Five Tips for Thanksgiving Success and a Giveaway!

This year for Thanksgiving, I’m inviting all my local friends who don’t have any family in the area. It’s going to be a potluck, of sorts, which means I’m giving up control of a large portion of the meal. I’m making the turkey, stuffing, gravy and mashed potatoes (okay and some martinis and a cranberry sauce). Everyone else is bringing the rest. I’ve done Thanksgiving dinner for many years now, and wanted to share my tips for success.

1. BRINE THE BIRD: Yes, it’s a little work ahead of time (not that much) and yes, you have another couple steps with the turkey, but it makes the turkey OMG tender. I buy the giant Ziploc bags for the turkey when I can’t find brining bags, and do it the day before. I swear, you could roast that turkey for twenty hours and it would still be tender. Brining is worth it. trust me. If you want to know how I do it (there are all kinds of variations), I have my brining recipe on my blog.

2. PLAN AHEAD: I’m starting my Thanksgiving plan today. I’ll shop tomorrow, and I have a whole long Me and Mandy after making pies 2012list of what needs to be done and when (I keep last year’s plan in a folder so I’m not reinventing the wheel every time). A list, along with a timeline, makes it a LOT easier.

3. DON’T BE A CONTROL FREAK: It’s okay to let your friends and family help. To let your mother-in-law peel the potatoes or your kids roll out the pie crust, or even let someone else make the green beans. Stick to your one main thing (the bird for me) and don’t stress about the rest. Me and Mandy after making pies 2012 (me and my daughter after we finished making pies :-)

4. ENJOY THE DAY: If you plan ahead, you won’t have much to do when guests arrive (except for slicing the turkey, which should rest after it’s done roasting, so even that can be done just before everyone arrives and covered with foil). I try to have everything done and made (mashed potatoes in the crock pot, stuffing in the oven, pies done the day before) at least an hour before guests arrive. Then I’m enjoying a glass of wine with my friends and family when the bird is done.

5. IT’S JUST A MEAL: I learned that lesson the year my husband made the pumpkin pie we were bringing to dinner (this is before I took over, LOL) and added salt instead of sugar. Yeah. I have had stuffings that were too dry. I have forgotten to buy potatoes. Run out of ice, burned the pies. In the end, it’s just a meal, and I’m not going to take it too seriously. Enjoy the friends and family, and don’t sweat the small stuff. After all, there is always dessert (and if it’s been ruined by too much salt, hopefully you saved some Halloween candy! :-)

Shirley

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GIVEAWAY, Grab a Hot Beachy Read for those Cool Fall Nights & First Posse Member of the Month!

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Hi everyone! I hope you are having a fantastic fall so far! I’m in Florida and I have to say, the days are just divine. Perfect weather, perfect temperatures. I’m loving every single day here! IMG_3867

If you’d like to feel like you’re in Florida (especially if you are living in a cold weather place), you can still buy all three books in the Sweetheart Sisters series! The Sweetheart Bargain kicked it off, followed by The Sweetheart Rules and all-new The Sweetheart Secret! Or, if you’re in a cooking mood, check out my Sweet and Savory romances—starting with The Bride Wore Chocolate.

This month, I’m featuring a spotlight presentation on my Posse Member of the Month. The Shirley Jump Reader Posse is a great group of hand-picked readers who help spread the word about my new releases. I love them all, but thought it’d be cool to pick one Posse Member of the Month to focus on and give a little shout-out to. I’m sure you’ll love meeting Ramona, who is an avid reader of Shirley Jump romances and one of the best author cheerleaders I’ve ever known. Read on after Ramona’s profile to see the surprise I have for my readers this month!

RamonaRamona Kersch Kekstadt

From: Chicago, IL

  • My earliest reader memory was 4th grade when I ordered books from the Scholastic order forms. Love Judy Blume books. Read them all.
  • My favorite book now I can read again and again: When Snow Falls by Brenda Novak. It’s just a really feel good book, and I can relate to.
  • My favorite place to read is my couch. That couch is in my kitchen. Funny as that sounds it’s the outside deck furniture moved in for the winter last year and never made it back out. So it’s my peace haven so to speak. Look out to the protective lands in my backyard.
  • My favorite kind of book is contemporary, but love to mix it up. Reason being I love the happily ever start. I’m a big sap when it comes to romance.
  • My favorite Shirley Jump book~The Christmas Baby Surprise. It was my very first book of Shirley’s and I just fell love with the story line. And was hooked on her books.
  • I love Cakes, all different kinds. Chocolate Fudge cake my favorite.
  • I love Dogs, allergic to Cats.
  • A cool fact about me: I love to karaoke.

 

 

To celebrate Ramona’s month, I’m giving away an ebook copy of any of the books I mentioned in the newsletter this month (one of the Sweetheart Sister books or one of the Sweet and Savory books). There’s a ton of ways to enter!

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10584078_636331546465287_4706622739712583770_nShirley

Weekend Road Trip with Cupcakes :-)

64830_10152730165045230_1913703337_nThis weekend, I got to explore a little more of the state of Florida and meet a TON of wonderful, awesome readers! I was invited to speak at the First Coast Romance Writers meeting in Jacksonville,

Me and Elizabeth Wilson

Me and Elizabeth Wilson

FL., which is kinda diagonal across the state from where I live. When I realized I’d pass right through Ocala, FL, to get there, I knew I had to stop at A Novel Idea Bookstore to do a signing with the wonderful staff there (I had met them at a previous RWA conference).

A Novel Idea is a FABULOUS bookstore (in fact, I think they should add the word FABULOUS in their name. Not just because they serve cupcakes and wine at their booksignings, either. Okay, maybe ESPECIALLY because they serve cupcakes and wine at their booksignings). Honestly, they are warm and friendly and welcoming and I can’t wait to go back. Check out these cupcakes Debbie Barao made. AHHHHHMMMAZING. I wanted to eat all of them but that isn’t really cool when there are other people standing at the table waiting for one. 😉

Me and Debbie Barao

Me and Debbie Barao

She also made awesome carrot cake cupcakes, so clearly, Debbie has mad baking skills!

The booksigning went well–lots of talk about books, shoes, all my favorite things 😉 Here’s some pics (and don’t ask me why I have that weird smile with Debbie, or why I am hanging on her shoulder like some kind of stalker. I think it was because I wanted to stay close to those cupcakes 😉

Me and DJ Kelly Wright

Me and DJ Kelly Wright

If you’re ever in Ocala, definitely stop by their store! They were sooo nice!

Then I drove up to Jacksonville and spent the day talking writing with First Coast Romance Writers. Had a lot of fun, a lot of laughs, and made some friends. A great weekend road trip all around (and did I mention DONUTS at the FCRW meeting? I think I’ll have a sugar high for days 😉

Shirley