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Traditions–the ties that bond

On the eleventh day of Pre-release, the author gave to me…

Traditions.

At Casa Richards there are only a few traditions set in stone. One is the decorations don’t go up until after my Dad’s birthday, on December 6th. For some people the wait for the appropriate time would be agonizing but, for me, not so much. It allows me a little more time to think about it all and make some plans. We’ve moved quite a few times over the last few years, so this year I’m once again trying to figure out where things will go. I need those extra days!

Another tradition is that at some point over the season we’ll get together with all the kids and have hors d’oeuvres for dinner. That started when I worked retail and always worked up until Christmas Eve. Back in those days we had to negotiate with the elder two’s Mum as to when we’d have them and for a number of years we’d have them the day before Christmas. So sometimes I was facing somehow having to produce a feast on a day when I wouldn’t get home until almost 6:30pm. One year I thought, “This is nuts!” and asked if anyone minded us having nibblies instead of a meal. We all enjoyed it so much, we do it every year now. Sometimes on Christmas Eve, sometimes on Boxing Day or even on the 27th, which is my hubby’s birthday.

The only other thing that I’m honor-bound to do is make Jamaican-style Christmas pudding. Most people hear those words and wince, but our pudding starts with fruit (raisins, prunes, etc.) that have been soaked in rum and wine…usually all year. Yeah. If I ever said I wasn’t making puddings I think I’d have a mutiny on my hands.

Old traditions, passed on from generation to generation, keep us in touch with our pasts, while the new ones help make sense of our present. In my new book, Jaguar in the Sun, book four in the Unveiled Seductions series, the heroine is facing a tradition she won’t survive. Yet there is no thought of shirking it, because she knows everyone is depending on her to follow through. I’ll freely admit that, in the midst of the craziness that the Christmas season sometime can be, following through on some of the traditions (especially the two day pudding bake!) feels like a chore, but in the end it’s worth the effort. Seeing the smiles and hearing the sighs of appreciation make it all good!

Enjoy the following preview and Happy Holidays to All!!

Anya

jaguarinthesun_9781419947193_msr_1Blurb:

Cassandra Solinar has a bucket list and jaguar god Xbal Montegro is on it. About to undergo an essential rite she won’t survive, she wants to wring every ounce of pleasure out of the time left. Including discovering if Xbal’s sex magic technique is as good as rumored.

It’s no hardship for Xbal to accept Cassandra’s invitation for one erotic encounter, but far more difficult to let her go once he gets a taste of the explosive passion between them. Now he’s determined to hold on to her, no matter what.

Cassie can’t tell Xbal the truth about what she’s about to do. It’s illegal, but without her death the entire world will perish. It’s a job she’s been preparing for from birth, but the loss will be greater now. For in Xbal she finds a soul-deep connection she doesn’t want to lose, and the one thing she made a point of not putting on her bucket list—love.

A Romantica® paranormal erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

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Journeys Through Seduction

Anya Richards/Anya Delvay books available from Samhain Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Chapters Indigo.

What are you doing New Year’s Eve?

So I’m REALLY late blogging today because I didn’t go to bed until 3am. With today being New Year’s Eve you’d be forgiven for thinking I was out partying, but it sounds a hell of a lot more exciting than it really was, since I was up desperately trying to finish writing a book! In years gone by I definitely would have been out whooping it up, since back home the month of December, from beginning to end, is one big party. House parties, parties in nightclubs, street parties, you name it, Jamaicans are there, dancing, drinking, eating and generally having a wild time.

New Year’s Eve is the time when everyone pulls out the fanciest dress or suit and really gets their groove on. A good friend of my brother used to have THE party of the night to go to, and I still have fond memories of dancing, flirting and drinking the night away. We’d have breakfast there at about 7am on New Year’s Day and then going home to change into swimsuits and head to the beach. Fried fish and “festival” (a fried bread made from flour and cornmeal), Red Stripe Beer and chilly dips in the rough January sea followed until, exhausted, we’d head home at about 3pm. Sometimes, after crashing for a few hours, we’d head out again. Sometimes, if we’d really tied one on, we’d wake up and realize it was actually January 2nd.

Unfortunately, as an uncle of mine used to say, “What used to was cannot are.” (Think about that for a moment. No, I don’t mind… *crickets*) Now, with work, family, all the various responsibilities of life, days like that are just a fond memory. No doubt if I were still back home I’d be a lot more frisky than I am now. It’s different for me when going out involves not only venue and time but how many layers of clothing I have to wear! No one looks or feels sexy in long underwear, LOL!

Yet, I still love the turning of the year, the sensation of the unknown just around the corner, a fresh, clean slate to scribble all over. I know realistically I could wake up every morning and feel the same way—after all, what’s the difference between, say March 31st –April 1st and December 31st –January 1st?—but there’s definitely a sensation of anticipation attached to the beginning of the year.

So, in the spirit of that anticipation and with 2013 just hours away, here’s to us all, to health, happiness, love and romance, to peace, prosperity and dreams coming true. From me to you, stay safe, have fun and ring in the New Year in whichever style you love best!

See you all in 2013!

Oh, and Moe sends flowers LOL!

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Let it Snow – and Let Us Eat!

Happy holidays! We hope you’re all enjoying the festive season and aren’t too overwhelmed by shopping and family obligations. We thought we’d share two easy-peasy holiday recipes that are favourites in our households. Both these recipes can also be found in Passionate Cooks, a free cookbook from All Romance.

Scottish Shortbread

Using a food processor (Cuisinart, Kitchen Aid) makes this recipe very simple.

Preheat oven to 275F.

1/2 pound butter at room temperature
1/2 cup fruit sugar (or grind up regular sugar in processor)
1/2 cup rice flour
2 cups cake and pastry flour

If using normal sugar, grind it in processor to make it fine. Add butter and cream with sugar until smooth and light. Add rice and pastry flour. Dough should form into a ball in processor. Press into a greased square glass cooking dish (medium sized – 9 inches or so).

Cook for one hour or until bottom is lightly browned (lift up glass dish to check). Do not overcook! Cool and cut into squares. It’s best to cut when the shortbread is still a bit warm – not too hot, not too cold.

The secret ingredient is butter

The secret ingredient is butter

Sweet Embrace Potatoes

1 large can sweet potatoes in syrup (drained)
¾ stick melted butter
2 eggs
1 c sugar
1 c milk
2 tbs corn starch
cinnamon to taste

Dissolve cornstarch in a little of the milk to make it mix easily.  Beat all of the above ingredients with mixer until well blended. Pour in casserole and bake 22 minutes at 375 degrees.

Topping for casserole

1 c crushed cornflakes
1 c coconut flakes
½ c brown sugar
¾ c butter
½ nuts (chopped pecans, chopped walnuts, almond flakes)

Mix topping ingredients over low heat.  Spread over partially cooked sweet potato mixture.  Return to oven for 20 minutes.

Sweet Embrace Potatoes

Enjoy! We wish health and happiness to you and yours.

p.s. Come on over to Long and Short Reviews for another holiday recipe and a chance to win a copy of my m/m Hanukkah romance Eight Nights!

Keira Andrewsand Leta Blake write fairy tale inspired m/m erotica and romantica with Ellora’s Cave. Check out Earthly Desires, the first book in the series, available for purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and Ellora’s Cave.

Mexican Eggrolls for the Holidays? You bet!

Sexy athleteThere is absolutely nothing holiday-ish about this photo. Still, when I saw him, I knew my fellow MANhandlers would appreciate his…ball. It’s clearly the focus of the photo, yes? I’m suddenly nostalgic for my days in the soccer keep. I was quite good, you know–recruited for the Miss Budweiser Ladies’ Traveling Team. But that’s another tale for another time. Ogle away while I get the recipe you need for the holidays.

So, every year we have this tradition that we do a predictable holiday meal for Christmas, but for New Year’s Eve, we do a huge Mexican food feast. It was easier to pull this off when we lived in New Mexico (the South simply doesn’t understand tamales or green chili that is not a bell pepper). We are a diligent and resourceful lot, though, and we make it work. The recipe below is ridonkulously simple, clearly unhealthy and guaranteed to taste good. We lean on the latter and ignore the middle altogether for this one night every year.

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Mexican Eggrolls

2 lbs lean ground beef
1 clove of garlic, minced (more if you’re fending off the undead)
1 white onion, chopped (less if you intend to kiss your sweetheart)
1 can chopped green chilies (use two if you’re a chili addict and don’t forget to pick out the skins)
1 large bag sharp cheddar (large means the BIG bag)
2 packages eggroll wrappers
1 bag frozen potatoes OPTIONAL  (like O’Brien potatoes but without the peppers–trust me on this)
Salsa
Small bowl of water
Oil for frying

Heat the oil.

Brown ground beef with garlic, onion and green chilies in a deep pan. (I add the green chilies when the meat’s almost done and use the spoon to spread it around and pick out the skins.) Drain grease off meat and put back in the pan.

Fry potatoes. Drain them well and pat excess grease off with paper towels. (Seems pointless, but trust me. Too much grease is just too much grease.) Keep grease hot.

Add the bag of cheese to the meat and turn the heat on low. Stir it in and make sure it melts well. The meat should stick together really well.

Add the potatoes and mix in.

With on corner of the eggroll wrapper facing you, add a small spoonful of the meat mix. Dip your fingers in the water and trace the edges of the wrapper. Fold the nearest point over the meat, fold the outside corners in and roll. (It’s very important to make sure you get the seams sealed, but don’t mash them. Eggroll wrappers are temperamental and tend to tear out of spite. It’s true. I swear.) Set aside. Repeat the process until you’re out of wrappers, meat or alcohol.

Fry your eggrolls until they’re golden brown. (Usually takes a minute or so.) Remove and drain on a paper towel.

Suggestion: Have someone fry while you roll. It makes things much, much easier because the eggroll wrappers tend to stick to the counter as you set them aside.

Serve with salsa and enjoy! (Really, though? They don’t need it.)
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There you have it, my faithful readers — a Tompkins tradition since 1948. Okay, that’s a lie. We started this around 1995. But traditions sound better if they’re older. You’re going to thank me. Your hips will curse my name, but the belleh will be happeh.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas, happy holiday season and prosperous New Year full of wonderful new reads. And Mexican Eggrolls.

May Next Year hold Warm Words, Full Moons, and Smooth Roads

Happy Holidays, everyone!  Whether you celebrate or not, I hope you have a wonderful and peaceful end of the year.  Today I am Christmas shopping with my husband.  We’ve both been busy, and this is the first chance we’ve had to shop.  All  I can say is…wish me well.  🙂

Yesterday was our 14th wedding anniversary.  We celebrated by planning to celebrate after Christmas.  This works for us.  Of course, his birthday is the day after Christmas, and we’re having a big party with both of my brothers in law because their birthdays are close together.  So, we’ll celebrate our anniversary after that.  Maybe in February.

I love the holidays.  I come from a large family, as does my husband, so we have many people to celebrate with and are so fortunate.  I married an Italian, but my family is mainly Irish.  So, as I head off to brave shopping with my stubborn Italian, I leave with you a blessing that strikes a chord with me, not only because I’m Irish, but that I (and several of our authors here) visit a dark, paranormal world often in our thoughts.

May you have warm words on a cold evening,
a full moon on a dark night,
and a smooth road all the way to your door.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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