Sunday, December 28, 2008

Lena's Offline

I'll stop in briefly to say hello, then it's back to my masculine distractions. I hope everyone had a lovely holiday. I sure did.

I go into surgery this Friday, and I'm now into Hell Week where the diet is very, very restricted and as the week increases the medical profession adds more and more discomforts to my torture. (Sorry Teeka and others. I know it's necessary, I just don't have to like it.) Needless to say, I'm a grumpy old battleaxe right now with the temper of a rabid wolverine with a raging case of hemorrhoids. Anyone who ever says in my hearing that bariatric surgery is "taking the easy way out" may end up decapitated.

You'll be able to reach me by private email on a sporadic basis. Response time can be as long as 48 hours, but I'll get to you eventually. A good way to ensure my spotting your email is to use all caps and yell, "LENA!"

This message will be repeated on my blog, and possibly my website. If you want more info on my surgery, please go to:

Lena the Grumpy Duchess

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Review for Santa Paws from Romance Junkies

Woohoo! Thank you RJ and Chrissy Dionne!

4.5 Ribbons! I'm so thrilled! Here's a snippet.

"Lena Austin delights the imagination with her enchanting short story SANTA PAWS. Infused throughout the story are appropriate snippets from the well known poem THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS and I admit I got a chuckle at how naughty some of them sound when used in just the right context. JR’s attempt at redeeming himself are very sweet and you can sense his discomfort at the possibility of being caught delivering gifts wearing a Santa suit. Phaedra’s rage at him is heartfelt and easily understandable. They don’t seem to be a very likely couple but they have an undeniable chemistry that is very exciting – especially since JR keeps having trouble maintain his full human form while with Phaedra. "

Happy Dancing!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Light Show Awards from Lena

Last night, we continued our annual holiday tradition of driving around our neighborhood and looking at the lawn decorations and lighting. Every year, we "award" a few accolades.

This year, there were several contenders for the "Okay, I put up the damn lights. Stop bitching at me!" Awards. We had the choice of between four small lit candy canes haphazardly stuck in the ground along the sidewalk and a collection of eight broken and shabby snowmen shoved in the ground so they looked drunk. We decided the broken snowmen were even more pitiful than the candy canes.

Then there's our infamous "Bad Taste" award, usually given to the persons with the largest electric bill due next month. We had a very clear winner in this category. Even the huge tricked out stump jumper truck was covered in lights to show it off. There were so many inflatable ornaments on the lawn, you *know* what little grass there is was smothering, and I'm sure the neighbors were using blackout shades on their windows to get some sleep. Then, to make the final icing on the cake, they had an outdoor speaker playing Christmas tunes.

Finally, we have a special category called, "Religious Bad Taste." While we have no objections to religious displays, there are some folks in this world who feel the need to "shout on the street corner." This year, we decided the five-foot tall Precious Moments painted wood cutouts of the nativity scene, complete with animals, shepherds, and wise men went too far over the line into tasteless.

Well, that concludes this year's awards. Wish I could take pictures, but my camera's light sensor is on the fritz.

Wishing you and yours a joyous holiday season, no matter what holiday you celebrate. I'll be offline until after January 3, so please bear with me.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Reprise: Not all Pirates are on the High Seas

Please read this article written by Charlotte B. Compo about e-piracy. Many e-authors just lost thousands thanks to one e-pirate. It's only thanks to the dedication of Charlotte, EPIC, and others that keep me at my desk writing despite the lack of luxuries.

You see, I happen to agree with Charlotte. I'm one of those who gave up a good job to write. I don't make a lot of money. In fact, almost everything I make goes right back out to pay the IRS to cover back taxes caused by that horror of the poor and struggling-- bankruptcy and foreclosure. When they foreclosed on my home in 2004 (the same year I had my first published book, you'll note), I didn't know the mortgage company "forgave" the debt, causing me to owe the IRS and the state of Colorado almost $20,000. I won't finish paying off that debt until 2012, unless I win the lottery.

I don't write books for the money. If I were truly mercenary, I'd go back to being a Mistress for $3000 a week. I'm too old to want to spend time in jail on a vice charge, thanks. Besides, it might embarrass the grandchildren. I write books because I love telling stories while safely wrapped in soft, bright-colored clothes instead of driving to hotels wearing leather so I can beat on businessmen. Sure, Domination is a great aerobic workout but it's damn stressful. You try being discreet while hefting a duffle bag bigger and heavier than a set of golf clubs into a posh hotel elevator.

Anyway, back to the pirating thing. This pirate with the initials AC had three (!!) separate websites where she uploaded ebooks from both the famous and the little guys like me and gave them away for free. Thousands of authors lost thousands each, thanks to this pirate. She apparently labored under the misconception that we were all as rich as Nora Roberts and Stephen King. Yeah, she pirated Nora too.

I can name at least three different authors who had to give up or severely curtail their writing careers because they couldn't afford to feed their kids without a "real" job. One is now working at a restaurant as a waitress because that's the only work she could find. Sadly, it doubled her income and keeps her kids fed.

Yeah, that's what piracy does. It stops authors from writing.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Coming Soon to Aspen Mountain Press: Yule Fire

Yule Fire

Author: Lena Austin

Contemporary Paranormal
Publisher: Aspen Mountain Press
Publication Date: December 2008
Sexual Content: Erotic
Product Code: YULH16

Belle is hiding her multi-millionaire preschooler from the press. Jacques is hiding his business dealings and playing the reluctant war hero Belle must host as a promo stunt for her magazine. All they both want is a quiet holiday season in each other’s arms, but not if Belle’s obnoxious boss has his way. What are a witch and a war hero to do but become co-conspirators, determined to have a little food and fun with no strings attached? But Someone else has plans for them both that go beyond the holiday season.


She dreamed of floating on a cloud, blissfully uncaring about the hustle and bustle of street life below. The honks of traffic were a mere whisper of sound.
Warm and safe, she snuggled in Jacques' arms and muttered, “I love you. Please stay with me here forever.”
His rumbling chuckle vibrated the whole cloud. “I've only been waiting for you to ask.”
His kiss started out feather light, and deepened slowly. The whole cloud lit up with sunshine.
She purred and wrapped her arms around his naked body. Her hands stroked along the hard muscled back. His flesh was just like him, firm and resilient, but hiding the hardness beneath. She needed that strength more than ever. Her hands tightened, pulling him closer.
Another hardness pressed against her thigh. He released her lips and nibbled. “You should be too tired for this. It's been a busy day.”
Her thighs spread of their own accord. Every molecule of her body begged for a validation he'd stay. “I need you,” she breathed on a sigh, and opened her eyes.
Jacques really was above her, one arm holding him up while the other fought with the tangle of the tee shirt she'd replaced her blouse with after the cops claimed it.
Giggles threatened. “Guess I fell asleep in my clothes.”
Jacques grinned down at her in the semi-darkness. The main source of light was the blue reflection of the giant Qwest building that glowed over the entire downtown every night.
Belle wriggled a little. Poor Jacques with his bum leg was probably having a difficult time. “Let me get out of these things, since you're already naked.”
He rolled off obligingly and lay beside her. “Ah kin wait dat long, ah tink.”
She shivered with delight. His accent was back. She growled playfully and sat up to yank off her shirt. “You know what that accent does to me, don't you, evil man.” She fought with her damp panties.
Jacques reached over and tugged them down. They sailed across the room and landed somewhere in the darkness. “No. Why don' you show me, cher?”
Belle raised an eyebrow and shucked off her tee shirt. She wasn't that experienced at sexual equality, but she knew how to please. “I fully intend to.”
He grinned and reached for her, but she evaded his grasp.
Smiling wickedly, she crawled to the foot of the bed. “And now, me bucko, I'm going to imitate my mother's pirate ancestors and see if I can steal your treasure.”
He chuckled and raised his arms to rest his head on his hands. “Oh? This ought to be interesting. I am at your mercy, lady pirate.”
Not in the least put out, Belle swallowed a giggle. “Oh, he laughs. Let's see if you laugh in a minute.”

Holiday Jello Jigglers

Jello now offers the jiggler molds in some supermarkets with the purchase of the gelatin! Go grab yours. I did. This is even easier and cheaper on the diet than cookies. They sure do brighten up a holiday appetizer table.

Monday, December 15, 2008

What an A**hole! If you can afford an island...

Now, I understand that I don't know ALL the story, but it just seems to me that If you can buy a PRIVATE can pay child support.....

He helped make them, so he can help support them until they reach adulthood. That's my thought. I don't care who or what you are or what you think you are, responsibility for your actions must come first. You play, you pay.


Maraschino Pecan Bread

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Death of an Icon-- Bettie Page

For those who never knew her, here's her legacy.

Rest in Peace, Bettie. You earned it.


Sculpy Gift and Wine Tags

Aren't these great? Besides decorating a wine glass or package, think about the tag itself. It's permanent. It can become an earring, a dog tag, a pendant, or a key chain fob. It could even be re-used as a gift tag next year. How cool is that?
I recommend going into a craft store like JoAnn's or Michael's and checking in the jewelry making aisles. There you'll find the wine glass rings, earrings, D-rings, and split rings to make all these gifts in a flash.
Oh, and why limit yourself to these designs? Use miniature cookie cutters, or designs from any coloring book for more shapes and ideas. You could even take a full-size drawing of your favorite cookie cutter and reduce it using a copier to make lots of mini-designs to use forever.
Have fun! It's Playdough for grownups!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hot Mulled Apple Cider from South Beach Diet

Everyone loves a warm cup of cider (known to many as wassail) during the holidays. This recipe gets a boost of flavor from oranges. Since the oranges are left whole and not eaten, this recipe is fine for every Phase of the South Beach Diet.

Hot Mulled Apple Cider (Wassail) (Phase 1)

Makes 4 servings

Sugar-free apple cider drink mix
1 quart (4 cups) water
4 cinnamon sticks
1 whole nutmeg
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 oranges
2 teaspoons cloves, whole


Following the directions on the package, combine the appropriate amount of sugar-free apple-cider drink mix with 4 cups of water in a large, heavy saucepan.
Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, and lemon peel. Keep the oranges whole and leave the peel on. Press 1 teaspoon of cloves into each orange and add them to the pot. Bring to a simmer over high heat; simmer 10 minutes.

Remove from heat; let steep 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, lift out oranges and discard.

Nutritional information

2 calories
0 g fat
0 mg cholesterol
0 g carbohydrate
0 g protein
0 g fiber
5 mg sodium

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Turkey Baste Herb Blend

Yes, if you're a regular on all my blogs (, and here) you know how I raved about that lovely brined turkey. However, sometimes you have to go with something simpler. Hence, this herb blend to rub and baste your turkey . Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Break out the cookie cutters and trays! Here come some of the best darn cookies ever. So simple, and yet so special.
Did you know I collect cookie cutters? Yep, I have the old tin ones from grandma's days, all the way up to the fancy ergonomic ones available for sale from Thank all the gods for grandchildren, who will happily eat what I bake!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Raisin Breads

These yummy bread recipes are made for the bread machine. How easy can you get?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Proposition 8 --California and Florida

This has to be the best way I've ever seen to thumb a nose and point out the general wrongness of Proposition 8 and the related hate legislation in both California, Florida, and across this "nation of the free." (Yeah, right.)

I do not consider President-elect Obama the Messiah, and I wish the poor man all the luck in the world. He inherited a sorry mess, and it doesn't matter who you blame.


How To Create an Elegant and Festive Table

Look at the elements of this table. One large red plate used as a charger, one smaller white plate for breads and/or salads, and one napkin tied with an inexpensive bow. See how layering your theme colors brings the whole thing together? Did you know you can do this with paper plates from any good party store? Unless you LIKE washing dishes?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Peppermint Cone Tree Craft

Don't freak out on me, but this stuff's back in fashion. Go a step beyond these and think of all the other candies and decorations you can use. I'm thinking Hershey's Kisses (silver) and blue miniature Christmas balls all over mine to match my blue, silver, and purple color scheme. Or maybe a bunch of those gold-wrapped chocolate coins? Oh, the possibilities!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Coming Soon to Aspen Mountain Press: Yule Fire


Everyone's hiding something this holiday, and it's not presents. Belle is hiding her multi-millionaire preschooler from the press. Jacques is hiding his business dealings and playing the reluctant war hero Belle must host as a promo stunt for her magazine. All they both want is a quiet holiday season in each other's arms, but not if Belle's obnoxious boss has his way. What are a witch and a war hero to do but become co-conspirators, determined to have a little food and fun with no strings attached? But Someone else has plans for them both that go beyond the holiday season.


She dreamed of floating on a cloud, blissfully uncaring about the hustle and bustle of street life below. The honks of traffic were a mere whisper of sound.
Warm and safe, she snuggled in Jacques' arms and muttered, “I love you. Please stay with me here forever.”
His rumbling chuckle vibrated the whole cloud. “I've only been waiting for you to ask.”
His kiss started out feather light, and deepened slowly. The whole cloud lit up with sunshine.
She purred and wrapped her arms around his naked body. Her hands stroked along the hard muscled back. His flesh was just like him, firm and resilient, but hiding the hardness beneath. She needed that strength more than ever. Her hands tightened, pulling him closer.
Another hardness pressed against her thigh. He released her lips and nibbled. “You should be too tired for this. It's been a busy day.”
Her thighs spread of their own accord. Every molecule of her body begged for a validation he'd stay. “I need you,” she breathed on a sigh, and opened her eyes.
Jacques really was above her, one arm holding him up while the other fought with the tangle of the tee shirt she'd replaced her blouse with after the cops claimed it.
Giggles threatened. “Guess I fell asleep in my clothes.”
Jacques grinned down at her in the semi-darkness. The main source of light was the blue reflection of the giant Qwest building that glowed over the entire downtown every night.
Belle wriggled a little. Poor Jacques with his bum leg was probably having a difficult time. “Let me get out of these things, since you're already naked.”
He rolled off obligingly and lay beside her. “Ah kin wait dat long, ah tink.”
She shivered with delight. His accent was back. She growled playfully and sat up to yank off her shirt. “You know what that accent does to me, don't you, evil man.” She fought with her damp panties.
Jacques reached over and tugged them down. They sailed across the room and landed somewhere in the darkness. “No. Why don' you show me, cher?”
Belle raised an eyebrow and shucked off her tee shirt. She wasn't that experienced at sexual equality, but she knew how to please. “I fully intend to.”
He grinned and reached for her, but she evaded his grasp.
Smiling wickedly, she crawled to the foot of the bed. “And now, me bucko, I'm going to imitate my mother's pirate ancestors and see if I can steal your treasure.”
He chuckled and raised his arms to rest his head on his hands. “Oh? This ought to be interesting. I am at your mercy, lady pirate.” Not in the least put out, Belle swallowed a giggle. “Oh, he laughs. Let's see if you laugh in a minute.”

Pear Bread Pudding

A hot, inexpensive dessert to serve without blowing the already tight budget is always welcome. Later this month, I'll post a simple bread pudding to serve on Christmas Eve with a lovely Whiskey Sauce. Simple and easy for when you're too tired to do more.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thank A Soldier

Whether you agree with the war or not, most of us understand the soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors would much rather be home than there. This is one way of acknowledging their sacrifices.

Won't you join me in thanking them?

xerox will send a card to a soldier over seas. You don't get to pick who it goes to, but you will make somebody's day!

My thanks also to Michelle Hasker, who first posted this information

Crock Pot Gingerbread

I don't have the carb count on this, but who can resist an easy way to make gingerbread in the crockpot? You know I'm trying this for my grandchildren. I won't kid myself and think if I use Cool Whip Free I'm "dieting" but maybe my grandson will let me have a little taste off his. LOL!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Confetti Dip on a Diet

This dip is not only diet, it's pretty! Serve with low carb crudites instead of chips, and you'll not blow it too badly this holiday season.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Very Changeling Christmas Contest

We're just a LITTLE excited about Christmas -- and we should be! This is our FIFTH Changeling Christmas!(Which means Februarys is our fifth BIRTHDAY! Woohoo!)

Our Fifth Annual Very Changeling Christmas Contest begins December 1st
with the first of 12 Gingersnaps:

Gingersnaps: Santa Paws Lena Austin
Gingersnaps: Canine Cop BJ McCall
Gingersnaps: Serendipity 5A Dawn Montgomery
Gingersnaps: Christmas Knight Alecia Monaco
Gingersnaps: Another Chance L. Shannon
Gingersnaps: Cupid Sierra Dafoe
Gingersnaps: Serendipity 7C Lexxie Couper
Gingersnaps: Sophie’s Present Anne Kane
Gingersnaps: Summoning Leila Brown
Gingersnaps: Sugar Plums Kate Hill
Gingersnaps: Pole Serpent Renee George
Gingersnaps: Christmas Party Moira Rogers

12 Changeling Gingersnaps, 12 Chances to Win!

Grand Prize: Free E-Books For a Year(All Changeling 2009 e-book releases)
Five First Place Winners will each receive free E-books for a month (All Changeling January 2009 e-book releases)
10 runners-up will receive Five Free Downloads of their choice.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Post-Mortem

Dante and I always do a post-mortem on the feast the next day. We do have a few notes.

1. Doing a brine rocks! We modified Aton Brown's Roast Turkey brine by using leftover turkey broth we had frozen, but the results were well worth the effort. The turkey was so moist, you could cut it with a fork. Halfway through the cooking time we had to stop and remove some of the broth from the roaster for fear the turkey was boiling, not roasting.

The reserved broth was the perfect stuff to make the gravy, since it had time to sit on the counter and the fat rose to the top to be removed. We didn't need to save it because we had a little sage butter left from when we put some under and in the turkey, so it formed the basis of our roux for the gravy rather than plain old turkey fat.

2. I'm adding a note that next year we make the Roasted Asparagus and Leeks the day before to allow the vinegar and flavors to infuse into the veggies. The huge amount we cooked just could not get done while the turkey rested, and the flavors hadn't really worked their way into the veggies. Today, however, they're delicious.

3. Making some of the recipes ahead worked beautifully. After a small flurry of activity in the morning while we got the turkey out of the brine and put the sage butter "coins" under the skin, we were able to enjoy our guests as they arrived, offer them beverages, show them the munchies, and yak out on the porch. When the timer went off, Dante and I excused ourselves to baste or whatever, but other than that we were relaxed and sociable. That alone is a miracle in our tiny "two butt" kitchen. (Insider joke: The kitchen is so small, two butts rub together and three is real intimacy.)

Other than these minor additions, all the recipes go into the book with no changes. Most are tried and true recipes, so they need no new notes.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Recipe: Exquisite Egg Nog

I know! I know! How dare I serve a raw egg eggnog? Well, I do dare, dammit. Y'all can spend your time and money making those cooked custard type eggnogs, but I'll take this every time. We don't add the bourbon or brandy. It's just not in us to spike the eggnog. For added safety, you can use pasteurized eggs if you're feeling nervous.

Our tradition is to serve the eggnog in the evening with the Snowballs (Yes, I'll post that recipe too.) and toast the beginning of the winter holidays. Why the Snowballs? Come back tomorrow and find out.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Recipe: Sweet Potato Pie

Yes, I'm from the South. They'd take away my Southern Belle ID card if I didn't include Sweet Potato Pie!
I use the food processor for the finest blend possible. Butter Pecan or Pralines and Cream work best for the ice cream.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Recipe: Peanut Butter Balls

Yes, I know it's faint. That's what happens to recipes that are close to forty years old.

2 cups of peanut butter

1 lb margarine, softened

2 tsp. vanilla

2 boxes confectioner's sugar

Blend all ingredients together. Roll into small balls. Dip into chocolate Candy Melts, if desired. (This is a change from what Cindy wrote. Candy Melts are a modern alternative to her recipe.)

Candy Melts are the easy way to get chocolate dips and candy. Go here:

I love candy melts! They come in a variety of colors and flavors for creativity with little effort. Candymaking becomes a snap with Candy Melts. You can really be impressive for next to no effort with Candy Melts.

Update: I found some Candy Melts at Wal-Mart, JoAnn's Fabrics, and Michael's Crafts.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Recipe: Indian Corn

I posted this recipe on another one of my blogs, but it's worth repeating. IMHO, it's better than a rice krispies treat. I don't bother with the sticks. Let's face it, not many of my cookies and desserts last long enough to get fancy. This one is colorful and seasonally appropriate as is.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Mystery Solved-- Roast Turkey with Sage Butter Recipe found!

I've been looking for this recipe for years. We found it in Bon Appetit magazine back in the '90's and have been winging it ever since we lost it in a move.

I'm so happy! Dante's attempts to reproduce this delicious recipe have been successful, but it's nice to have the original back. Hooray!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Recipe: Pumpkin Cheesecake

Okay, I cheat. I subsititute a pre-made store-bought graham cracker crust and use Cool Whip Free on top, but the general recipe is delicious!
This recipe came to me from during the early days when Leanne gave away the holiday menus. I can't stress enough how wonderful Leanne and her site are. There's nothing so priceless as time, and getting the menu mailer is worth every cent you pay. If you struggle every week with what to serve that fits you and your family, then is for you! They can even handle most special needs like low carb, diabetic, vegetarian, and gluten-free to give you just a few examples. Best of all, the grocery list is included. Try it!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Get Rich Slowly-- The Blog

OMG! Did I just find the coolest blog for these economically challenging times:

I love the self-warranty idea especially. Since I buy appliances on a cash basis, declining the extended warranty and putting the money I would have spent into my emergency fund makes a lot of sense. Then I get the interest instead of some company that puts up too many restrictions on my being able to collect on the warranty later.

Recipe: Impossible Pecan Pie with New Variations

This requires explanations, obviously. Spread the pecans in the sprayed pie plate. Whirl up the rest of the ingredients in the blender or food processor until smooth. Pour over the nuts. Bake at 350F for 50-55 min. Cool for 5 minutes.
Nut Pie: Prepare as above, but substitute coarsely chopped peanuts, macadamia nuts, or cashews for the pecans. (Mix and match works too.)
Coconut Oatmeal Pie: Prepare as above but subsitute 3/4 cup coconut and 1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats (oatmeal) for the pecans.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Want to Hear Me on BlogTalkRadio?

Do you know BlogTalkRadio? Want to hear my infamous "whiskey and cream" voice? I chatted with Stella Price LIVE the other day on her BlogTalkRadioShow.

Here's the address:

Just turn up your speakers!


Recipe: Sensational Double Layer Pumpkin Pie

Every year, we experiment with one or two new recipes. In 2008, this is one of our new recipes to try.
We'll do as much as we can, such as substituting Cool Whip Free and Sugar Free pudding, but this one is too new to mess with too much. I'll let you know.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Danger Zone Recipe: Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding

There are some things worth the guilt and indulgence. This is one of them. You can reduce the impact by substituting 2% milk, Sugar Free French Vanilla pudding, Neufactel (sp) cream cheese, low fat sweetened condensed milk, and Cool Whip Free.
However, don't kid yourself. This is a major sin. Good thing the holidays only come once a year, or we'd all look like sofa cushions.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Recipe: Mashed Rutabagas

After the rutabagas have cooked until they are soft, I run them through the food processor for a smooth as silk mash. While they're whirling around, I add the milk, butter, lemon, and seasonings. Now I admit, I add about a half cup of Splenda to mine for a sweeter taste. That's personal, and adds no extra carbs.
Considering mashed potatoes are at least 23g of carbs per serving, this is a significant savings on a day when you *know* you're going to be naughty. Don't give up and be a pig! Save where you can.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Recipe: Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Imagine my shock when I found out some people didn't know how to do this and spent extra money on those canned versions. Baby, wake up and taste the difference! I do recommend wearing an apron when making this a day or two before the feast. When those skins start to pop, you are going to get drops on you. Be wise and be prepared, or someone will think you've developed chicken pox.
I always make this in advance since it stores well in the refrigerator and tastes even better for the chilling. Just let it cool and store in a well-sealed container.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Recipe: Stuffin Muffins

For those families who love that crunchy bit of stuffing, this is the answer. You avoid the possibility of food poisoning by never having the stuffing near the bird, and there's more crunchy bits to go around without fist fights.

You can see I made a note about going lighter on the onions. Ours came out too "oniony" and I personally blame the onion being cut too chunky. This year, I'll be using an onion in several recipes, so I'll chop up a couple in the food processor and scoop out what I need from a ziploc bag.

I just got the "I Love Your Blog Award!"

Did you see the cute little icon? Yes, Sloane Taylor ( awarded me this little darling.

I like this idea so much, I'm going to award it to a few of my friends.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Recipe: Green Beans with Apple Cider

If you time this recipe correctly, it's ready in a snap while the turkey rests before carving. Fast and easy! Even better, it uses bags of frozen beans.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Recipe: Praline Yams * * * *

This recipe has been in my holiday file for many years now. I got it off the back of a can of cut yams, so hence the specification of a brand. You can ignore it if you wish.
If your family has a sweet tooth like mine, I suggest you double this. Works fine in a crock pot, but spray the sides well with cooking spray or you'll still be scrubbing a week later. Better yet, use a crock pot liner.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Recipe: Oven Roasted Asparagus and Leeks

Don't you dare turn your nose up at this until you try it. I don't give out four stars to just any old recipe, thank you!

Do wash those lovely green leeks thoroughly. Blasted things get so sandy.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Recipe: Autumn Potato Gratin

Then again, there are those who can have all the carbs they want. For my beloved DH, this is his potatoes. Perhaps it's a good thing my son-in-law Phil is 2000 miles away, or there would be a battle royal!

This easy gratin is a snap to make and darn near irresistible. I'm glad my DH runs off with this dish to the porch for a pig out as soon as it comes out of the oven.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Recipe: Fauxtatoes Deluxe Low Carb!

For those of us on low carb diets, missing the mashed potatoes at holidays is pure torture. This recipe makes the pain a lot less.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Recipe: Roast Turkey and Pan Gravy

This is the easiest and most detailed explanation on how to roast a turkey with a minimum of fuss.
I've had this tiny booklet since 1990, and I've depended upon it for all these eighteen years.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Welcome to the Age of Repression. Please strip bare.

I cut and pasted this from They said it better than I can. I'm sorry to say Ammendment 2 passed. Welcome to the Age of Repression. I wouldn't be surprised if another Burning Times is around the corner.

"Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized."

Consequences: Similar amendments in other states are being used to take away benefits from public employees (Kentucky, for instance), and dissolve domestic partnership registries used to provide health care benefits and pensions (in Michigan).Broward and Palm Beach Counties and the cities of Tampa, Gainesville and Miami Beach, among others, offer Domestic Partnership Registries. Most Florida universities and more than half of Fortune 500 companies offer Domestic Partnership benefits. These benefits would be placed at risk, if not outright abolished, if this amendment passes.Every unmarried Floridian will be impacted by this amendment - especially divorced or widowed seniors and public employees who, under existing programs, can share some benefits such as hospital visitation privileges and health care coverage without being married.

Hurting Seniors Amendment 2 could force seniors to choose between important benefits like sharing health care and important government benefits.

"Gay Marriage" Bait & Switch Amendment 2 claims to ban "gay marriage" but Florida already has multiple laws banning same-sex marriage.

Massive Government Intrusion Amendment 2 puts the government where it doesn't belong - regulating the personal relationships of Floridians. Hey, Governor! Keep your laws off my body and your nose out of my bedroom!

Hiring Expensive Lawyers Amendment 2 could force unmarried Floridians to hire expensive private lawyers just to protect their basic legal rights. Here I think is the real crux of why this legislation even made it to the ballots. The lawyers can now charge outrageous fees as unmarried domestic partners must come to them in hopes of protecting communal property and giving each other the hope of having the one they live with and who knows them best some rights.

Dramatic Consequences Amendment 2 could take away job benefits from university employees and be used as a defense to domestic violence - as in other states which passed similar amendments. Why am I not surprised?

Recipe: Chocolate Pleasers

These delicious bites satisfy a sweet tooth without completely ruining the appetite.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Recipe: Crunchy Minglers

This Ranch flavored mix is an alternative without nuts. It's quick and stores well. Make this days ahead and hide it well.
I use the Range-top directions.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008

JERR Reviewed Spaceport: Time Bomb

Wow!! Thank you Tallyn!

Title: Spaceport: Time Bomb

Author: Lena Austin

Publisher: Changeling Press

Reviewer: Tallyn Porter

Rating: 4 Stars

Heat level: H

Captain Pepper Corstorphine of the spaceship Tor is a salvager and a pirate. Traveling alongside her is her cyborg friend and ally Kade Starke. They need a lucrative find to set them for a lifetime, but when they finally hit the jackpot with a 21st Century Earth ship called the Louvre, their dreams of the future are put on hold. Other salvagers and pirates want not only the valuables within the Louvre for themselves but the most priceless item in cryo-stasis named Dr. Logan MacDonald, whose eidetic memory is all that is left of Earth’s cultural treasures which has been long since destroyed.

Time Bomb is an exciting, emotional and romantic futuristic tale about hope within two people and the society they live in. Pepper is scared physically and emotionally, which has made her weary of men. While Logan maybe from another era, he’s a true gentleman whose kind soul helps Pepper to deal with her past experiences. The atmosphere is dark and wonderfully realistic. I love the meticulous details Ms. Austin has incorporated within the story. I believe that the reader doesn’t have to be a science fiction fanatic to understand the gadgets of this time period. I found the chemistry between Pepper and Logan quite passionate, which includes a very memorable “waking up from stasis” interlude, m/f/m, and oral stimulation. I find Pepper, Logan and Kade such likeable characters. Pepper and Kade may have been brought up in a savage and free for all up bringing, but in meeting Logan, the glimmer of humanity within Pepper and Kade surfaces. I quite enjoyed the various secondary characters that are either friends or foes yet help Pepper and Logan with their adventure. Ms. Austin has created a wonderful and enjoyable tale that I couldn’t put down. I look forward to reading future stories. Thanks!

Tallyn Porter

Just Erotic Romance Reviews

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Recipe: Onion Blossom Appetizer

This dependable do-ahead is one that always makes the men happy and keeps them out of my already tiny kitchen.
I can even hand the boys the Fry Daddy and the pepared onion. Warning!! Dry that onion thoroughly after the ice bath. Turn it over and be patient. Water in your frying oil engenders a very painful lesson --water makes oil pop.
The ranch-style dressing on the side is perfect. The guys are happy to do the frying, and the snacks keep them from hovering like vultures.

Lena's Thanksgiving Recipe Collection-- A chat with Sloane Taylor

My friend Sloane Taylor wrote:

Tell those young pups the world deserves to know good recipes. They're hard to come by.

Sloane TaylorSweet as Honey...Hotter than Hell

Darn right. Even my mother admits she was dubious about the Roasted Asparagus and Leeks until she tried it. I'm tripling that recipe this year. I already have to triple most of the recipes in my collection, or everyone complains bitterly. The only one Dante and I alone will share in all likelihood is the Fauxtatoes Deluxe. That's a low-carb alternative to the mashed potatoes and Autumn Potato Gratin. I may even make the Gratin in a low-carb version, just so I don't feel deprived too much.

The worst irony of the story of the Roast Turkey with Sage Butter recipe is the same as the Snowball recipe. Everyone loved them so much, we put the recipes "in a safe place" and promptly lost them! I found most of my other recipes over the years, but those two I mentioned remained lost until just this year. Two years ago I designated a special binder for my holiday recipes and put sheet protectors inside. When I found one of my "specials" I dumped it in the sheet protectors to preserve it. I found the Snowballs recipe this past summer, and now finally the last-- Roast Turkey with Sage Butter. The collection of the best of the best is nearly complete.

There are a few Christmas recipes yet to fulfill, such as the Blonde Fruitcake my grandmother made. I have her recipe books, but I've not had the ability or energy to make all those fruitcakes to find which one it was. This year, I may give a few a try. One of them has got to be the one my grandmother and mother made in the fall and doused with good Kentucky bourbon or dark rum, wrapped in cheesecloth, shut in a tin, and hid in the linen closet until Christmas. Mom doesn't remember the recipe, except it came out of one of the cookbooks I inherited. (Frustrated scream)

My grandmother died when I was only twelve, so all her secret recipes were lost. My mother, bless her, is an unenthusiastic cook at best. All I have are the cookbooks and a few scribbled notes on the sides of some of the pages. Some of those notes helped me identify a few almost-lost recipes, like the Red Velvet Cake that is completely from scratch. There's a secret ingredient that elevates it from "chocolate caked dyed red" to a sublime confection. I took the cake decorating class with Red Velvet Cake and my White Chocolate Cake with Cherry Liqueur Filling in mind. Those have to be perfect layer cakes, or it's just not worth doing. I'm still scouring thrift stores for the right cake display tiers. (I will not pay those exorbitant rates for the things in kitchen stores! My last name is not Rockefeller!)


Friday, October 31, 2008

Recipe: Bread Machine Dinner Rolls (Puppy Paws)

Dante and I love making dinner rolls in the bread machine! Call us lazy, but making the dough in the bread machine saves us time and frustration.
We do divide the dough into the 15 balls, but then we divide each ball into three smaller balls. Then we pop three at a time into greased muffin cups.
Then you let rise and follow all the rest of the instructions. I do urge you to keep a close eye on the muffin tins the first time you make this.
Pay attention to the do ahead tips. These are very helpful for organizing your holiday for less stress.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Lena's Thanksgiving Coming Right Up

Call me a sucker for the Norman Rockwell thang, but I love Thanksgiving. I'm the matriarch (naturally). My family may be back in Denver mostly, but I still have my mother, Dante, and DH at minimum.

While I'll post the best of the best in my collection, this is my menu for 2008:

Glazed Pecans
Ranch Crunchy Minglers
Chocolate Pleasers

Bread Machine Dinner Rolls

Bacon and Sage Butter Turkey (This is Dante's secret recipe, so I'll post my alternate)

Fauxtatoes Supreme
Oven Roasted Asparagus and Leeks
Praline Yams
Green Beans with Apple Cider
Stuffin' Muffins

Cranberry Sauce
Pan Gravy

Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding

Sensational Double Layer Pumpkin Pie
Impossible Pecan Pie
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Mincemeat Pie
Sweet Potato Pie

Peanut Butter Balls
Indian Corn

Egg Nog (We toast the beginning of the winter holiday season with this and Snowballs.)

Over the next month, I'll post all of these recipes plus a few more I've chosen not to use this year. My tables will groan enough as it is!


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Halloween is at The Third Infinity

As most everyone knows, I have another blog or two. One is for my dieting and one is for my pagan faith. Normally, I don't cross these borders, but Halloween is the exception. Please pop over to The Third Infinity to see tasty recipes and fun things to do for Halloween.
The recipe at left is but one small example of my weirdness. See you there!


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Easy Gift for Winter-- Loopy Fleece Boa

I love this gift! Sure, the folding is challenging, but once you have that center sewn, it's an easy gift to make and so soft and warm. I can't wait to hand this one out.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Why I love Mondays

DH Randy came home early on Thursday, so I had a long weekend with him. Despite the constant masculine "Hey Baby! Have you seen X?" I finished the self-edits for a novel to AMP. (Yay, me!)

Saturday we went over to a rental property my mother owns to finish some roof and ceiling repairs left over from TS Fay. The house is very old, so this meant taking down a lovely plastered ceiling in the second bedroom. Broke our hearts, but the damage was too great to do otherwise. Fortunately, the tenant has been very patient with us now that the roof no longer leaks. That damage was repaired the same weekend she contacted us, but since then we've made an unholy mess in her spare bedroom every weekend while we repaired rafters, removed endless bags of rotten plaster and drywall, etc. It seems like the work is endless.

Yesterday was even busier. I'd promised the guys a meal fit for kings, and I produced one of my better efforts.

Creamy Squash Soup
Soy and Sesame Pork
Cauliflower Supreme
Green Beans with Basil Vinegar
Mocha Ricotta Crème with Coffee for dessert.

Yes, the guys made pigs of themselves. I tried to hoard a bit of the Cauliflower Supreme for my lunch today, but no such luck. Dante has a bloodhound's nose for his favorite dishes. (grumble)

Then we had guests come in the evening after dinner for coffee and a DVD. Dear friends, really. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. However, we forgot about the DVD! Oh, well. Good thing I drank decaf. I was sloshing by bedtime.

Thank goodness it's Monday.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Blue Rose has been handed in!

For well over two years, I've fiddled and worked whenever I could on a story near and dear to my heart I called Blue Rose. Here's the blurb I originally wrote:

The only one not lying is the demon…

Ever read Dante's Inferno? The old boy must have a new nickname-- Pinwheel-- for all the turning over in his grave he's doing. This time the tourists in Hell are a poisoned princess and her two suitor princes, both of whom have secrets of their own. Their guide is not a gentle philosopher-poet, but a sassy demon with his own reasons for being their escort through all nine levels. They have to find the blue rose in the deepest part of Hell and make it into an antidote before the next full moon or the princess dies. Things have changed a little --okay, a lot-- since old Dante made his visit. Hell is timeless, existing in all times simultaneously. Along the way they'll meet the Furies, a little thief named Dodger, a god or two, and step over Satan's chewing gum. They're getting quite an education. This is no morality tale.

Well, it's finally finished and turned in to Aspen Mountain Press. Aspen offered me several advantages I simply couldn't refuse:

1. They have a sterling reputation for treating their authors fairly and paying well.
2. They allowed me a lot of artistic freedom to do some very different interpretations on old myths
3. I got to write the sex when and where I felt it appropriate

Well, to say the least, I'm thrilled. I can't wait for December 12 when Blue Rose finally debuts.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

A New Review For Bad Fur Day

I am pleased to announce that Bitten By Books has reviewed Bad Fur Day!

Here's a snippet from Kate:

Austin and Richards have done it again. This novella continues the tale of their wild and wacky world of shifters of every shape and size...You can always count on Austin and Richards for some “get me some iced tea, I’m on fire” sensuality. I am putting this team of hot Changeling Press writers on my must buy list. Trademark humor abounds as well. I particularly liked this line “Staci wasn’t sure if she heard the carpet sizzle, or if that was her brain frying all its circuits.” Austin and Richards have a stellar comedic voice. 4 Tombstones from the cranky Southern Belle.

New Release: Spaceport: Time Bomb by Lena Austin

Spaceport: Time Bomb
by Lena Austin
Cover art by Zuri
ISBN (13): 978-1-59596-691-9
Genre(s): Futuristic, Sci-Fi
Theme(s): Ménage, Bisexual and More, Spaceport
Series: Spaceport Multi-Author
Length: Novella


Pepper and her cyborg ally, Kade Starke, scavenge space junk hoping to find that one-in-a-million hunk of rock that will make them rich. Then they find the sad wreck of an old shuttle, and a hunk inside named Dr. Logan MacDonald. Oh, and several billion credits worth of long-lost artifacts and art. Now everyone from pirates to Imperial forces want Logan and his treasure. To get the artifacts to where they can be shared by all humanity and not just a wealthy few, Logan and his scavenger friends may just have to turn the treasure ship into a literal time bomb.

This e-book file contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language which some may find offensive and which is not appropriate for a young audience. Changeling Press E-Books are for sale to adults, only, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.
Captain Pepper Corstorphine drummed her long fingers on the ship’s console and glanced listlessly at the running vid game she was playing with her partner and friend, Kade. As usual, he was winning. He beat her nine out of ten times, but playing games was better than sitting in her chair staring at the stars of space while they hunted space junk. “Why do I bother trying to beat a cyborg?”
Kade turned his sober and scarred face to look at her, but his hookup to the console kept the game running. His face, one of the few human things visible on him, was enough to scare small children, but laser blasts did that to you. The only things untouched by his former profession of Imperial soldier were his big brown eyes. “Because you’re bored out of your mind. However, it pays the bills to scour the sector for occasional hunks of debris and the rare metallic meteor worth hauling in for a few credits.”
Pepper knew that. Even their conversations had become an endless loop on replay. She sighed and stood. “Give me the damn helmet. I need some virtual exercise.”
“Shall we play naked and vulnerable?” Kade pretended to leer at her. They’d served as each other’s sexual release often, but diddling with a cyborg’s extensions wasn’t much of a turn on for her. “We haven’t gone without our armor in a few cycles.”
“You’re bored, too, aren’t you?”
Kade shrugged. “Tired of being half-man and half-machine. Half a life is what I call it. I’d welcome a bit of danger right now.”
Pepper reached for the virtual helmet, but the console proximity alarm beeped the warning sequence. Instantly, she was diverted. Either they had a collection to make, or they’d be arguing with another space junker for rights to the immediate sector. Either way, it was better than boredom. “Woohoo! What have we got?” Pepper hopped back into her chair, shut down the game, and called up extra power for grapplers or a boost to the engines of her ship, the Tor.
It may have looked like a patchwork of technology and corrosion, but the Tor was hers. Okay, it was the creditors’ until she achieved payoff. Her ship looked like the junk they collected, but that ugliness was deliberate. Even the corrosion was fake, but would pass casual scans.
“Metal, Pepper! A big hunk of it. Barest trace of an energy signature, and it’s not photon propulsion. It’s -- I don’t believe I’m saying this -- nuclear fission and fossil fuel.” Kade’s eyes lit up in greed and joy, even if the screen gave his face an eerie green cast. “I think we have a whole derelict, and it’s bigger than a satellite or probe. It may be a ship!”
Her heart raced, and Pepper dove to look for herself. Hope flared in her greedy heart. A whole ship could get them darn close to payoff and much closer to freedom than either had thought possible. She and Kade discussed endlessly what they’d do if they ever got to payoff without ever believing it could happen before they were too infirm to enjoy it. “Dollavera’s Nuts! Let’s get over there and confirm.”
The wedge-shaped hulk hove into view, beautifully framed by a nearby nebula. The white hull gleamed and winked, belying the pocked appearance of a hull that wasn’t meant for deep space. “What’s the inscription on the side there? I can’t read it, and I thought I was pretty good with the common trade tongues.”
Kade focused on the side of the ship and captured an image as well as deploying the grappling magnet. The magnet attached to the nose cone with ease, assuring their claim over the entire bulk. “Accessing the data. Hmm. It’s Old Earth French, Pepper. The name of a museum called the Louvre, but that’s odd. The registry number is for another ship called Enterprise. The Enterprise was supposedly destroyed during the reign of the dictator Amin in the early twenty-first century.”
“Louvre? Weird name. So is it the Enterprise or the Louvre?” Pepper leaned forward to study their prize. Their big, hulking ticket to freedom. She did a tiny jig behind Kade’s chair. While historical dating could place the ship and give them clues as to what types of saleable items it might contain, they could explore for themselves. It would just take longer, and longer meant more time for pirates to find them. A pulsing light caught her eye on Kade’s console. “What’s the energy readout blinking for?”
Kade’s extensions were busy and his voice absent. “Weak energy pulse. I haven’t identified the source yet. One question at a time, Captain Greedy.” Images flipped at rapid speed on his screen, slowed and stopped. An image of a ship identical to their prize stood against a pale blue sky. “That thing was never meant to be here in deep space, Pepper. It was called a shuttle, meant only for flights of short duration between nearby objects of a planet, like to orbiting space stations and back to the ground. Our prize was one of only twenty shuttles ever created, and all were presumed destroyed.” Kade gestured out the window. “What we have there isn’t supposed to exist.”
“So, no chance of knowing what’s on board. Delia’s tits. Okay, so we suit up and go look.” Pepper sighed. “Does the pulse come from the nuclear power? I don’t want a radiation leak contaminating my best power suit.”
“No leaks that I can find.” Kade clamped down his helmet, sealing his vulnerable face behind a smoky mask. His voice issued from the radio speaker on the console, and would until Pepper tuned in to his channel from her own suit. “I’ll go see to the jet packs while you primp.”
Pepper laughed and jumped into the bottom half of her suit. Since she wore a singlesuit coverall unless she was sucking up to some officious government type, primping like a sex slave was out of the question. Not that such action did her much good. Pepper fingered the scar that ran from her hairline over her eye to her jaw. No male would look at her without wincing, and that was the way she wanted it. She hit the button that lowered the top half of her suit and fitted herself inside.
By the time they jetted over to the ship, Kade had already located a hole in the hull large enough to let them enter, just behind the command module. He dove right in, and Pepper was seconds behind. They both fought with the odd wheel that opened the door to the next portion, labeled crudely “Cargo Bay.”
There was no sound in space, but Pepper could imagine the creaks and groans emitted by the old mechanism when it finally gave way and spun freely. The door opened into a darkened area where strange shapes floated in the zero gravity. All were packaged, some crudely, to protect them, and many showed signs of collision with other objects.
“I’m going to cut this one open.” Kade changed his left appendage from scanner to knife, and scored along the textile covering a very tall and long object. After several attempts, the wrapping fell away revealing a human female figure made of stone, starkly white in the darkness. “This looks familiar. Let me access the ship’s database.”
Pepper waited, pushing away the occasional object floating too near for her comfort. She’d seen statues before in pictures, mostly in newsvids of the richest homes. This statue was beautiful in a way Pepper could not describe. Pity its arms had been broken off, though they weren’t in evidence nearby.
“Holy Lextu! Pepper! Turn on your link. Take a look at this.” She’d never heard Kade’s voice have that tone of awe and excitement before.
Pepper tongue-switched on her access to the ship, and an exact picture of the statue appeared on the tiny screen in her hood. She listened carefully to the accompanying recording.

Last known picture of Venus de Milo statue, lost in 2015 during reign of dictator Amin. Presumed destroyed in his cultural purge, along with all contents of museums in major metropolitan areas of Europe, Asia, and parts of North America. Estimated value at time of destruction was incalculable…

Kade ended the transmission. “If this is the real thing…”

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Slideshow of Covers

Paper Bag Pumpkin

Paper Bag Pumpkin
by Cathie Filian and Steve Piacenza

225 - FolkArt ® Acrylic Colors - Pumpkin, 2 oz.
661 - FolkArt ® Metallics - Sequin Black, 2 oz.
724 - FolkArt ® Acrylic Colors - Evergreen, 2 oz.
1 Paper lunch bag
Scrap piece of card stock
Foam paintbrushes
Scissors (parents help)
Hole punch – decorative eyelet optional (parents help)
Old newspaper
Green pipe cleaner

1. Using a foam brush, apply the pumpkin orange paint to the front, back and sides of the paper bag and allow to dry. Paint the scrap card stock with the green paint and allow to dry.
2. Cut the sponge into a triangle shape. Dip the triangle into the black paint and press onto the front of the paper bag in the appropriate spots for the eyes, nose and teeth.
3. Cut 3 leaf shapes from the green painted paper and punch a hole in the top. Add a decorative eyelet if desired.
4. Stuff the bag with crinkled up newspaper, twist the top together, attach the pipe cleaner around the top and add the leaves to the pip cleaner. Twist the ends of the pipe cleaner into curly q’s.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Take Control of Your Holidays!

Okay, I have to confess. I’m one of those disgusting born organized people who have an updated Christmas card list, get their shopping done by Thanksgiving, and generally disgust normal people. There. I said it. I’m not normal, and I know it.

Most people run around trying to surreptitiously find out Aunt Matilda’s address every year, shop from December 12-24, and scream they can’t find Mom’s recipe for the stuffing the know they filed “somewhere safe” when they found it last March.

Is it any wonder one of the most ubiquitous articles in every woman’s magazine is about handling holiday stress? Stop the madness! Wouldn’t you love to know that address, budget so you don’t have credit debt to your eyeballs, and can serve that delicious holiday meal of your dreams?

Let’s grab up a few simple supplies and get ready for the holidays in simple steps. You’ll need:

A ring binder or two. (I needed two. One for the “regular” organization and one just for the recipes.)
Binder dividers and labels.
Good quality, top-load sheet protectors. Get a whole box if you really love to cook.
A calendar. I printed out a simple one using an MS Word template, focusing just on October through January. However, that one you keep on the wall will do nicely.
Paper. Steal a few from the kids’ filler paper stack, if necessary.

This part’s easy. Really. Put the dividers in Binder #1 and label it Holiday Organizer. Put the sheet protectors in Binder #2, if needed, and label it Holiday Recipes.

Now, here’s the next step. Take those papers and label each across the top:

Note: Please feel free to modify this list to suit your own needs and holiday celebrations. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect the first year, or even the second. This is your personal memory aid. Do what you can. This is to ease your stress, not add to it.

Mailing List—Cards and/or Gifts. If you have to mail it, you need addresses. Make that list and get those missing addresses now.
Favorite Holiday Traditions – This is a great time to sit down and discuss those traditions. I found out none of us cared for some of ours and we were all doing it to please everyone else! Now we do precisely what everyone agreed upon and keep it simple.
Stocking Stuffer List— Everyone has their little preferences. Write them down. DH knows to get me black Flair pens, and he always gets a new mag flashlight. Dante likes to get a small box of chocolate covered cherries. Why not go ahead and get these things now?
Gift List – This list will change from year to year as children grow or social circles change. However, some folks like certain things like gift cards to certain stores. Write this down. Nothing helps you keep a budget better than a list. I’m so terrible about impulse shopping that I buy on the Internet so I don’t wander around a store buying more than I need! I even ship direct from the site, since many of my family live in far-flung places. Sometimes if I buy a certain dollar amount at one website, I can get free shipping!
The Budget—Mine is very simple. How much money did I save divided by the number of people I have to buy a gift for. Other people get more elaborate. Do what you feel is best.
Dates to Remember – Shipping deadlines, the office party, church functions, deadlines for homemade gifts, and that one poor person who has a holiday birthday. Transfer these dates to your calendar and hang the calendar back up.
The Holiday Menu (You may need one for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas.) This is up to you. You may serve only one certain menu or many.
Travel Notes and Checklist- Departure and return dates, packing list, who’s taking care of the pets or do you need to book a kennel?
Decorate! —Do you always forget to decorate the guest bathroom or you never remember from year to year where those “perfect places for that thingy” are? Write them down. I always forgot the special holiday welcome mat for the front door. A note helps me remember.

Now for the recipes! Go dig out all those wonderful holiday recipes. Don’t obsess! Just find the ones you can. You’ll find the rest later. You always do. For now, dump them into the sheet protectors. I spent five years before I found that wonderful cookie recipe that had knocked them in the aisles twenty years before I buried it in the cookie recipe box. This will be an ongoing project for a few years so don’t sweat it. You’ll find Mom’s stuffing recipe eventually.

Now, don’t you feel better? Everything you need is in one place. Now when it’s holiday time you can stroll over and pluck your Holiday binder(s) from the shelf and flip them open, ready to begin.

Most of this came from the FlyLady ( I urge you to check her and her system out.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Halloween is Coming- Have a Haunted Hand

Glowing Haunted Hand

Cathie Filian and Steve Piacenza

4410 - FolkArt ® Fabric™ Paint - Brush On - Fawn
CS11279 - Mod Podge ® Glow-in-the-Dark, 8 oz.
Rubber kitchen glove
Pillow stuffing
2 yards cheesecloth
Foam paintbrush
Paintbrush – soft bristles
1. Firmly stuff the rubber glove with pillow stuffing. Tie the opening closed with a piece of string.
2. Cut the cheesecloth into strips about 2” wide.
3. Wrap the strips around the glove and fingers, overlapping and crisscrossing as you go. Using a foam paintbrush apply two coats of mod podge all over the glove. Add more cheesecloth & mod podge to fill in any empty spots. Allow to dry.
4. Working with a dry soft bristled paintbrush, lightly apply the fawn paint over the entire glove. You can add depth by adding more paint in between the fingers. Allow to dry.
5. Top coat the glove with a third coat of glow in the dark mod podge and allow to dry.

Welcome to my Blog!

Thanks for popping by! Don't sit on the whipping horse unless you want to find out how it's used. I speak my mind and annoy many people, but all of it is meant in good spirit. Feel free to argue with me. I like it.

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