A Cook Book For Happy Meals

In our family, joyful get-togethers at holidays and special events were celebrated with boisterous gatherings and hearty meals prepared by the loving mothers and grandmothers. Over the years, some of the favorite dishes became an essential part of our traditional menu.

For the grandchildren born in the U.S., the delicious ethnic food prepared in abundance represented a vital bond to their background.

Following in my grandmothers’ and my mother’s footsteps, I took over the sacred duty of preparing the Christmas Eve dinners. Since the scrumptious dishes are always appreciated, I don’t mind spending hours cooking and baking. Our dear guests’ precious chat, laughter and happiness echo in my heart for the rest of the year. Now Thanksgiving and Christmas are celebrated at my children’s houses.

During the pandemic, the children stopped going to school and followed classes on line. My granddaughter Madelyn who was thirteen years old at the time came to spend a few days with me and learned to cook her favorite meals. I was amazed by her eagerness to cook and the speed at which she assimilated instructions. At the end of the day, she took her new creations home for the family to taste.

The next day she called me with a special request. “Nonna, I want you to write a cook book for me.”

And that’s why I wrote this cook book and dedicated it to my lovely Madelyn who must have inherited her culinary talents from her paternal great-grandmother Rose, or from her maternal great-great-grandmother Helen, or… from the amazing dear old ladies who spent hours in their kitchens feeding their children and grandchildren, and bringing joy to the family reunions.

Hopefully this cook book will inspire the young grandchildren to continue the tradition of joyful
family reunions and delicious meals.

Recipes for Madelyn Paperback – December 14, 2023

by Mona Risk (Author)

Festive Frosted Mason Jars

Making frosted Mason jars is fun. This craft is easy enough for kids to do and the end product is just beautiful. Make one or a dozen; it’s up to you. These make a fantastic home-made holiday or hostess gift.

Frosted Mason Jars

Here’s what you need:
Here’s what to do:
  1. Place Epsom salt and glitter into a pie tin or shallow baking pan (large enough to keep the mixture contained and off countertops and floors). Mix thoroughly.
  2. Using the sponge paint brush, paint the entire outside of the mason jar with mod podge. Work quickly to ensure mod podge does not dry.
  3. Cover the jar with the Epsom salt and glitter mixture. You can dip it until it is covered, or scoop the mixture and sprinkle it over the wet mod podge. Coat thoroughly. Set aside and allow to dry completely.
  4. Gently dab mod podge over the Epsom salt and glitter to set the coating. Set aside and allow to dry completely.
  5. Wrap the jute twine several times around the threads at the top of the jar, adding an evergreen sprig. Secure with a knot or bow.
  6. Place the battery-operated tea light inside. Enjoy the sparkly glow.
Notes:
  1. Use any size jar. This will also work with clear flower vases, baby food jars, or other clear glass containers.
  2. If you can’t find Mod Podge, look for basic white liquid glue.
  3. Swap out colorful curling ribbon for the jute twine, if you like.
  4. Use fake evergreen sprigs or forage for real evergreens outside.
  5. If you don’t mind having live flames, use a regular tea light candle in place of the battery-operated one.

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If you enjoy holiday romances, please check mine!




 

 

 

Travel with Mona on a Cruise Conference

For years I enjoyed cruising around the world—in the Caribbean, Cross-Atlantic via the North Pole and Greenland, in the Mediterranean Sea, the Far East, around South America, all the way to India and Singapore through the Suez Canal, in addition to several river cruises.

Let me tell you about a different kind of cruises that combined fun and business for writers. I’m talking about the cruise conferences organized by FRW [Florida Romance Writers] the South Florida chapter of Romance Writers of America [RWA]. (Unfortunately I think both groups don’t exist anymore.)

The FRW members gathered for their monthly meeting at a fixed location where a qualified guest presented a talk, but once a year, FRW opened its doors wide for the annual conference where editors and agents were invited to come and chat with the authors. For years this annual conference was set in a big hotel in Miami or Fort Lauderdale. Later it was moved to a cruise ship. I attended two of these memorable cruise conferences.

In the following pictures, you may recognize familiar faces–authors who are now multi-published and quite famous.

The obligatory drill

Together with the other passengers we attended the safety drill before departure. As soon as the ship sailed out of port, we gathered in one of the ship’s big lounges for an introductory meeting.

~*~ THE EDITORS=THE GODS ~*~ at the time !!!
Introductory meeting in the lounge with the three founding mothers of the FRW chapter. Joan Johnston, Sally Fairchild and Heather Graham.

Dinner took place in the main restaurant, with an editor or an agent sitting at each table to allow the writers easy access to the agent or the editor they want to approach about their latest book. Remember, this was before self-publishing became so popular.

So business was in the afternoon, fun in the morning, and more fun at dinner.

Shopping for a t-shirt and a mug.

At the Three Amigos: This restaurant/pub became a traditional stop for the FRW writers who needed a beer, a tequila and some fun.

At Three Amigos!

After a good lunch it was time to work. Seriously! We were at a business conference! Heather Graham separated us in 5 groups. Each group received a few words and had to come up with a blurb for an interesting story. My group included Senior Editor Eric Raab from Tor, and our words were: actress, roto-rooter, ugly, basement… We brainstormed our blurbs and then read out loud with everyone. Quite hilarious.

This workshop was followed by an open discussion with Agents Lucy Childs and Lucienne Diver: How can an agent help writers achieve their goals? In the past, to be published writers needed an agent.

For the next two hours we enjoyed a special treat called the Floridian Idol. Heather Graham and Traci Hall read the first two pages submitted anonymously by more than thirty writers. Each submission received a thorough critique by the agents and editors.

On the last night, we gathered at dinner for our formal night.

Yes my husband came along and volunteered to be FRW’s official photographer!

He met most of the writers and enjoyed the conference too!

But all good things came to an end–business and fun–when our ship returned to port.

Time to say goodbye. Here with Heather Graham, a fabulous author who has been an inspiration to all of us at FRW.

On Special Sale for the Holiday Season:

CHRISTMAS HER AND THERE

Christmas is the most beautiful time of the year, a time for family gathering, for sharing love and exchanging gifts, for spoiling the children…
And yet some people may run away from celebrations that brought them betrayal, grief, or frustration. In this box of three sweet novels and a sexy novella, our heroes/heroines are trying to avoid Christmas and their painful memories. But…

LOVE YOU DOC series

Dr. Robert Olson, a well-known cardiac surgeon and heart transplant specialist, and his wife Janice, an ER nurse lived in Florida and deeply cared for their close-knit family. At home, all they talked about was hospital, patients, surgery, recovery, etcetera…
Sure enough, their four kids studied medicine. The oldest brother, Nathan, became an orthopedic surgeon and worked in Boston. His brother Aidan finished a residency in neurosurgery and accepted a position in Cincinnati. Their sister, Sophia, was an ER doc, and the youngest sibling, Liam, was still in med school when their dad died. Sure enough, these successful doctors faced their share of problems before finding their HEA. The following books related their stories: A Complete Family, Love On The Slopes, Love In The ER, Secret Kisses.

MODERN PRINCES Series

While cruising the British Isles, I visited Guernsey, in the English Channel, 30 miles west of Normandy. We were welcomed in St. Peters Port with a gorgeous sunny weather and a 70 o F temperature for our visit of the island, an idyllic paradise with cobbled streets and picturesque seafront marina.
Guernsey is not part of the United Kingdom but it is part of the British Islands. Residents speak English and French, and their money is similar to the English pound. The top speed limit in Guernsey is 35 miles/hour. If you drive along the coastline of Guernsey you will hit military fortifications almost every 2 minutes or so. These were built during the Napoleonic wars to protect Guernsey from France.
St. Peter Port is the main town on the island of Guernsey. It’s full of hills, colors, and super cute shops! French author Victor Hugo lived in exile in St. Peter Port for 15 years at Hautevile House where he wrote both Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.
This quaint island with special privileges and autonomy became Rensy Island, the setting of my new series, MODERN PRINCES.
Modern Princes Series:
A Bride For Prince Paul: She can’t abandon her patients for his crown!
A Bodyguard For The Princess: A murder at Harvard in Princess Chloe’s student building.
Jingle With My Princess: The doc and the princess… He saves lives but Princess Charlene may save his heart.
Prince Philip’s Cinderella: A charming jogger saves her from danger. But he’s a prince… and she comes from nothing.
A Dance for Prince Eric: A ballerina with a promising career on the run for her brother’s sake. A charismatic prince who saved them both.

Christmas Puppies: Unwrapping the Pros and Cons

The holiday season has arrived, and with it comes the irresistible idea of adding a furry bundle of joy to your family. But is getting a puppy during Christmas truly a jingle-all-the-way experience? Here are the pros and cons.

Christmas

Pros:

  1. Merry Moments: The holiday season is all about creating cherished memories, and a puppy can make them even merrier. From adorable antics to heartwarming cuddles, their presence will add an extra layer of joy and laughter to your Christmas celebrations.
  2. Time on Your Side: With time off from work or extended vacation periods, you have the gift of extra time during the holidays. This allows you to invest more quality time in training, bonding, and ensuring a smooth transition for your new puppy.
  3. Love Multiplied: Nothing brings a family closer than caring for a puppy together. From shared responsibilities to teamwork, raising a puppy during Christmas strengthens the bonds among family members, creating a shared sense of love and commitment.

Cons:

  1. ‘Tis the Season of Stress: The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can overwhelm even the jolliest of puppies. With parties, guests, and disruptions to routines, it may take longer for your puppy to settle in, potentially leading to anxiety or behavioral issues.
  2. Post-Holiday Blues: As the festivities wind down, the realities of daily life kick in. Busy schedules, work, and school commitments can limit the time and attention you can devote to your puppy. Make sure you can provide consistent socialization and care, even after the Christmas magic fades away.
  3. Presents vs. Training: Training a puppy requires patience, consistency, and a structured environment. The holiday season, however, often brings distractions and a less structured routine. This can make training more challenging, potentially slowing down your puppy’s progress.

When it comes to getting a puppy during Christmas, there are both delightful pros and thoughtful cons. Take a moment to assess your readiness, lifestyle, and ability to provide the care and attention a puppy needs before adding a Christmas puppy to your festivities.

Black Friday sale!

Mark your calendars. On Black Friday, November 24th, my sweet and inspirational holiday romance boxed set, Holiday Hearts Volume Four, will be on a Kindle Countdown sale and only 99 cents. (US Residents only.) FREE on Kindle Unlimited.

Holiday Hearts Volume 4

This collection includes the following 3 books:

A Christmas Puppy To Cherish (Inspirational)
You don’t need ears to hear God’s plan. All you need is an open heart…

A Chocolate-Box Christmas Wish
He’s been all over the world. She’s a home-town girl. Can a holiday wish bridge the gap?

A Chocolate-Box Irish Wedding
A woman who wanted more. A man who wanted her. Can they rediscover their love in the seaside town where it all began?

Be sure to pick up your copy before the price goes up.

Available in ebook, paperback, and large print paperback. Audiobooks for each book sold separately.