Life with Riley: 18 months

It’s been a while since I posted about the dog.  Let’s just say, he’s been keeping us busy. If you hadn’t heard, herding dogs are smart. Like super smart. Like there are teens I know who could take a lesson on paying attention from my Collie.

Riley has learned how to open drawers, some closets, and flip the tops off garbage pails. He knows how to hide things and remembers where he put them. He will eat anything, but likes wood the best. Especially table legs. Yep. That’s been fantastic.

It may sound like I’m ready to pack the fuzzball off to Siberia, and last night, when he woke me a one in the morning because he wanted to play, I might have considered it.

But I never would. Just like all my furbabies, Riley has burrowed his way into my heart and he’s not going anywhere.  He’s a big, fluffy, clumsy mess. And I love him. Just looking into those big brown eyes makes me melt. I’m such a pushover.

He’s gentle with my mother-in-law, who’s not that steady on her feet.  He’s sweet with tiny dogs and small children. And if I’m sick or sad, he stays close by, just in case he’s needed.

It’s getting nice outside, so we will be resuming our walks around the harbor and that should settle him some. In the meantime, we’ll keep training, keep the house dog proofed, and keep a trusty squirt bottle nearby for wordless correction.

Raising dogs is not for sissies. But boy is it worth it.

Tell me about your furbabies.

 

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Spring and Hope and Romance.

I love spring. Everything is bright and shiny and new. It’s less gray, even on rainy days. And – okay – my birthday falls in April, so I am a bit prejudice. To me the season is all about hope.

Hope. Goodness knows we could all use a little of that.

Hope is the reason I write romance. I’ve said this often, but in my darkest times…when I was bullied in school, when my father died, when I was fighting off my own inner demons…romances kept me company. They showed me light and love, and made everything more bearable. They gave me hope, even when it was in short supply.

That’s why the latest round of romance bashing, innocuous as it may be, really bugs me.  Romances, like spring, promise new beginnings, when life is at it’s most hopeful.

Sure the numbers bear out why no one should trash talk romance, but how about sticking to the most simple reason of all: romances make people happy. They give people hope.

That’s why this matters. Don’t turn your nose up at what gives someone hope.

In the words of the immortal Susan Elizabeth Phillips, “Life’s too short to read depressing books.” Ain’t that the truth.

Tell me why you read romance. I’d love to know.

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Cookie Magic

My daughters are here today, the kitchen is a mess, Christmas music is playing, and that means one thing…baking day is here.

I’ve always liked to bake and I tend to do it when I’m at my most stressed out. The control I exert over flour and sugar and butter will calm me in ways nothing else can. I don’t know what it is exactly, but there’s something very Zen about cookie dough.

My Aunt Catherine was a baker as well. At the holidays there were dozens of treats in her depositphotos_90786484_m-2015house, many of them traditional Italian cookies. Struffoli, anise drops, and pizzelle were my favorites and when I was writing my Christmas novella, This Christmas, my heroine Sabrina’s mother, Enza, also infused their home with Italian Christmas treats.

Over the past few years, I’ve been learning the art behind some of the Italian cookies my aunt used to bake.  First, I bought a pizzelle iron. It took quite a number of batches to get the temperature and batter consistency correct, but my daughters and I finally did it. This year I conquered anise cookies. Last year my cousin and I made Struffoli, also known as honey balls. Each time something new is brought into my baking repertoire, I not only feel wonderfully happy, but I feel like I’ve kept a piece of my heritage, which is becoming diluted as years pass, from slipping away.

It was important to me to keep these Christmas traditions alive for myself and for my family. We have our own traditions, like Christmas Day brunch and cinnamon rolls on holiday mornings, but I’ve been feeling the need to reconnect with different parts of my heritage.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older. Maybe it’s because the people who introduced me to these traditions are no longer around and I want to keep them with me. Whatever it is, Christmas has become a little warmer, and less about things, since I started introducing these treats.

I don’t fully understand it, but maybe there really is magic in cookie dough.

 

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Life with Riley: 10 months old

IMG_5017Riley is growing up! He likes to chew things and has a particular love for putting holes in area rugs. Not little throw rugs, mind you…the room sized variety. My husband is not pleased.

The breeder told us he would be about 60 lbs. full grown, which would be when he was about two years old. Well guess who’s 60 lbs already? Our very large Collie! Yay! The vet has predicted he’ll be about 75 lbs when he completely fills out.  Again, the husband is not amused.

Oh, and Riley thinks he’s a lap dog. I’ll just leave that thought with you.

Have any tips for the chewing? A dog story? Cat story? I’m all ears.

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Mother of the Bride

Yeah, yeah…I know I haven’t been around much.  But that’s because my daughter was married a couple of weeks ago.  It seems like yesterday she was just a little girl.  We had a beautiful day for the wedding and everyone was so happy.  Here are a few pictures of the venue, as well as the bride with her dad, and her groom.

What do you love about weddings?  Leave me a comment and I’ll send one commenter a book off my digital backlist. Winner’s choice.  Comments close Friday, June 25th, 2016. You must be 18 to enter. (US and Canada only.)

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