Tag Archives: New Year’s Eve

The Mystery of Life by Sherrie Hansen

It’s been two months since I blogged – but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been writing.  In late October, I dashed off a Christmas play called Count Your Blessings which has since been performed by the Sunday School at my husband’s church to rave reviews and a few laughs, too.

Blog - 1Sheep

Blog - 1Christmas program

In November, I wrote the first 50,000 words of my first ever mystery, Seaside Daisy, set on the Wild Atlantic Way in Dingle, Ireland. I’m loving my main characters, Daisy Fitzpatrick and Cavan Donaghue, and even Aunt Sheelagh and that spawn of the devil, Darcie Sneem.  If you liked my ghosts in Golden Rod, you’ll love Granny Brigid and Captain Donaghue. It’s been great fun reliving the days we spent in Dingle and Killarney and touring the Wild Atlantic Way as well as all our other Irish adventure in early summer 2017.  Participating the the annual NaNoWriMo writing challenge was a great way to jump start my novel and discipline myself to write every day in the month of November.

 

Here’s a sneak peek at what you have to look forward to in Seaside Daisy:  When Daisy Fitzpatrick discovers a treasure chest filled with gold unearthed by a storm in a sea cave near her granny’s Dingle Peninsula shanty, she rents out her seaside shop and loft apartment, buys an old mansion in Killarney, and overnight, finds herself a celebrity with a grand new life. A few months later, the local priest in Dingle ends up dead and the police claim the gold she found was on his land, not hers. When Daisy loses everything, including her friends – both tried and true and new and fickle, can she find it in herself to start over? The Wild Atlantic Way might be a hard foe to tame, but the townsfolk of Dingle, Ireland soon learn that even the roar of the sea is no match for a Fitzpatrick with their mind made up.

Blog - 1Celtic Crosses

When December 1st came, it was time to set Seaside Daisy aside and begin writing a murder mystery for New Year’s Eve at the Blue Belle Inn, the bed and breakfast I own and operate when I’m not writing. Of course, I had a million other things to catch up on after doing little but writing the whole month of November. I also needed to tweak the Christmas program before rehearsals started and plan and create characters for our February mystery. And, I wanted to make some of my Celtic Crosses to go with my Danish books and my Wildflowers of Scotland novels in case people wanted to buy them for Christmas gifts. And, of course, since I was thinking about Seaside Daisy, some Irish crosses, too. That’s where I got sidelined. 

Then, the next week, when I came up with the following premise for our February 15 and 16 mystery dinner, I was so in love with the concept that I wanted to write it immediately! And the menu – well, be still my heart. 
Food - Seafood Mornay
Oh Venus – Make My Dream Come True (or is that too much to ask?) a Mt. Olympus Murder Mystery by Sherrie Hansen – When the Roman gods have a horse fall gravely ill that cannot be healed using any of their powers, they call in Dr. Brown, a gifted veterinarian from Iowa, to try to find a cure. When Dr. Brown restores the horse to health, the gods invite her to a relaxing stay at Mount Olympus Spa “on the house.” “Sorry, Charlie,” she wrote to her husband, “but since I am having such a divine time, I am going to stay on at the spa as a Valentine treat to myself.” After all, she knew that he was not going to buy her flowers or chocolate or take her out to dinner. A few days later, when her worried husband arrived at Mount Olympus Spa to surprise her, she was found dead from an arrow in her heart. Now Jupiter, Mars, Diana, Vesta, Neptune, Pluto, Venus, and Dr. Brown’s husband are all suspects. Figure out who killed Dr. Brown, and you could be the lucky sleuth who gets your dinner free!MENU:

Mount Olympus Tortellini Soup, Green Salad and a Roll with Your Choice of:

Chicken Carbonara a la Jupiter with Parmesan Cream Sauce, Bacon, Mushrooms and Peas on Bow Tie Pasta OR

Pork and Parmesan Stuffed Manicotti a la Mars with Spinach Artichoke Alfredo Sauce and Italian Cheeses OR

Seafood Mornay a la Venus with Swiss, Shrimp and Imitation Crab on Puff Pastry Hearts on Scallop Shells OR

Italian Meatballs a la Vesta in Tomato Basil Cream Sauce with Provolone Cheese on Garlic Toast Rounds OR

Roast Vegetables Diana with Spinach Artichoke Dip on Wild Rice with Italian Cheeses

A choice of Our Homemade Desserts including Italian Cream Cake and Amaretto Whisper Cheesecake will be offered for $5.00 each. Optional Beverages $1.50 each. You may bring your own wine, beer and champagne. A charge or $1.00 per stem includes uncorking as needed. Dinner and Mystery $24.95 each. Blue Belle Inn B&B and Tea House in St. Ansgar, North Central Iowa.

MM - Midsummer Night's Murder
But since December 31st comes long before Valentine’s Day weekend, I knew I needed to get cracking on my December mystery. I finally found time to write it the week before Christmas and I love the way it turned out.  Here’s the story:  I was in Paris, France on New Year’s Eve, 1979 to ring in 1980. I had been living in Germany for 2 1/2 years and couldn’t wait to experience a unique French menu and entertainment. When we arrived, the host hotel “surprised” us with a German dinner and “oom-pah” band to play polkas! So, remembering that night, I’m preparing the French meal I was dreaming of to go along with a mystery called The Unresolved New Year’s Resolution.

 

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Our New Year’s performance is sold out, but we will be doing a repeat performance on Friday, January 18 at 6:30 pm. Here’s the scoop:  When someone tries to put an end to newbie 2019’s hopes, dreams and ambitions before it even has a chance to get started, the New Year is forced to go into hiding. If guests can’t determine who is guilty of attempting to stop the New Year in its tracks, 2019 won’t come out of hiding, New Year’s resolutions will remain unresolved, and 2018 will continue on in infamy! It’s up to you to solve the mystery of who’s trying to put an end to 2019 – time traveler Claire Voyant, numbers fanatic Flo Bia, computer geek Y2K19, Back to the Future opportunist Biff Baby Back Baby Back Baby Back, devilish incumbent 2000 Haight Teen, politician Lane Duck, 64 year old Rhea Tyree, and old timer Lester Day, who longs for the good old days when all his troubles seemed so far away… One lucky sleuth will get their dinner free.

Menu for December 31, 2018 and January 18, 2019:

French Onion Soup, Green Salad and a Roll

Your choice of:

French Steak with Cheddar Chablis Sauce and Red Potatoes OR

Herbes de Provence Chicken and Bacon with Roquefort Cream Sauce on Mashed Potatoes OR

Chicken Cordon Bleu Crepes with Ham and Swiss Cheese Sauce OR

Seafood Stuffed Salmon on Wild Rice OR

Roasted Vegetables with Spinach Artichoke Dip on Wild Rice with Cheese

Dinner and mystery $29.95 each. Our featured desserts will include Blueberry French Cream Pie and Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake and will be offered for $5.00 each.

MM - Blue Belle

So that’s what I’ve been up to and why I’ve been too busy to blog. I didn’t even mention writing our Christmas letter since my husband did most it! I hope you enjoyed catching up and that you’re having a great holiday so far. Blessings to all of you as we look ahead to a hopefully wonderful 2019!

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Filed under photographs, Sherrie Hansen, writing

To Resolve or Not to Resolve by LV Gaudet

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Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

Here we are, on the cusp of a new year again.  The time of year where people turn to making their selves promises to better their selves out of guilt over the gluttony of Christmas, because it is their custom to make resolutions for the new year, or simply for a lark.

They count down to midnight, holding glasses to the sky and looking around for someone to play the age old cat and mouse game of “who do I want to lock lips with and who do I desperately want to avoid at the stroke of midnight, and oh no, is that person giving me a hungry I want to devour you look; eww, yuk, don’t touch me.”  Fortunately, those firmly entrenched in romantic-type relationships have a certain sense of immunity.

The new year is often thought as chance at a new start.  Out with the old and in with the new year.  And for some, their yearly resolution is to adamantly proclaim to not have any new year resolutions.

For a month after New Years’, places offering life affirming, soul searching, and body improvements are to be avoided at all costs lest you lose your sanity trying to negotiate the parking lot in endless circles in hopes a spot will open.

By the end of February, many resolutions are forgotten like that dirty underwear discarded and fallen behind the laundry hamper, nagging at the back of the minds of those who remember they landed there but don’t want to dig them out.  you can once again approach the gym without the expectation of spending half an hour or more circling in search of the nefariously impossible to find parking.

 

I am not much of a resolution maker.  I never have been.  I have never really seen the point myself.

Rather than making myself a yearly promise to better myself, telling everyone that I must dedicate myself to something I am loathe to do or give up, I opt for more of a daily simplicity.

It is easier to embrace healthy choices when you don’t make it a chore.  Vegetables are not the enemy, boring food is.  Exercise is an exploration.  Don’t think about how you have to plan it, how much work it will be, just make it simple.  Simple choices.  Chose the positives, not the negatives.

I try to make that a simple part of everyday life.  I enjoy food.  I embrace it.  A good meal does not have to be hard.  Simplify.  Healthy and delicious, rather than lazily bland and over fat inducing.  I enjoy feeling good, not sluggish.  Living, moving, not laying about while time ticks by without me.

 

If I am making any kind of resolution this year, I made it in November, during NaNoWriMo.  It is not a pledge to better myself.

My promise was more of a what do I want to accomplish over the next year.  Over the next years.  Nothing worthwhile comes without some form of compromise.  Nothing in life is ever that simple.

I made a choice to focus my effort on finishing works in progress.  Choosing a story at whatever state of progress it is in, from the first drafts sitting idle to the partially done.  It means sacrificing the nonstop ideas that come up, urgently wanting to be written.  I have too many unfinished stories, put aside when the next story begs to be written.

And, let’s face it, writing is much more fun than editing.  Creating something new, the story flowing through you with no idea where it will take you; vs. re-reading the same story a hundred times over while you work to develop it into the best thing you can make it be.

So, while the new stories clamber to be written, I will try to focus instead on the new discoveries waiting to happen with old friends as I re-explore the stories to be edited, revised, torn asunder and reconstructed, and to be finished.

 

And, just for fun, for the New Year’s Eve glorified resolutions and customs fanatics, for your enjoyment …

 

From smashing your dirty dishes on your neighbor’s door to burning effigies, to fist fights, to who steps first over a threshold, here is a list of 25 strange new year’s customs.  As with anything internet based, take it for what it is, unverified and maybe true maybe not.

 

https://list25.com/25-strangest-new-years-traditions-from-around-the-world/

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Filed under L.V. Gaudet, writing

Happy Any-Holiday, Wherever You Are, by Carole Howard

Count me among the many Americans who think Thanksgiving is the best holiday.  My reasons are all the usual suspects: food, family, tradition, gratitude, and no presents.  (Frankly, I could live without the televised football game seduction after the meal, but I reluctantly acknowledge it’s part of the tradition.)

Being globe-trotters, though (see Trekking, Traipsing, and Writing), we’ve frequently been overseas during holidays.  There’s something bitter-sweet about celebrating from afar. On the one hand, I long for the nurturing feeling of home. On the other hand, my memories of those distant celebrations are among my most vivid and sweet.

Like the time, in 1974, when we made Thanksgiving dinner for as many of Senegal’s Peace Corps Volunteers as could make their way to our place in Dakar, the capital.  Now there’s a group of people who are hungry, and not just for food.  Mostly young, mostly out in the bush, sometimes homesick, the draw of a traditional American meal with other Americans was all but irresistible to them.

thanksgiving in senegalMany of the Peace Corps staff, both Africans and Americans, came, too; we loved introducing the Senegalese to our annual feast and explaining its significance.

We crammed a hundred potatoes, sweet and white, into our oven.  The bakery down the street agreed to roast our four turkeys (nice big fat ones, ordered from the Embassy Commissary) in their giant ovens.  Cranberry sauce also came from the Commissary.  The biggest challenge was treating enough lettuce (in permanganate, to kill any lurking amoebas) to make salad for 60-70 people.  Brownies, brownies, brownies — you can hardly imagine how many brownies we went through!

We might not have had all the trimmings, and the weather might have been tropical, but it was definitely Thanksgiving in all its food, fellowship, and gratitude respects.  Little did I know, almost forty years later I’d get to use the scene in Chapter Four of Deadly Adagio.

We were once living in Lomé, the capital of Togo (a bite-sized West African country about the size of West Virginia, just east of Ghana), on New Year’s Eve.  We partied on the beach and, just before midnight, took our champagne into the water, laughing and singing.  We knew the exact moment the new year arrived because, to our surprise and joy, all the ships in the nearby harbor blasted their powerful horns.  It’s not every year you get to welcome the new year while drinking champagne in the Bight of Benin, fireworks in the distance, with ten ships’ cacophony keeping the beat.

In 1998, when our daughter was teaching atIMG_2479 the American School in Casablanca, we decided to meet in Senegal and travel together.  As it worked out, we were in Niokolo-Kobo, the game park, on the first night of Hanukkah.  Of course, I knew ahead of time we’d be somewhere in Senegal at that time, so came prepared with little candles.  No menorah, but melted wax on a notebook did the trick.  It’s a very sweet memory – for me, anyway. No one else in the family remembers it, but I have proof.

And then there was President Obama’s first inauguration.  While not a recurring holiday in the sense of Thanksgiving or New Year’s Eve, it was a very important day for me, and it occurred while we were in Ghana. At first, I was dejected not to be home for the inauguration, even more so when I learned there was no public ceremony or broadcast at the Embassy. But we found we could go to the W.E.B. Du Bois Center where the CNN coverage would be shown on a giant screen. I look back upon that singular moment as a very special one, surrounded by hundreds of other Americans and Ghanaians on a historic and joyful day.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 5.41.29 PMScreen Shot 2013-10-28 at 5.46.36 PMWe’re equal-opportunity celebrants, though, observing the holidays of the region we’re in, too.  Like the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice (Eid-al-Adha), commemorating Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, when families buy a goat and spend a month fattening it up so they can…… well, you know.

Hanging on to traditional holiday celebrations, whether national, ethnic, or universal, re-links us to our culture, to our families and friends in absentia, and to our country.  We feel whole.

What do you do when you’re away from your home and family during a holiday?

***

Carole Howard is the author of Deadly Adagio, recently published by Second Wind Publishing.

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Happy New New Year! by Pat Bertram

champagneWhen I looked at the day on my cell phone yesterday and noticed it was the 31st, my first thought was, “New Years Eve, already?” It felt good thinking that this year was over and that a new one would begin in just a few hours, but then the truth sank in — this year would not be over for another eleven months.

This has not been a good year so far — not the worst by a very wide margin, but not good, either. It began inexplicably with tears, and grief has been with me most of the month. (In less than two months, it will be three years since the death of my life mate/soul mate, and that anniversary looms large on my emotional horizon.)

It’s not just the grief upsurge that has made this a hard month — there have been too many disappointments and setbacks for such a new year. Friendships have ended, new hopes have not been realized, blog and book rankings have fallen. There have been some good things. For example, I was notified that Grief: The Great Yearning came in second place for a book award, but any pleasure in that recognition was destroyed when I got a follow-up email telling me I’d been demoted to third place. (I’m still reeling from that one. I’ve never heard of anyone being demoted before.)

I need a new start, and I’m going to make one. In a way, every day is the beginning of a new year, but today is also the beginning of a new month, which seems an auspicious time to begin anew. So . . .

Happy New New Year! Wishing you a great new start and much happiness during the coming months.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” All Bertram’s books are published by Second Wind Publishing.

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Filed under life, musings, Pat Bertram