Monday, December 20, 2010

Love, Christmas, Recipes and Books

Yeah, that title leaves a lot to be desired but I'm thinking this is going to be one of those posts that goes every where and no where all at once.

It's now 5 days till Christmas and I'm amazingly not stressed. See, this year Bob made some off the cuff comment about how Christmas shopping is so easy. Let's just say I lost it and he was all 'what, make me a list and I'll do all the shopping'. Deciding to take him at his word I made up a list of people we needed gifts for - eg. Buy Dad 2 gifts - about 30 bucks each.

He had it all done in one weekend and he had a blast doing it.

I was floored and pleased all at once because he did a great job and hey, I don't have to go out and stress over gifts. (I had already bought the 'big' gifts for the family so it was those odd gifts that I needed)

I have also wrapped almost all the presents!

I have only Bob's gifts to wrap and FINALLY last night my writer's block loosened it's grip on my brain and I was able to write up my hopes for Bob in the coming year. This is the gift I was talking about earlier. I tell you, I was having such an awful time trying to get anything into words. Last night inspiration hit while I was watching some lame show and I grabbed the first piece of paper to my left and started writing until I thought I was done. Now I can leave it for a few days and then tweak it before deciding it's right.

The good news is that I should be able to figure out the size the writing part will take up and I'll be able to do the 'art' part over the next few nights.

With all my free time - I want to read and really, I want to buy lots of books. I found my gift card from my birthday - I figured I had used it but it ended up being in a pocket of my purse I rarely use. Duh. I'm trying to work out whether I'll order online or go to the store. Haven't quite decided.

Finally, my family now tries to make it easier for the host by having everyone bring a few dishes. So I'm doing broccoli and cauliflower with cheese AND a broccoli casserole for my SIL (that part is a surprise so we'll see if anyone touches it - SIL won't eat stuffing from inside the bird so this casserole covers both stuffing and broccoli), parsnips (my dad's fav veg but one my mom refuses to make - I like 'em too so I'm bringing 'em) and I know there is something else but it's on the list upstairs and I'm not moving at the moment.

That's is from this part of the world, hope you are having a great time and if you are celebrating I hope you are not in the middle of Stress-mas.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Special Gift For My Hubby

I don't believe I mentioned it here on the blog but over the past several months Bob has known that his job of 13 years was pretty much done. I have to say that the company Bob worked for was very good to it's employees and it's a bit sad that Bob will have to leave.

That said, Bob will continue to work for the next few months as a 'contract employee' to help wind the business down or to help it gear back up if there is a buyer.

I'm very proud of my husband (as I'm sure most wives are) and I know that he will get a job fairly fast if that is what he wants. He has already thought of a few things he would like to do once this job winds down.

I'm surprised and happy for him that he doesn't seem depressed or overly upset about this. I had told him many times before we got the final news that he had done everything in his power to keep the company going. There is no shame in what has happened - at least not on Bob's head. Now, I think there should be a few executives who should be hanging their heads in shame but then, these are people looking out for their best interests instead of looking at the economy and the need for people to make a living.

Bob's whole philosophy was about saving the business (about 180 jobs). He knew it could be done but it's hard to run a business when the 'parent' companies show no interest in it and you have a board overseeing the project that can't really work together.

Anyways, it's happened and there is nothing to be done.

So Bob's Christmas gift this year will be more along the lines of silly but you know what, these are the type of gifts Bob always remembers.

I have decided to write up something for him about how we're in this together and that he has a partner that will follow where ever he leads. I found a scrapbook frame and will use scrapbook papers to make a nice piece of 'manly' art. (Seriously, scrapbooking needs to take men into account.) And it will probably be the least expensive gift I give him this year. But I have a feeling it will mean the most and it's during the rough times, even though I say it every day, to let the ones you love know what they mean to you.

If you need an idea because of cut backs with money but aren't sure a scrapbooked art piece will work for someone, then I have other ideas that are fairly cheap and say 'I know you'.

Eg. I had a friend who was an actress (still is) and I knew her favourite soliloquy from Shakespeare. I found a frame (at like Home Sense (very inexpensive but great quality) and printed out the soliloquy on pretty paper and framed it for her.

My cousin is also really good with gifts. The year her mother was to retire she took some plain journals and got letter stickers and made up a journal for finance, a journal for adventure and another one I can't remember - it was all in a pretty cardboard suitcase (again, cheap at Homesense) and I thought it was a fabulous idea.

The only caution I can make is know your audience. My mother would clock me with a gift like that - or of course, make it a running joke that we all have a great time laughing about. No seriously, there was this gift I did and it was horrendous and we laughed and laughed and laughed. So even though it was funny, it wasn't exactly a gift my mother loved because hey, she likes particular things and my arts and crafts stuff just ain't it.

So good luck with your shopping (I'm almost done - I need to buy Bob a few more 'real' gifts) and if you decide to do something a little more crafty I would love to hear about it.

As it is, I may be missing for a few days as I struggle to come up with something 'perfect' to write for the man I love.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Top 100 - More like Sixty Something

First things first, I have already looked at my submitted list and thought 'wtf!?'. I think that's probably quite common when an avid reader is asked to rank their favourite romances of all time. There are always titles missed, some I think I got wrong and of course, the day of the week can change everything.

I will put little blurbs here and there for some of the books - cause I'm kind of lazy and yet I'm feeling chatty.

Here's what I know for sure, there are more than a few titles on this list that need to have a re-read cause even though I can look at the rating I may have posted for a book, I remember next to nothing about it. Also, there are only a few books that I remember parts of but have no clue who wrote them or what the title of the book was. Sad really.

That said, here is the list I submitted:

1. Lord of Danger Anne Stuart

Historical Romance

I can't wait for this book to get a new cover. I love the colour purple and all, but this cover needs some new life!

The hero is Simon and he's a con man from way back but he falls so hard for his new plain wife that you can't help but fall in love with him. There is a scene in this book that gives me the tummy dip and it's awesome. Obviously my favourite Anne Stuart book and really, it's like picking your favourite cat.

2. Mr. Impossible Loretta Chase

*gasp* A new cover like this one - oh so pretty and that's a colour purple I can get behind!

I loved, loved, loved this story - if you haven't read this one yet, keep reading until they get to the Pyramids. The opening is a little dry and slow but after that this book is a keeper all the way!

3. Branded by Fire Nalini Singh

I have to say in the end, I actually liked this book with Mercy and Riley better then Judd's book (and I loved Judd). Two dominant were animals having to deal with being attracted to each other and Mercy needing to be dominant yet at the same time needing a man strong enough to equal her. Bit of a dance to get it right but great to watch these two fall in love.

4. Pleasure of a Dark Prince Kresley Cole

This book got an A+ from me and that almost never happens. It was the hero, Garreth MacRieve who completely made this book for me. I also enjoyed Lousha (Lucia) who is all broken and just really needs to believe in love. I couldn't have been happier after reading this book.

5. Fire and Ice Anne Stuart

This was the book in the series that I was sure wasn't going to work for me. Silly me for under estimating AS. This book has some elements of a classic Stuart and yet, there were allowances made for how young these characters were. They both made mistakes (refreshing to see from an AS hero as they are usually dead set in their ways) and in the end, I loved them both. In earlier books I didn't mind the heroine but the hero seemed 'off' for lack of a better word. I went into the book prepared not to like Rio but in the end, he was just too cute and sweet and so not like most AS heroes but then, he found love much younger than most of them.

6. Lover Awakened J.R. Ward

Hard to believe I'm now terrified to continue reading this series. This was Zsadist's book and it was wonderful. I do have to say that afterwards I realized just how 'hero-centric' this book was. It was Zsadist's story and his heroine was really just along for the ride.

7. Falling Angel Anne Stuart

This was one of those stories that was written before the so called 'glut' of paranormals hit the market. I would say this is a great story to read right about now. Small town, cold winter and hardship right around the corner. Loved it.

8. Time enough for Love Suzanne Brockmann

Oldie but Greatie. This is probably one of the best time travel orientated books I've read. I have seen way too many time-travel shows, movies and read my fair share of romance books that leave logistics all in the wind. Who cares about all the nitty gritty, I just needed to get these two people in the same area. Uh, no. My brain won't let it lie.

If you love Suz Brockmann and you haven't read this book - get on it. It's one of her best and I have to say half way through the story I thought 'oh shit, this is so not going to work' and yet, she made it really work. Great story all around.

9. Dream Fever Katherine Sutcliffe

First and foremost - the cover of this book is atrocious which might be why I usually get it confused with the one Sutcliffe book that I really dislike which was called Fever. Yep, you read that right, make sure you get the right book!

Historical New Zealand - anything else need to be said? Okay, how about a romance that doesn't shy away from the really, really horrible things in life. I always appreciate an author who allows for real life situations to happen. Guess what? Sometimes the knight in shining armour just doesn't get there in time. Or ever. So bad things happen and I remember liking this story because it wasn't all shiny and happy but there is a HEA so go forth and read.

10. Lover Eternal J. R. Ward - Rhage

I was surprised how charmed I was by Rhage in this story.

11. Worth Any Price Lisa Kleypas

Okay, honestly, I'm not sure I'm remembering the right book - but it was either this one or Lady Sophia's Lover that was the first Kleypas I read. I found greatness!

12. The Secret Julie Garwood

I love this romance and the relationship between 2 women who haven't seen each other in years. I also remember exactly when I read this book because it was 'the' reward after writing my last final exam for the year.

13. Kiss of a Demon King Kresley Cole

14. Moonrise Anne Stuart

15. Bet Me Jennifer Crusie

16. For My Lady’s Heart Laura Kinsale

There are parts of this story that had me stumbling - I think there is a scene where the hero rides a horse into a castle all dressed in green and to this day it's the scene that stands out in my head - cause really, dressed all in green?

It was the relationship in this story that made everything work. And I rarely read Kinsale because she makes 'me' work when I'm reading and you know I hate work.

17. Over the Edge Suzanne Brockmann

This is probably one of the only single title books by Brockmann that had me with every story line. She's famous for having three story arcs happening in a book and most of the time I want to kick something but I enjoyed all aspects of this story. And yes, Sam and Alyssa in this one were amazing. Max and Gina met and it was all about them for so long in my head.

18. Gone Too Far Suzanne Brockmann

Sam and Alyssa's book. And Max and Gina's brushing up to each other. Yum.

19. Devil in Winter Lisa Kleypas

20. Caressed by Ice Nalini Singh

The book of Judd. Yummmm. It was great but there was one mis-step that I didn't exactly enjoy. Judd is ice cold Psy and has to be in order not to kill those around him with one thought. He is in love with Brenna but even touching her causes a type of brain damage. I guess I needed something other than a 'flame out' for Judd to become one with Brenna. I love an angsty character and Judd had it. This one is going on the re-read pile for sure.

21. Slave to Sensation Nalini Singh

22. Renegade Love Katherine Sutcliffe

The romance book that started it all. I'm sure on re-read it would feel old and dusty and maybe even a bit silly but I remember it fondly and for that alone it has to be on my list.

23. Dream Man Linda Howard

I had read some Linda Howard books before this one and I was all for marking her down as an author who didn't work for me. Then this book came out and again, it was before the glut of 'paranormal' and SPLADOW I found the magic of Linda Howard. I miss her.

24. Duncan’s Bride Linda Howard

An old fashioned idea in a contemporary that Howard made work. It definitely showed the growth of a relationship and I appreciated reading a book where the hero and heroine were all in and not sure what the end result would be.

25. Ride the Fire Pamela Clare

26. Lady Sophia’s Lover Lisa Kleypas

27. Flowers from the Storm Laura Kinsale

This is one that is due for a re-read as I've only ever read this book once. But there are a few scenes that still stick with me and I do remember thinking it was one of the best romances I had ever read.

28. Morning Glory LaVyrle Spencer

I'm not sure if I would ever need to re-read this book. I have re-read it maybe 4 times since 1990 and I'm pretty sure I remember almost every scene in this wonderful story. That's very odd for me so I know this has to make my list of all time favourite romances.

29. Black Ice Anne Stuart

30. Anyone But You Jennifer Crusie

The first story I read where the heroine is older than the hero and damn, she feels every year of it. Funny story and yet, there was a lot of depth here that needed to be dealt with. Great story if you haven't read it yet.

31. No Rest For the Wicked Kresley Cole

32. The Duke and I Julia Quinn

33. Dreaming of You Lisa Kleypas

34. Twilight Memories Maggie Shayne

Hello vampire heroes!!! Yep, it was Maggie Shayne who introduced me to the vampire hero and I haven't looked back since. I have very fond memories of this trilogy and an extreme 'squeee' moment in my life at a used bookstore when I found the next title after 2 years of searching. (before internet)

35. Twilight Illusions Maggie Shayne

36. Heart Throb Suzanne Brockman

Stand alone Brockmann that was amazing and yet, I've never re-read this one. So yes, this one needs to go on the re-read list.

Side Note: what a horrible cover - luckily for her I was hooked on her books by the time this one came out.

37. Ice Blue Anne Stuart

38. Open Season Linda Howard

39. As You Desire Connie Brockway

Another book for the re-read pile. I remember loving it at the time but that's about all the memory I have - okay, a few scenes here and there but not enough to go 'hell yeah, awesome book!'

40. A Rose in Winter Kathleen E Woodiwiss

Okay, the Woodiwiss books that are listed here are nostalgia induced. I was new to romance so no, I hadn't come across the story lines that apparently are used many times by other authors.

41. Shanna Kathleen Woodiwiss

This one I need to re-read. I remember the opening scene, the whip scene and almost the ending. I'm thinking there was a lot more to the story.

42. Come Love a Stranger Kathleen Woodiwiss

Again, never having read a story that featured amnesia or the idea of twins. It was spell bounding.

43. Passion Lisa Valdez

44. Mr. Perfect Linda Howard

45. Lone Rider Lauren Bach

46. A Pocketful of Paradise Kathleen Kane

Kathleen Kane is an author I find often overlooked - probably because I don't think she's writing anymore. (I love this cover - navy blue with white daisies - very classic to me)

This book was once again before 'paranormals' - now listen up you western lovers (Kristie, I'm talking to you!) this is a western with a bit of the paranormal going on.

Unless this is the other one. Either way, I have 5 books by this author and I really want to re-read them to see if they are as great as I remember.

47. Tears of a Renegade Linda Howard

48. Come Lie with Me Linda Howard

49. The Bride Julie Garwood

You have to take yourself back to a time when bodice ripping covers were the norm. That's all you would see in that small 8' section of romance at your wee book store.

Now, look at the cover. I'm telling you, I was enamoured with the cover because it was soooo beautiful. The drapes were all golden and then the back of the wedding dress and all you can see of the hero is his hand on her back and his face where he is planting a gentle kiss on her neck.

Now take then an amplify it by a bijillion and you'll have what is between the covers of this book. In a time of 'I hate you, I love you, I hate' you kind of romances I finally found an author who made the conflict external to the H/H. You got to watch two people fall in love without misunderstandings, distrust and family drama. It was refreshing.

50. The Lion’s Lady Julie Garwood

I loved, loved, loved this romance - a man who thinks the woman he is with is a delicate flower who needs his protection. What a blow to his ego when he discovers she's more than capable of fending for herself. I adored her!

51. The Prize Julie Garwood

52. Honor’s Splendor Julie Garwood

53. My Dearest Enemy Connie Brockway

Dangit - I think I have the story line of this one and As You Desire all mixed up. Looks like Brockway is making her way onto my re-read list.

54. All Through the Night Connie Brockway

55. A Rose At Midnight Anne Stuart

56. Night Watch Suzanne Brockmann

I remember thinking there was not one bad note in this entire story. I wasn't impatient for something to happen, nothing made me want to scream - odd reason to have a book on my top 100 but again, I know I really liked this romance, I just don't remember much about it.

57. Hostage to Pleasure Nalini Singh

58. Honest Illusions Nora Roberts

This was probably the last NR I read because it about broke me. I don't do well with separations and there is one and I guess Alzheimers is brutal because there is one scene that had my shirt drenched in tears. And I don't like crying!

59. Public Secrets Nora Roberts

Another book I remember almost all the scenes - also another book that didn't shy away from horrible things happening in real life. I had read a few NR's before this and didn't really think she was a romance writer - this one made me see the light.

60. After the Night Linda Howard

61. Glass Houses Anne Stuart

Okay, I'm thinking maybe I meant Crazy As A Fox but then, maybe it was this one. A sweet Anne Stuart if you can believe it. Contemporary with no hard edges.

62. Darkling I Listen Katherine Sutcliffe

Needs to be re-read. I loved it but don't remember much of the story line at all.

63. Fairest of Them All Teresa Medeiros

I have to say I loved how dark this one got. It was on the edge of insanity dark and I loved it. I didn't see the darkness coming so it was a real surprise when it hit almost half way through the story.

64. Wildest Hearts Jayne Ann Krentz

65. Gift of Gold Jayne Ann Krentz

66. Gift of Fire Jayne Ann Krentz

67. Ritual Sins Anne Stuart

68. Ravyn’s Flight Patti O’Shea

I have read sci-fi romance before but I remember thinking this one was just really well done. Again, another read needed.

Kitten and Her Toes

If you got her looking for the Advent Post click here.

If you already know me then you know to click on the video. A cat lady? Why, yes, yes I am. Those are my legs up on the desk - no wonder my back aches!

I'm working on my Top 100 post but it's slowing killing my will to live. So I'll put this one up for now and in a few days I can put up my list.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Welcome 2010 Advent Adventurers!

Welcome Advent 2010 and happy 5 year anniversary! This event is hosted by Kailana from The Written World and Marg from Adventures of an Intrepid Reader and is a virtual tour of book bloggers sharing the holiday spirit.

I've participated every year so far and I have to say, this year I was wondering what I would even talk about and it was while reading my fellow Advent posters that a memory struck me from out of no where.

It's many, many years ago when I was maybe 7 or 8 years old. The entire family at the time - 6 adults and 4 kids would be at my Grandmother's house in Sault St. Marie in Canada. 9 times out of 10 there was easily 4 feet of snow outside and the tiny 3 bedroom house (with only 1 bathroom - seriously, how did any of us get anything done!) was always cozy and warm with the promise of Santa soon to come.

The memory comes from us 4 kids, 2 girls and 2 younger boys, too excited to sleep, creeping out of our beds and poking or parents to see if 'now' was the time to go see if Santa had come. When one of us kids was finally given the green light, the whole house was roused from what I now understand were very deep sleeps. (Back then, most toys had 'some assembly required' and 4am was early for those parents to get to bed). But us kids, having no concept of what adults were required to do were more than ready to get to the tree!

Now came the next excruciating part of Christmas morning.

Having to wait for those adults.

See, no one was allowed downstairs until everyone was ready to go downstairs. We were instructed to sit on the top step to wait as the adults got ready. Being impatient we swore our parents were dressing for a wedding at the rate they were going but looking back now that one bathroom did cause a bit of a slow down and no one was really getting dressed up or showering.

So there we are at the top of the stairs. Only the stairs weren't straight. There were three steps down to a landing and then the stairs turned right and then straight down. Even though we were told and a few times scolded about staying at the top of the stairs the four of us would sneak down to that landing and lay on our tummies. What the parents probably didn't realize at the time (although they probably did) was that there was a mirror at the bottom of the stairs, and if you angled your head just right you could catch glimpses of what was under the tree!

Presents from Santa were never wrapped so that mirror didn't just hint at what was down there, it gave it all away. But only if you could stay on that landing long enough to get a glimpse before being quickly told to get back to the top step.

And it's that memory that warmed my heart this year. It will be 10 years this February since my Grandmother passed and it's been even more years than that since I have spent a Christmas with those two cousins. But soon, there will be a child coming into our family (my youngest cousin is pregnant!) and it'll be neat to see Christmas from the other side of those stairs.

Thanks for stopping in and Happy Holidays to you all!