Celebrating Husband’s Birthday!

Today is Husband’s birthday! 

We’re celebrating at the Vero Beach Hotel & Spa for two nights, enjoying a staycation. We sat on the balcony and watched the sunrise, and then walked down to The Lemon Tree for breakfast today (and plan to tomorrow). Later today we’ll go to an 11:00 movie, have a late lunch, and then relax at the pool bar with $5 Margaritas. We’ll have dinner at Cobalt with friends, and head back into real life tomorrow. 

I’ve been proofreading Happy Homicides 1: Cozy Holiday Mysteries. It is an anthology written by twelve authors, and includes a link to get a bonus file of recipes and crafts. It goes on pre-sale September 15, and on sale October 15 – perfect for holiday gift giving. At only 99 cents, it’s a great price!

Below are birthday sunrise pictures from our balcony.



Chocolate Ganache

You might think all I do is bake and go to parties. This summer we’ve had a few get togethers with friends, but it isn’t all the time. For Memorial Day I made desserts for two parties we went to. The first one was primarily adults, and I made Strawberry Cream Pie (see recipe posted 9/3/15).

The second one was a mix of adults and children, so I decided to make S’mores Tarts (see recipe posted 9/10/15). One of the components was Chocolate Ganache, which I also used in the Strawberry Cream Pie recipe.

Chocolate Ganache

8 oz chocolate chips (I used 4 oz dark chocolate chips and 4 oz semisweet chips)
1/2 C heavy cream
1 t vanilla
1/2 t instant coffee powder

Combine all ingredients in the top of a double-boiler, making sure the water is simmering but not touching the bottom of the pan. Stir until smooth.

Cool slightly before spooning the ganache into tart shells or pie crust. You can also use this recipe to frost a cake or cupcakes.

S’mores Tarts pictured here – the chocolate ganache is under the broiled marshmallow cream.

A Writer’s Life

I look forward to the day when I have an AutoChef like Eve Dallas has in J.D. Robb’s In Death series. Until then, my husband and I share cooking and dish duty. I’m lucky that he does his own laundry. I do mine and the common laundry (sheets, towels). We both clean the house.

Grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, housecleaning – all take time. Time that in theory is better spent writing.

The reality is that sometimes laundry sings a siren song. Sometimes, the words aren’t flowing as a writer would wish. Sometimes, any thing is a welcome distraction. Those times are when Things Get Done. 

Other times, when I’m in flow, I resist stopping. I want to stay in the story and keep going. I want elves to clean the house and do the laundry, and fairies to bring me food and take the plate away when only crumbs are left. I want to stay in my bunker and write, write, write. I don’t want to interact with anyone except the imaginary people in the made-up world I put them in.

But that’s not my life, and few writers can or want to live like a hermit. Elves and fairies are in short supply, and the AutoChef isn’t available. Getting lost in my writing every day isn’t an option, and I have an office in town that keeps me motivated to shower and dress in real clothes.

The romantic notion of a writer tucked away in a room for days on end is mostly fiction. Some rare writers might achieve seclusion, but those I know have lives in which writing is just a part. The life of a writer looks like the life of anyone who has a job, a relationship, and friends. 

A writer’s life looks like your life, but writers look at daily life with a warped eye and turn it into drama. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this!

Vanilla Sugar

Am I the only one who loves the smell of vanilla? I don’t even measure it when I bake – I just pout it in, eyeballing the amount required. If a little extra gets in, that’s fine by me.

I recently used vanilla beans to make pastry cream. I split the bean lengthwise, and used the back of my knife to spread out the cut halves and scrape the beans from the pod.

I didn’t want to waste any of the vanilla goodness, and decided to make Vanilla Sugar.

Vanilla Sugar

Vanilla bean pod(s), insides scraped out
Container of sugar

Put the vanilla bean pods into the sugar. Spoon sugar over the pods until they are completely covered. Leave overnight, or as long as you like. The sugar will have brown flecks of vanilla in it.

It smells heavenly! I used vanilla sugar when I was making pastry cream and hadn’t realized I’d run out of vanilla – the infused sugar came to my rescue.