Old Family Recipes

Probably you have some favorite old recipes that you like to make at the holidays. Here’s one of ours. The family calls it Elaine’s Jell-O Mold. My sister’s sister-in-law, Elaine, probably clipped it from a women’s magazine forty years ago. Elaine passed last year, but I’ve continued the tradition of making this dish of hers for holiday meals. I’ve put my own spin on it, adding and swapping out some ingredients and changing some proportions. When I first started making it, I used unflavored gelatin and fruit juice. Now I just go with the Jell-O version. I don’t make this in a mold. I simply put the ingredients into a 2 ½ quart casserole and serve from there.

Technical hint: To make the Jell-O set more quickly, use ice cubes instead of cold water for the second step. Because the dish is made a day or even two days before needed, it cuts the cooking you have to do on the day of your family gathering.

Elaine’s Jell-O Mold
1 6 oz package Jell-O (or 2 3oz packages)
1 cup boiling water
1 1/4 cups ice cubes
1 14 oz can whole cranberry sauce
16 ounces plain yogurt, preferably Greek
1 8 oz can crushed pineapple, including juice
1 large apple, cubed (I leave the peel on)
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 cup pecan or walnut pieces

  1. Stir the boiling water into the Jell-O and stir to dissolve (about 2 minutes). When Jell-O is dissolved, stir in the ice cubes and keep stirring until they are completely melted.
  2. Stir in the cranberry sauce, breaking it up with a fork to distribute evenly.
  3. Stir in the yogurt and stir to combine well. When combined, stir in the pineapple.
  4. Add the apple, celery, and nuts and stir to distribute.
  5. Cover and refrigerate, stirring occasionally as the mixture jells to make sure the heavy ingredients do not sink to the bottom.
    This dish will keep in the refrigerator for three or four days.
    Serves 8

Gypsy Magic, the first of the Magic Trilogies I wrote with Ann Voss Peterson and Patricia Rosemoor is currently free on all platforms.


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It’s that Time of Year: Getting Ready for Christmas

As a Canadian, I celebrate Thanksgiving the second Monday in October, not the fourth Thursday in November. What does that mean? Essentially, it gives me more time to get ready for Christmas since I don’t have another holiday feast to prepare in what’s basically a four-week period.

Whew! Since turkey is our traditional Christmas meal as well as our Thanksgiving one, we have a couple of months between each gargantuan meal. It also gives me more time to shop, but as the grandkids get older, there’s less of that involved and more e-transfers! In the picture on the right, this is me and my mother. A long tome has passed since then, but so far, I still have her with me.

Every year, Christmas is just a little bit different. Who can forget the COVID years? But, no matter what, our Christmas traditions remain the same. For example, our eldest son will come home for a week. We’ll go up to Upper Canada Village for Alight at Night. We’ll attend Christmas Eve Service, followed by a gift exchange since we can’t always be together on Christmas Day, and we’ll chat on the phone or through Facetime with those far away who can’t make it home. We’ll also visit my mother in the nursing home on Christmas morning. The baby in the third picture is the blonde in the second. She’s in the arms of her paternal great-grandmother who passed several years ago. Photographs keep memories alive. The last picture shows my grand-daughter in Norway. Memories, some sad, some happy are what we cling to all the days of our lives.

Starting on Friday, and for each ot the subsequent day until December 25th, my daughter’s family will removed one gift from the tree pictured here. Behind each gift is a thought for the day. Examples include, wash the dishes without being asked, or say hello to someone new, random acts of kindness that can brighten someone’s day. Of course they’ll be accompanied by a Christmas treat, but you get the idea. My seventeen-year-old grand-daughter painted this last year, and it’s now part of their family tradition.

Sometimes, it’s hard to remember the real reason we celebrate the season. I saw a meme that said, on Thanksgiving, we celebrate all that we have and for which we’re grateful. The next day, we’ll fight tooth and nail for something on sale, even when we don’t need it. We may not celebrate Thanksgiving here in Novemeber, but we certainly embrace and celebrate Black Friday.

Moving along … We all see the Salvation Army Santas with the bells and kettles. Some of us can afford to be generous while others, thanks to circumstances not always in their control, need that generosity. Sadly, this year more than ever, it’s important to do what we can for others. The world is an absolute mess. There are wars raging in more places than I can name, some being fought in the name of religion, others, for territory, and still more for a combination of the two. People are at one another’s throats all over the world. There are mass-shootings, racially motivated riots, brutal attacks on others based on their religion, color, or sexual identification and preference.

So here is my Christmas wish for this world!

Wishing you all peace and joy this holiday season. It doesn’t matter how or what you celebrate, what matters is that you do and remember to be kind to others..

If you’re looking for some great holiday reading, check out the ABB’s Chritmas collections including Irresistable Scrooges

And Unforgettable Christmas Wonders.


When my husband and I were first married, we had just started our junior year at the University of WA. We had no extra money coming in and lived off what my husband had earned that summer working two construction jobs in Alaska (where the daylight lasts long enough you can do that.) I had kept my wedding costs to a minimum and we were able to live in a one-room home that his parents owned. We had a desk, table, three chairs, a hot plate and a hide-a-bed, as well as our wedding gifts. “Eating out” meant a picnic on a mountainside after a hike.

Making Lists


There were lots of things we wanted and we made a list and prioritized it. A television set was on top as well as a clothes washer and dryer. I don’t remember what else was on the list, but the ranking of the different items kept changing. The list kept us on our budget. We never carried debt on a credit card, as we couldn’t afford it. It was easier to do without. The funny thing is, that many things we considered essential became non-essential over time and got crossed completely off the list.

We finally got the TV set when we moved to Hawaii six years later. At that time we also got a miniature clothes washer. Living in Hawaii, I hung the items out to dry (diapers on a clothesline, made soft by the wind). I bought my first full-sized washer and dryer after we moved back to the mainland. If we couldn’t pay cash for it, we didn’t buy it. We shopped yard sales and discount stores, especially for the children’s toys and clothes.

We bought used cars using money we had set aside for them, so we never had a car payment.


I also use lists to get projects done and books written that would never be finished if I hadn’t used a list. When the items are written down on a piece of paper, it helps me see what is important and what not so important. Then the items can be numbered, according to importance, which is the last step in prioritizing them. Do #1 first and so on.

I know I would never have built a house, raised three kids, and finished over 50 books if I hadn’t kept lists. I let my books slide this summer while I got other things done, but intend to finish two of them around the first of next year. One of them is #14 of the pioneer Trahern series and the other is the last Lucky Dog book. Both are done past half-way, they are just not high-priority at the moment.

The last complete Trahern book, #13, takes The Sunniest Gal from Tennessee on a train ride from Boston to Cheyenne, facing death and finding love.

Filled with heart, hope, and holiday traditions…it’s Christmas, the most magical time of the year.
So, what could be more romantic than breaking through the bah humbugs to find love with your own personal Scrooge? Check out Irresistible Scrooges!

Irresistible Scrooges

Sasquatch and Bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest

Around here, we call him Bigfoot. He is also known as Sasquatch, an Anglicization of the name Sasq’ets, from the Halq’emeylem language spoken by First Nations peoples in southwestern British Columbia. Bigfoot is a cryptid: a creature that is reported to exist but without hard physical evidence that it does. For centuries, encounters with this tall, hairy humanoid have occurred in the Pacific Northwest, capturing the imagination of locals and visitors alike. Eyewitnesses describe the creature as a massive, bipedal ape-like being, covered in dark brown or reddish hair with heights well over six feet tall and with an unforgettable ‘stench’ or aroma. Low-arched footprints up to twenty-four inches long and with five toes have been found in areas Bigfoot are said to inhabit. They are said to have a lumbering gait but can move extremely fast when needed according to the stories.

Hotspots for Bigfoot activity include the remote wilderness areas of Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, Canada. The large expanses of forest with sparse human populations provide ideal habitation for these elusive creatures said to shun human contact.
Sasquatch tales date back to Native American oral and ‘pictograph’ history. Tribes like the Yokut, Lummi, and Skagit spoke of giant hairy men inhabiting the woods. They regarded the ‘wild men of the woods’ as a distinct species, neither human nor animal. Cliffs adorned with Native American pictographs of Bigfoot were discovered in California. These tall, apelike figures were hand-drawn images of sasquatches made centuries ago.

When European settlers arrived in the Pacific Northwest and California in the 19th century, they also told of spotting huge man-beasts while exploring the mountainous area. One of the earliest documented Sasquatch sightings was reported in 1811 near what is now the town of Bluff Creek, California. The sightings continued through the 19th and 20th centuries, with reports of loud vocalizations heard, and giant footprints found deep in the forests of the Pacific Northwest.
A surge of interest in Bigfoot came in the 1970s when the famous Patterson-Gimlin film emerged, claiming to show actual footage of Bigfoot walking through the California woods. The film shot in 1967 appears to show a female Bigfoot walking through a clearing. Debate continues over its authenticity.
The encounter reports still persist today. Whether they are glimpses of Bigfoot, hearing strange calls, finding footprints, or smelling a unique and pungent scent, something is out there. Is it an undiscovered primate species or a living piece of legend? Conclusive proof remains lacking, but the truth is out there somewhere. In the meantime, Oregon locals have fun with the Bigfoot legend. Special events, statues and pictures, books, and more bring people together to discuss their own experiences. There is even a fantastic museum devoted to Bigfoot in Oregon. Among other items of interest, they have recreated the Sasquatch ‘scent’ for visitors to sample. Visit https://northamericanbigfootcenter.com/ for their location and more information.

I’ve never seen a Bigfoot, but I love the inspiration he provides. I created calendars this year to help fund the local feral cat T-F-R (Trap, Fix, and Return) program. Oregon’s Furry Feral Friends Calendar was created with a mix of many different Artificial Intelligence programs. After all, I didn’t have a lifetime to sit in the forest, waiting for a Sasquatch to come by and pose for me!

Just so you’ll know, The Authors’ Billboard has released two box sets this month. Unforgettable Christmas Wonders is a collection of eight contemporary romance stories. My NEW story (only available in the set for now) is Kinky Boots and Me. No, it’s not a Bigfoot story, but is a story about a cute little hedgehog and how he helped his human pets.
Reclaiming Me is a set of five Women’s Fiction stories, including my book The Set Up. If you want to read about strong women and the challenges they have faced, check it out.