Friday, November 27, 2009

Cookie Painting at Gramdma's!

Well, the big day has finally arrived! It was cookie-painting day at Grandma's. We ended up with lots of colorful cookies for Grandma's cookie and candy tree for the family room. As you can see we have some real budding artists in the crowd!

Owen had a hand in preparing the icing and we think he's going to be one of the first employees when my sisters Tammy and Laura open their bakery!

Yesterday was Miss Helaina's birthday, so we doubled-up, having a small party for her before we painted the cookies.

She was less than thrilled with the attention. She's 2...LOL...But we all enjoyed the cake.

She got a talking pink pig, pink vest and pink furry boots from doting aunts and uncles...If I were better with pictures I'd post some! Maybe next year! LOL

Before we actually painted cookies, while waiting for everyone to arrive Gavin enjoyed his video game!

We had about fourteen kids this year and almost as many adults (none of us can resist a piece of Tammy's cake! LOL). I've posted some extra pictures in the space below to show you the fun!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday Before Thanksgiving

I thought I would happily post on Monday morning about the family's calendar party. No such luck. Not only did I not go to the party (we went to Gettysburg instead to make sure my sister-in-law was okay) but the days before Thanksgiving are a lot busier than I remember.

I didn't have to buy a turkey. My father-in-law won one at the fire hall turkey raffle. Yet I still spent $165 shopping for "other" groceries for the meal. Pumpkin pie can be really expensive! But it's one of my favorite things. And one of those things that I bake well, so I'm looking forward to it.

Still, $165 for seven people? Something feels wrong with this picture!

Yesterday I shopped. Today I began cleaning. Last week, my sister put up the drapes she'd made for me...gorgeous green I'd already cleaned windows and sills, vacuumed the living room furniture and in general made the house presentable. So one would think there wouldn't be that much left to do. But you know how it expands to fit the time available. LOL I super-cleaned the downstairs bathroom, washed carpets, lightly scrubbed my living room hard wood..Why not? I had time. LOL

So now it's Tuesday night. My feet are thumping. My hair is grimy from sweat. My hands are prunelike from being in rubber gloves too long. But my floors are scrubbed, the dining room is picture perfect, and tomorrow I can put the finishing touches on the living room ... before I bake my beloved pumpkin pies.

I'm having real mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, from-scratch stuffing, real gravy, and corn...all to be made Thursday morning.

But I've still penciled in two hours for writing. Now let's see if I really get to do it! LOL


Thanks to everyone for the great response to THE MAGIC OF A FAMILY CHRISTMAS. I'm not sure if it's still in stores, but if you missed getting a copy it's still at Amazon and Barnes and

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cleaning Can Be Fun

Anyone who knows me also knows that's virtually my mantra. I love to clean because I find it relaxing. But I don't get to clean as often as I'd like (or need to) because of commitments.

So when we decided to spend two Saturday mornings cleaning my Mother's house for the holidays, I saw two mornings of relaxation in my future.

But for those of you who aren't quite as enthused as I am at the thought of rubber gloves and pretty blue Windex, my family has other ways to make cleaning fun.

For instance, as soon as we stepped into the door of Mom's house the scent of chocolate chip cookies greeted us. Yep. Tammy was at it again. Using up spare ingredients she had in her cupboards she'd made chocolate chip, toffee, pecan cookies. They melted in your mouth!

Our big goal for the day was to clean the family room, and replace what we thought was a drop down ceiling...It wasn't. It was one of those tongue and groove things. So Helen recruited two brothers (John and Brian) and two brother's-in-law (Steve and Charlie) and created a team that got the supplies and put up the tiles. She was right in there with them, handing tiles, stapling, and cleaning up!

Feeling in the way, Janette and I left the family room and headed for the dining room where we washed windows, dusted curtains and walls, cleaned the China closet and buffet. As we worked, we chitchatted about our kids.

Cleaning the room divider in the living room as niece Jessica washed walls and niece Amy dusted above windows and cleaned nicknacks, we talked about raising kids and good books to read to unwind at the end of a long day.

Miss Lainie (Tammy's almost 2-year-old daughter) examined everything I took off the room divider so I could dust it. Miss Maddie (Tammy's 5-year-old daughter) brought the new kittens to the screen door, one-by-one, so I could be properly introduced.

Jake and Owen (Tammy and Jessica's sons) watched "Uncle John" as he burned old newspapers and boxes that had accumulated throughout the year.

We stopped at noon for ham sandwiches with hot peppers. (And another cookie...or two) Then began to disburse because most of us had errands to run and our own cleaning to do, but we also knew we'd be back again the following Saturday morning to finish up.

My sister Janette said she doesn't really look at cleaning at Mom's as a chore, but more like a social event. She should have told me sooner and I would have dressed better! LOL

But next weekend is also the calendar making party. We'll finish Mom's cleaning on Saturday morning, rest up, then meet at Janette's on Sunday afternoon with pictures taken this year so that we can create next year's family calendar.

I'll blog about that next week, with details (that may bore you! LOL) but it's always fun for us.

The saying is that the family that prays together stays together, but it's a little different for us. We pray together, but we also cook and clean and eat and chit chat, look at pictures, make calendars, buy gifts, go to jewelry parties and go to the games of whatever high school niece or nephew happens to be that year's player! This year it's Zak. His team's in the playoffs. They won yesterday...not that I'm bragging!


Oh and by the way...for those of you who live in my area THE MAGIC OF A FAMILY CHRISTMAS has sold out in our Walmarts, but it's still available in Giant Eagle and a few of the drug stores that still sell books.

If you miss it there, there's always eHarlequin, Amazon and Borders!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sisters, Sisters

Good morning, everyone!

Yesterday was a good day. It was warm and sunny and beautiful, so all of my sisters made it to our sister Laura's Lea Sophia party. (Lea Sophia is expensive costume jewelry.)

Anyway, of course, most of us brought food or wine (or both). Laura made a yummy (and I do mean yummy) pumpkin layer dessert. It was sort of like pumpkin cheese cake but better. I bought two necklaces for myself and one for my sister Janette...because she's made me silk drapes and on Wednesday we intend to hang them.

How many other people do you know who would not only scout out the material, figure out the design and then actually sew your drapes? Only a sister!

So Wednesday is the big day for drapes. It was supposed to be tomorrow but my husband's sister had emergency surgery last week. She's fine, but he'd like to visit her so we may be taking a day trip tomorrow.

Then Wednesday, after drape hanging, we're taking Janette to Applebees to celebrate her birthday. On Saturday, my sister Helen and I will join our two brothers in cleaning my mom's family room for Thanksgiving. The following Saturday, all sisters will be at my mother's to clean the rest of her house before company on Thansgiving.

We're lucky to have each other and we know it.


By the way, get out there and buy THE MAGIC OF A FAMILY CHRISTMAS!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Susan Meier versus Technology

Reprinted from Harlequin Romance Authors' Blog on

Susan Meier Versus Technology...

And technology is winning!

For those of you who were at the HR authors blog on Friday, you realize that I also posted then. Why? The Google Calendar we use to keep track of the Harlequin Romance authors blogging each month seems to be having weird hissy fits. I've been deleted and added back in on dates that I SWEAR I have not chosen. I've dropped off dates I've chosen and magically reappeared only to disappear again.

They tell me (they being my more technologically savvy kids) that this is my fault. I am doing something wrong. Really? There's a secret handshake? LOL

Nope, the kids reply...You're clearly missing a step, not clicking an icon or hitting save or walking around your desk three times while chanting nursery rhymes.

To fix this, since I'm embarrassed that it's always me who seems to have trouble on Google, I volunteered to do the calendar manually.

Problem solved.

Yeah. Until I decided this week that it was time to become active on Facebook and to join Twitter. Only one hour into my Twitter experience I had the distinct feeling I was David going against Goliath...with no sling shot.

I filled out the form and quickly discovered I couldn't call myself Susan Meier. Someone else had taken my name. Okay. I get it. Susan Meier is kind of a common name. So I called myself Susan Meier 1 and everything was peachy. Except when I announced to friends to find me on Twitter...and I wasn't there.

Four days later, I still don't come up in a people search. You can find me by going directly to but you can't search for me. I'm not hiding...At least not deliberately. I'm simply not coming up in searches and no one seems to be able to figure out why. But don't worry, I've contacted customer support. I'm #367,845. They should be getting to me in the year 2048.

Still, I persevered. I can do the HR Author blog calendar manually. Not a big deal. I also don't mind the little glitch in Twitter. I'm sending everyone I know my addy to avoid the evil search. I needed to blog and to be on Facebook and Twitter so I could announce that my new ezine was coming out...Just as soon as I wrote it.

I have a really neat system for writing my ezine. I use blogspot. I can write it, edit it and even publish it myself without having to bother my web designer -- who is a lovely person and would help me in a minute...but I'm determined to conquer this Internet thing!

Anyway, I wrote the Intro, found a great lesson from one of my online workshops to use as a writing tip (it's a mini-goal-setting seminar, great for people wanting to set 2010 New Years Resolutions). I wrote a cat tail, reminded people of all the things they missed by not popping onto my website in the past 3 months... and published it. Bingo. Perfection.

Sort of.

I realized I had offered people the option of subscribing to the ezine, but didn't have a system for delivery. No problem. I would capture their email addresses and put them in a group and send them all a notice containing the blog addy to find the ezine. Piece of cake.

Not really.

I had more subscribers than I'd thought and my little "capture" and create a group project took hours. But that was okay. I'm not averse to a little hard work. LOL Even if it does mean I'll be hunched over for the next forty days.

I sent the email announcing that the ezine was "up" and then discovered I'd forgotten to put an excerpt from THE MAGIC OF A FAMILY CHRISTMAS in the ezine. Duh! That was sort of the point of the ezine. To let people know about the new book! Duh! Double Duh!

Suddenly Twitter wasn't looking like the cause of my Internet problems anymore and maybe Google's calendar wasn't half-baked.

Could the problem really be me?

Maybe...Well, yes.

The whole dang problem with Social Networking is that it changes overnight. Just when I master one thing there's a new thing on the horizon. And I want it all. I love being in touch. I adore helping people with writing tips! I want to brag about my cat, tell people stories about my heroic son, whine a little about my weight and in general enjoy every darned person I can find.

So it's me. My love of communication will always have me wanting to be on the cutting edge even before I know how to get there!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dreams...Gotta Love 'em

Last night I had another dream about being at a writer's conference. Now, I know I go to my fair share of conferences so it's not unusaul that they'd pop up in my subconscious. I love to teach. And, honestly, I've spent a lot of years studying the craft of writing so...if I do say so myself...I'm a fairly good teacher.

The thing that a lot of people don't get about writing is that it isn't easy. LOL Many people believe that talent carries authors to fame and fortune. Still others believe our stories "come to us" in visions or downloads from heaven.

Sometimes both are true. But that only happens about once every three or four books. When you're writing 3 books a year, or even one bestseller every year, a download from heaven every four years isn't enough.

Most of us have to learn to craft. Every book we're supposed to get better. When I figured those two things out, I began going to every conference I could afford and taking lots of online classes. When things began making sense to me, I began teaching.

This new crop of people that I recently met in New Jersey really has a lot of talent and a lot of potential. But what I liked most about these bright-eyed authors was their commitment. Most of them realize good ideas aren't enough. An author must learn to turn her ideas into exceptional books, because the competition is tough.

But back to the dream...

What troubles me about this dream is that there is always a guy in a black top coat in the dream. Last night, he was beside me at the buffet table. Sometimes we're in the elevator together. Sometimes he's unlocking the door of the room beside mine in the hotel.

He's a nice guy. Sometimes, like last night, he offers quiet advice. (Though for the life of me I can't remember it.) Other times he says nothing.

This is one of those times I'm almost tempted to consult a dream book!