1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? I love them both. Mostly, I drink hot chocolate. I have a breakfast bar set up for myself and for when the family visits. It has coffee, hot chocolate, different teas, flavored creamers, Carnation Breakfast Essentials, oatmeal, grits, dried fruits, and lots of protein/cereal bars. If someone gets up before the cook (moi) they can help themselves to whatever they choose. This is also handy for those times when I’m deep in the writing cave and can’t be bothered to cook for myself, so a glass of milk with the envelope of Carnation Breakfast Essentials plus a protein bar and I’m good. Keeps the writer person alive. This has lots of protein and about 350 calories so it can be a meal replacement in a pinch.
2. Share one of your favorite holiday memories. My daughter’s first Christmas. I have a picture of her in her holiday onsie asleep under the tree. Just a few months old, but to me, Christmas has been all about the children since that moment.
3. What is your favorite Christmas tradition? When I was younger, I was allowed to open one small present on Christmas eve, but I had to go to bed early so Santa could sneak in. I was always keyed up and afraid Santa wouldn’t come if I was still awake. Remember, he knows when you are sleeping…he knows when you’re awake….
4. What is your favorite holiday song?I love Christmas songs. Here are my absolute favorites:
White Christmas, Adeste Fideles, All I Want for Christmas is You, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and of course, Blue Christmas.
5. What is your favorite holiday movie? My absolute favorite is Love, Actually. I’m particularly fond of the great ensemble cast and the intertwined stories. Wonderful messages wrapped up in a comedic package.
6. What is something on your gift wish list? Socks! I need nice warm, wooly socks to wear in my boots. I seem to have worn holes in my favorites. And my dog, Minx, has chewed holes too. <sob!>
7. What is the most important thing about the holidays for you? It’s all about family and friends. I love to have them around. I enjoy just hanging out with my crazy peeps.
8. What do you do on Christmas Eve? I’m sometimes still in cooking/baking frenzy mode, then Midnight Mass.
9. Do you have a Christmas morning tradition? When the kids were little we used to open presents on Christmas morning. We still do this, wherever we are.
10. Do you have a real or artificial tree? Funny thing: my young son always wanted a real Christmas tree, so when he was young and we lived in Corpus Christi, we would go out and buy a real, balled-in-burlap living tree. Yes, they looked like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. After Christmas, we would go out and plant the tree. So there is a house in Corpus with the Faver National Forest in its yard. Pine trees are not native to this area of Texas, except for this one house.
But now, I have an artificial tree. It’s a pale pink and decorated in lots of pink, crystal and silver ornaments. I keep it in the hall closet and at the appropriate time, pull the whole thing out and drag it to its rightful place, fully decorated. Last year, my newly adopted shelter kitten continually hurled herself at the tree like a flying squirrel, so there are missing ornaments. She probably batted them all around until they got wedged under something. She’s older, so hoping this year will be different. <fingers and toes crossed here>
11. What tops your tree? A pretty angel ornament and some dragonflies.
12. What’s your favorite holiday quote? “Better not pout. Better not cry… Better be good, I’m telling you why…”
13. What color lights do you put on your tree? Clear white lights. It’s wired with the lights, but they are clear.
14. Do you wrap as you go or do you do a marathon wrapping ‘party?’ Wrapping is not my favorite thing, so I wrap everything at one time.
15. Where would you spend the holiday if you could go anywhere in the world? I would probably go back to Hawaii. I almost didn’t come back to Texas.
16. What is your favorite holiday book? I have a brand new Christmas book out this year, so it’s my favorite right now. A SANDCASTLE CHRISTMAS is the 5th book in my Edge of Texas series of romantic suspense set on the Texas coast near the border with Mexico. BTW, it’s free today. I timed it so your readers could snag it right here> http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GWRQ95K
17. Do you have a favorite holiday decoration? I have a pre-lit pink tabletop tree with a bunch of pink, crystal and silver ornaments. It is so pretty and feminine.
18. What is your favorite holiday dish? Oh, so many. I am definitely a foodie. I suppose it would be pie. I make pecan, pumpkin, chocolate and buttermilk pies for Christmas and Thanksgiving. More is better.
19. What is your favorite holiday treat (pie, cake, cookies, etc)? In addition to the pies, I also always go into cookie-baking frenzy. My younger grand-daughter loves the cherry and walnut oatmeal cookies. And everyone loves the ‘forgotten’ cookies. I’ve included the recipe for your readers.
J.D. Faver’s Forgotten Cookies
These are light, but filled with chocolate chips and nuts
2 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with aluminum foil. Beat egg whites until foamy. Add salt and cream of tartar. Beat until stiff. Add sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla, nuts and chocolate morsels.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets. Put into oven and immediately turn off oven. Do not open oven door for at least eight hours. I usually make these at night and take them out the next morning. Carefully remove cookies from aluminum foil. Makes four dozen.
The following is a scene from A SANDCASTLE CHRISTMAS, book 5 in the Edge of Texas series. It can be read as a stand-alone. This book has interwoven stories about the characters and how they are coping with the stresses of the holidays. In the spirit of Christmas, I only kill 4 people.
In this scene, Darla, a deputy with the sheriff’s department is trying to relax and enjoy her maternity leave with her relatively new husband, twin preschool sons, and infant daughter. This is their first Christmas as a family. She’s used to being very active and is having a little trouble chilling out.
“Hello, my Bridget, my beautiful baby girl.” Darla stared in rapture at the lovely infant in her arms. Brushing her fingertips over the fine wisps of red hair, perhaps a bit lighter than her own, she marveled that she had created such a perfect miniature creature. Of course, she’d had a little help. She gazed into the same silvery-blue eyes that set her husband apart from the everyday Adonis. The blue eyes, the rugged features, the set of his jaw, and oh, yes, that fine muscular body of his.
Mike was ridiculous. His grin went viral every time he caught her eye.
Yeah, Mr. Burke. I got your number. You would be so happy if I just stayed here and played mommy, wouldn’t you?
She was still out on maternity leave from her job as deputy in the sheriff’s office. She hadn’t thought she would be so content to stay home with her twin boys and this new little addition, but, so far…it was going okay.
She watched as Mike laid a fire in the fireplace he had recently added to their home. There seemed to be no end to his talents.
This house had been a small, two-bedroom without any particular distinguishing characteristics. That was before she married this big gorgeous specimen. He had doubled the size of her home by adding on a master bedroom wing that elled around the back of the house and looked out onto the elaborate deck he had also built. Now, he was talking about ripping out her tiny kitchen and bumping it out to include a family room. Whatever you want to do is fine with me. You have better taste than I do anyway.
“Do you want me to pick up a tree when I’m out tomorrow?” he called over her shoulder.
“Oh, we have a tree,” she said. “It’s in the garage.”
He stood and stuck his hands in the pockets of his camo pants, no doubt left over from his soldiering days. “Um…no we don’t.”
“What?” She sat up, jostling Bridget in doing so. “Where could it have gone? I know exactly where I put it last year.”
“I…uh, I tossed it out. Seriously, babe, it was gross. How long have you had that ratty old thing anyway?”
“You threw it out?” The breath in her lungs seemed to be frozen. How could you? I’ve had that tree since… She heaved a sigh. “You’re right. It was getting to be pretty ratty.”
“We can get a new one. And maybe some new ornaments too.” He sounded confident, but he sent her a questioning glance.
He flashed a boyish grin. “I’ll take Kip and Tad. They can help me pick out the perfect tree. You and baby girl stay here out of the wind. It’s pretty brisk out there.”
He had fallen into the habit of calling his unborn daughter ‘Baby Girl Burke’ before she made her appearance. Now, although he had agreed on naming her after St. Bridget, the first female saint in Ireland and a favorite of the entire Bailey clan, she would probably always be ‘baby girl’ to her doting daddy.
“Mike, I’ve lived here all my life. I managed to get the boys this far without killing them off with a gust of wind from the bay. I do know to cover her up when we’re outside.”
“Yes, your Snarkiness.” He grinned at her. “Just be careful. Don’t take any chances.” He came to stand beside her and placed one of his big, paw-like hands on her head, stroking it over her hair with remarkable gentleness. “I’m in love with you and with baby girl. I can’t help but be a little protective.”
She gazed up into his eyes. Her daughter’s eyes set into a rugged manly face. I’m powerless to resist. “I know. Sorry. I’m not a very patient person.”
He mimicked a stricken expression. “No!”
“Shut up, smart mouth.” She grinned. “I’m trying to chill out and be a mom for a while, but it’s not easy.”
“I’ve noticed. I want to protect you and you want to go out and shoot people.”
“I do not! I just miss the day-to-day action. I miss the team.” She broke off, realizing that he, having given up his career as a federal agent, must miss the same things. “I’m sorry, Mike. I know you gave up so much to marry me…to marry us. You’re doing such a great job of being a husband and you’re an awesome dad. I’ll try to be a better wife.” She grabbed his hand and laid her cheek against it. “I love you.”
He squatted down beside her. “Don’t worry, Darla. We’ll get this right.” He planted a kiss against her temple and went back to his fire-building. “This is our first Christmas as a family and I want everything to be perfect.”
She chortled and adjusted Bridget on her shoulder. “Well, take a number. You’re a Bailey by marriage and Mom has the market cornered on making a big production number out of Christmas. We will be allowed to celebrate Christmas Eve here in our own home, but Christmas Day will be spent at the Bailey patriarchal household, where we will be showered with presents and stuffed with every kind of goodie you can imagine.”
He kept his gaze averted. “Great!” His voice sounded strained.
A stab of pain seared through her chest when she grasped that Mike had never enjoyed the kind of family events she had always taken for granted. His mother abandoned him at a very young age and he had grown up with his grandfather, a carpenter who taught Mike his skills.
She cleared her throat. “I mean, I want us to have a chance to make our own Christmas traditions. I’m not going back to work for a while, so I want our first year to be very special.”
He raised his head to glance her way.
Encouraged, she went on. “This is Bridget’s first Christmas, and it’s our first Christmas as husband and wife.”
He flashed a grin, signaling his return to good humor. “And, it’s the first year for me to be a dad to the boys. I want it to be special for them too.”
“Oh, Mike.” She blinked back tears. “You do so much every day to make my life better. The best thing is the way you treat my boys. They needed you as much as I did.”
He smiled and came back over to her. Squatting down, he cupped her cheek in his hand and placed a tender kiss on her lips. “That’s about the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.”
Come see who’s stirring up Christmas trouble and raising the temperature on the coast.
‘Tis the season, but mayhem doesn’t stop on the Texas Gulf coast…even for Christmas. When the sheriff finds an infant abandoned in the a manger scene at church, it sets off a string of events including murder, a stalker, a lot of seasonal tension and heartwarming happenings for the gang.
Join Chloe and Rafael, Darla and Mike, Cassie and Javier and Sky and Zach for a big bundle of chaos, suspense, passion and delight as they prepare for the holidays and try to sort out the mysteries.