Twelve Days of Christmas: Samantha Grace

Banana Pancakes

by Samantha Grace

One of the things I love about being a parent is being in charge of creating happy memories for our kids. I think observing tradition gives everyone a stronger sense of who we are and where we belong. We carry it with us all our lives. The traditions my husband and I observe with our kids are a mix of things from our childhood and new things we wanted to try.

Two of the kids’ favorite traditions are opening one gift on Christmas Eve and banana pancakes on Christmas morning. They love banana pancakes so much they request them year round, but Christmas morning they are a must. (One of my favorite traditions is getting the kids a new ornament every year, and when they have their own homes, they can have the ornaments for their trees.)

The first year I made banana pancakes, I used the recipe out of Sheila Lukins’s All Around the World Cookbook. Now I’ve modified the recipe using a mix to get the pancakes on the table quicker, but her recipe really is superior.

Banana Pancakes

2 cups Krusteaz pancake mix

1 1/3 cups water

¼ cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon cinnamon

2-3 mashed ripe bananas

Combine the pancake mix and water with a whisk. Add brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Fold in mashed bananas. Grease the griddle with a little vegetable oil.  Pour about ¼ cup of batter on the hot griddle, cook until the edges start to look golden, and flip.

I serve Little Smokies with the pancakes Christmas morning. I figure once a year isn’t bad.

 Twice Upon a Time:Summons Duke

Since her father’s untimely death, Felicity Halliday has relied on the medical knowledge learned at his side to treat London’s most disreputable in order to support her family.  Life has been hard, but everything changes the night she is snatched from an alley behind a theatre and tossed into a nobleman’s carriage. 

It has been less than a fortnight since Julian Beckford returned to London after a sojourn in India, and he’s already up to his top-boots in one of his cousin’s mad schemes. When his foolish cousin decides to engage an actress to play his wife over the holidays at Danby Castle, Julian becomes an unwilling party to the lady’s abduction. Along their journey to Yorkshire, Julian makes a stunning discovery about his cousin’s pretend wife and finds it’s possible to love Twice Upon a Time.

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ABMChristmasA Beau Monde Bachelor Christmas:

Join newlywed couples Lord and Lady Norwick, Jake and Amelia Hillary, Daniel and Lisette Hillary, and Isaac and Serafine Tucker for their first Christmas together.

Bibi, the Countess of Norwick, would love to give her husband the one thing he really wants for Christmas: a ceasefire between her and his intractable sister. Facing Lady Troll during the holidays without reinforcements, however, would be foolish, and Bibi is no fool. She calls upon her dearest friends, Amelia and Jake Hillary, and a few more familiar faces to spend Christmas in Kent to help make the season a little brighter. Unfortunately, her guests are distracted by their own challenges this holiday season, and Bibi must find a way to connect with her sister-in-law without their help if she hopes to make Jasper’s Christmas wishes come true.

 

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Twelve Days of Christmas: Aileen Fish

christmas-gift-red-bow-1The Gift Game…

The one tradition my family continues to carry is what we call the gift game. I’ve heard other families call it various things, but we know what we mean by “gift game”. Everyone brings a gift according to predetermined guidelines. Everyone draws a number from a bowl to determine the order they may choose from the gifts. After the first gift is opened, the next player gets to choose either the opened gift or a wrapped one. If your gift is taken by another player, you get to choose again.

In my family, the goal of the game is to bring a gift that will be fought over. My brother-in-law will steal the most popular gift each year to get a chain of stealing going, so we always hope he draws a high number. It doesn’t matter what the item is, he’ll steal it. It was fun to watch him fight my nieces for a Sephora gift card! Last year the most coveted item was a crocheted afghan made by one of my sisters-in-law. One year it was a chocolate fountain machine. Thanks to thrifty shopping, these both fell under the $20 gift limit.

This year we decided on a white elephant exchange. We’ll all find something around the house we don’t need any more. This announcement came right after my older daughter and I had already sent off boxes of stuff to charity. We discovered we each had one pricey item we hadn’t sent, because we would rather see those items go to someone we know. The family is in for a surprise when they see what we bring!

This gift game has been a wonderful way to deal with rising costs of presents as our family grew. My nieces are now college-age, with typical college-student income. The white elephant idea, or the $20 limit, makes it possible for them to join in on their own, instead of Mom and Dad having to pay their way.

But the gift game will be the second most joyful event when the family gathers this year. My granddaughter, Zoey, will be enjoying her first Christmas! My mom will be with us, too, so we’ll have four generations present. You can’t get better than that. I’m bringing my tripod so we can take a group photo.

What silly things does your family do when you get together? Are you able to share your holiday with extended family? It takes juggling, but we find a day each year when the majority of us can all be there.

The importance of family at this time of year led me to write The Christmas Wedding Scheme. Their celebration at their country estate was a longer event, running clear through Twelfth Night, but the entire family was there.

wedding scheme smlThe Christmas Wedding Scheme

The Christmas season has always been important to Nash Sinclair. Home from the war and surrounded by his large, loving family, he realizes what is missing from his life: a wife. Not too surprisingly, he is looking at his sister-in-law’s rather becoming (and unmarried) sister when he makes the decision.

Lady Julianna intends to remain unmarried, having no need for a husband to live the life of her dreams. Rather than explain her unusual choice, she insists only a man who slays dragons would suit her, and since dragons don’t exist, neither does her ideal beau.

Not one to turn away from a challenge, Nash enlists the aid of his nieces and nephews in a scheme sure to win Lady Julianna’s affection. But as he comes to know the lady better, he realizes he’s risking his own heart. When did his silly idea become a crucial quest?

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The Viscounts Sweet Temptation (Summons from Yorkshire)summons_from_yorkshire_picture_2 (1)

Lady Harriet Thornhill knows the summons from her grandfather means he’s decided whom she must marry. Determined that she’d only marry a man of her choosing, she stows away in her friend’s father’s carriage, only to find herself alone with young Archibald Napier,Viscount Morley.

Morley’s plans for a quiet Christmas vanish when he discovers the sweet young lady hiding under the blankets in his carriage. As she claims an acquaintance with his sister, he feels duty-bound to see her safely back to her family.

A broken carriage wheel leaves them stranded, and Harriet’s reputation is at stake. Morley’s not ready to take a wife, until he’s told he wouldn’t be a suitable husband for her. With memories of her sweet, tempting kiss filling his thoughts, he prepares to fight for the hand of the woman he believes he could love.

 

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Twelve Days of Christmas: Phyllis Campbell

Phyllis Campbell is a multi-published author of romance; from refined bad-boy heroes who makes your heart melt to the feisty heroines who somehow manage to love them regardless of their faults. Here she shares her favorite family tradition…

christmas_lights22

A new family tradition that we started a few years back was to take our grandkids to see Christmas lights. There is a drive-through park not far from our town that is full of Christmas lights and decorations. In this little Christmas village they have a Santa Claus tent where the kids can sit on Santa’s lap and get a candycane. My grandkids love doing this, and afterwards we’ll come back to my house to have hot chocolate. This has now become my favorite tradition. Is it any wonder since I enjoy spending time with the grandkids.

Comment below with your favorite holiday tradition and be entered to win a $25 gift card from the book seller of your choice!
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Becoming a Lady from Summons from His Grace…

His Grace

Dorothy Paxton is not pleased when a handsome Englishman walks into her inn and announces he’s taking her back to England to reunite with the grandfather who turned his back on her years ago. Her escort, Calvin Seton, bribes her by paying her brother’s doctor’s bills, and soon she’s on the ship sailing for London. Little by little, Calvin’s charm softens her heart. While her lady’s companion teaches her to become a lady, Dorothy is secretly wishing Mr. Seton would do some teaching of his own…in his bedroom. Yet she must control her desires or she’s no better than her mother who succumbed to a nobleman, only to have him leave her. Dorothy will not repeat history. Or will she?

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Visit Phyllis’s website / blog to discover more about her – http://phylliscampbell.blogspot.com/

Twitter – @phylliscampbell

12 Days of Christmas: Christmas in Paradise

IMG_7631If you had asked me a year ago if I would ever want to live in Florida, I would have looked at you like you had three heads. Florida?? Land of alligators and dangling chads?? Are you crazy?!?!

But many of you know that one fateful trip to the Bahamas changed everything. Yes, I know Florida isn’t the Bahamas, but it’s pretty darn close, both in proximity and in “feel.” So, blah, blah, blah, we decided to move here and our original 18-month timeline became 6 months, and well, here we are.

The main thing I was concerned about was how I would feel about wearing flip-flops and going swimming at Christmastime. I love Christmas. This is no secret. And, as most people do, I have always associated this time of year with frigid temps, snow, fireplaces and bundling up, yet still freezing my a** off.

Well, let me tell you…I will NEVER look back. Ever.  (Cue Taylor Swift song, “Weeeeee are never, ever, eveeeeer…getting back together!) You don’t need to be freezing to feel the magic of Christmas. As a matter of fact, I would venture to say that I’m way more in the Christmas spirit than I’ve ever been! And those things I love still exist, even here.

For instance, Florida *does* get a little chilly, so I still get to put on a light sweater. And last night, in my light sweater, I ate Grimaldi’s New York pizza al fresco near a blazing heat lamp while watching the Christmas light show! It was MAGICAL!

And this morning, to and from dropping my daughter off at school, I rolled the windows down and blared Christmas music out the windows. Seriously, you haven’t known joy until you’ve had a warm breeze on your face while listening to Bing sing White Christmas.IMG_7678

Oh, and don’t forget snow! Almost every holiday celebration here involves fake snow. But it’s warm! And you don’t have to be bundled up in a gajillion layers of clothing or risk your children getting frostbite!

This last weekend alone was EPIC in terms of Christmas celebrations…breakfast with Santa, holiday boat parade, festival of trees, the children’s holiday festival with petting zoo, tree lightings, etc… We didn’t even make it to all of them though… we had to sleep and eat sometime!!

But no matter where you live, I hope you find the joy and love of the holiday season in your hearts! And to help you get in the mood, we’re kicking off our 12 Days of Christmas giveaway today! Every day, for the next 12 days, I’ll be featuring an author from the Regency Christmas Summons Series here on my blog. Stop by and learn about their favorite holiday traditions, read about their story in the collection, and leave a comment to WIN!

Win what? you may ask! I’ll be giving away a $25 gift card to the book seller of your choice. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win!* Winner will be announced December 21, 2012.

So now it’s your turn! Do you love the winter? Do you embrace the cold? Or would you be just as happy to spend Christmas in a tropical paradise? IMG_8069

*One comment per blog entry = a potential twelve entries.

A SUMMONS FROM THE DUKE…

Summons Duke

In Loving Mister Lockwell (Regency Christmas Summons, Vol. 2), Lady Isabel Whitton has no use for people other than her twin sister — she much prefers the company of her books. So when she discovers that all her cousins from near and far have been summoned to her home, Danby Castle, for Christmas, she isn’t pleased. To make matters even worse, the deplorable Mister Lockwell has come uninvited.

Damien Lockwell, 3rd son of the Earl of Totterdown, has invited himself to Yorkshire for Christmas. Spending the holiday with the Whittons seems far preferable to watching his father drink himself into a stupor. And Lady Isabel proves to be just the kind of entertainment he was looking for — she’s smart as a whip and quite the most unique creature he’s ever met — not to mention she despises him, which is the most thrilling part of all for a man like Damien.

Available NOW at these major retailers…
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New Release: A Love For All Seasons

Get all three of Jerrica’s most beloved novellas in one, tidy package! A Love for All Seasons includes her stories from A Summons from the Duke, The Betting Season and A Season to Remember.

LOVING MR. LOCKWELL (Originally from Summons from the Duke)…
Lady Isabel Whitton has no use for people other than her twin sister — she much prefers the company of her books. So when she discovers that all her cousins from near and far have been summoned to her home, Danby Castle, for Christmas, she isn’t pleased. To make matters even worse, the deplorable Mister Lockwell has come uninvited. * Damien Lockwell, 3rd son of the Earl of Totterdown, has invited himself to Yorkshire for Christmas. Spending the holiday with the Whittons seems far preferable to watching his father drink himself into a stupor. And Lady Isabel proves to be just the kind of entertainment he was looking for — she’s smart as a whip and quite the most unique creature he’s ever met — not to mention she despises him, which is the most thrilling part of all for a man like Damien.

THE MARRIAGE TRAP (Originally from The Betting Season)…

When Miss Patience Findley discovers, at her first ball of her first Season, just how much her father’s scandal has affected her chances of marriage, she resigns herself to being alone and dying a spinster. That is, until she hears that her friends’ names have landed in the Betting Book at White’s. In a moment of desperation, she asks her reprobate cousin to place a bet on her behalf, in hopes of trapping an unsuspecting gentleman into marriage.

Tristan Wallford, Lord Swaffham, loves a good challenge. So when his friend, Rowan Findley, claims that his cousin Patience cannot be cured of her melancholy state, Tristan lays a bet that he will be the one to cure her. He could certainly use the money, after all. But as the game begins, Tristan begins to realize that not only does Miss Findley not need curing, but she might be worth trapping for himself.

A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS (Originally from A Season to Remember)…
Penelope Bartlett has had a rough year, to say the least. She lost her eldest brother and her father in one fell swoop, and to make matters worse she had to miss out on her very first London Season. Now she’s in the thick of the Little Season and all she wants to do is run away. It’s torture to watch her siblings fall in love and she’s simply not in the mood to make merry with all of them. Especially when they treat her as if she’s still a little girl in leading strings. 
* Enter Drake Lockwell, Viscount Flitwick. He, too, is typically eager to escape crowded ballrooms and matchmaking mamas in favor of his own company in a deserted garden or library. But a chance meeting in his brother’s garden one night changes everything. Miss Bartlett is young and impetuous, yet he can’t help but fall prey to her charms. Perhaps she will be the one to finally mend the hole in his heart…

Or will his secrets be more than Penelope is able to handle?

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Hurry, Hurry, Hurry!

Tonight is the live chat with all 12 authors of the Regency Christmas Summons Anthology! And TODAY is the last day to enter our massive drawing! Come to Lady Scribes and leave a message there to be entered to WIN!

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And then be sure to join us tonight for the live chat from 8-10pm EST!

A Week of Thanksgiving…

Yesterday morning, I woke up and jumped onto Facebook, only to realize that this was the week of Thanksgiving. That’s right. I totally thought we had another week, so I was feeling completely blind sided. How could it have snuck up on me like this? Looking back, there were signs…lots of friends talking about how their in-laws were already in town for the holiday, or other friends who had already taken off for vacation. I just kept thinking, “Wow. Lucky ducks that they can take so much time away from home and work to celebrate the holiday.”

Anyhoo, now that I know what week it is, I’ve decided to get my Gratitude Girdle on! That’s right. There are Thinking Caps, Fancy Pants and now…Gratitude Girdles. But instead of stuffing rolls of fat into this girdle, I’m going to stuff all the things I’m grateful for into it. So, here are my Top 10 Reasons to be Grateful this year…

1. My husband. He is, to put it plainly, the kind of man every woman dreams about. He’s handsome, romantic, smart, hilarious…and really good in the sack.

2. My daughter. When she’s not driving me to the brink of insanity, she’s pretty darned amazing. Funny and adorable, she’s everything I dreamed my little girl would be.

3. My cat. Dr. Snuggle has provided more than 12 years of loyal service warming my feet at night and discoloring my carpet with his vomit.

4. My critique partners. I don’t know what I would do without them. I can tell them things that I can’t tell the rest of the world, and they understand and support me no matter what. Oh, and they’re really good at critiquing my manuscripts.

5. Pasta. For being so easy to make and for delivering Parmesan cheese to my mouth.

6. Cindy Loo. She’s the best puppet in the world, and she makes my day a little brighter when I stick my hand up her hoo-ha.

7. My nanny. She does all the stuff I don’t like to do, like dishes and laundry and cleaning poop out of the crib, in addition to providing the most amazing care for our little princess.

8. My local mommy friends. I would probably think I was crazy if it weren’t for my mom friends telling me I’m not.

9. The rest of my family. Eric and I may have slightly dysfunctional families, but we know it could be so much worse. And when compared with other people’s families, we don’t seem that dysfunctional at all. Actually, we’re all functioning quite well together these days, and that’s certainly something to be grateful for.

10. Vampire Diaries and Christmas Music. These two things make me extremely happy right now, so I’m grouping them together in my “things that make me happy” category.

If you leave a comment with the things you’re most grateful for this year, I’ll enter you into the Regency Christmas Summons Prize Extravaganza!

Christmas Short Story

It’s been written and now it’s just awaiting critiques from my crit partners. Oh, and a title. LOL!

I really enjoyed writing it. It features one of my favorite characters, Katherine Hart, Duchess of Weston, whose story was told in the Valentine’s anthology from Second Wind Publishing earlier this year, Love is on the Wind (still available in ebook or print format!!)

I plan to sell the Christmas story through my website during the holiday season and donate part of the proceeds to charity. Normally, Christmastime is a time for the hubby and I to give. Last year, we found some needy families and bought presents for them so they could have a Merry Christmas. Since I’ll be minutes away from delivering our first baby (she’s due late December), I’ve decided to take another route. Shopping and shipping are chores enough when you’re not 9 months pregnant!

So, stay tuned! I’ll be putting the story up soon for purchase!