Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Perfect Leftovers Pie!

Once again, thanks so much to the ladies at the Really Real Housewives of America for having me post on their blog today. I would like to wish them, and all of you, the very best for a Happy New Year. I personally am hoping for better things in 2017. This last year was not a great one.

Here’s hoping you all had a wonderful Christmas and that Santa was good to you. If you don’t actually celebrate Christmas, I hope your holidays were great too.  I am not sorry it’s all over but we seem to forget from year to year all the effort and worry we put into the season. I know some of the “Housewives” don’t bother too much with Christmas dinner and serve pizza and at least one friend served salmon for their main dish of the day. I am an old traditionalist though and I have to have my turkey. (Nope not my turkey in the picture, I forgot to take a pic).

However, discussing the whole issue with our guests we discovered that our favourite Chinese restaurant is open on Christmas Day. They do serve turkey at Christmas time so maybe we will plan to go there next year. I know I was exhausted by the end of the day even thought a lot of cooking had been done in the days before. I even cheated and bought a Christmas pudding imported from England’s Marks and Spencers. Previously we have always had home made. I was fascinated to discover the ingredients included vegetable suet which I have never tried, don’t even know if we can get it here. It is a much healthier option than beef suet.

I don’t know how many of you still have leftovers by now (I have a stack of turkey), but I was watching The Great British Bakeoff last week and thought this pie was fabulous. Mind you, Paul Hollywood went to a lot of trouble decorating the pastry even if he called it a rough puff pastry. I am afraid I would cheat and use bought puff pastry. If you don’t have a pie funnel to let out the steam, we used to use an upside down egg cup to hold up the pastry and cut a few small splits in the pastry itself. I also may well make this without the pastry.

Leftover Turkey & Ham Pie

400 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
pinch of salt
65 g chilled butter
160 g frozen butter
150-180 ml  cold water

For the filling
45 g butter
2 large leeks, washed & roughly sliced
finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
50 ml medium sherry
3 Tbs plain flour
500 ml chicken stock (or 250ml left over gravy & 250ml stock)
1 heaped tsp wholegrain mustard
200 ml single cream
650 g left over turkey meat, cut into bite size pieces
250 g left over ham, cut into bite size pieces
2 Tbs tarragon, roughly chopped
salt and white pepper
1 beaten egg to glaze

1. For the pastry, mix the flour and salt together. Rub in the 65g chilled butter. Gradually add enough water to form a dough.

2. Lightly dust the work surface with flour and roll the dough into a rectangle.

3. Grate 60g of frozen butter over the bottom two thirds of the dough. Fold down the top third and fold up the top third as if folding a letter.

4. Turn 90 degrees and roll out again. Repeat adding the remaining frozen butter and fold as before. Rest in the fridge for 30 minutes before using.

5. For the filling, melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the leeks to the pan with the orange juice, zest and sherry. Cover and cook gently for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally until the leeks are just tender. Remove the lid and increase the heat, reduce the liquid until you are left with a few spoons of the buttery liquid. Sprinkle the flour over the leeks and stir to mix evenly. Gradually add the stock, simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly. Add the mustard, turkey and ham and stir. Finally add the tarragon and cream. Season to taste with a little white pepper and salt.

6. Place a pie funnel in the center of a 1.2 /1.5 liter (1 1/2 quart) pie dish. Pour the pie filling and sauce into the dish and allow to cool.

7. Preheat the oven to 375F. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 5mm thick. Cut a 2cm strip of pastry. Brush the rim of the pie dish with egg wash, then place the pastry strip onto the rim, brush this with egg wash. Cut the remaining pastry a little larger than the dish. Position the lid over the filling; make a steam hole to expose the funnel. Press the edges to seal then trim away any excess. Re-roll any trimmings and make decorations. Brush the pastry with egg wash, arrange any decorations on top of the pie and brush these with egg too.

8. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the pastry is risen and golden, allow to cool slightly before serving. 6 Servings.

Author: Paul Hollywood
Source: The Great British Baking Show

Author Notes: This recipe contains U.K. measurements and may require conversions to U.S. measurements. It has also not been professionally tested.

Have a great day.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas!

From all of us at the Really Real Housewives, we wish you a Merry Christmas and the happiest of holidays. We'll be back after the festivities with more survival tips and ways to keep life simple. 

Now, go have some Christmas cheer and remember to smile!

Image result for christmas funnies

Image result for christmas funnies

Image result for christmas funnies

Related image

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Cookies!

Once again I am delighted to have been invited by the Really Real Housewives to do another post for their blog. Thanks ladies, it’s fun to do.

I just learned a good tip from another bowler which she got from her manicurist. It came about because I had once split my nail right up the middle when bowling, thought I had done so again. She told me she had done it a couple of times and the manicurist had told her to mend it with Krazy Glue and then paint over it with clear polish (or coloured I guess). It occurred to me that this would be a good idea for any split nail no matter how it came about. I know mine have a tendency to split at the side when I let them get a tad long. I could cut them before that happens I guess!!

Don’t really have a lot to do except for worrying about Christmas Dinner – no kids or family in Canada – however, I seem to be driving myself crazy about the meal I am cooking. No idea why.

Mind you, I haven’t cooked a whole turkey in a long while so I am flapping about that. I ended up deciding to buy a fresh turkey, the frozen ones are either pre-stuffed or pre-basted and NOT with butter as they lead you to believe. Trouble is, they are rather expensive but not as much more pricey than the frozen ones. I do miss living in NC where turkeys were bred and therefore not so likely to break the bank. I always loved Brussels Sprouts but in the last few years I had gone right off them. I finally realized it was because of the softened water in the building. I cook them in distilled water now and they taste like they should once more.

Christmas is almost here, but you still have time to make these easy cookies.

Easy Slice and Bake Cookies

It's quick and easy to mix together these slice-and-bake cookies whenever you need something sweet. The recipe makes enough dough so you can bake half and put the other half in the freezer—ready to pull out and bake up a few fresh cookies anytime.

1 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour (see Tip #2)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt1 cup sugar
5 Tbs canola oil
4 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
Coarse sugar for decoration
  1. Whisk white whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Beat sugar, oil and butter in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on high until smooth, scraping down the sides. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined.
  2. Place half the dough on a large piece of plastic wrap and shape into a 10-inch log (it's OK if it's not perfectly round). Repeat with the remaining dough. Wrap and freeze until just firm, about 45 minutes.
  3. Reroll the logs to make them rounder and return to the freezer until very firm, at least 1 hour more. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Remove one roll of dough at a time from the freezer and let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Unwrap the dough and slice crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, turning the dough a quarter turn after each slice to help keep the cookies round. Place 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Sprinkle each cookie with a little coarse sugar and gently press it into the cookie to help it adhere. Bake 8 minutes for soft cookies or 10 minutes for crisp cookies. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining roll of dough, if desired.
  1. Make Ahead Tip: Store wrapped rolls of dough in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  2. White whole-wheat flour, made from a special variety of white wheat, is light in color and flavor but has the same nutritional properties as regular whole-wheat flour. It is available at large supermarkets and natural-foods stores and online at or Store it in the freezer.
Recipe Source: Eating Well Magazine

I do hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and I will see you here again on Dec. 28 when I have been invited to burble at you once again. I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Revlon VS Maybelline 24hr Lipcolor

Recently, I went out of my way to finally buy a lipstick more than $4. Trust me, it's HARD to do. But I buy cheap because I know I'm literally eating the cost. Here's what I mean...

Check out the lipstick on my food!!! It's so yummy...
So, as I'm too hungry or thirsty to care, I eat my lipstick. OH, THE SHAME!

But, I gave in and purchased an $8 Maybelline Super Stay 24hr Color. Not lipstick. It's like colored gloss you apply, and on the other end is a moisturizing balm to "seal in moisture and keep lips comfortable all day". The directions said to apply to clean/dry lips, wait 2 mins, then apply moisturizing balm. Easy, right?

Here is a collage of how the day went:

Likes: easy to wear, lasts most of the day, doesn't show up on a single food/cup/napkin, no lip liner looking remains, if I re-applied the moisturizer again it'd spruce it up a touch, price was reasonable

Dislikes: price (obviously because I like cheap), not 24hr stay at all

But what about another major makeup brand? So, my dear bestie, Precy Larkins, has a 24hr stay called Revlon Colorstay Ultimate. She paid about $10. Here's how her day went:

Likes: stayed on during kissing session/napkin blotting/eating, easy to wear, lasts most of the day

Dislikes: humid weather it doesn't last longer than 2-3hrs

So then I got this bright idea to experiment with the lipcolor. What if I put on a color I liked, and then add the 24hr gloss over it. Would it work? Here's the color result:

Did it work: OH, HECK NO! It was gone in a few bites of a pita. Ah, well, it was worth a try. (Trust me, reversed is no different.)

There you have it, ladies! I firmly support paying over $4 for lipstick so long as it's the 24hr ones. I wouldn't even chance the dollar difference with the 16hr ones. NOPE.  I love this stuff for real. I wish I'd bought a million various colors that day. But the week prior, I'd already picked up about 6 new matte colors!! Dang it!! (However, we both agreed we like the matte lipsticks, as they will stay on for 1/2 the day, but...they come off on foods.)

My advice for the holidays: 24hr lipcolor is the perfect way to keep those gorgeous colors on through any event, party, or smooching sessions....ME-OW!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Holiday Media Magic

My husband and I are big fans of movies, music and books. We have hundreds of Blu-rays and DVD’s, CDs and since my hubby doesn’t like to read (*gasp* I know. Tell me about it.) I have hundreds of books. At Christmas time, we have our favorite movies, music and authors. I wanted to share a few of our favorites, even though everyone has probably seen, heard or read them all.


from youtube
The hubby and I started a tradition a few years ago to watch Christmas Vacation every Christmas Eve while we get things ready for the morning. It makes things a bit less hectic through humor. ;) And although I’ve seen this movie a million times, I STILL laugh at it. Still.  “Are you serious Clark?”

A few others movies my kids love and recommend are Arthur Christmas, Home Alone 1 and 2 (These ones come with a really good lesson about NOT being naughty like Kevin is to his parents at times. Yeah. I’m THAT mom…), Elf, The Grinch (not cartoon), The Polar Express (I’m the only person I know that thinks this show is creepy, but everyone else loves it…) and Prep and Landing. This year we’re introducing my kids to The Santa Claus movies.


One of my very favorite Christmas CD’s is Pentatonix: That’s Christmas To Me. They have two other ones out, which we have all three and listen to them regularly, but That’s Christmas To Me is hands down, my favorite. My kids are obsessed with Pentatonix and my hubby and I love them too. Which is funny, since my hubby’s favorite band is Pearl Jam.

A few other albums we love and recommend are The Piano Guys: A Family Christmas, Kelly Clarkson: Wrapped in Red, Josh Groban: Noel, Tran Siberian Orchestra and Mannheim Steamroller. I’m obsessed with the Tran Siberian Orchestra’s Carol of the Bells. It’s my ringtone… Hahaha


Oh, books. My favorite things in the entire world. Besides my family of course. ;) While I usually prefer reading YA and MG books, for some reason I crave romantic reads around Christmas time. They don’t necessarily have to be Christmas reads, but it has to have a romance. I love the Timeless Romance Anthologies around this time of year because they are quick and romantic novellas that I can read for a moment during a busy day, Julianne Donaldson’s books, Sarah Eden’s books and Michele Paige Holmes has some lovely romantic reads as well.

I also love re-reading my favorite MG/YA books around Christmas time too, like the Harry Potter series and Percy Jackson series. I’ll listen to them on CD with my kids and they love it.

If you have any recs for any Christmas movies or music or your favorite books, comment below! I'd love to hear them.

Thank you SO much for having me! I’ve had such a blast! I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Chantele Sedgwick is a YA author, harpist, wife to one and mom to four. She loves fairy tales, happy endings, Kit Kats and (judging by her bookshelves), buying way too many books. She lives in Utah with her family and can usually be found reading, or talking her husband’s ear off with her endless supply of book ideas. She’s the author of Not Your Average Fairy Tale, Not Your Average Happy Ending, Love, Lucas, Switching Gears (Feb 2017) and Interlude (2018).

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Addicting, Soft Gingersnaps!

Are you craving that wonderful cinnamon scent that makes your home smell like a gingerbread house this season? Look no further. These gingersnap cookies are my very favorite treat this time of year.

Now I'm not a hard cookie fan, and gingersnaps tend to be...well...hard. So, the good news? These are SOFT! And so delicious. And addicting. Like seriously, I can't eat just one. My kids love them too and love to help me roll the dough into balls and into the sugar/cinnamon mix. Perfect Christmas cookies to give neighbors or to eat yourself. Trust me. Your house and your family will love you forever if you make these.

The Best Gingersnap Cookies Ever

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup dark molasses
1/3 cup cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into a mixing bowl. Stir together. Place the butter into a mixing bowl and beat until creamy. Add the white sugar. Beat in the egg and dark molasses. Sift 1/3 of the flour mixture into the shortening mixture; stir to thoroughly blend. Sift in the remaining flour mixture, and mix together until a soft dough forms. Break off small amounts of dough and roll into 1 inch diameter balls between your hands. Roll each ball in cinnamon sugar, and place about 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie/baking sheet.

Bake until the tops are rounded and slightly cracked, about 10 minutes. (I check on them before the full ten minutes and if they are slightly cracked, I take them out.) Let cool.

Enjoy! And don't blame me if the whole batch gets eaten before you can give them away to neighbors.

Chantele Sedgwick is a YA author, harpist, wife to one and mom to four. She loves fairy tales, happy endings, Kit Kats and (judging by her bookshelves), buying way too many books. She lives in Utah with her family and can usually be found reading, or talking her husband’s ear off with her endless supply of book ideas. She’s the author of Not Your Average Fairy Tale, Not Your Average Happy Ending, Love, Lucas, Switching Gears (Feb 2017) and Interlude (2018).

Monday, December 12, 2016

Crazy December Days

Ho ho ho! Here's an early Christmas treat! Chantele is helping us get through the holidays at the House this week with some tips on relieving the overwhelming stress many of us feel in December!

Hey Really Real Housewives! Thanks so much for letting me take over your blog this week! You ladies are AWESOME and I’m so excited to be here!

So, the holidays are upon us, as all of you know by now. You know, the wonderful time of year where you’re trying to find the perfect gift for your husband who’s SO hard to buy for, (not to mention finding stuff for your children, siblings, parents, friends, neighbors…) wrapping gifts all day long, sending children out the door to school and bundling them up every morning so they don’t freeze and trying not to freak out when they refuse to wear a coat, and you contemplate duct taping it on them, but they finally give in when they step outside… Just me? Also, cleaning house for parties, picking up after everything and everyone after said parties, making sure children are fed, attending dreaded work Christmas parties and being forced to play games with people you don’t know while wearing ugly sweaters…etc.

The list seriously never ends.

Despite the craziness of December, I actually love the holidays. I love the general feeling of good everywhere. I love how people think more about others than themselves. I love seeing Christmas lights, Christmas trees and snow. I love spending time with my family and most importantly, celebrating the Savior’s birth. But through the holiday season, I really do get stressed at times. And when I’m feeling more like the Grinch or Scrooge than Buddy the Elf or Cindy Lou Who, I have a few tricks that help me enjoy the season a bit more.
  1. I start shopping early. When I say early, I mean, like in July/August. I finish Christmas shopping before December each year and it’s GLORIOUS. Seriously. Best. Feeling. Ever. I wrap all my presents super early too. Like the first week. Yes, I’m slightly insane, but honestly, it helps me enjoy the holidays SO much more.
  2. When I get a bit overwhelmed with cleaning house for Christmas visits, I listen to Podcasts. (This goes for all year actually.) I’m kind of a history nerd, so my favorites are Stuff You Missed in History Class and History Chicks. Podcasts make cleaning less of a chore and I learn something new while listening! And sometimes ignore my family on accident. But hey, sometimes we need a break, right? ;)
  3. One word. Puzzles. I can knock out a 1000 piece bad boy in a few days and I love it. It challenges my brain and helps me unwind. Our family does several big puzzles every year during the holiday season and we love it! It’s really nice to sit and chat.
  4. Coloring books. You guys, coloring is the BEST. It’s also proven to relieve stress. Also used all year long. They have some awesome coloring books for adults out there.
  5. Read a good Christmas book or watch a fun Christmas movie. This one is a given.
So, there are a few tips for enjoying the holiday season (and life in general) just a bit more. Hopefully I won’t be the only crazy who’s done with Christmas shopping in October next year.

Chantele Sedgwick is a YA author, harpist, wife to one and mom to four. She loves fairy tales, happy endings, Kit Kats and (judging by her bookshelves), buying way too many books. She lives in Utah with her family and can usually be found reading, or talking her husband’s ear off with her endless supply of book ideas. She’s the author of Not Your Average Fairy Tale, Not Your Average Happy Ending, Love, Lucas, Switching Gears (Feb 2017) and Interlude (2018).

Friday, December 9, 2016

Holidays = Travel = Photo Ops

For Friday Fun today, I'm going to share some of my pics from my latest travels... It was great to see my sis and her family in Disney and Universal Studios over Thanksgiving. Had a blast!

But first, I want to share my favorite road sign...

Kids grow up fast, so I try to take as many pics as I can - here are just a few memorable moments!

Where's your favorite place to vacay? Ever go to a fun getaway during the Holidays? Do tell!
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Maintain, No gain #holiday #diet

December is the most stressful month of the year. What a terrible time to go on a diet!

Sorry, Annalisa - I mean, make a healthier lifestyle change. Which is really what I know I need to do.

We at the RRHA (and on our Facebook page) have a goal this month - to NOT GAIN WEIGHT DURING THE HOLIDAYS!! We aren't even trying to lose, that would be a bonus!

Every year we eat so many yummy extra num nums that are usually only around during the holidays, then we have to make an empty New Year's Resolution to shed the extra pounds.

So here is some advice for Maintaining and Not Gaining, but still being able to experience the Joy of the Season!

  • Smaller portions - There are so many delights, you want to try them all. You can with smaller portions.
  • Smaller bites - and savor each one, then you're done!
  • Share a plate with a friend - you will eat less because there's less AND you don't want to eat more than your friend! And you both usually leave something on it (You can have it. No, you can have it...)
  • Bring a healthy dish to the party! - I seek out something healthy to balance out all the yummy bad stuff!
  • Stop eating BEFORE you feel full - Hate that bloated feeling! Your eyes are always, always bigger than your stomach. And if you want your stomach to shrink without a medical procedure, you have to train it to be satisfied with less.
  • More fruit/veg/protein on the plate than carbs - Remember to have a colorful plate of food, not just a colorful plate your kid made!
  • Be aware of calories/carbs - Take a glance at that box of cookies or the ice cream carton before you take a bite. Sometimes sticker shock can help you turn away. Is that goodie worth ALL THOSE CALORIES?
  • Park farther away - Shopping is the best form of exercise. Make it count. Especially in a shopping center where you have to visit several stores. Shop til you drop, then hike out to the car and be amazed and feel accomplished at all your steps!
  • DIET is a FLW (four letter word) - 
    • A diet is a temporary thing. A healthy new lifestyle is what we're aiming for here.
    • A diet is usually an extreme change, a shock to the system that the system will resist - these smaller changes can move you toward better eating habits that you can keep and continue to improve upon!
    • A diet usually fails - immediate results don't last
    • Once the diet is over, you usually crash back to your previous weight.
    • Try it, don't diet!
The above helpful healthful hints could carry you into next year, too. Plus with a little more exercise, you could lose pounds and inches that have snuck up on you!

Are you IN? Join us for daily or weekly or whenever we can CHECK-INS on our FACEBOOK PAGE!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Hidden Heart #mondaymotivation

Mothers are the toughest people in the world.
We put up with, make the best of, and work with what we have.

Women are the smartest people in the world.
We reason, discuss, and find solutions.

Girls are bravest people in the world.
We aren't afraid to show our emotions and carry on.

Daughters admire, aspire, and attain.
Sisters encourage, enlighten, and edify.
Nieces connect, reflect, and respect.

Aunts know when to pull their hair up and when to let their hair down.
Grandmothers pay attention, work behind the scenes, and take care of every detail.

Together we keep the world turning, 
keep the men yearning, 
and keep the home fires burning.

I'm thankful for all the women in my life.

November was a tumultuous month for me. Severe highs and lows, many tears of sadness and joy, and oh so many wonderful hugs I haven't had in a very long time. I was blessed to be able to spend time with so many of my favorite women and I appreciate them all, especially living in an emotionless house full of boys.

One day as I was leaving my room, I noticed the hidden heart above. It comforted me during one of the bad days I had. It lifted my heavy heart with its levity and my day turned around.

May you find a hidden heart when you need it most!

Friday, December 2, 2016



My husband and I met initially in 2005, but then I left to serve a mission for my church and didn’t get back until June of 2007. When I did return, he was dating someone else at the time but he had learned how to ballroom dance *swoon* and I started crushing on him pretty quickly.

On the night of July 10th, 2007, a friend of mine called to say she had two extra tickets to the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I definitely wanted to go, so I took my brother and we went.

At the same time, Husband was in the same building, different theater. While waiting for the movie to start, his girlfriend called and broke up with him. He describes this experience as really weird, because he’s usually very torn up by break-ups, but that night he felt calm. Afterward, we ran into each other outside. We talked about the movie, and I asked where his girlfriend was. He said they’d broken up, and I replied by saying he should call me sometime.

I walked away from that exchange feeling elated. He called me the next day and we met at a dance and went to Sonic afterward and sat and talked until about 2am. The following day we talked on the phone for a couple of hours, day three we went to lunch, and by that weekend we had decided to date each other exclusively.

The rest is history, but I tell this story so you understand the special place Harry Potter holds in our hearts. If it weren’t for that midnight showing, who knows whether we would’ve gotten together. We are pretty dedicated, to the point that we put together a Harry Potter party every year, we have a Harry Potter mantle in our kitchen, and we make wands.

This—the wandmaking—is probably my husband’s biggest hobby, but one that I absolutely love and fully support. He makes the wands, and I do some of the sanding, polishing, and finishing work when I can. We sell them at the movie releases, and via tumblr and etsy. It’s something we love to do, like my writing, and we love seeing people fall in love with the wands.

How did this start? Well, STORYTIME!

In December of 2007, Husband and I were married. Fast forward about a year and a half later, and the next Harry Potter film is coming out. We obviously wanted to attend the midnight showing. My husband already had a character wand (Sirius Black’s) but I really wanted one too. So we saved our pennies and went to his parent’s house to order one (they had internet, we didn’t).

While we were looking and deciding which one to get, Husband’s dad came in to see what we were up to. And he scoffed at those character wands. He’s a carpenter, and he said he could easily make those wands and they’d be better.

When they arrived (we’d ordered Snape’s and Lupin’s) we gave all three to him to see if he could do it. A couple of days later, he came back with three beautiful replicas. Well, we decided to try our own hands at it, and went to his shop to use his tools and make our own wands.

By the time the movie came out, we had made a few, and so we took them with us. To our surprises, nearly all of them sold! And, well, the rest is history.

We took a big batch of wands to each of the Deathly Hallows releases, and just this month took some to the Fantastic Beasts showing as well. The moment when someone picks up the wand that is meant to be theirs? There’s this connection you can’t describe. Some people find their wand on the first try, others have to pick up five or six and wave them around before they really know. But when they know, they know. And that’s why we love making them so much.

Thanks for having me, RRHA, it’s been a blast!

We enjoyed having you, Darci! Thanks for sharing your stories and letting us get to know you!

Darci Cole writes fantasy novels for YA/MG readers, and is currently seeking representation for her work. She is a Gryffindor, a fangirl of many fandoms, and a wandmaker for Colevanders. She loves Dr Pepper, pepperoni-pineapple pizza, and stars.

Follow her on: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Hard Day, Easy Dinner

You know those days when you get home from everything you had to do and realize it’s five-thirty and you haven’t prepped anything for dinner? I’ve been there. And on those days I have a go-to dish that is probably not the healthiest thing in the world, but it’s fast and easy and my kids eat it every time.

I call it: Improv Pasta.
Picture borrowed from KRAFT

2 frozen chicken breasts (optional, or beef if you prefer)
1 lb (or just one box) uncooked pasta
1 stick (1/4 cup) butter
1 Tbs Italian seasoning
1 bunch broccoli (optional, or some other veggie you like or have laying around)
Parmesan cheese (lots)

  1. Cook the meat! On short notice, I tend to not have anything defrosted so I’ll put the chicken in a pot of water and boil (while I prep everything else and make the kids wash their hands) for 20-30 minutes or until I cut into it and it’s not pink. For beef, I defrost it in the microwave and then fry it up the rest of the way, adding salt/pepper and then draining excess grease. Set your meat aside in the bowl you’re gonna mix everything in.
  2. Using the same pot you cooked the meat in, boil water and then cook the pasta according to directions. 
  3. If you’re adding a veggie, cook it now. I usually do broccoli and steam it in the microwave, but I have a microwave steamer. If you don’t, you can put it in a pan with a small amount of water and cook it on low heat with a lid on for about 5-7 minutes or until it’s tender enough for your tastes. 
  4. Mix the pasta, veggie, and meat, including the butter until the butter is melted. Dump in salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and parmesan, and mix well. Taste it, and adjust according to your preferences. (I sometimes also throw in a tiny bit of milk at this point just to help the flavors spread a little easier and cool things down so my kids don’t have to blow on it too much.)
It’s become pretty routine in my house, and I’ve learned how to adjust it according to what I’m cooking and what I have available in my fridge/pantry. It’s pretty basic but always tasty. Sometimes if I’m feeling adventurous I’ll throw in some mozzarella or even cheddar cheese just to shake things up. Have fun with it!

Darci Cole writes fantasy novels for YA/MG readers, and is currently seeking representation for her work. She is a Gryffindor, a fangirl of many fandoms, and a wandmaker for Colevanders. She loves Dr Pepper, pepperoni-pineapple pizza, and stars.

Follow her on: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram

Monday, November 28, 2016

Self-Care in Chaos

So psyched to have Darci Cole at the House this week! Get ready to let in the light and make some magic!

Hey there Really Real Housewives! I’m excited to be with you today, and I hope I can provide information and entertainment while also being witty and real. That’s the hope, right?

Let me start by telling you a story. Early on in my marriage, my husband once asked me why I looked so cloudy. I didn’t understand, but he explained that my eyes, the energy around me, just felt less-light than it usually did. It was after a few times of this happening that we started to realize I was dealing with small bouts of depression. Sometimes he can see it coming on before I can, and he’s able to step in and help relieve some of the stress forming in my life.

Here’s the thing: all of us have stuff we love, and we tend—hopefully—to let go of the stuff we don’t love. But sometimes, without us even realizing it, those things we love can start to weigh heavily on our lives. Family, friends, even our favorite hobbies, can hang like a cloud over us, making everything else seem darker that it should.

Lately, I learned a trick that I’d like to share with you. When I’m feeling cloudy in any way—be it afraid, or angry, or depressed—I have a thing I do. This exercise helps me to really feel those fears and emotions, let them run their course, and then let them go.

I keep a little black book in my room. Sort of a journal. It’s not kept in any special place, but it stays around. It has a rope on it that I use to tie it shut. When I’m feeling cloudy—especially when my husband isn’t around to talk to—I take this black book and I start writing in it. I write down every negative or fearful thought I have. I keep writing until I can’t think of any more thoughts, and then I tie that book up as tightly as I can, and I put it away.  (I know some people who do this will tear the pages out and either rip or cut them up or throw them in a fireplace. Just some other options so you can find what works for you.)

It’s a terrifying thing to put those thoughts into words, because I know that if anyone else ever read it they would wonder how I could think those things about myself. I know if I ever found out one of my friends thought these things I would want to hug her and bring her brownies and build her a blanket fort. These are the negative thoughts that no one should ever have to have bouncing through their mind.

But it’s something we all do, isn’t it? We are our harshest critics, especially as wives and mothers. We feel this weird obligation to be perfect even when the people around us are completely understanding of the fact that we’re not. This is just one method I’ve found that works for me, but there are so many ways we can fight the urge to run ourselves ragged. Forcing ourselves to take a break, making a list and focusing on one thing at a time, really cherishing the small moments of peace and love that come to us.

It’s difficult, being a wife and/or mother. Life is crazy and fun and stressful and rarely easy. But the good news is that we’re not alone. So many of us go through this, and we can rely on each other for help. Life is hard, but you can do it, and you’ll be fantastic.

Darci Cole writes fantasy novels for YA/MG readers, and is currently seeking representation for her work. She is a Gryffindor, a fangirl of many fandoms, and a wandmaker for Colevanders. She loves Dr Pepper, pepperoni-pineapple pizza, and stars.

Follow her on: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram

Friday, November 25, 2016

Black Friday

This is the day that American store owners make the biggest chunk of their yearly profits pulling them out of the red and into the black...hence Black Friday.

Best of luck to all you hardy shoppers and stressed out retailers. 
May your deals be many and your pay be over time.

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Whoever said money can't buy happiness simply didn't know where to shop. 
-Bo Derek
Win or lose, we go shopping after the election. 
-Imelda Marcos

Shopping is cheaper than a psychiatrist. 
- Tammy Faye Bakker

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We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops. 
- Henry Youngman

I like my money right where I can see it. Hanging in my closet. 
-Carrie Bradshaw

If the show fits, buy it in every color. 

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I shop like a bull. I charge everything. 

Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.
-Oscar Wilde. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Eclair Express

Jo Wake is one of our resident chefs who joins us on occasion to share her wisdom and wonderful recipes...

Once again thank you to the Really Real Housewives of America for allowing me to burble on their blog.

Chocolate is one of my favourite foods as it is for many people. I have just read a report which says cocoa is not just a hot drink but is good for many things. One thing it is good for is mental sharpness. I drink hot chocolate sometimes at the bowling alley. Obviously I should drink more. Note to self, cut out the wine, add in the chocolate.  I like mine just plain without any milk in it and that could be the best way to drink it for health reasons.

I was thinking about edible flowers the other day. Are you aware that there are quite a lot of them which you can eat? One of my favourites is pansies and I often have them on the balcony so use them to decorate desserts. Violets are another, and I even tried making my own crystalised violets. Semi successful but they did work. Many people grow chives in their gardens, these too have lovely flowers which look great in salads and even taste somewhat of onion.  This website has a list of edible flowers with pictures so that if you are not familiar with them, you can see what they look like. It is always fun to surprise people, many of whom are unaware that you can eat flowers.

Knowing there are some readers of this blog who would prefer a really easy recipe, here is Kraft’s Graham Cracker Chocolate Eclair Cake.  Maybe you could serve it as an extra at Thanksgiving. You certainly have time to make it.

Graham Cracker Eclair "Cake"

1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding
1-1/2 cups cold milk
15 graham crackers, broken crosswise in half (30 squares), divided
1 tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed
1 cup BAKER'S ONE BOWL Chocolate Frosting

1. Beat pudding mix and milk in large bowl with whisk 2 min. Let stand 5 min. Meanwhile, cover bottom of 8-inch square pan with graham squares, overlapping as needed to form even layer.

2. Stir COOL WHIP into pudding; spread half over graham squares in pan. Cover with 10 of the remaining graham squares. Repeat layers of pudding mixture and graham squares.

3. Refrigerate 3 hours. Spread with BAKER'S ONE BOWL Chocolate Frosting.

As an Alternative: Prepare using 1 pkg. (1 oz.) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Sugar Free Fat Free Instant Pudding, fat-free milk and COOL WHIP LITE Whipped Topping.

BAKER'S ONE BOWL Chocolate Frosting: Melt 1 pkg. (4 oz.) BAKER'S Unsweetened Chocolate; pour into large bowl. Cool 5 min. Add 1 lb. powdered sugar, 1/2 cup softened butter and 2 tsp. vanilla. Gradually beat in 1/3 cup milk with mixer on low speed until blended.

Shortcut: Substitute 1 cup ready-to-spread chocolate frosting for the BAKER'S ONE BOWL Chocolate Frosting

Source: Kraft

Have a great day

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