Happy Birthday, America!

Happy Independence Day to all my readers and friends in the USA.  I love celebrating the 4th, not only because it’s a wonderful holiday but also because it’s my father’s birthday.  Today he turns 88 and he’s a Yankee Doodle Dandy who is still going strong.  Happy birthday, Dad!  I hope you have many more wonderful birthdays yet to come.

Even though I’m usually in Canada for the 4th, I still hold a keen appreciation for why this is such a special day for Americans.  And how could I not?  I grew up in Haddonfield – a lovely small town steeped in Colonial history – which is only a stone’s throw from Philadelphia, the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence.  For a bit of history about the first Independence Day, I suggest you pop over to The Two Nerdy History Girls blog and check out Susan Holloway Scott’s account about the events surrounding the newly signed Declaration of Independence.  Very interesting stuff!

Like most Americans, I like to celebrate the holiday with family and friends and good food.  Here are two special holiday recipes straight from my Mom’s recipe box.  She served them at many a picnic on hot summer days in our backyard.  I still love them, and I hope you do to!


This salad has a secret ingredient – juice from the olive jar! Don’t skip this step. The salad won’t taste right without it.

  • 4 cups cooked macaroni (Flora used elbow macaroni for this recipe)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped green olives stuffed with pimento (if you really like olives, feel free to add more. And buy good olives)
  • 1 cup mayo (plus extra, to finish)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion (optional)
  • Juice from the olive jar
  • 2tsp good vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together the olives, the mayo, the onion, and the vinegar. Carefully pour juice from the olive jar into the mayo mixture, enough to thin it into a dressing that will coat the macaroni – without being too thick (not too precise, but that’s how Flora did it). If the dressing is too thin, add a little more mayo. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the macaroni and mix carefully. Refrigerate for several hours before serving. After several hours, the macaroni will have absorbed a lot of the dressing. You can thin a bit more mayo with olive juice, and mix it in the salad to moisten it up before serving.


I have no idea where my mom got this recipe, but I thought it was incredibly sophisticated when I was a kid. Simple but delicious.

Spread one cup of shelled almonds, unskinned, on a baking sheet and roast in a 300F oven until dark brown. Check frequently to make sure they don’t get scorched. Remove from oven and let them cool, then put through the fine blade of a food processor or blender. They should be ground fine without being pulverized into dust. Mix the almonds with enough good maple syrup to make a thick sauce. Arrange alternate layers of vanilla ice cream with the almond sauce in parfait glasses. Put in freezer until ready to serve, and then garnish with whipped cream and a cherry.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!  If you have a chance, drop by and tell me how you’re celebrating this wonderful holiday.

Regency Friday Fun & Awesome Links

I’m guest-blogging today at Book Lovers Inc, talking about why I love the Regency period and giving away a copy of my new anthology, An Invitation To Sin. Stop by and join the fun!  I’ll also be at the Romantic Times blog later today, appearing with the other authors of Sin: Jo Beverley, Sally MacKenzie, and Kaitlin O’Riley.  It’s sure to be a great interview with a swell group of romance writers.  You don’t want to miss it!

As you can imagine, historical romance writers tend to be research geeks.  I have several blogs and websites I visit when looking for just the right bit of research, but two of my favorites are Two Nerdy History Girls and Patrick Baty. Patrick  runs a family paint business called Papers and Paints in Chelsea, London.  He’s an expert in the use of paint and color in historical buildings and has worked in some of the finest structures in England.  Although he specializes in the Georgian era, he’s consulted on projects as diverse as a Tudor garden and a 1950’s concert hall.  His work is simply fantastic and really fun to read about.  Patrick always includes lovely, lush photographs in his blogs, so have a look.

The Two Nerdy History Girls are Loretta Chase and Susan Holloway Scott.  Loretta writes Regency-set historical romance, and is one of my favorite writers of, well, anything.  And Susan writes wonderful historical fiction set in the time of Charles II.  These women know their history inside and out and talk about it in a very down-to-earth, entertaining way, bringing their respective periods to life.  Take my word for it–you’ll love this blog!

I’m heading over to my guest blogs, now.  Hope to see you there!

Regency Friday Fun and Giveaway!

One of the best things about writing historical romance is that I get to do research about the clothing of the period.  By the strictest definition, the Regency period coincided with the tenure of the Prince of Wales as Regent while his father (George III) was deemed unfit to rule.  But in terms of cultural and social definitions, most of us recognize the Regency as spanning the years between the 1790’s all the way up to 1830. Fashions changed pretty drastically during that time and there’s lots of research fun to be had when setting a book during the Regency.

I stumbled across a very entertaining website that allows you to dress up your Regency hero and heroine like paper dolls.  There’s everything from undergarments to accessories, including a gentleman’s pistol and a lovely bouquet of flowers to give to his latest flirt.

Two other great stops on the web to learn about clothing of the Regency period are Candice Hern’s lovely and hugely informative website and Loretta Chase’s Two Nerdy History Girls blog, which she writes with historical fiction author, Susan Holloway Scott. If you love the Regency period as much as I do, I guarantee you’ll really enjoy following both Candice and Loretta.

So, what’s your favorite historical period for clothing?  Is it the Regency period with it’s beautiful, flowing dresses, the Tudor and Elizabethan eras with dresses that were more like works of art, or do you love the changing fashions of the Victorian Age?  One commenter will win a copy of my novella in the upcoming anthology, An Invitation To Sin.