Monthly Archives: December 2017

Today … Tomorrow

This week I’ve spent a great deal of time in my head. It’s not a bad place to be at all, especially when the time spent there is used for dreaming, planning, and setting goals for the next year.

Those things finally made it to paper and then into Evernote, which is when they became more than nebulous ideas and gossamer dreams. As I typed, each goal became a seed that tentatively opened, thrusting out a single, small root. I will return to this list several times a day for the next month or so to add details and structure. Several ideas may be set into a different list – a waiting list. Some will come forward from last year’s list. Now is the time to bring them to life.

Now, the weird-Diane thing that happened is that because I set these goals for 2018, for some reason, I’m holding them until tomorrow. There’s no reason I couldn’t start constructing their framework today, but today is still 2017. Right? Yeah – I never said I wasn’t that much of a nut. Today is a lame-duck day. I’m still stuck in 2017’s grasp, but tomorrow is the beginning of something new for me.

Tomorrow is going to be fun.

~~~

Because I love you, I’ve released Bellingwood 20.5 – The Most Wonderful Time to Amazon early and it is ready for you to read!

This story was so much fun to write. All of the Bellingwood Christmas stories are fun. This is when I get to let all of my feelings for Christmas pour out onto the page. I love the holidays. Even through the stress of planning and traveling, cooking, baking, and hanging with people we spend little time with throughout the year, the realization that our world is a different place because one small baby was born more than two thousand years ago overwhelms my senses. That brings joy – joy that is bigger than any stress I can manufacture.

Some of us will see nothing but negative numbers in the weather forecast for the next couple of days. Stay inside, make something warm to drink, grab an extra blanket, and surround yourself with whatever extra warm bodies you can find. Drink a toast to the new year and read.

Tomorrow is the beginning of something new. I choose to make it a wonderful year, filled with love, joy, grace, and peace. I can hardly wait!

Happy New Year!

Hot Cocoa Recipe!

When I was in high school, our youth group was one of the best social outlets for me in that small town. We met every week, of course, but that was where friendships were formed – relationships that are still strong today.

Several couples co-lead the group with Mom and Dad through the years. Belva and Mel Hollingsworth were the first to jump on board and they embraced us kids with so much love.

Belva also gave us this hot cocoa recipe – unbelievably simple, but it tastes so great that a five-quart bucket of this was always open whenever the group met. Christmas caroling? Hot cocoa. New Year’s Eve party? Hot cocoa. Three people just getting together to meet at the church? Hot cocoa.

I’m going to post her original recipe quantities. You can tell it was made to share. Fill jars for friends and family and make up a pretty recipe card to hang off the side. Polly’s big family will go through this in a single winter, don’t you think? It keeps really well in a sealed container.

Belva’s Hot Chocolate Mix

8 qt. box dry milk
6 oz. dry creamer
1 lb. box Nestles Quik
2 C. powdered sugar

To make one cup of hot cocoa, add 1/4 C. mix to 3/4 C. hot water. Stir and enjoy.

Bellingwood Vignette Book 20, #3

I love Bec Schrieber’s sketches of my kitties! It’s going to be cold here soon and my babies love nothing more than snuggling up close to me. Life is pretty perfect!

We’re getting so close to the release of Book 20 – Love’s Surprises. Things are right on schedule for December 25th. And don’t forget, there will be a Christmas short story released on January 1st, too!

It’s strange to be caught up in the wondrous craziness that is the Christmas season when the book that I’ve been focusing on is set at the end of October / early November. But I can push through – especially when I get to also play with Polly and her friends at Christmastime.

This little vignette is the first anniversary of Rachel and Billy Endicott. They were married on Halloween last year. Billy works with Doug Randall as an electrician and Rachel is taking over more and more responsibilities with Sycamore House Catering with Sylvie working in the bakery at Sweet Beans.

These two kids are so young, but they have so much ahead of them.

Happy Anniversary

Rachel woke up to a cold wet nose nudging her cheek.

“Nudge her again,” she heard Billy whisper.

“What time is it?”

The dog pushed at her again and Rachel opened one eye to peer at him. He was sitting on the floor beside her, his head on her pillow.

“What are you doing, you goofy dog?”

Big Jack put his paw up beside his face and she realized that he had something tied around his neck.

“What is this?”

“Untie it,” Billy whispered.

Rachel pushed the blankets back and pulled herself upright, then looked around the room. Billy had brought in several lit candles and stood in the doorway holding another candle.

He smiled at her. “Happy Anniversary. Untie the note.”

“Happy Anniversary,” she said and reached around Big Jack’s neck until she found the bow, then untied it. “Good boy.” Rachel patted his head and he wagged his tail.

“Come here, boy,” Billy said, and bent down to give the dog a treat. “We’ve been practicing this all month.”

“Practicing?”

“Yeah. I knew he was smart enough to do what I asked. We just had to figure out how to get him to wake you up. Whenever we were here alone, I had him push at your pillow. I wasn’t sure if he’d actually nose your face. I guess he thinks you smell good, too.”

“What is this?” she asked, holding up the envelope. Billy had sealed the back of the envelope over a long ribbon which he’d then tied around Big Jack’s neck. “That was kind of clever.”

“It’s our first anniversary. Mom said it’s supposed to be paper. I didn’t know what kind of paper thing you’d want, so I wrote you a letter.”

That got Rachel’s attention. “You wrote me a letter?”

“Yeah. It’s nothing. No big deal. It’s on paper, though.” He’d come over to stand beside her and put the candle on the bedstand.

“You wrote me a letter?” she asked again, rather surprised. Of all the things she expected Billy to do on their anniversary, a handwritten letter to her was the last that would have come up. Rachel began to carefully unseal the letter. She didn’t want to mess this up.

Billy reached out and took the letter out of her hand. “It was a dumb idea, wasn’t it. I should have spent more time thinking of a better present. I’m sorry.”

“No, this is amazing.” Rachel snatched the letter back and unfolded it. “I’m just surprised. She patted the bed beside her. When Billy sat down, she leaned into him, then looked up. With a quick move, she kissed his cheek. “Thank you.”

“You haven’t even read it yet. I made coffee and bought some of your favorite cinnamon rolls from the bakery yesterday. You read and I’ll bring those in for you. It’s okay if we have breakfast in bed, today, isn’t it?”

“Oh Billy.” Rachel couldn’t believe she was about to cry. He never did things like this.

“Do you want some coffee and a roll?” he asked, standing up. He rubbed Big Jack’s head again and pulled another treat out of a pocket in his pants for the dog.

She nodded and leaned toward the candle so she could read the letter.

“Dear Rachel,

Can you believe it’s been a whole year since we got married? I can’t. I can’t believe you ever agreed to marry me. You are the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me. I always thought that I’d end up as some old man, living alone. You know, like one of those guys who everybody feels sorry for? But I won’t ever be that old guy because you said yes a year ago.

I was so nervous that day. You made it as easy as it could be and didn’t have a lot of weird expectations that I had to live up to. You just let me be who I am. When I saw you that day, instead of getting more nervous, I felt myself calm down. That’s what you do for me. Whenever I worry about something, all I have to do is look at you and I settle down because I know that I’m never alone.

I know I’m probably not the best husband. We don’t like the same movies or read the same books and I know I drive you crazy because I still like to hang out with Doug and play video games, but I am so glad that you put up with all of that and I am glad that you always tell me I can be better and do big things. I don’t know what those will ever be, but I’m glad that you’re on my side.

Just so you know, I will always be on your side, too. I’ve never really said it, but I’m proud of you. I know how much you love your job and it’s way cool to see you so excited about going to work every day, even when the hours are crazy and clients are mean.

Our life is just starting. I never thought that I’d be lucky enough to have such a wonderful person standing beside me.

I love you, Rachel Endicott. This has been the best year of my life and it’s all because of you.

Your husband,
Billy”

“Is it okay?” he asked, standing in the doorway again, this time carrying a tray with mugs and plates on it.

“It’s beautiful,” she said. “I love you, too. I can’t believe you wrote all of this down. I want to frame it.”

The look of shock that passed across his face made her laugh. “No,” he said. “You can’t do that. I don’t want anyone else to ever read that letter. You can burn it.” He put the tray on a desk in their room, then held his hand out. “Give it to me and I’ll burn it.”

Rachel clutched the letter to her chest. “You’ll do no such thing. This is the sweetest thing I’ve ever gotten in my life. I’m keeping it forever. When we have kids and they think you’re an old fuddy duddy because you won’t play video games with them, I’ll show them this letter and tell them what a cool guy you used to be.”

“They won’t believe it.” He held out a mug of coffee. “Are we talking about having babies now?”

This time it was Rachel’s turn to look at him in shock. “Right now? No! I’m just getting started with the catering business. I don’t have time for that. Besides, we’re really young. Aren’t we? Are you ready for babies? We’ve never really talked about this.”

“I’m not ready. You’re the one who brought it up.”

She shook her head furiously. “I was just talking about someday in the far future when we had kids. Remember? I said you would be an old fuddy duddy. That means you’d have to be in your forties or something.”

Billy breathed a sigh of relief. “I think it would be awesome to have kids with you, but yeah, we’re still young.” He held out the mug to her again.

“Maybe we should get a cat.” Rachel sat up and took it from him. It was still too hot to drink, so she put it beside the candle.

“I don’t know if Big Jack would like having a cat around,” Billy said. “He’s kinda possessive.”

“He did great with Obiwan and when Doug got a dog, he was great then, too.”

“But those were dogs. Why do you want a cat?”

“Just because. Can we?”

“I don’t know, boy,” Billy said, rubbing Big Jack’s head. “What do you think about having a feline around here?” He looked up. “He’s pretty set in his ways.”

Rachel smiled at him. “I think you’re the one who’s set in his ways.” She picked up the letter again. “Except for this. You really outdid yourself with this present.”

“It was really okay? You didn’t have something else in mind that I should have done for you?”

“Not at all. This is really the sweetest thing. I love it. And you brought me breakfast and you’re sitting here talking to me.” Rachel scooted over in the bed. “I’m so lucky to have you. Come snuggle with me for a few minutes before you have to get in the shower.”

He looked at the coffee and rolls on the desk, then moved over to the bed and lifted the blankets to crawl in with her. “You aren’t going to make me late, are you?”

“Who knows?”