A Merry Christmas to All . . .

. . . And to all, a good night.

D, A and The Kid wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Blessed Midwinter, Yule, a very Happy Holiday and whatever else makes this time of year bright despite the cold and snow.

Spirit-of-Yule

The Spirit of Yule
Picture courtesy: Google Images

May your days be filled with peace and joy, may your nights be filled with comfort, and may the coming year bless you and yours.

Thank you for spending your time here with us at the D/A Dialogues. Your readership, friendship and support are a balm to this writer’s soul.

And now, for a little music. Please enjoy this song, which has been my very favorite since I was a little girl.

The Sweetest Day of the Year

livingroom1

O, Christmas Tree! 1 of 3 that currently grace our home. We dig Christmas – a lot!

A: Aside from decorations and music, food is a big part of our Christmas celebrations. Last year, being determined to stick to my paleo-ish—

D: How can one be paleo-ish?

A: By being a real-food foodie: agreeing with the basic idea (which, I do – for health reasons) but also acknowledging that my enjoyment of food and life is not going to be overwhelmed by the foods I “can” and “cannot” eat according to some strict diet regime that is not medically imperative. I avoid wheat, grains, white potatoes and tomatoes – they all make my autoimmune/inflammation issues flare. After that, I moderate those foods that are ridiculously high in fat and sugar, and have no nutritional redeeming qualities whatsoever. Potato chips and wine are exempt from all of these rules. There’s only so the world can ask a girl to sacrifice.

D: This is what you call a first-world problem, isn’t it? Because I recall just being happy and quite prosperous if we had enough foodstuffs and game stored by to last a Highland winter.

A: Welcome to the 21st century, D. Anyway, it turns out one can be a real-food foodie and have eggnog, so long as you REALLY like coconut milk (actually, real eggnog, provided one is not dairy-intolerant, is totally a real-food thing). One can be a real-food foodie and have gingerbread. One can even have real sugar plums , but one cannot be a real-food foodie and have satisfactory cut-out cookies.

D: Cut-out cookies? This is a diatribe about cut-out cookies?

A: Cherished traditions at holiday-time, D. It’s a potentially stress-filled, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation– debacle-filled time of year. Sweet blobs of dough that bake up nice, filled with cinnamon, cardamom and cloves are important.

D: And here I thought it was about the whole rebirth of the world thing.

A: As symbolized by cookies.

D: . . .

A: Fine, it’s not about cookies … it’s only mostly about the cookies. As I realized last year that I was not going to get a satisfactory coconut flour cut-out cookie (we can’t do almond flour variety-anything)  I was very nearly despondent, until I tried just-one-more-recipe. I didn’t roll it out – I was too tired for that – but I did use it as the base for every other type of cookie I used to make. And you know what?

D: I’m breathless with anticipation.

A: They were perfect. It made our holiday. (Alright, fine – good health, family, friends, sparkly lights and fantastic music made hour holiday – but the cookies helped).  They don’t make a lot, but they’re ridiculously simple and easy to manipulate. I did this year by turning them into gingersnaps.

D: And so, Christmas was saved?

A: Christmas was saved in a spicy-sweet puff of heated air from the oven. And maybe some spiked eggnog.

Grain-Free Holiday Cookies

Basic Dough Ingredients

Based on this recipe from Real Food Forager

  • ¼ lb butter (1 stick) or ½ cup ghee, softened
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup honey & 1 dropper stevia (or ½ cup plain white sugar)
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ – 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Apologies for the horrible photo quality, but these are the four cookies I wrest from 1 simple recipe. Holidays = saved.

Apologies for the horrible photo quality, but these are the four cookies I wrest from 1 simple recipe. Holidays = saved.

Instructions

  • Blend together the softened butter or ghee and honey/sugar.
  • Add vanilla.
  • Add the egg and beat until fluffy.
  • Mix the dry ingredients.
  • Add dry to wet. Caution: Coconut flour absorbs quite a bit of liquid. If it doesn’t look thick enough, wait a few moments before adding more flour.
  • Attend to variations, below
  • Roll into 1-inch balls – flatten, turn into thumbprints or leave as-is, per recipe/desire.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 9 minutes
  • Let cool
  • Try not to eat all of them in one sitting. And if you do, have a lot of water on hand (see note above, re: moisture retention of coconut flour!)

Eggnog Cookies Variation

  • Add: 1 tsp nutmeg to dry ingredients
  • Roll into balls, and create divot with thumb/forefinger. Bake as directed.
  • Once cool, top with swipe of eggnog frosting, which I spied at Smitten Kitchen (best food blog ever. I’ve converted quite a few of Deb’s recipes to the gluten and/or grain free variety) – best version I’ve seen to-date. Yes, that is a lot of sugar. Yes, it’s totally worth it.

Peppermint Snowballs Variation

  • Add: 3 crushed candy-canes to wet ingredients
  • Roll into balls. Roll balls in a mix of powdered sugar (of any kind: coconut, truvia, plain ol’ white, etc) and 2 crushed candy canes before baking.
  • Bake as directed.
  • For real decadence, roll in same powdered sugar/candy cane mix after baking as well.

Cardamom Cookies Variation

  • Add: 2 teaspoons of Cinnamon and Cardamom each to dry ingredients.
  • Prepare cookie in 1 inch balls, roll in a mix of sugar, cardamom and cinnamon. Flatten rolled cookie with cookie press, bottom of a pretty glass or with forks, and bake as directed.

Gingersnap Variation

  • Add: ¼ – ½ cup molasses to wet ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons ginger to dry ingredients (more if you’re a spice addict – I swear I should have the blue-blue eyes at this point).
  • Measure coconut flour to 1 cup instead of ¾ cup
  • Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes. Roll into balls, roll balls in white sugar (or your sugar substitute as desired) and flatten with the tines of a fork. Bake as directed.

But wait!

D: Aren’t you going to share a song?

A: Yes, I am. And it is one of the best songs – The Christmas Can-Can. Enjoy (and spike the eggnog)!

Beta Readers, get ready: Changelings is in your hands!

D: Also known as “In Which A Falls Asleep Mid Spell-Check”

A: I did not.

D: You did so. I saw it.

A: I had something in my eye. I had to close them.

D: Uh huh.

A: Okay, maybe I did nod off, but then this song came on and I perked right up again.

D: At least you were editing and not playing that ridiculous game with the rot-your-teeth devils.

A: You mean Candy Crush? Everyone needs a break, D. You’d love it.

D: I would never succumb.

A: Oh, sure. You say that now – everyone succumbs to Candy Crush, D. Everyone.

D: I am made of sterner stuff, A.

A: Or you’re just stern. You do realize that I’m planning on taking a 2-week vacation from writing, right?

D: A full 2 weeks? What are you going to do? What am I going to do? What in the gods’ name were you doing for the last two weeks?

A: Wow – I didn’t know your voice went that high. You’re kind of funny looking when you’re flabbergasted, D. And to answer your myriad of questions: Yes. Read, play, blog, play, read, sleep – not necessarily in that order, but you get the idea. Be your regular outrageous self and make snarky comments in my head and this blog. Editing. I edited and learned stage directions, D. I’m multi-talented.

D: Gee, someone has an inflated sense of herself.

A: . . .

D: Well, I suppose that plan is all right. So long as you blog.

A: So glad my Christmas vacation plans meet with your approval.

D: Is that sarcasm I detect?

A: Oh no, never.

D: (Eye-roll) Well then, congratulations, A. It’s been quite a year, has it not?

A: You ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie, D.

D: And yet, I still do not understand the words that come out of your mouth. I think it’s time to turn off your 600+ carols, A, and go to bed.

A: You know what, D. I think you’re right. Good night, all! Thank’s for reading. And if you want to be a beta reader to, and give us your two cents, give me a shout at ktirsh@gmail.com!

I'm back. . . but not like Johnny.

A: . . . because it’s Christmas, not Halloween.

D: That you make the distinction amazes me.

A: There is a a huge distinction between Christmas and Halloween.

D: Really?

A: Okay, in terms of colors, yes. In terms of pagan-ness? No.

D: Thank you.

A: I try.

D: So you aren’t in a snow-bound hotel fielding ghosts, but you are…

A: In a lovely home lighted by a million fairy lights and sung thematically to my sleep every night.

D: . . .

A: I have a lot of Christmas music.

D: How much i s a lot?

A: Um . . . 1, 2, 3. . . 641 . . . Sorry, numbers really aren’t my thing.

D: Numbers hurt Johnny, don’t they?

A: Yes. If only Mr. King had known that.

D: (With apologies to Mr. King)

A: (Ditto)

D: (Wait, you agree with me?)

A: (Only on every other Wednesday)

D: (Ah, I see . . . are we going to stop speaking parenthetically at any point?)

A: (How about now?)

D: Indeed. So, A: what brings you to the blog? I thought you had “better” things to do?

A: Oh, don’t get all moody on me, Druid. The play was spectacular. The time with the boy was even better, and the editing? My goodness, it was  a breeze. Is it a bad thing that I liked reading the story?

D: Maybe.

A: I gave you three more scenes.

D:  Oh well, in that case, I think it stupendous!

A: Thought so.

D: Does this mean. . .

A: Yes, D?

D: Does this mean, you are actually done with Book One?

A: Well. . .

D: Come on, A . . . don’t leave an old Druid hanging!

A: I guess. . .

D: Yes??

A: . . . Book One is done!

(The heavens erupt with joyous praise. . . oh wait, that’s just D breaking out his 1-man-band).

D: I knew it!

(Dancing and singing ensue. Best get a large mug of mead. This is going to go on for a while).

A: So, I know I’ve been absent from the blogosphere, and that makes me a very bad blogger, BUT!

D: And it’s a big . . .

A: Really?

D: I have been in your head for over 13 years.

A: May the Gods have mercy on your soul.

D: Well said. Anyway. . .

A: If you ever had any interest in being a beta reader for D&A/The Changelings Series, now is the time to say AYE! PDF copies of Book One, The Changelings: Into the Mist, will go out on Friday.

D: In other words, if you ever wanted to give A —

A: Or D —

D: What-for, now is your chance.

A: Thanks, D. (Check out the “Contact us” form at the end of this to sign up for a chance to read The Changelings: Into the Mist as a beta reader!)

I also want to say, to those who are still reading after our several-week hiatus, thank you. It wasn’t easy coming out of blogging-retirement, but at the same time, the absence  of connection made it necessary. It isn’t about platform, it isn’t about some amorphous “thing” for the published-author-in-waiting that makes me come back, it’s all of you. I’ve missed you.

I purposely put away email and connection, except for Facebook (still had to promote the play locally, of course), for a few weeks and it’s been kind of lonely. I’m usually okay with lonely, but this time around, not so much. So, I’m back. I’m back and I’m focused on capturing the Christmas Spirit, whatever that means. I want to share with all of you my Christmas love, which I normally have in abundance. It starts with music. I grew up with only 2 Christmas records: The Magic of Christmas and Bing Crosby’s Christmas Classics. Since then, I’ve amassed over 600 Christmas songs. The one below, it is my current favorite. Over the next couple of days, I’ll share my Christmas song highlights.

What do you think? What is your favorite Christmas/Holiday song? I mean absolute favorite? 

PS: If you want to be a beta-reader for The Changelings: Into the Mist, let me know in the “contact me” form below, or in comments.

Cheers and much love,
Katie

On Tour: Legends of Windemere: Allure of the Gypsies

Allure of the Gypsies cover by Jason Pedersen http://www.jasonpedersen.com/

Allure of the Gypsies cover by Jason Pedersen
http://www.jasonpedersen.com/

Legends of Windemere: Allure of the Gypsies has Arrived!!!

Buy it Here!

The epic adventures of Luke Callindor and Nyx continue after their journey down the L’Dandrin River in Legends of Windemere: Prodigy of Rainbow Tower.

Reeling from his failures in their previous adventure, Luke leads his surviving friends to his hometown.  With his mind frayed and his confidence fractured, Luke must face the family and fiancée he left behind.  It is a brief homecoming when the vampire Kalam attacks the village, forcing Luke and Nyx to break into his lair for the key to resurrecting a fallen warrior.  It is a quest that will force both young heroes to reach new heights of strength and power that they never knew they had.

Can Luke and Nyx escape the lair of Kalam?  And, what role will the orphaned gypsy Sari play in their looming destiny?

Wondering what you’re in for? Check out the praise earned by the first two installments of this high fantasy series.

Review Excerpts for Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero:

lowbh“I greatly enjoyed the vivid characters, the gripping plot, and the refreshingly unique writing style (present tense). ” – kdillmanjones

“This is a sophisticated and delightful read. I recommend this book to lovers of Fantasy or to General Fiction readers. The story is compelling enough to entertain a wide audience.” – John Howell

“One of the things that won me over was the bouts of humor. Especially in the beginning. “This is not possible! I am a Paladin!” I thought I was going to die with delight.” – C.N. Faust

Review Excerpts for Legends of Windemere: Prodigy of Rainbow Tower:

Prodigy Cover Final“Something I find unique about this fantasy novel that I don’t often find in others, is that the hero, Luke Callindor is rather of the unlucky variety. He does not get everything he asks for, he stumbles, falls, gets knocked down (literally)and taught lessons as he goes. This is helping him to grow into the hero that was promised in the first book.” – Ionia Martin

“Nyx is such a strong personality. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her and more of the other characters, new and already known, with the rich tapestry of Windemere unfolding in between intense actions scenes and moments of kindness and budding friendships.” – Danielle Taylor

“Almost like the Harry Potter series. The books start out so young and innocent, but by the last book – watch out!” —  Momto4Booklover

Contest

To celebrate the debut of Legends of Windemere: Allure of the Gypsies, Charles is holding a Goodreads Giveaway!  The prize is a paperback copy of ALL THREE LEGENDS OF WINDEMERE NOVELS.  Winners will be picked at the end of December, so check it out and ENTER the contest!

Author Bio

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

Contact:

Blog-  www.legendsofwindemere.com

Twitter-  @cyallowitz

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/CharlesYallowitz

The show goes on

Empty-stage-with-spotligh-004D (Enters stage right. Looks around, startled. It’s empty and quite dark): Hello? Hello, A? Where are you?

A: (Offstage, left): You’ll have to go on without me, D!

D: But I can’t – I don’t know how to make it out there on my own. It’s so dark, and and there’s set pieces I have to put out.

A: Welcome to my world, D.

D: Your world is kind of scary.

A: You’re telling me! At least there’s glow tape.

D: Glow tape?

A: Yeah, it’s this tape that glows in the dark. Oh my god, best thing ever in the whole entire world I could marry it.

D: I’m not sure that would be the most fulfilling of relationships, but . . .

A: I was speaking in hyperbole.

D: Ah, so in the midst of all this “play stuff” you do remember your writerly roots.

A: I never – oh forget it. I managed to finish major re-writes and edits this weekend, D. One final read-through and it’s heading into the hands of those who can really read.

D: Writing, working and managing to become a valued member of the backstage crew – how do you find the time?

A: I think I may have given up cooking actual meals, and there hasn’t been a whole lot of sleeping either. Oh, that and I had to give up blogging for a few weeks.

D: At least the post you left as your last was an cover preview for Charles Yallowitz’s new book, Legends of Windemere: Allure of the Gypsies. Did you know that it debuted on December 1?

A: I did know that. I was feverishly editing and finalizing props at the time, but I was sending him good thoughts.

D: Well, all the same, you should congratulate Charles.

A&D: Congratulations, Charles!

D: So that’s it then – you’re just going to wander off stage left and leave me here?

A: No, you can come if you want. We’ll just close the curtain until the 16th when the show run is over. Besides, I kind of like hearing your voice when I’m reading. Your snark helps me not want to cry when you’re being your epic but wounded self in the book. Need a little perspective, you know?

D: (Eye-roll) Gee, A.

A: I’m sorry, what was that? You need to enunciate more, D – remember, diction and volume!

D: The 16th can’t come soon enough!

A: You’re telling me – that set has some ridiculously heavy pieces!

So that’s it, folks! My son has the part of “Young George” in a local production of It’s a Wonderful Life. Being the helpful sort, I volunteered for props and ended up ensuring all the set pieces from the left side of the stage go out on cue, in their proper order without killing myself or others. At least I get a headset!

This, plus working in semi-retail in the weeks leading up to the holidays, is why I am a very bad blogger. Yet, I’m not too terribly broken up about it – I’ve rediscovered the ease of a quick post on Facebook, as well as the joys of being completely unavailable for hours at a time during the 3 and 4 hour evening rehearsals! So, I miss you all, but the trade-off of time with my son is priceless. Thank heavens the Mukwonago Village Players are a fabulous group of people. Working with them has been a lot of fun. We did two shows today for local school kids and everyone did a fantastic job. Can’t wait to see what the next two weeks brings!

Now, if you will excuse me, I intend to enjoy my first evening home in several days with some pizza, a glass of wine, a fuzzy blanket and some Torchwood! Good night all – thank you for reading!