According to the Farmer’s Almanac, it becomes fall in the Northern Hemisphere at exactly 10:21 a.m. EDT on Thursday, September 22. Even though it will take it a while to find Florida, as of that date, I will long for the smell of autumn in the air, the cooler temperatures, all the activities associated with fall – and pumpkin. I can’t get enough pumpkin; pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin cheesecake (in moderation, of course), toasted pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin bread. I’ve shared my favorite pumpkin bread recipe below. What’s your favorite fall goodie?
I have another treat for you. My book Beauty and the Cowboy is free for a limited time. Get your copy HERE!
Nancy’s Pumpkin Bread
Unsalted butter at room temp for the pans
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp cloves
¼ tsp salt
2 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
4 large eggs
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 2/3 cup of buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350. Coat two 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pans with butter; set aside. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of a electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the pumpkin and both sugars; mix on medium speed until well combined – 2 –3 minutes. Add the eggs and oil; mix until incorporated, bout 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl. With mixer on low, add the flour mix in two batches alternating with the buttermilk and beginning and ending with the flour until just combined.
Divide the batter between the two pans; smooth the tops with a spatula. Place pans on a baking sheet. Bake rotating the sheet halfway through until a knife inserted in the top comes out clean – about 55 – 60 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes. Remove loaves from pan and cool completely. Bread can be kept at room temp, wrapped in plastic for up to 4 days.
Fall is just around the corner. I can’t wait. It’s my favorite season. It still feels like summer outside — and it probably will until well into October — because I live in Florida, but I know fall is coming. This meme pretty much sums up why I love it:
Here are three more things I’m excited about:
- The Norwegian and I are going to get away to the beach for a few days. I’ll be working because deadlines don’t take a vacation. I really don’t mind. There’s something about the laid back beach atmosphere and the sound of the waves hitting the sand that appeals to my muse. Here’s a picture I shot during last year’s beach getaway.
- I’m working on walking in a 5K later. Yes, walking. My running days are behind me, but I can walk at a pretty good distance at a respectable clip. My family and I are going to do it together and it benefits a local charity. So, it a win-win no matter how you look at it.
- Do you love a bargain? I do. My book BEAUTY AND THE COWBOY is free for a limited time! It’s a friends to lovers story and it’s the first book in Tule’s Meet Me at the Fair collection, which is part of the Montana Born series. I hope you’ll grab a copy. Can’t beat the price! You can get it HERE.
I’d love to know what’s your favorite season?
[This is a modified post originally published in 2009. I’ve updated some of the songs to make it more current. Enjoy!]
We’ve all known someone who has totally butchered the lyrics to a song. Not us, of course, but maybe a family member or a close, personal friend. Someone who was belting out a tune in total rock star mode when it happened –“WAIT! What did you say?… NO! That’s not how the song goes! Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha!!”
For me, the most delightful episode of misheard lyrics happened when my daughter was three. I was working in my office. She was playing quietly in her room when she started singing. Her sweet little voice carried down the hall, and the song went like this:
“You’re a grandma flag,
You’re a hot flying flag,
And forever in peace may she wave.
You’re the emblem of the land I love,
the home of the tree by the lake…”
I nearly wet my pants. I had to clasp my hand over my mouth to keep from ha-ha-ha’ing out loud. Once I contained myself, I walked into her room.
“Whatcha singing?” I asked.
“A song I learned in school,” she said.
“Really? Sing it for me again.”
And she did. With gusto.
Exactly as I’d heard it. Hot flying flags and all.
To this day it’s my favorite misheard lyrics story. Even better than the time my high school friend singing, “HAM ON RYE” when Kenny Logins sang, “I’M ALRIGHT.” Or when a girl at a party belted out, “YOU GOTTA DANCE TO THE LEFT, DANCE TO THE RIGHT…” as Jimmy Buffet sang, “YOU’VE GOT FINS TO THE LEFT, FINS TO THE RIGHT.” (She even had her own little dance to go with her imagined lyrics)
It even aced the time someone I know sang, “STOP! In the NEIGHBORHOOD before you break my heart.” When everyone knows Diana Ross says, “STOP! In the NAME OF LOVE….” To me, it’s even better than the king of bungled lyrics – that line from Jimmy Hendricks’ “Purple Haze,” “Excuse me while I kiss THIS GUY” when it should be “Excuse me while I kiss THE SKY.”
Okay, if I’m telling on everyone else, I suppose it’s only fair to fess up. Here are some recent songs I’ve misheard lately:
Thinking out loud by Ed Sheeran–
Correct: When my hair’s all but gone and my memory fades –
Misheard: When my head’s overdrawn and my memory fades
Blank Space by Taylor Swift–
Correct: Got a long list of ex-lovers
Misheard: Got a lot of Starbucks lovers
September – Earth Wind and Fire –
Correct: Do you remember the 21st night of September?
Misheard: Do you remember when it was hot in September?
How about you? Have you ever misheard lyrics or know of someone who has? Share it with us so we can all laugh together.
Recently, I took my muse out for a cup of tea and some evening cafe writing. When it was cooler outside, I wrote at a table next to a fountain where I sipped a cappuccino (triple shot, nonfat, with a healthy cap of cinnamon powder) and let the white noise of the splashing water tickle my muse’s fancy.
I’ve gotten to the point where I can write almost anywhere. I’m an agreeable scribe as long as I have my laptop or pen and paper, Spotify and headphones, and a temperate climate ( 75 degrees or lower, thank you very much. My muse goes on strike at the first bead of perspiration).
I’ve written in airports; on trains; in the car on road trips as my husband drove (Funny though, he wasn’t keen on the idea of driving me around on a daily basis while I wrote… can you believe it? Not even after I tossed out the words team player. Haha!). I’ve written at the mall as my daughter and her friends shopped; during youth orchestra rehearsals; on school field trip busses; during horseback riding lessons and ballet classes. I’ve actually finished more than one book at the beach (yes, in a bathing suit, ten yards from the surf – casual office days) and in a tent while camping.
I must confess: this bonus didn’t come built into the job; it evolved out of necessity as I tried to maximize my productivity without sacrificing too much family time (though all bets are off when I’m on deadline). After I realized I could be productive working outside of my writing cave a funny thing happened…it dawned on me I needn’t be tied to my conventional office chair … that sometimes, even when necessity didn’t dictate, a change of venue was refreshing and quite pleasing to the temperamental muse.
What’s the most interesting place your job has taken you, or if you’re a writer, where’s your favorite place to set up your portable office?
Be sure and tune into the JQ blog this Friday. We will have a list of contests for you to enter.
Be sure to check out Nancy Robards Thompson’s latest Harlequin Special Edition, Fortune’s Prince Charming.
I’m just back from the Romance Writers of America’s national conference in San Diego. The Norwegian went with me. After the conference was over, he and I headed north for a couple of days before heading home. Here are the top five highlights of the trip (with pictures!):
1. RWA offers great workshops and opportunities to hear inspiring speakers (such as Robyn Carr’s Lifetime Achievement Award acceptance speech – check it out here). However, spending time with friends is by far my favorite part of the annual conference. I’ve met some of my best friends through RWA and these friendships are still going strong after decades. Many of us live in different cities and states. This is our chance to catch up.
2. This year, I received a pin for writing my 25th Harlequin (I’ve written 34 books in all). I received it at the Harlequin party (which is always a highlight of the conference in itself). My editor made the night extra special and took me to dinner before the party and then we indulged at the “VIP Suite,” a special experience for NYT best sellers, award nominees, and those who’ve reached special milestones. I remember attending my first conference. I was unpublished – actually, at that point, I hadn’t even completed a manuscript. I had a head full of ideas and a heart full of hope…little did I know. I am a walking testament that dreams do come true.
3. Our last night in San Diego, the Norwegian and I were able to have dinner at Juniper & Ivy, the restaurant of Top Chef winner Richard Blas. It was such fun and incredibly delicious. We ate way too much because everything on the menu sounded delicious. One of the highlights was an appetizer – deviled eggs served on meringue. I found the recipe here, if you’d like to try them at home.
4. We headed north and spent a night with my brother and his girlfriend in Half Moon Bay. We had more fabulous food, wine and company. Note: They happen to have the coolest chicken coop in the world. What a luxury to have fresh eggs every day.
5. Finally, we made our way to San Francisco. We only had a day there. So we made the most of our time. First, we drove down Lombard Street. After we checked into the hotel, we headed to Fisherman’s Warf for Crab Louie salads. Next, we took a San Francisco Bay cruise. I love opportunities to learn about a city’s history and what makes it special. The cruise was narrated and took us from the Golden Gate Bridge, past Alcatraz and all the way down to the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge. We learned about those landmarks and everything in between. After the cruise, we had Irish coffee at the famous Buena Vista (believe it or not, it was chilly. I had to keep reminding myself it was mid-July). In case you’d like to indulge, I found the recipe for that, too. We capped off the trip with a visit to Cafe Trieste. Back in the day, it was a haunt of the Beat poets and Francis Ford Coppola wrote a good portion of the screenplay for The Godfather here. City Lights Bookstore was right around the corner. We stopped in and soaked up the vibe.
I must confess, the Norwegian was the planner. He arranged most of the fun we had after the conference (Except for Juniper and Ivy. Top Chef fan that I am, I found that one!) We packed a lot into the post-conference “vacation” time. I was exhausted, but looking back (and sharing it with you), I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
How do you like to spend your vacations? Do you like to have a plan and Go!Go!Go! Or do you like to relax and go with the flow?
I picked up some very cool note pads with vintage romance novel covers. I’ll give one each to four people who comment below.