Book Reviews: #Romance – Jacquie Biggar, Staci Troilo #YA Horror – Teri Polen

Thank you for the TBR Challenge, Diana Wallace Peach. The Omicron surge is scary. I’m staying home as much as possible and doing decluttering of the Kindle. I’ve read three books in the last 10 days.

Perfectly Imperfect by [Jacquie Biggar]

Jacquie Biggar

Perfectly Imperfect is a lovely novella I enjoyed a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon reading by the fireplace. If you like steamy but not erotic romance, Jacquie Biggar’s Perfectly Imperfect is the right book for you. It has plenty of it from the beginning to the end.

Georgina Michaels borrowed money from the family to start the Bloomin’ Right food product company. The company’s finance is threatening her to file bankruptcy. She seeks business partners to keep it going because it is the way her Granny wanted. It’s her baby.

Ryns Turner is the son of a big business owner Mr. Turner, Sr. who makes investments in buying and selling small companies. Ryns went to Bloomin’ Right on his father’s request to do an inspection intending to have bigger shares and the right to sell it.

On a rainy morning in Seattle, Georgina and Ryns got stuck in the malfunctioned elevator and started a conversation, only to find out later that Georgina is the CEO of the Bloomin’ Right and Ryns is the prospective partner. They both have their own ideas about what to do with the company’s future and none of them wants to back down.

The book presents the two characters’ POV in alternate chapters revealing their thoughts and feelings. Georgina and Ryns seem to admire each other. The attraction intensifies throughout the several days of business interaction while they are critical and judgmental of each other.

The story is well-crafted with enough push-and-pull emotions and actions. Highly recommended.

Amazon Purchase Link

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No Such Luck (Keystone Couples) by [Staci Troilo]

Staci Troilo’s No Such Luck is a charming romance that took place right before Christmas, I felt the warmth coming out of the pages.

The beginning of the story was not pleasant when Piper Seidel was fired as a journalist for the third time. She was over-confident, arrogant, and thought she was invincible because she thought she was the best. She was wrong. Her boss fired her, had someone pack up her desk, and had the security escort her to the parking lot. Such a humiliation reminds me of a political situation that happened to the boss of my boss, except she was escorted to her office first thing in the morning, being watched while she packed up a few things. Piper was in shock. She checked the box of stuff. The office packed all her belonging except her good luck charm of the carnation Tommy Burnett gave it to her from their high school dance. Too late, she had lost it.

Piper drove her 20 years old car, hitting the road to head home earlier than scheduled. She was pretty downhearted by losing the job, losing the apartment, with no foreseeable bright future. Her parents were not prepared and had nothing for her to eat. She found herself at the grocery store two hours later, bumping into Tommy on whom she had a crush eleven years prior. She also ran into her best friend, Jack Rhodes, and felt guilty that she didn’t return his many messages.

A night out with her prince charming brought her from fantasy to reality. An honest talk with Jack gave her the right perspective of what she wanted in life. I enjoyed this cozy romance. Highly recommended.

Amazon Purchase Link

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Sarah by [Teri Polen]

Teri Polen’s Sarah is a YA horror with a well-developed story. Sarah is a teenage ghost murdered and lingered in the attic of the 17-year-old Cain Shannon’s home. Cain’s dad died. Mom is a real estate agent. She purchased the home at a good price because of the ghost story. Cain tries to become the man of the house by helping his mom. He juggles classes, soccer, and takes care of a 7-year-old sister.

His best friend Finn’s parents are divorced. Finn is often with Cain to play games, munch on junk food, and crash on the couch when there are problems at home.

Many eerie things happen in his room. The attic door cracks open, furniture falls sideways, and things in the room are out of place. Sarah shows up to him. He is not afraid of Sarah and asks her about the murder. Eventually, Sarah tells him the names of the three boys who murdered her.

Cain is the soccer captain and Erin doesn’t leave him alone. He likes Lindsey but doesn’t know how to break up with Erin. During a soccer game, he hits the ground and suffers a concussion. After being discharged from the hospital, he has memory lapses and does strange things he normally doesn’t do. He breaks up with Erin in the school hallway. He finishes chemistry homework in the class with perfect answers.

Sarah takes advantage of Cain when he is weak during his memory lapses and uses his body to take revenge. Then she sucks enough energy from Cain to do the killing without Cain’s body. With each killing, she becomes more powerful. Her power gets out of control to threaten the safety of Can’s family.

I read the book almost in one sitting, kept turning the pages until the last few paragraphs. The characters, relationships, and teenage life are realistic. Polen did a wonderful job to build the story gradually to the climax. The horror details are as vivid as any scenes on a movie screen. I could see the semi-transparent ghost swiftly flowing and suspending several feet above the ground. The friendship of Cain, Finn and Lindsey is beautiful. Cain couldn’t have done what he did without the help of Finn and Lindsey. I recommend this book to young people and adults.

Amazon Purchase Link

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SoCS – A Rainy Day

The prompt for Linda G Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “a rainy day.” Write about the first thing that comes to mind when we think of the phrase “a rainy day.”

I took the first two photos today (January 17, 2022).

“It’s going to be a rainy day!” Hubby peeked out of the window. He gazed at the flat, gray sky backdropping the trees in the front yard.

“I hope it will pour for a few days.” I turned my head in the same direction.

“I’ll turn off the sprinklers,” he said.

“Yeah. There’s no sun to evaporate the moisture in the air. We can turn them back on if the rain didn’t breakthrough.”

“The clouds seem to be darker in the distance above the mountain. It looks like the rain started already.” He continued to examine the pattern of the sky.

“Did you watch the 10-day weather forecast?” I was curious.

“Yes, it said it will rain tonight. The storm will come in by the third day and have steady rain for two more days.” He glanced at me occasionally as he continued his examination.

“That’s wonderful! Remember? We had heavy rain several weeks straight a few years ago. The Naval orange tree loved it and soaked up every bit of the water. We had hundreds of juicy oranges that year.” That thought made my mouth water.

“Oh, now you remind me of collecting small bottles. I’ll squeeze the juice and freeze it. We had juice enough for four months in some good harvesting year.”

“You saved many 16oz peanut bottles. They are the good size bottles to stack up in the freezer.”

“That’s right. I’ll buy more peanuts,” he said.

“Why?”

“To have more bottles.”

“Do you want to eat more peanuts to save enough bottles for the juice? If we have about 1,000 oranges, 8 oranges to make 16oz of juice, you will eat 125 bottles of peanuts.”

We may have more than 1,000 oranges this year

“Might as well. That way, all the bottles are the same size.” He tried to convince himself.

“We’ll have a good harvest of the plums this year with the pouring rain. The year we had juicy oranges was the same year we had full loads of plums on both trees.” I recalled.

“Didn’t you give away many plums?” Hubby turned around to walk toward the back patio door.

“I did. They ripened almost all at once. I couldn’t pick them fast enough. I tried to leave them on the tree as long as I could and ate as many as I could each day. They get soft when continue to ripen. But I like firm plums.”

“I ate two or three a day. They were sweet, and that was all I could eat.”

“I know you worry about the blood sugar. Plums are full of fiber, which helps slow down a blood sugar spike after you eat carbs. Don’t worry about eating more of them this year.”

“You put a lot of in the refrigerator last year.” Hubby looked out the glass patio door.

“I tried to keep them from getting soft too fast. Out of curiosity, I tallied them as I picked. We got 1,100 plums from two trees. Even the new tree yielded many plums. The rain surely contributed to the abundance. The good timing of the plum blossom was an important factor as well. We had many blossoms last year, but it rained right after that and didn’t give the bees a chance to pollinate.”

Plumtree in2019
2019 Plums

“We don’t know how much rain we get this year.”

“The plum trees will blossom next month. I saw the bees are hovering all over the clovers on the slope. They’ll be ready to work.”

“The trees have a good soak so far. You may have a good harvest again.”

“I made four jars of low sugar plum jam last time, but we didn’t use it fast enough. It started molding after a few weeks. I had to throw it away.” I saved the jars, though.

“I don’t eat toast often enough to use the jam.”

“I know. I must do something this year to save the plums.”

“What?”

“I remember my friends in Oregon used an electric dehydration machine to make dry fruits. I could get one and dry the plums.”

“How much is a dehydration machine?”

“A 10-tray dehydration machine is about $200. I can get a smaller one, but it’ll take forever to dry 1,000 plum,” I said.

“Well, I don’t know. Let’s think about it and talk more about the peanuts and the dehydration machine some other time. Let’s see if it’s going to be pouring the rest of the winter.” He walked toward his new Rolls Royce recliner.

2019-2020 SoCS Badge by Shelley! https://www.quaintrevival.com/

SoCS – A Rainy Day

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Thursday Door – Solvang

W3C Homepage

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Dan Antion at No Facility invites us to join in by creating a Thursday Doors post and then sharing the link in his blog anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).

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I made a reservation to Banff, Canada in August 2021 for our anniversary. Canada extended the border closing several times. By April, I didn’t want to wait any longer. I canceled the booking and made a reservation to go to Santa Barbara, which is 120 miles from home. While in Santa Barbara, we took a half-day trip to Solvang, which is 33 miles north of Santa Barbara. The last time we visited Solvang was about 20 years ago. I went back with great expectations.

Here is a brief history of Solvang.

Solvang, “The Danish Capital of America” is a city in Santa Barbara County, California. Solvang’s origins date back to 1804 when Mission Santa Inés was founded by the Spanish under Esteban Tápis.

In 1911, adventurous Danish-Americans traversed the plains from Iowa to the golden state of California. They purchased 9,000 acres of the former Rancho San Carlos de Jonata and situated their new community next to the historic Old Mission Santa Inés during the Mexican period.

It was not until 1946, after World War II, that promoters of the idea of a “Danish Village” could finally move ahead with plans to redesign the existing facade of the town and to mandate this style for new construction.

To establish a Danish community far from Midwestern winters, they took on its distinctive Danish-themed architecture beginning in 1947 and has since become a prominent tourist destination. Solvang was incorporated as a city on May 1, 1985.

Though only about 10% of residents in the 21st century are Danish, the town attracts many tourists from the Nordic countries and has been the subject of several Danish royal visits, most recently by Prince Henrik in 2011. 

I had planned several places to visit and things to do in Solvang.

1. Windmills. There are five of them. We got the map from the tourist center. The map shows the locations of the windmills. We visited all but didn’t take photos of all of them.

2. Danish pastries and sweets. The last time we went to Solvang was about 20 years ago. I loved the pastries. Yet this time, the pastries were not appealing to us anymore. They looked too sweet, and we cut down at least 70% carb intake since the last visit.

3. Shopping. I stopped any travel collection for many years. We only went in and out of the souvenir shops but bought nothing.

4. Wine tasting. I was going to take a wine tour but didn’t have enough time. Also, we would not spend money on purchasing wine. There was wine sampling in many locations downtown. They all open at 12:00 noon. We passed by one, but we didn’t go back (no photos).

5. Candle manufacture. I remember visiting the candle manufacture. I watched them making candles by dipping into the different colors of wax, then carved the soft wax into beautiful patterns. I found two addresses, but they were closed permanently (no photos).

6. Cuckoo clock shop. I always dream of getting a cuckoo clock or Grandfather clock. I know it will never happen because my husband doesn’t even like to hear the chime under our eaves. Besides, some of them cost thousands of dollars. I still wanted to visit. We found one. I took a video, but the owner stopped me in 15 seconds. There were many items from artists placed there on consignment. They have copyrights.

I enjoyed the colorful Danish architecture. All the buildings have unique styles of doors. It was an enjoyable half-day trip.

Thursday Door – Solvang

I hope you enjoyed the highlights of Solvang and the colorful doors!

Have a Wonderful Weekend!

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A Writing Challenge – The TBR Pile

Diana Wallace Peach starts 2022 with a writing challenge: write a story or poem about the TBR pile.

My TBR pile is ever-present, ever-growing, so it’s not hard to uncover it!

How to Process that Pile of Books You Can't Seem to Finish [+ 5 Other  Reading Hacks] - Right Attitudes

I reshuffled and re-prioritized the books on my Kindle. The last book I wanted to read is now in the middle of the library.

How did it happen so fast?

I wanted to count how many books are on my TBR list. No need. On the left side of the Kindle, it tells me the total number of books I have, just minus the number of books I’ve read and reviewed on Amazon. So, I have about 140. I read from PC and now also read on iPad 9th generation. When I open Kindle, it shows the library with the total number of books I have on the left. Please see the screenshots. The books I’ve finished reading would have a percentage on the right top corner.

Well, how come some of them have no covers and say expired?

There were a few times Amazon offered a free trial for Kindle Unlimited. I took the offer and downloaded some KU books. I was over-ambitious and downloaded too many. Before I knew it, those pretty covers went blank because the download links disappeared.

I need to read and do some book reviews!

Amazon offered a discount price for Kindle Unlimited if I signed up for three months. I did. Three months zipped by in a flash!

Shit! I should have used the money to download those books. I would have owned the books and benefited the authors instead of Amazon! When am I going to learn?

Amazon offered a discount again for six months on Kindle Unlimited with an even cheaper price (they know I’m hooked). I signed up four and a half months ago.

Why would I have done that just before the holidays, knowing I would read even less during the family holidays? Now I have a month and a half to read those KU books.

Back in 2021, I debated on whether to buy a new iPad. Ten years ago, I bought an iPad 2 which is almost obsolete. I can’t download any new apps because they’re not compatible. The original cover with the keyboard I bought is coming apart. I’m sitting hours in front of the computer, which hurts my lower back. If I get a new iPad, I could sit on the couch to do a certain thing on the iPad, such as check the emails, respond to the blog comments, and a few other things. Oh, there are a couple of computer games I love on the iPad 2. Perhaps I can play those games on a new iPad, especially when I’m on the short two-hour flight to Portland to visit my daughter and her family.

After thinking and rethinking, I bought the iPad 9th generation as a Christmas and birthday present for myself. I tried to download many apps such as my blog and emails. When I downloaded Twitter and signed in, my account got hacked!!!

What happened? My Twitter handle is different? What? The following and followers are empty!

It took me several hours to figure out my Twitter got hacked. I wrote a message to Twitter, and they restored my account.

Phew!

Then I tried to download some games. The versions of my familiar games are not there anymore. A big change in the games and gaming industry.

That’s great! What am I going to do with the new iPad? Oh, wait! All my books are on the Kindle of the new iPad. I don’t know what happened because the books are not on iPad 2. Well, with the cover and keyboard, the new iPad weighed no heavier than a notebook. I can carry it around and hopefully do more reading this year!

Apple iPad 9th gen review: The safest iPad bet makes more sense than ever -  CNET

Congratulations to myself! I read and reviewed one book already! I like the new iPad 9th generation!

Shh…… Don’t tell in case I can’t keep up!

Diana Wallace Peach’s Writing Challenge: The TBR Pile

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SoCS – First Personal Computers

The prompt for Linda G Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “In the.” Start your post with the words “In the.”

Vintage 1980s KAYPRO II KAYPRO 2 Portable Computer Powers On and Working Screen!

In the 1980s when the home computer first came out, my ex bought a 1980s KAYPRO II KAYPRO 2 Portable Computer.

The cover has latches on the two sides of the screen and the two sides of the keyboard. It looks like a large box when it’s closed (latched). There is a handle to carry it to make it portable. I believe the computer’s central processing unit (CPU) was 2.5 MHz, 64K RAM, and it had a 9” green phosphor screen display with text only. It has a 5 ½ “floppy disk drive. It used the MS-DOS/PC DOS Microsoft programming languages. 

There were so many codes that I don’t think anyone would have them memorized. But the codes were above and below the keyboard.

I worked as a Rehabilitation Counselor in downtown Los Angeles in the 1980s. But I wanted to go into education, so I was at California State University, Los Angeles, to get my Childhood Development Credential, and continued to get the Educational Administration Credential.

My ex worked for an airline in the Dallas Headquarters. He worked from Wednesday to Sunday and had Monday and Tuesday off. He wanted me to fly to Dallas every weekend and come back to LA On Sunday, then he flew to Dallas on Tuesday night.

I left the Rehabilitation Center at 4:00 p.m. every week and drove to LA International Airport carrying the heavy metal case computer. It was very sturdy. Frequently, there were no empty seats in the waiting area at the gate. I sat on the computer reading while waiting for boarding the plane.

He came back to LA after six months when the airline was about to cease to operate. I remember we replaced the computer with a Compaq Portable computer. It was not as heavy. It still runs on the MS-DOS program language. The codes came in a strip like a ruler that I put in front of the keyboard.

Compaq Portable 2 | Old computers, Computer history, Vintage electronics

When I look at my keyboard at the present, I see the first row of keys is from F1 to F12, but you can also use Control + for that key to do shortcuts. The MS-DOS also used the F1-F? for shortcuts.

As far as the printer, we had a dot matrix printer with the sprocket-fed fan-fold paper used to move through the machines!

Remember vintage dot matrix printers like these from the '70s & '80s? -  Click Americana

I should write a post about my first typewriter before the first computer! Okay, another time!

SoCS – First Personal Computers

2019-2020 SoCS Badge by Shelley! https://www.quaintrevival.com/

Have a Wonderful Week!

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LAPC #180 Favorite Images of 2021

The theme for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #180 is Favorite Images of 2021

The year 2021 was a roller coaster. There were many excitements because we could resume doing things after being restricted for a year or longer. Those moments seemed serene yet felt like wanting to shout for joy. Those were my favorite images of 2021.

My younger granddaughter was born on March 22, 2020. California reinforced the restriction on March 14. I canceled my flight at the last minute to be with my daughter for her childbirth. By March 2021, the restriction of traveling eased a little. We wanted to be there for Nora’s first birthday. I booked the flight with premium seats so that we didn’t have to pass by many passengers. We were so thrilled to see Nora for the first time.

We spent Mother’s Day with my daughter every year except the year 2020. In 2021, we were with my daughter for Mother’s Day and had a wonderful time having three generations of girls together.

Three generations of ladies

The summer of 2021 was my first-time raising Monarch butterflies and there were some casualties, but 20 butterflies made it to adulthood.

This Monarch struggled to open the wings all the way, but it finally made it to leave the cage.

I booked a trip to Banff, Canada in August for our anniversary, but the border was closed. I canceled the trip, and we went to Santa Barbara instead. It was the first long trip since Covid.

Santa Barbara Harbor

We also wanted to take day trips to the beaches, but many beaches were closed during the pandemic. We eventually made a trip to Laguna Beach in September.

Laguna Beach with high tide

We missed Autumn’s 3rd birthday in 2020 but we were excited to go to Autumn’s 4th birthday party in September last year.

Happy Birthday, Autumn!

Last but not the least, we had a white Christmas with my daughter’s family and had fun watching the grandkids playing in the snow and making a snowperson in the backyard. Autumn helped to put the pebbles on to make the eyes and buttons and put the carrot on for the nose. Nora gave the snowperson a big hug.

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LAPC #180 Favorite Images of 2021

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed the images!

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SoCS – Resolve

The prompt from Linda G. Hill for #JusJoJan and Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “resolve.”

70 Truly Good New Year's Resolutions (Top Ideas for 2022)

I don’t sit down to write my New Year’s resolutions. I resolve to do most of the things I had done in 2021 and try to do them better in 2022. In fact, there were too many interruptions in 2021. It wasn’t a good year to accomplish things I wanted to do. I had better years than that of the last year. I expect a better year in 2022.

Let me just say that whatever I do, I keep my basic values in mind which are: family, fitness, fun, friends, and finance. There are many subcategories in the area of fun.

Family

My family always comes first. I have resumed my schedule of visiting my daughter’s family every six weeks.

It’s important for me to be close to my granddaughters. I remember starting a new family with a baby with no relatives to help. It was the most stressful time for me. During one particular year when Mercy was a baby, I started my first-year full-time teaching at the Los Angeles Unified School District and doing full-time (12 units) studies of Child Development at California State University, Los Angeles. Three full-time jobs all at once. I was a rehabilitation counselor prior to that and just switched over to education. I didn’t want to lose my teaching opportunity and didn’t want to wait any longer to finish school. Of course, my baby was most important.

I never want Mercy to have a stressful experience like mine. I always encourage her that if she could afford it, do one thing at a time. The Covid turned out to be a blessing to her in that she didn’t work during her pregnancy. She stayed home to take care of baby Nora for sixteen months. Right now, she is working part-time on the days when Autumn and Nora go to school.

My husband wants to get together with some of his siblings once a month. Most of them live 40 miles from us. They are coming our way to meet this month and we’ll go to them to meet next month. We’re also talking about taking a family vacation to Australia and New Zealand.

Fitness

I see fitness as a way of life. When my dad came to the US to visit us at the age of 84, he got up at 6:00 a.m. The first thing he did was to stretch for half an hour.

I have been going to the gym, swimming, walking in the neighborhood, or on the trail consistently for years and years. My husband and I started working out together two days a week since his retirement in 2016. There were interruptions during the pandemic. But we resumed going back to the gym several months ago.

We do some modifications to the workout. We keep our routine of using the different machines, the number of sets, and the duration of time (such as walking on the treadmill) but reduce the intensity or weight. As we’re getting older, it takes longer to recover from the sore muscles.

Fun

There are many things I do for fun which include reading, writing, blogging, painting, gardening, photographing, singing, learning, and traveling. I always say it would take three parallel lifetimes to fully enjoy my hobbies.

I raised 20 Monarch butterflies in 2021. I’m ready to do it again this summer. The milkweed should grow nicely and hopefully, I’ll have a better way to set up the butterfly cages.

The Chorale group didn’t meet most part of 2021 but resumed meeting to sing with masks on later in the fall. I’ll continue to sing in this group.

I haven’t done watercolor painting for a while. I may pick up the watercolor painting at least for one quarter during 2022.

Hopefully, my husband and I will take one trip this year. We wanted to go to Banff, Canada last August but the border was closed. We may consider going sometime this year.

Friends

Hildegard (middle) and I have been singing Messiah for years. Lynn is a singer.

It’s important for me to keep in touch with my friends.

The pandemic wasn’t too helpful in this area with the social distancing requirement and the gathering restriction. I hope to get together with friends even when we meet outdoors.

Finance

21,679 Financial Freedom Photos - Free & Royalty-Free Stock Photos from  Dreamstime

Financial independence means freedom.

I don’t have the impulse to buy things. I only buy what I need, not just what I want.

My husband and I just went through stacks of old documents when doing decluttering. It reminded me of the number of times I refinanced our current home and the previous two homes. Whenever the interest rate went down, I refinanced the homes. Prior to refinancing, I created a spreadsheet to calculate the total interest paid during the financing periods.

I know it takes money to save money or make money. I count it as a blessing to use my resources to save money and have extra money to put in the stock account to make a little money.

How do I do it? Here is an example: 

Family is the top priority. It’s the motivation behind what I do every day.

I exercise (fitness) regularly, keeping in mind that I need to be strong and healthy in order to be with my granddaughters as often as we want. I can’t be with them if I’m sick.

I follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines carefully to avoid contracting the virus, even when it means reducing the social contact with my friends.

I try to reduce unnecessary expenses (finance) to have more money to travel every six weeks to see my granddaughters.

Wishing you a Wonderful New Year!

SoCS – Resolve

2019-2020 SoCS Badge by Shelley! https://www.quaintrevival.com/

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Happy New Year to You

Happy New Year 2022: Best wishes, images, messages and greetings to share  with loved ones on January 1 - Hindustan Times

There are three more hours in the year 2021 PST. I’m writing this post to recap our Christmas.

My daughter Mercy is my only daughter. When she was a small child, she received Christmas presents from us as parents and from her paternal grandparents. She also received presents from a few of our friends. Most of my family members are in Hong Kong and they don’t have the tradition of sending Christmas presents. In another word, there were few presents for Mercy to open. Her paternal grandparents sent one large present and several stocking presents. I did the same thing–had some large presents, and several small presents. Mercy had fun opening all the presents even though they were not from many people.

This Christmas, my husband and I spent Christmas with my daughter’s family. My granddaughters received so many presents from grandpa and grandma, aunts and uncles, parents’ friends. They opened some on the morning of Christmas day. We had to ask the girls to take a break, then opened some more in the afternoon. It took longer for the younger one, Nora, to open hers. She had to open some of them the day after Christmas.

Last year, when Autumn was three, she wanted to play with the new toys right after she opened them. It took longer for her to open all of them. This year, she wanted to keep opening them. It took longer for the two-year-old Nora to take off the wrapping paper. After she took the wrapping paper off, she had fun playing with the paper.

Several presents from Amazon came with gift bags tied with strings. Mercy and her husband Will only helped the girls to loosen the knots but let them untie the strings. The girls were eager to open the bags to see what they were inside. At some point, there were three pairs of hands trying to get a hold of the knot. Autumn was good at helping her little sister to open the bags but let Nora take out the presents.

The adults were sitting on the couches and on the floor while Autumn went under the Christmas to take out the presents. She handed the presents to the individuals to open them. For a while, the living room was full of wrapping paper, strings, bags, and boxes. New clothes unfolded and toy boxes opened. The excitement and laughter filled the entire house. During the lunch break, Mercy and I picked up the wrapping paper for recycling.

Whenever we visit my daughter, I offer to put Autumn to bed. On three nights, she asked me to read her five books, then colored four pages on her coloring books. The night before we left, Mercy and Will went on a date night. Autumn asked me to read ten books to her. I told her we wouldn’t have time to do coloring, and she was okay with it.

My husband, Lynton, and I arrived in Portland on the afternoon of Christmas Eve. It snowed overnight. We woke up to a blanket of snow on Christmas day.

After we opened the Christmas presents in the morning, they put on snowsuits and snow boots. My husband and I only had regular pants and boots on. There is a school across from Mercy’s house and we walked to the school playground to play in the snow. By the time we got there, some kids with their parents were there already. There is a slope from the upper playground to the field below. Kids and adults had fun going down the slope in their sleds. After they got home, they built a snowman in the backyard.

Autumn and Nora love their snowman

I didn’t do it on Christmas day because I didn’t want to get wet. But I went down on the sled the next day because it may not have a white Christmas next year.

It continued to snow for several more days. Many airlines canceled the flights to and from Seattle and Portland. They canceled hundreds of flights two days before we left. We have scheduled to leave on December 29th. We wouldn’t know if our flight was on time until the morning. I woke up every two hours to check the flight schedule, and the airline showed it was on time.

We had to leave around 6:00 a.m. I tried to call Lyft ride services to take us to the airport. I didn’t get a response for half an hour. Finally, one driver accepted the request and said he could pick us up in 19 minutes. It was reasonable, so I confirmed the request. When 19 minutes was up, there was another message showing the driver would be there in 21 minutes. We couldn’t wait any longer or we would have missed the flight. I woke up my son-in-law Will and let him know the situation. He got dressed in less than 5 minutes and took us to the airport.

What an exciting trip and fun Christmas we had. As soon as we came home, I booked our next trip to see them in six weeks.

Wishing you a Joyous and Prosperous New Year 2022!

From my family to you and yours!

Out with a bang! New Year's Eve fireworks around the world – video | Global  | The Guardian

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O Holy Night – A Christmas Carol

Christmas Eve - we are closed today — ExplorationWorks

“O Holy Night” (also known as “Cantique de Noël”) is a well-known Christmas carol. 

Back in 1843, in a small French town, Roquemaure, a man named Placide Cappeau was known more for his talent at writing poetry. A priest asked him to write a poem for Christmas Mass. He took his request seriously. Placide Cappeau began thinking about the birth of Jesus. With that inspiration, he wrote “Cantique de Noel.”

Placide was so pleased with how the poem came out that he decided it needed to be a song. Since he was a poet but not a musician, he turned to a friend, Adolphe Charles Adams, to see if he would set his poem to music. Adolphe was a famous classical musician who had composed many works all around the world, but he agreed to come up with music for his friend’s poem.

In 1843 or 1847, according to two different sources, he composed music to go with the beautiful words, and the song was performed a few weeks later at a Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

The song was premiered in Roquemaure in 1847 by the opera singer, Emily Laurey.

In 1855, an American writer, John Sullivan Dwight, saw something in the song that moved him beyond the story of the birth of Christ. An abolitionist, Dwight strongly identified with the lines of the third verse: “Truly he taught us to love one another; his law is love and his gospel is peace. Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother; and in his name, all oppression shall cease.” This verse mirrored Dwight’s view of slavery in the South. He published his English translation of “O Holy Night” in his magazine, and the song quickly found favor in America, especially in the North, during the Civil War.

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Our church performed the Christmas Concert one year. “O Holy Night” was one of the songs at the concert. I was privileged to sing this piece. As part of the concert, I sang the first verse of the song. A friend sent me the mp3 of the music and I made it into a video.

Notes:

I want to thank Robbie Cheadle, who inspired me to make this video. When I posted the information about my Messiah performance last year, she mentioned she would like to hear me sing.

I also want to thank Diane Wallace Peach, who created the trailer for my poetry book, Song of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude. She inspired me to use PowerPoint to create to presentation and insert the music to create this video.

merry christmas and happy new year 2019 | Seni

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Virtual Cookie Exchange – Hosted by Staci Troilo

Staci Troilo invited us to have a Virtual Cookie Exchange and share our recipes on Thursday, December 16, 2021. My recipe, along with many recipes from the friends in this blogging community will be there. Please be sure to visit her tomorrow when she shares all the goodies with you.

Staci Troilo: First Cookie Exchange

Virtual Cookie (Recipe) Exchange

My husband used to have a sweet tooth. I don’t bake cookies for him anymore because he is watching out for the sugar intake. 

During the last two visits to my daughter’s family, I made cookies for the grandkids. I made chocolate chip cookies with M&Ms on top. Autumn doesn’t have those cookies regularly. She doesn’t do many things regularly such as watching two movies in a row, only when grandma is there (I tried so hard not to be a grandma who spoils the grandkids)!

Hubby and I will be visiting the grandkids for Christmas. I wanted to make some cookies for them. I wanted to make some chewy cookies, so they’ll stay soft until we get there. These are oat, fruit, and nut cookies.

I did a variation on the ingredients. Let me talk a little about the ingredients first.

Vegetable Shortening – I used vegetable shortening instead of butter. Butter contains milk solids, fat, and water. Butter can cause steaming while baking which can dry out the cookies. Vegetable shortening is made up entirely of fat that melts at a higher temperature which gives the cookie batter more time to rise.

Egg yolks – I double the egg yolks and omit the white of each egg which tends to dry out when baking.

Brown sugar – I used all brown sugar with no white sugar. Brown sugar contains more moisture. You can use half white and half brown sugar.

Nuts – I used mostly pecan for nuts because they are softer. 

Temperature – I baked in 325o F instead of 350o F. 

Here are the photos of the baking. The recipe is below.

Oat, Fruit, and Nut Cookies Recipe

Prep: 25 minutes

Bake: 10 – 12 minutes

Stand: 1 minute

Total: 36 – 38 minutes

Servings: 36

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

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Ingredients

½ cup vegetable shortening (or butter)

⅔ cup packed brown sugar (or half brown and half white)

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

4 egg yolks (or 2 eggs)

½ teaspoon vanilla

1 cup whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup dried mixed fruit bits, dried cranberries, raisins: and dried apricots, snipping the large pieces

¾ cup chopped walnuts and pecans

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Directions

Step 1 In a large mixing bowl beat vegetable shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat on medium speed until combined. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla until combined.

Step 2 Sift in flour gradually and beat with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour with a wooden spoon. Stir in oats, mixed fruit bits, and nuts.

Step 3 Roll dough by hand into balls and place them 2 inches apart onto a greased cookie sheet.

Step 4 Bake in a 325°degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let cookies stand on the cookie sheet for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Please visit Staci and enjoy all the yummy Christmas cookies (recipe)!

Animated Christmas Tree PNG Transparent Image | PNG Mart

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Do you bake or buy Christmas cookies? What are your favorite Christmas cookies?

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