Christmas Traditions


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020.JPGWhen my husband and I first married, our Christmases were always last minute things. We didn’t plan ahead. We’d brace ourselves, dash out to the mall and be swept up in the melee along with everyone else. We were young and had lots of energy, so we didn’t mind.

The kids came along, and things changed. I quit work and stayed home while they were little, so money was tight. We had to budget money and time, which meant planning ahead. For a few years we wore ourselves and the kids out, dragging them from first one event to another, trying to make sure they visited with both sides of the family, only to end up at home by nightfall, trying to have our Christmas with cranky toddlers who were tired and wanted to go to bed.

We made a conscious decision to change things. We began putting our time with the kids first before anything else. We started our own little traditions like watching a holiday show and having hot chocolate and popcorn, making ornaments or decorating the tree as a family. I bought inexpensive ornaments every year for them to mark the date and put on the tree. We had Christmas books and records we enjoyed.

We moved from the city to a small town. Christmas tree farms were popular. We made it a family thing to go out, cut down the tree and decorate it. For a week before school let out, I put small, inexpensive gifts under the tree every morning as an incentive to get the kids out of bed. “Look what Santa left last night!”

I made caramel corn, and we roasted peanuts. When they got old enough to buy presents, one of them always got my husband chocolate covered cherries and found me a new little Santa for my collection.

What’s funny is that out of all the memories, the ones they seem to hold most dear aren’t necessarily the years where they received the most gifts or got something they really wanted, but the little things we did. And it tells me something. Traditions like that are important. Now they have families of their own and I’m proud to say they have continued the Christmas traditions.





cropped-img_0805Not to brag, but I used to be really good at multi-tasking. I could cook a meal, remember to switch the clothes from washer to dryer, talk on the phone, make my grocery list and keep an eye on the kids—and all at the same time.

Not anymore.

These days if I’m cooking I’d better stay in the kitchen unless I want to find myself cleaning up the stove and trying to figure out what I’m going to cook instead of whatever is stuck on the bottom of the saucepan. I’ve spent hours searching for the TV remote, the phone or my glasses because I’ve carried them somewhere they aren’t supposed to be.

Last year I moved for the first time in almost 30 years. I packed nearly everything myself. I kept things organized. Labeled boxes. Even so I found myself spending time searching for things like kitchen utensils, matches, the hammer, the measuring tape. I looked everywhere. The minute I gave up and bought new ones they appeared.

It’s frustrating. I feel like I’ve lost a valuable talent.

Maybe it’s because the older you get, the less you’re called on to use it. The kids are grown, and if the grandkids come for a visit, I don’t waste time doing anything but focusing on them.

There’s just me. That means less laundry, less cooking, less housecleaning. So I don’t have to multi-task any more.

Now if I could just keep up with the remote and the telephone, I’d be happy.


The Little Things

cropped-img_0805Winter has finally arrived in my neck of the woods. The sun is almost gone by 5:30 and one of my favorite things to do on a cold Friday night is to snuggle up on the couch in my pajamas with popcorn, hot chocolate and a good movie.

When my husband was still alive, it’s one of the things we enjoyed doing together. He preferred romantic comedies and I liked action flicks, but we both liked Sci-fi. And there was nothing better than finding a ‘sleeper’ neither of us knew anything about.

I still love a good movie. These days I watch alone or with my sister. But there’s another movie buff in the family. My 11 year old grandson, Caleb. Last night he came over to watch Skull Island with me, and we had so much fun.

At first, he wasn’t sure about the ‘scary’ parts. We had a lengthy discussion where he informed me getting scared really bad could lead to a heart attack. Finally we compromised. I told him if that happened we’d either fast forward the movie or he could go into the other room until the scene was over.

Halfway through he realized King Kong was a good guy and started rooting for him. When it was over and we were both full of various snacks, he said “Granny, this was fun. We’re going to have to do it again.” I don’t have to tell you that made my day.

I need to remember. Especially this time of year.

It’s the little things that count!



Love this idea!

Dan Alatorre - AUTHOR

dan your humble host

One of the things we have been thinking about doing for quite a while is offering online classes or workshops.

As part of that, we created the Internet show, “Writers Off Task With Friends,” a fun internet show, and we also signed up to be presenters at this year’s Florida Writers Association conference (October 19 – 22, 2017). 


it seems a little silly to wait a whole year to get information you need.

So I was thinking I might have them here.

Well, not here, really. But on the regular Internet. You know, YouTube.

How it would work is, I would announce the date here, and share the link; anybody who signed up would be admitted to view the online presentation.

  • It’ll be a live video chat
  • you can ask questions
  • you can be on camera (or not)

I would present a…

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Infographic: 28 Boring Words and What to Use Instead

Going to keep this list handy while writing!

Nicholas C. Rossis

Jack Milgram of Custom Writing | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksJack Milgram is a writer and blogger at Custom Writing. He recently published an Infographic with 28 Boring Words and suggestions of what to use instead. The idea is that, if you practice using these suggested words instead of the plain-vanilla ones, it will become a habit and enrich your writing. You can contact Jack on Facebook and Twitter, plus on Custom Writing’s blog.

Infographic: 28 Boring Words and What to Use Instead

Infographic: 28 Boring Words and What to Use Instead by Jack Milgram of Custom Writing | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

[tweetthis]Infographic: 28 Boring Words and What to Use Instead[/tweetthis]

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Summer’s Almost Over


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IMG_0813It’s almost time for school to start. The days are getting shorter. There’s a slight change in the weather–a hint of fall perhaps. I’m so ready.

September has always been my time to get back into a routine and setting goals again. Rest up from the hectic summer when there’s picnics and swimming and the days seem to stretch on forever.

Sit on the porch in the evening with a glass of tea. Get out my recipes for soup, bread or mac n cheese. Start thinking about fall decorations. Halloween.

I can’t wait!

What about you? What is your favorite time of the year and why?



Dinner And A Movie Monday – Awakenings


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AwakeningsAwakenings is a 1990 film based on British neurologist Oliver Sack’s 1973 memoir, directed by Penny Marshall. In 1969 the doctor discovered the beneficial effects of the drug L-Dopa when administered to catatonic patients who survived the 1916-28 encephalitis lethargica epidemic. Leonard Lowe and the rest of the patients were awakened after decades of catatonia and have to deal with a new life in a new time.

Robert DeNiro plays Leonard Lowe, one of the patients. After a trial run with L-Dopa produces astounding results with Leonard, it is administered to the rest of the catatonic patients.

Robert DeNiro was nominated for Best Actor for this role. In my opinion, he should have won. He did a remarkable job of bringing Leonard Lowe to life. Through his portrayal, we see the despair and isolation of his condition, and the attitude of wonder he adopts when awakened. We watch his struggle to relearn, his fight to find a place in the world, and the heartbreaking realization that the miracle is only temporary. It will probably move you to tears, but it is a poignant movie that has a lesson for everyone. Enjoy the wonder of living. Learn to appreciate every moment.

Awakenings Quote

A New Find



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View From My Window


My friends and family know how much I love searching for unique finds to decorate my house. There’s something exciting about hunting for the perfect piece to fit in that spot on the wall, on a shelf or in the corner of the living room. I might not even know I need it until it “speaks” to me.

I’ve been doing this forever. Long before anyone ever heard of “shabby chic” or “flea market finds”. You can see me at Garage Sales, Rummage Sales and Estate Sales. Even the city dump. It fulfills my need for retail therapy without breaking the bank, and gives me an interesting story to tell about how it came to be mine.

Today I have a great new piece to showcase. A Royal Quiet Deluxe Portable Typewriter. Only makes sense. A typewriter for a writer. And it had to be a Royal, of course. It looks great on the shelf above my computer and I’ve already incorporated a picture of it into my blog.

What about you? I’m sure there’s something you love to do that is just as rewarding. It could be anything. That’s the beauty. Please share!



Cailin Briste Book Boyfriend Takeover FB Party


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You’re invited to join Cailin Briste as she takes over the Book Boyfriend Bed Hop for four hours of games, giveaways, and teasers for romance readers. 12 authors have donated books so far. Plus Cailin will giving away Amazon gift cards and more. I’ll be there talking about my Scifi Fantasy Romance, In My Own Shadow. cailinbbftakeover


If you’re into contemporary romance, sci-fi romance, romantic suspense, and anthologies, this takeover is for you. Come early. Come late. Come right on time. The games and giveaways will be open from the moment they are posted on August 17 through noon CDT on August 18. #CailinBBTakeover


The first giveaway starts now. Post a comment and tag your friends on the event page linked below to enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card.