When I was young, my mother used to bake the most delicious red velvet cakes. Even the icing was from scratch. She’d stack it high and sprinkle it with flaky coconut. It was heaven on a plate. Mostly, she made it for special occasions like birthdays and Valentine’s Day, but every once in a while she’d surprise us and make one just because. Maybe that’s why I always associate red velvet cake with comfort, happiness and love.
I associate other foods with love, too: My grandma’s pumpkin bread; my mother-in-law’s snickerdoodle cookies; and just about every meal the Norwegian prepares. He really is a fabulous cook. As a family, we put a lot of time and thought into our weekly meals and we make a point of sitting down together for dinner every night. We like to cook together, too.
The two of us have passed on our love of cooking to College Girl and when she feels homesick, she’ll fix some of our family favorites. She says it’s the next best thing to being home.
Given my love affair with food, it’s no wonder it usually plays a starring role in my books.
Do you associate certain foods you with good memories? If so, what are they?
Everyone is a little bit Irish today, but in my childhood home being Irish was a full-time job. My father, a man of wit and brevity, never lectured us about anything. But he had an endless storehouse of wonderful old Irish sayings, and he could always pop out the perfect one to put us in our places.
We probably didn’t appreciate it then, but all these years later I remember them, and I’ve even found a few more of my own along the way.
The Irish swing easily from sardonic to sloppily sentimental…and back again. I’m the same way. So of course, my storehouse of favorite Irish sayings hits both notes, as well. Here are a few:
My favorite blessings:
May the saddest day of your future be no worse than the happiest day of your past.
May you always walk in sunshine, may you never want for more.
May Irish angels rest their wings right beside your door.
My favorite warnings:
There’s no need to fear the wind if your haystacks are tied down.
It’s sweet to drink, but bitter to pay for.
My favorite curse:
May those who love us, love us.
And those that don’t love us, may God turn their hearts.
And if he doesn’t turn their hearts, may he turn their ankles,
So we’ll know them by their limping.
My favorite toasts:
We drink to your coffin. May it be built from the wood of a hundred-year-old oak tree that I shall plant tomorrow.
As you slide down the banisters of life, may the splinters never point the wrong way.
What wonderful sayings were you brought up on–Irish or otherwise? I’d love to add to my storehouse, so that I can impress everyone the next time we have a St. Patty’s Day party, like this yummy one at my sister’s…from which I’ve just now come home. Apparently, ahem, we’re big on dessert!
I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about my struggles with Diet Coke here on this blog. I know I have on my Facebook page. I’ve tried to quit so many times, but for one reason or another I never quite made the commitment. Well, I’m happy to report that I have not had a diet soda of any variety since September 2nd. In fact I haven’t had any artificial sweeteners since then.
While I’m very happy and proud of my accomplishment with this, something about it all has really surprised the hell out of me. I knew I had physical addictions to the chemicals in diet coke. Day 3 of my detox (as I fondly call it) I felt so badly I thought I might be physically sick. It was awful, I shook, I was all jittery and cranky. But I had expected it. Things got better after that. Eventually the shakes went away and my headaches disappeared (well the soda-related headaches). But I never realized how emotionally addicted I was to those little cans of bubbly delight.
Most days I do okay, but some days I want one so badly I literally could rip them out of some poor unsuspecting soul’s hand. I’ve even cried – that’s embarrassing to admit, I realize it’s just a beverage. But I miss them. For so long, my diet sodas were my constant companion. I mean I was drinking a lot of them, like upwards of 50-80 ounces a day. Yes, you read that right. But I’ve seriously mourned the demise of diet coke and diet big red and any other variety I would have.
It still seems weird to me to acknowledge this. It’s crazy to think that something so trivial could be so emotionally important to me, but there you have it.
So how about you? Have you ever had something like this that completely took you by surprise? Ever given up something that was really difficult to let go of?
This time of year always feels like a mad rush, doesn’t it? So with the holidays almost upon us, the Jaunty Quills want to play Santa and give our readers a little incentive to take a break—with books, of course! Each day from December 15th until Christmas Eve we’ll be posting one particular kind of holiday cookie on our facebook page, a favorite of one of the Jaunty Quills. Just match the Quill to the cookie and post her name in the comment thread for a chance to win one of that author’s books (don’t worry—we’ll be giving you hints).
In addition to the daily wins, we’ll be awarding a grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card on December 25th! All you have to do to win books is visit our facebook page and answer the daily question. The grand prize will be drawn from the entrants on the daily posts.
We’ll also be posting some of our favorite cookie recipes for the holidays, and we encourage you to share your favorites on our facebook page, too.
But hold those cookie recipes for the contest! For now, just tell us what you’re most looking forward to this holiday season.
Today we have a super special guest blogger. She’s a debut author and her first book just came out last month. But the coolest part is that she’s my mom! Being a writer and having a mom who is also a writer is pretty stinking cool. It’s an excellent thing to have in common with my mom and also she’s just a pretty cool gal. So without further ado, I give you Hattie Mae.
Thank you for having me. When Robyn asked if I would blog with you, I wondered what would I talk about. What’s has been on my mind is about my first book that came out in July, Under The Sassafras. I have been so excited and, I must say, proud of myself. Yet at the same time, it’s left me wondering, how? How could I put myself out there at my age? Thus my blog.
I would like to ask you what woman or women influenced you through life? Now I’m not trying to leave out the men. I myself have had strong men in my life who have helped make me who I am. My husband of 52 years for one, he’s currently sitting and reading my second book. But my mind kept going back to three women in my past that I really credit to who all played significant roles in the Hattie Mae who is here today.
My Mom would have to be the first. She married young and had me in her teens. You can say we grew up together. We were best friends that laughed, and cried together. She was a tiny woman full of sass and vinegar. She had dancing feet, a sharp tongue and laughter came easy to her. I think of her and miss her daily.
Lesson: She taught me that something worth doing is worth doing right. So I wrote a book. And then I wrote three more.
The next would be, her mother, my grandmother. She broke her wrist at the age of 70. She was riding a horse and bent over to pick up her beloved pipe that she’d dropped.
Lesson: She taught me that you are never too old to do what you love. So at the age of 70 my first book was published.
My other grandmother, she was a little Cajun woman who could hardly speak English–Cajun French was her first language. She knew her numbers but could not read or write. But she had tenacity. She made her own phone book with pictures she drew that represented the person with their phone number on the same line. She traveled across country by bus—changing in cities she didn’t know, to be at her ailing son’s bedside. When asked how she knew which bus to change to get where she was going, she simple replied—“I followed my suitcase.”
Lesson: She taught me that there is no job so hard that you can’t find a way to complete that task. So I simply follow my suitcase and write another book.
I know that I am who I am is not merely the influence of just these three remarkable women, but numerous others. My husband, my daughters, my son, and all six of my grandchildren, real friends, and even strangers I meet along the way.
What about you? Anyone come to mind?
Award-winning author, Hattie Mae was born and bred southern, cutting her teeth on cornbread and greens and running barefoot through the canals of her small Louisiana town. So when it came to writing, there was no question as to where to set her books. She’s now writing her fourth book set in Bon Amie, a busy little town nestled in the heart of Cajun country. She’s also published a short story in The Cup Of Comfort For Teachers. The love of books and writing runs in her family, Hattie’s daughter is award-winning historical romance author, Robyn DeHart.
When not writing you can usually find her playing with her grandchildren or cooking up some healthy versions of tasty southern fare. She lives in central Texas with her husband and one crazy cat. You can find out more about her and her small town romances on her website.
Nestled between the Atchafalaya Basin and Sugar Island lies Bon Amie, a friendly, quiet town, where nothing exciting ever happens. Until Joelette Benoit’s two sons find a man washed up in the murky water at the edge of the swamp.
Joelette Benoit, a widowed single mother, has sworn to never believe the promises of another sweet talking man. Fiercely independent and determined, she’s hidden away her heart, while struggling to provide for her two sons and lively mother-in-law. She swears the stranger will stay one night, and one night only, until she discovers he has no memory. Now duty-bound to aid him, Joelette decides to offer him a place to heal in exchange for his labor.
Against the colorful backdrop of life on the bayou, she watches as he immerses himself not only in her family but also in her town. She can do little to prevent her sons from bonding with the only man they’ve come to trust since the death of their father. Though she, too, is drawn to his kindness and vulnerability, she will not risk the heart of her family because without a past, this man cannot promise a future. But when his memory returns and he realizes he has blood on his hands, he knows he has unfinished business to attend to before he can claim the family he has grown to love.