Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Blog is Moving!

My blog has been moved to Wordpress. Here's the new address: See you all over there!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: New Traditions, Same Family with Joselyn Vaughn

Merry Christmas! Today is officially the last day of 25 Days of Christmas. Awww. But it's not over yet! Please welcome Joselyn Vaughn!


When I saw that Brea would be posting my blog on Christmas Day, I panicked. What could I write about for Christmas Day?  I haven’t been looking forward to the holidays because this year all our celebrations will be different. My brothers and sisters and I won’t be able to gather at my mother’s on New Year’s for our traditional oyster stew, chili and chicken noodle soups because my mother has moved to a new place and the old place is completely gone. And so all our traditions will be a little new.

But the place isn’t as important as the people.  The same family will be able to search for seats around the tables and we’ll still have to count the plates and people a dozen times before we get the math to work. (You’d think that would be easier with the number of engineers and math majors in my family, but we always seem to be one seat or plate short.) The guys will camp out in front of the television, arm-chair reffing their favorite teams  and the girls will crowd around the table as Mom deals out the Flinch cards and complains about everyone stacking their deck.

We will still be able to enjoy the time no matter where we are because we are together.

Wishing you and yours all the best whether you are celebrating old traditions or new.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: A Ukrainian Christmas with Cesya MaRae Cuono

Merry Christmas Eve! 25 Days of Christmas is winding to a close. Today, we have Cesya MaRae Cuono, author of The Elemental series, visiting with us!

Hey all, Cesya here. Merry Christmas Eve! I’m so glad I got this spot on Brea’s “25 Days of Christmas” blog event. And what better way to kick off Christmas Eve than to share my family’s Christmas Eve tradition with all of you.
So, as all of you know (or don’t know) I’m Ukrainian, Italian, German, Russian, and Dutch but mainly grew up on the Ukrainian side of traditions. Before my time, our Christmas Eve wasn’t until January 6th but as the times moved on it was celebrated on December 24th with all other religions. Since the changing of our Christmas Eve, our Christmas celebration goes from December 24th-January 6th (Feast of the Epiphany). The Christmas Eve Supper or Holy Supper (Ukrainian: Sviata Vecheria) is a very family oriented time. It’s a time dedicated to God, family, and ancestors. Dinner doesn’t begin until the first star appears in the sky. This star is believed to be the Star of Bethlehem and symbolizes the trek of the Three Wise Men. The table is covered with two tablecloths, one for the ancestors of the family, the second for the living members. In the old days hay was laid out under the table as well as under the tablecloths to remember that Christ was born in a manger. The table always has one extra place setting for the deceased family members, whose souls, according to belief, come on Christmas Eve and partake of the food. This year our table will have two place settings, one for my grandfather and one for my grandmother.
Now it’s time for our twelve-course meatless meal. There are twelve courses in our Holy Supper, because according to the Christian tradition each course is dedicated to one of Christ's Apostles.
The first course is always unleavened (flat) bread and wine, which represents Christ’s body and blood. It’s the main dish of our whole meal. The next course is honey which represents a sweet year to come. Then on to garlic which represents the ending of an old year. We’ve combined the first three courses and eat our bread with the honey and garlic on top and drink the wine with it. The next course is our soups: Cabbage and Split-Pea. The foods to follow in the remaining courses are prunes, fish (crab, shrimp, and tilapia), mushrooms (cooked in onions and butter), pierogies (homemade), salt and pepper (yes, they’re considered a course), and our desserts are assorted fruits and nuts.
So now you have my Christmas Eve traditions. I hope you learned something new! And I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Traditional Christmas Breakfast with Erin Danzer

Today we have Erin Danzer on the blog, sharing her traditional Christmas breakfast with us! It sounds--and looks--so yummy!

My Traditional Christmas Breakfast
By Erin Danzer
Every Christmas morning when I was growing up, my brother, parents and I would wake around 7, turn on Christmas music and take turns opening the gifts Santa had left us during the night. While we opened gifts, the meat pies my mom had made earlier in the season would heat in the oven. The sharp smell of sage mixed with the meat would permeate the house, making us salivate with anticipation. Finally, it would be time to eat. We would go to the table, cut the pies in quarters and dig in, always with a chilled dill pickle on the side.
According to my Aunt Sharon, a history teacher as well as family historian, meat pies have been passed down the female side of my dad's family for several generations, brought to the States by my great grandmother DeRosier. Correctly called TOUQUERES (pronounced like "two cares"), meat pies are the traditional French pastry eaten after mass on Christmas Eve/Day. That tradition is the one my aunt, dad and their family followed growing up. The meat pies would be baked during the day on Christmas Eve. Then after midnight mass, they would come home, heat up and eat the meat pies, open presents and then go to bed well fed and already knowing what Santa had brought them while they were at church.
Meat pies have been my Christmas breakfast for as long as I can remember. Now, I share the tradition with my husband and two sons. Someday (many years from now), I hope to pass on the tradition to my future daughters-in-law. But for now, I'm happy to share the tradition with all of you.

Meat Pies

You will need (for 3-5 Pies)
3lb ground pork
2lb ground veal
Enough pie crusts for top and bottom crusts for all pies
Salt, pepper and sage to taste
Brown meat until all brown. Drain just about all fat off. Add enough water until meat is slightly covered. Add seasonings (I’m not sure on measurements here. I put a few dashes of salt and pepper and about 2-3TBP ground sage) and let simmer 20 minutes.
Make pie crusts and line pie pans. Fill about half full or little more with meat. (I add a couple spoonfuls of water here to keep it moist while baking.) Cover with top crust and seal. Put hole in middle of top crust.
Bake in 400-degree oven until golden brown (roughly half hour).

For Freezing: Bake 15 minutes. Cool and cover with aluminum foil. Later bake in 425-degree oven for 45 minutes.

Thank you, Brea, for having me on your blog today and sharing my favorite holiday tradition and recipe. To everyone, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Sinterklaas Kaopentje with Allie Burke

25 Days of Christmas continues with Allie Burke, author of the Enchanters series! I just have to add that Allie is one of my new favorite people and new favorite authors. Take it away, Allie!


I believed in Santa Claus long after I probably should have. Actually, when I met my husband somewhere around ten years ago, I tried to convince him that Santa Claus really did exist. I was, oh, I don’t know. Fifteen.

This fact, together with my love for the Christmas season, contributed to my fascination with a new Santa Claus I learned of when I spent my first Christmas with him and his family, somewhere around three years later.

My father in law is someone who I love very dearly. But he’s strange. Strange, like me, and as such, when I first heard him mumbling the words to a Christmas song I’d never heard before, I was intrigued. Intrigued, because I’d never heard it before, and intrigued, because I hate Christmas music. But you couldn’t hate this song. It sounded so innocent and so soothing sung from this Dutch-Indonesian man’s mouth, and I just had to know more about it.

I whispered to my husband as his father disappeared down the hallway, and with a disgusted look like he couldn’t believe my ignorance, he said, “Sinterklaas Kaopentje”. Like, of course I should know all about it, or something.

Needless to say, the song is quite well known in The Netherlands and in Belgium, and goes something like this:
Sinterklaas Kapoentje,
Leg wat in mijn schoentje,
Leg wat in mijn laarsje,
Dank je Sinterklaasje!

And for those of you who need a translation, like me:

Saint Nicolas Little Rascal,
Put something in my little shoe,
Put something in my little boot,
Thank you little Saint Nicolas!

I just find it terribly awesome that at eighteen, I, the Christmas fanatic, had something to learn about Santa Claus. I think we should remember that Christmas may not look or sound the same in every house, but it’s still just that. Christmas.

Merry Christmas to you, from our home to yours.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: The Gift of Miracles with Thomas Amo

Today, we have Thomas Amo, author of An Apple for Zoe and the new Let's Get Lade, visiting with us on the blog!

The Gift of Miracles

Christmas is in four days and so many people lose sight of what this day actually really and truly means. For the kids, it means toys, to the teens it means, an iPad, cellphone, laptop, money. To the parents it means, can I pay for all of this and not use a credit card?
But for me, Thomas Amo, it means in a world that has become sometimes not a very nice place to be, God is still God and a beautiful little girl named, Alyssa Mowrey will be spending this Christmas with her family thanks be to his mercy. Christin and I became friends via Twitter earlier this year. We spoke on the phone once and instantly she has that ability to turn a complete stranger into more than just a friend, she makes you feel like family. We tweeted and even came up with the hashtag #BNFF which stands for Best Nerd Friends Forever. Because we were nerds and nerds stick together. This caught on and others joined our nerd herd, but when the terrible accident that happened in October this year, when three little angels were hit by a car while crossing the street, Christin reminded me that her unwavering faith in God and her humble attitude towards the events that would put virtually any parent on a razor’s edge, she set the example to me of what a Christian is.
Sadly, Mia, one of three angels lost her life in that terrible accident. Some will feel if God is so merciful then why didn’t all 3 survive. None of us can ever know that answer and I won’t speculate on it. My heart aches for the loss of little Mia, because even though I did not know her, I am certain her smile was brighter than any star in the heavens. For her family this is a time that they will need all the support and love we can muster. Please include them in your thoughts and prayers.

Alyssa has come leaps and bounds from where her life was two months ago. This is not to say it’s an easy road ahead, Alyssa has a long way to go, but she has a mother who will be right there taking every step with her. Christin has never wavered in her faith and that is something we could all take a good lesson on. So I look at the presents under my tree with a different eye today than I did last year. Instead of saying, I want this or I want that, I can say, I’m so blessed to have this and have that. I thank the Lord for his mercy and letting us see Alyssa as the miracle and blessing she is and I thank Christin for showing me how to appreciate what Christmas really does mean.

Merry Christmas to all of you,
Thomas Amo

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: This Holiday Season by Lissette E. Manning

25 Days of Christmas continues with Lissette E. Manning!

This Holiday Season
By: Lissette E. Manning

I’ve always loved this season. Mostly because not only do I get to celebrate both my birthday and Christmas, but also because I get to share it with my sister. We’re not sure how Mom managed for us to be born in the same month, but it’s kind of nice to have someone close to my own age who understands me in the same exact way I understand her. Of course, my sister gets to have her special celebration so close to Christmas, too.

Amazing, isn’t it? That so many of us can share in such a joyous occasion and become even closer than we were before.

Did you know that the date of December 25th was one adopted by the Western Christian Church around the early-to-mid 4th century in order to depict the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? Truth be told, our Lord’s true birth isn’t actually known. It’s been said it occurred between 7 and 8 BC. At least, that’s what historians say. Yet regardless of when Jesus was born, it’s still a cause of celebration.

Christmas has allowed us to come together and celebrate this fact. It’s allowed us to let bygones be bygones and to be thankful for the world around us. To be thankful for our loved ones and the things we’ve been able to accomplish. It’s a way for us to truly bond with those around us. A heart-felt celebration that can felt all around the world.

I’m thankful for my family. For my friends – those in real life and those I’ve met online. I’m thankful because I’ve been able to achieve part of my dream and share it with all of you. Most of all, I’m thankful for the fact that God has given me another day in which to breath and to sing His praises. My relationship with Him may be rocky, at times, but I think He knows that at least I’m trying.

So this holiday season, embrace those around you. Embrace the life you’ve been given and never look back on what could have been. Give God thanks for being there when we need Him.

Most of all, enjoy everything you do. Savor the moments as if they’re your last and always remember those who couldn’t be here with us to celebrate those moments and hold them close to your hearts.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year when the time comes!

God Bless and always the best to you all!

Book Blurb for Stuck:

A world too different from what we once knew . . . all we hold onto now is survival.

Memories of the dead remind Annie Page of the world she'd once known. Renegade forces are closing in, seeking to command the little that remains. Yet she refuses to stand by and watch the world crumble.

Her children’s love the driving force behind the choices that she’s made, she’s determined to make their world a better place. Yet their survival comes with a price – one that she never meant to pay. 

Purchase Links For Stuck:

Amazon: & Noble:

Short Bio:

Nancy Medina is an author from Connecticut who writes under the pseudonym of Lissette E. Manning. She has been writing since she was eight years old and spends most of her time trying to place her thoughts into order and giving life to the stories that are always brewing inside her head.

She enjoys listening to music, playing the occasional video game, watching movies, and spending time with friends and family. She's also a bit of a computer geek.

Her writing genres of choice are Science-Fiction/Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal, Short Stories, as well as Poetry. She's currently working on several projects due out sometime in the new year, as well as her finishing her NaNoWriMo project, The Corsicanth Princess.