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Permalink to A Cup of Hot Chocolate

A Cup of Hot Chocolate

Look what’s finally here! The hot chocolate cups! Just in time for spring probably, sigh. (Okay, so we get a little swamped over here and not everything gets done. But all this snow was motivating, hot chocolate wise.)

Who wants one? With a little bit of Valrhona nestled inside so that you can make your own cup of hot chocolate to get through this long winter–or maybe, who knows, celebrate the start of spring? (Any sign of spring yet where you live?)

I’ll pick one name from Facebook and one from my new releases email list, so you can enter both places. (Sign up for email list here.)

cups


Permalink to Revising & making truffles–what about you?

Revising & making truffles–what about you?

Some days I enjoy revising so much. There’s something very therapeutic about it, like cleaning up a room before you show it off to guests. A little word trimmed here, a sentence cleared up there, shining it up.

[Ironically, cleaning up an actual room would be something I do not enjoy doing at all.]

What are you celebrating this week? How are you taking time to enjoy life? We’ve been making truffles this weekend, and I suspect tomorrow will be a snow day here and we’ll be doing even more baking, the type of celebration I enjoy a lot.

I hope this week is treating you well!


Permalink to Book Valentine’s?

Book Valentine’s?

Valentine’s Day! A day which in regular life I have some reticence toward–if you’re in an established couple, hopefully you make time for each other (and chocolate!) without marketers telling you that today has to be the day, and if you’re single…doesn’t it just make you feel lousy?

BUT in books I have a *great* time with Valentine’s Day. When I think back on it, there have been quite a few Valentine moments in the Chocolate books in particular. I think that’s because once it slips into fiction, it’s so rich with symbolism that *of course* with all those chefs and chocolatiers I can’t resist.

So let’s celebrate Valentine’s in books! Do you have a favorite book Valentine moment? Or book boyfriend?

Happy Valentine’s Day! Love yourself today, too!


Permalink to Take Time to Celebrate!

Take Time to Celebrate!

Take Time to Celebrate this Week!

So I’ve been thinking a lot about celebrating successes, and I would really like to have a space here that encourages us all to do that. I think it’s something a lot of us don’t take time to do.

And I think it’s *very important*. In fact, the more I’ve been reading about the visualization techniques of top athletes, the more important I realize it is. That celebrating strengthens you and motivates you and just enriches your life.

But I also think that we have to be careful to celebrate not just the Big Huge Visible Accomplishment, but those things we value the most–that we had a great day hiking with our families, maybe, or that we made cookies with the kids. (Because if those are important and yet we don’t celebrate them as successes, then we subconsciously undervalue ourselves for taking time to do them.) And sometimes we need to celebrate the tiny, tiny thing we managed to snatch out of a really bad week or month–every little victory.

So…I want to try to do a (perhaps weekly?) space here where people can take a second to celebrate.

What are you celebrating this week? How are you celebrating? (Sometimes I feel you can do it just by taking a deep breath and thinking about it for a moment.)

I am really, really grateful and happy that ONCE UPON A ROSE has been so well received. Thank you all so much! And I’m celebrating a weekend spent with friends and family making crêpes and playing outside in the beautiful weather we had.

How about you?

I hope everyone has a great week!


Permalink to Happy Crêpe Day! (la Fête de la Chandeleur)

Happy Crêpe Day! (la Fête de la Chandeleur)

A public service message to remind you that tomorrow (Feb 2) is Crêpe Day! La Chandeleur, in France, which is when, instead of waiting for a groundhog to see his shadow (or hopefully not), the French make crêpes and everyone flips one with a gold coin in his or her hand. (Preferably a louis d’or, but unlike my father-in-law, we don’t have any of those on hand and have to make do with a euro, which is at least gold in appearance.) This brings good fortune for the rest of the year.

And as I always say, making and eating crêpes with friends is good fortune in and of itself! (Also a good way to *make* friends, as my husband discovered early on living here. If you invite people over for crêpes, they will all come! Hungry.)

Our own crêpe party had to be postponed until next Saturday due to a sick child this past Saturday and Feb 2 falling on a Monday, but it will be fun.

Favorite crêpe toppings: just brush with good butter (from Brittany, if you can get it, but if not the Irish Kerrygold is a good brand usually found in the U.S.) and sprinkle with sugar, and fold in half and then in half again (so that it looks like the slice of a pizza in shape). Then eat. Or brush with butter and sprinkle with sweet ground chocolate, or spread with Nutella.

In Québec, they love maple syrup on their crêpes, combining the influences of two worlds quite deliciously.

Are you inspired? Who’s in?

(And I do realize vaguely that a lot of people are focused on the Super Bowl right now and not crêpes, but our football loving neighbors moved, so we have drifted back into complete obliviousness when it comes to the game. I know, I know…adrift from popular culture once again! I hope you have a great evening tonight, if you enjoy watching it!)

And Happy Crêpe Day!


Permalink to “That Guy” (Mr. Darcy)

“That Guy” (Mr. Darcy)

My daughter, as she finishes watching the last episode of Pride and Prejudice (the Colin Firth version, of course–BBC):

Daughter: Sigh. “You know, I’d like that guy a lot better if he had a sense of humor. He’s always so…” (Sticks nose up in the air as only an eight-year-old can and acts frowny and haughty.)

Me: “Well…yes. I believe you’ve captured Mr. Darcy’s essence, honey.”

I think the whole appeal of Darcy in the BBC version is this subtle, simmering need the whole film to totally undo him. (And we never see him undone enough, do we? At least, I always find the second proposal and ending in that version very flat compared to the build-up.)

Which film version of Pride and Prejudice do you like the best? Or do you prefer the book?

We just finished working on this in our Romance Novel course (thus the re-watch with my daughter), and are now moving on to Heyer’s The Masqueraders. (I want to talk with students about how she uses the switch in gender roles to challenge traditional limits to heroine’s roles in romance. Plus, I just love that book. And of course, we do Heyer because she single-handedly created the Regency romance genre, even if Masqueraders is not itself a Regency.) I mention because people often ask me what we’re working on!


Permalink to Stay warm! Some virtual hot chocolate for those of you in the Northeast!

Stay warm! Some virtual hot chocolate for those of you in the Northeast!

Northeast readers, I hope you are stocked up on chocolate and blankets and cozy throws and staying warm and safe while this storm hits. If you have the kind of job that makes you have to go out in it…thank you! And stay as safe and warm as you can.

Here’s a shorthand/keep-it-simple version of Magalie’s hot chocolate recipe, if you need it:

1. Heat milk to just steaming but not simmering. (Quantity according to how much chocolate you want to drink. If you err on the side of plenty, remember you can store it in the refrigerator to reheat later or thin out for chocolate milk, if you have too much.)

2. If you like this, let some cinnamon infuse in the milk while you’re heating it, or a vanilla bean, or nutmeg, or all of those. But if you want to use whole cinnamon or a whole vanilla bean, you’ll need to let it infuse at steaming but not simmering point for a good fifteen minutes to get any flavor from them.

3. Remove from heat and toss in roughly a handful of very good quality chocolate per cup of milk. Adjust quantities of chocolate as you like. It’s better if this is chocolate like Valrhona fèves or shaved from a block and not chocolate chips (which will be grainier and you should be using in your chocolate chip cookie baking as you prepare to weather out the storm), but it will still be good, if that’s what you’ve got on hand.

4. Let sit about 30 seconds and then whisk well.

5. Drink and stay warm as the snow falls. (I hope you can do this and not be out in it!)

I know it looks as if it’s going to be bad, and I hope you all weather it well!


Permalink to Unsuitable Events

Unsuitable Events

For those of you in some proximity to Duke University who might be interested in coming to the public events that are paired with our Romance Novel course, here is  the full schedule. (With one addition still possible, depending on whether another speaker can make it.)

This “Unsuitable” series will open the classroom to the public, for a community discussion between students, scholars, industry professionals, and the wider community. All are welcome! The first event is February 9.


Permalink to The Potato Award!

The Potato Award!

I am ridiculously delighted that SNOW-KISSED is right there with MAGIC BITES receiving the “Potato Awards for Ultimate Relationship” (Ilona Andrews is a favorite author of mine and I adore Kate and Curran’s relationship). Also, I am just ridiculously delighted to be given a Potato Award anyway. I feel as if it should come with an official golden potato, but still… :) Can I give a return award to the Social Potato blog site for “Best Name for an Award Ever”? :)

A huge thank you for the honor! And check out the list for lots of great recommendations and a giveaway of a book from the list of your choice.


Permalink to Roses in all their forms! :)

Roses in all their forms! :)

I love this! Pakwanstripes, who is reading an ARC of ONCE UPON A ROSE, made this after reading about valleys of roses!

Lovely talent!

pakwan crochet

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