread of food for New Years! It all sounded delicious and I’m sure you were glad to not have too many leftovers. Looking forward to the next “In Death” book and have it pre-ordered. Hope 2015 is good to you.

  20. Sounds like a lovely and wonderfully fun day that went really very well. Happy that Laura got to join in this year too.
    An awesome beginning to 2015 and a lot more awesomeness throughout for us all!!!

  21. Nora and Laura, glad you had a Happy New Year! Mine was quiet, with my daughter, 7yr old granddaughter (teaching her to knit) and my son-in-law who slept through most of the evening!
    I made my special Irish stew and everyone devoured! Ordered to make 2x as much next time. We never got to popping champagne; glass of wine @ 8:00pm, lasted thru midnight. First time my grand stayed awake. Think she expected more dancing and singing & something magical at midnight! Sorry she was disappointed!!

  22. Nora, the answer is simple to me. The proof is in the pudding. How many books have you sold? I would guess but it is ongoing and I would miss it by millions. Guess who had the line out the door at the RWA conference in San Antonio? There were some wonderful authors there and you were by far the most popular. I agree about the rudeness and why do it? If they have such competent “constructive opinions”, why aren’t they writing. There are such things as self publishing. So much for my “constructive criticism”.
    Best Wishes and keep writing, for all our sakes. By the way, I saw this posted on my newsfeed by Eloisa James.

  23. I love your work and think you are an amazing author with a kickass personal style that is both sweet and sassy. I’m looking forward to reading more of your new work as well as rereading some old favs.
    Thank you for every chuckle, every sigh and every imaginative ‘what if’ you’ve given me over the years. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but five years ago your work encouraged me to write, and now I’m climbing the ladder…

    You wear the crown well, Nora. It suits you, and may you reign supreme as our favorite author for years to come. Happy New Year to you and yours…

    All my best,
    Marianne Morea

  24. Nora and Laura,
    Happy New Year to both of you and your families. Thank you so much for sharing your great time with all of us. I look forward to your blogs almost as much as your books. Can hardly wait for Obsession.

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