Sunday, January 30, 2011

Book Review: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Jamie Ford’s debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, brings to life a collection of characters that will stay with you long after you close the book. Switching between 1986 and the war-torn years of the 1940s, this is the story of Henry Lee and the relationships in his life

As the story opens, Henry has recently lost his wife. Finding himself at loose ends he happens by a hotel from his youth where items stored by Japanese Americans who were interred during World War II have been discovered. This is the trigger that sends Henry back in time to when he was 12-years-old and fell in love with a Japanese girl who was sent away.

Searching through the items looking for a trace of the girl who once figured so prominently in his life has him reflecting on those times and the changes that happened in him and the bonds that were such a huge part of his life.

His father, who wants so much for his son to be American, and yet holds to his memories of and conflicts from his life in China; Henry’s parents who refuse to let him speak in their native tongue, yet cannot understand when he tries to speak English to them; Sheldon, the black jazz musician who understands Henry in ways his family never could and introduces him to the music scene of 1940s Seattle; Mrs. Beatty, the cafeteria worker at the white school where Henry is “scholarshipped” who empathizes with young Henry and offers him help when he needs it most; Henry’s son Marty who learns about his father’s life along with us, and begins to see his father as a person besides being his parent--all these relationships help form Henry into the man we see in 1986.

But most important is his relationship with Keiko Okabe. The only other Asian student at the school Henry is forced to attend, Keiko becomes first his ally, then his friend, then his true love. She is the motivation behind Henry’s taking his first steps into adulthood. Watching the fear and bigotry as it races through the Japanese community, forcing his friend and her family to make unreasonably difficult choices to prove their loyalty, Henry must decide where he stands.

This book touched me deeply. I wept, laughed, and found myself wishing I too could spend time with Henry. This is a heart wrenching period in history, and reading about it on such a personal level was profoundly moving. I highly recommend Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. It is a well titled book, and I hope it is not the last we hear from Mr. Ford.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Release Day for New Book!

My latest novel, In the Company of Women, has been released and is now for sale on Amazon and Smashwords . The cover was designed by Tara Kelley-Cruz (

When a group of women come together in a critical year in their lives, they learn that gratitude for what life does or doesn’t bring you, and friends both old and new can carry you through no matter what is thrown at you. Gillian faces a life threatening surgery; Nancy and her husband must deal with the hardest trial of their lives together; Joyce is forced to give up her most precious dream and take up a new and more powerful one; Emma discovers she has something that can change not only her life but her community’s; and Nancy’s daughter Jane is given a chance to share a long held secret and learns, along with the others, how forgiveness’ embrace can give you a new life. They are stories all women can relate to.

Ultimately they all discover that when things do not turn out the way you want they can turn out to be what you need. These women take life head on and know as long as they have each other it is possible to triumph over it all.

In the Company of Women explores the strength of friendship, the gift of gratitude, the power of forgiveness and how a group of women can change themselves and those around them.

Please feel free to go to one of the above mentioned websites and check it out.  Smashwords will allow you to download the first 20% of the book for a free preview.  And let me know what you think!


A strong positive mental attitude will create more miracles than any wonder drug.

Patricia Neal

Monday, January 24, 2011

Book Cover

I'm showcasing the cover for my new book which will be published later this week. Designed by the very talented Tara-Kelley Cruz, this cover is exactly what I was hoping for. I'm so pleased with it, and hope she will work with me on future projects.

Tara is a graphic artist who is very talented. If you are an author looking for an artist to design a cover for your next project, feel free to contact her at and let her know you got her name from me.

Friday, January 21, 2011


I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.
Douglas Adams

Grandma's Yorkshire Pudding

I had some requests, after the posting earlier this week, for the recipe for my Grandma Hillyard's Yorkshire Pudding.  It's quite wonderful, and hope some of you will try it!

Yorkshire Pudding

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch pepper
4 eggs
3 to 3-1/2 cups whole milk
6-8 Tablespoons drippings from roasting pan, or vegetable oil, or lard

In large bowl, combine flour salt and pepper.  Add eggs and 1 cup of milk, mix with the flour.  Continue mixing until you get a stiff batter.  Cover, and let sit at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Start stirring in milk until you get it so it's the consistency of heavy cream. (Note: You may not use all the milk.)

Using 12 large muffin tins (my grandmother used a large pan, or cast iron frying pan to make one large pudding.  This has never worked for me, so I use muffin tins) place 1 to 2 teaspoons of fat in each muffin tin (I usually use the drippings for gravy, so I use vegetable oil.  I spray the tins with Pam first, and use 1 teaspoon oil in each tin.)

If not using hot drippings, place tins into oven for 5-10 minutes until very hot.  Pour batter into the muffin tins, filling them about 1/3 full; the batter should sizzle in the hot drippings or heated oil.

Return to oven and bake until puffed, browned and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes. 

Yorkshire pudding is best served hot from the oven, but can be kept warm in a low oven for 15-30 minutes.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hope Springs Eternal

AJ was gnawing on one of the bones from last night's roast, and Jasper sat at his feet quietly watching.  You could almost hear his thoughts churning, "Please give it to me when you're done! Please please pleeeeeeease!"  Too cute!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Christmas Dinner .... in January!

Since we weren't home for Christmas last year, we weren't able to have our traditional holiday dinner of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.  So we had it tonight instead!  The pudding can be tricky, but it came out beautifully!  Since Stan is having some problems with his leg, Kevin made the gravy for it and it was soooo good!  This is a very traditional English meal.  I use my grandmother's recipe, so it feels as if she is with us.  Nice, on so many levels.

 The roast came out smelling like you wanted to bury your face in it.

 Yorkshire pudding and gravy.  If you've never had it you should try it.  Goes with beef so well!

 Stan was happy.  After having been in pain for the last few days I was glad he got a respite to enjoy dinner.

 This is one of AJ's favorite meals.  He loves the pudding.  I also make Ina Garten's mustard horseradish sauce (sitting in the crystal bowl) for the meat which is also one of his faves.

Kevin made the best gravy!  I think Stan might have competition in that area.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.

John F. Kennedy

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Braggin' Rights

A lot of us are mothers and are justified in the pride we feel when our children accomplish something wonderful.  I love to listen to and see the love that shines when a mom is telling me something their child has done that has touched their heart.  So with that it mind, I am going to brag about my oldest son, AJ.

Last semester he got a 4.0--straight A's--on his report card.  Today he received a letter from the president of the college that said in part:

"Please accept my congratulations on your achieving the President's Honor Roll for the Fall Semester 2010.  Academic excellence is never easily accomplished.  As a college student, you merit special commendation for being able to maintain top grades while managing multiple demands on your time and energy."

So here's a cheer for AJ!  Way to go!  The new semester starts January 24th.  Can't wait to see what he does next!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Book Review: Secret Lives

Secret Lives by Diane Chamberlain is the fourth book of hers I’ve read, and I have to say that it most definitely won’t be the last. She has a sensitive way of writing that helps you to see the plight of her characters, and makes them more than the caricatures they could be in another’s hands.

Actress Eden Riley returns to her roots to research her mother’s life for a movie she plans to make about her. Katherine Swift was a beloved children’s author with a lot of secrets and hardships in her life. Eden’s uncle gives her Katherine’s journals so her mother tells her story in her own voice.

There are problems in Eden’s relationship with her aunt and uncle, which is full of secrets they keep from and share with one or another in their threesome.

In addition, a friend of theirs enters Eden’s life. He too has secrets and troubles that cause problems as the two of them become close.

Dysfunctional families are rife with secrets, and the people in this book are surrounded by them; crippled by them, almost. As they learn to trust, and to heal broken trust, these characters also learn to love each other in fresh ways that help them all find the healing, love and the safety, they so long for.

Beautifully written, Secret Lives is so layered and multidimensional that once I was in it I found it hard to put it down. People are so interesting, and you never know what you find when you scratch below the surface. And, as this novel shows us, everyone is, to some degree, an unsung hero.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

SLO Lights

When Terry and I were driving around San Luis Obispo one night, we spotted this house that was completely covered in lights.  We hung a u-turn and went back to see it.  It was amazing!  Here you can only get a bit of an idea of how it looked.  It was so fun, we went back the next night to look at it again!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

More From SLO

 AJ and Kevin at the beach at Morro Bay.  They've loved the beach since they were little boys.  They had a good time getting back to the ocean.

 Terry and I met in 1975 when we both went to Brigham Young University.  We lived in the same dorm and became fast friends.  She lives in Los Angeles and drove up to San Luis Obispo so we could spend some time together.  It was so much fun, and felt like being teenagers again!

 Stan's sister Merodie on the beach.  When we lived in California, Merodie was only about a half an hour away, so she and the boys are very close.  We were so happy she made it down to SLO to see us!

 AJ strikes a contemplative pose.  They found this bench and sign at the beach and thought it was fun to take pictures with it!

 I LOVE this picture of Kevin!  Looks like he could be thinking a million things as he gazes out at the sea.

 Stan's dad took the boys to the driving range and let them hit a bucket of balls.  They have plans to do the same thing with Stan here in Colorado!

Grandpa told Kevin he was a natural, so we're hoping he gets some more chances to play now.
What a fun time when you get to be with family!

San Luis Obispo

The Monday after Christmas we went down to San Luis Obispo to spend a couple of days with Stan's family.  It was so pretty green and warm after Colorado!  It was nice to see the beach again too, and Stan's parents, sisters, nieces, etc.  Plus, my friend Terry (we met 35 years ago and were roommates at BYU) met us there.  Way too short a visit, but so much fun!

 Here's Kevin and I at Morro Bay.  That's Morro Rock behind us.  We saw sea lions playing in the water, sailboats and paddle boats out on the bay too.  It was so nice to be at the ocean again!

 We met Stan's parents and his aunt for lunch at the Hofbrau in Morro Bay.  This is Stan's dad Jim and Stan posing for me.  Don't they look a lot alike?  Sure can tell they're father and son!

Stan's mother Joann on the left and her sister Carol.  Eating french dip sandwiches and fish & chips by the water, the cry of gulls and pelicans surrounding us.  It was great to be back there.  

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

More Pictures from Christmas in California

 My sister's beautiful tablescape for her Christmas feast!  Butternut squash soup, mixed greens salad, ham dinner, and my grandmother's carrot pudding for dessert.  All of us gathered together.  It was the best!

 Stan and I and our grand niece, Cassandra Jade!  So precious.  And so much fun to hold a baby again!

 For her dinner, Cheryl had a cup of candy at each place, and for placecards, she had a gingerbread man with a photo of each of us where the gingerbread man's face should be.  Here's AJs!

 My parents hearth decorated for Christmas.

My sister Cheryl and I goofing off at Andy and Dayna's the night before we left them all.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Friendship makes prosperity more shining and lessens adversity by dividing and sharing it.

Cicero, 106-43BC