Galliano Wine Cake

A festive cake for any time of the year, but especially New Year's! Yields: One bundt or angel food cake


1 box Yellow Cake Mix- any brand

1 package instant vanilla pudding (You may use sugar free)

¼ cup Galliano wine

4 eggs

¼ cup Vodka

¾ cup orange juice

½ cup vegetable oil

Mix all ingredients for several minutes with electric mixer. Grease cake pan. (I use Pam

or other spray.) Bake in a bundt pan or angel food tube pan at 325 degrees for 40-50

minutes. After cooling, remove to serving plate. Dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy!

Pistachio Cake Recipe
Easy, fast, and festive, this recipe is always a treat!

You will need:

One package of white cake mix- any brand

1 package of Pistachio instant pudding- sugar free may be used instead of regular

½ cup vegetable oil

½ cup water

½ cup milk

5 eggs

Blend cake mix with 1 package of pudding. Add oil, milk, and water. Add eggs- 1 at a time, beating well with electric mixer after each addition.

Pour into a greased (or spray with cooking spray) tube or bundt pan.

Bake 1 hour-at 350 degrees. May be done beforehand- as ovens vary.

Cool for 30 minutes, and invert onto favorite cake platter.

For a lighter and festive topping, sprinkle with sifted confectioners sugar and sliced maraschino cherries.

Optional frosting recipe: (Spread on cooled cake)

½ pint heavy cream

1 package instant pistachio pudding (sugar free may be used)

1 container thawed Cool Whip (fat-free may be used)

Beat heavy cream until thick. Blend in rest of ingredients. Frost as desired.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

The Christmas feeling started at Thanksgiving when we attended a rehearsal of the Nutcrackers on Ice where my grandchildren were performing. A week later the other pair of grandchildren invited us to their school’s Christmas concert, an elaborate and so professional Christmas pageant that took place in a public theater with two thousand people attending.

Decorating my apartment with a two-foot tree, a winking Santa Claus and two nativities put me in a festive mood. By then it really began to feel like Christmas without the commercialization that annoyed me in the previous years. I started cooking and baking, and carefully avoided the stores. A Christmas party at our church, another organized by my FRW chapter, and a breakfast with Santa for the children continued for us the holiday celebration.

The Sweet Romance Reads Christmas Bash we held on Facebook allowed me to connect with hundreds of readers who shared news about their Christmas preparations and celebrations, and posted pictures of the decorations in their houses. It felt like a huge cyber web party where we met friends and shared stories.

So what about presents? Usually, we offer gifts to the children only. This year we order for the boy a big Lego, and for the girls a Kindle.

My children, grandchildren and close relatives are invited to my place on Christmas Eve for dinner and in the morning we will be going to church. After that they are free to play games, eat left over, or go out while we babysit. The noise and mess attest to the children’s fun and happiness.

Do you feel the Christmas spirit?


 Sharing another heart-warming story in
 A Stone Mountain Christmas

 from Gilded Dragonfly Books. 

If you can relate to teen angst, read on!

Christmas Rose
Nan Monroe

hristmas is light.
Christmas glows, shines, glistens, shimmers, and twinkles. Only fitting, some would say, for a festival meant to celebrate the birthday of the Light of the World. But even those who never darken the door of a church may be dazzled by Christmas light – the light that blazes in a profusion of colors, a light that can pass through the grayest soul and turn it into a rainbow.
Christmas light is the one thing I’m sentimental about. I say “thing” deliberately, because I make a point of not feeling overly warm and fuzzy about things. People are another matter. I can get very sentimental about people. Not many people, just a few. A handful. And they’re all bound up somehow with Christmas light.
This is about one of them.
All the Christmases of my childhood can be boiled down to one. I was eight years old, and my dad decided the time had come to replace our artificial tree with a real one. Dad was the light master. He would string and re-string lights onto that fake tree in his quest for the perfect configuration of colors. I could barely see the tree for all the lights he draped over and around it. But at last the scraggly four-footer proved too small for his ambitions, and he came home with a lush six-foot-plus Virginia pine, a scented green canvas with sufficient breadth to suit the artist in him. My dad turned that tree into a blazing miracle.
Every morning those three weeks before Christmas, I would pull myself out of bed before sunrise, before my parents woke up, and creep into the living room where the tree stood. I’d plug in the electric cord and hold my breath a half-second as I watched that brilliance of color burst out to repaint the room. Light would flood every corner, so that nothing in my sight range was commonplace. I’d stand over the heat vent and stare at the tree and dream strange dreams, not about presents or about anything material and tangible, but about thoughts and feelings that existed only in that Christmas radiance. Of course an eight-year-old couldn’t make sense of it. Even today I struggle to find the words for it when I remember. But I know I’d never felt anything quite like it before and have seldom felt it since.
Another little thing about that Christmas that has stuck in my memory is an angel I made of cardboard and construction paper and glitter and glue, a school crafts project. It was the sort of cheesy ornament a kid can hand to her parents with a proud, toothy grin – well, maybe, if that kid is better at drawing straight lines and circles and figuring out how to get mileage out of a pair of blunt elementary-school scissors than I was. My angel looked like a refugee from Halloween Town in The Nightmare Before Christmas. My parents did what parents of third-graders do and posted it on the fridge and called it lovely. But even my eight-year-old mind could grasp the difference between my effort and the other kids’. My teacher called it avant garde, not a very fair phrase for a third grade teacher to use. I managed to look it up, so I knew she’d been fumbling for a compliment to pay me. It didn’t bother me much, for I didn’t aspire to an artist’s life. I was still in my wanna-be-an-astronaut phase.
I probably wouldn’t think much about that angel now if I hadn’t met Rose Coleman much later.
My childhood rolled on, with every Christmas much the same – the big Virginia pine, the blaze of light and color, the standing over the heat vent in the darkness before dawn to admire the way the tree glimmered when all other light was turned off, the swell of emotion I could only describe as “Christmas.” Then came the year things changed, the year of “your mom and dad can’t live together anymore but we both love you.” I was fifteen.

If you want to learn how Rose deals, read the rest at

An excerpt from Haunting Tales of Spirit Lake.

By Nan Monroe

The night before my parents were killed in a car accident I dreamed of a huge baby buggy smashing through a window of the twentieth floor of a high rise.
I am not, nor have I ever been, a great talker. My custom has always been to observe, listen, and hold my thoughts inside. People call me “unknowable,” and I can’t say they’re wrong. After the accident I hugged my silence more closely than ever, but in a strange moment when I felt my heart would turn inside out if I didn’t speak I told Ethan Chance about my dream. Ethan was my closest friend, because among all the kids my age, seventeen, only he shared my passion for black-and-white movies. Even when I don’t care to talk about my feelings or my views on society and politics, I can enjoy a good conversation about Casablanca or Metropolis.
He listened as I described the shattering window and the buggy disappearing over the ledge. Then he told me in an awed hush, “You’re psychic.”
I laughed him off but cringed inside. I might like to tell myself stories about ghosts and imagine that the wall separating past from present from future might be frayed in spots, but to suggest I might be psychic was to drag those gossamer daydreams into the bitter cold realm of reality. I didn’t want to be psychic. If I’d somehow prophesied my parents’ deaths, then the right word from me might have saved them. This I couldn’t bear to think. So I changed the subject very quickly to Dr. Strangelove.
Yet in the days that followed I started to wonder whether my sweet-natured cinephile friend had cursed me, or if my Creek grandmother had been right when she told me that gifts can be born from grief. My sense of sight began to play tricks. When I walked alone on the edge of the wood that bordered Spirit Lake I would spy a ripple in the air, such as we sometimes see in the thick heat of a summer day. It looked like a curtain moving, and I thought I could glimpse a shadow-scape beyond the lush trees and glassy lake, a scene with the sepia shade of a nineteenth-century photograph. People moved through it in the garb of long ago, going through the motions of working and chatting with each other and not paying me the slightest heed.
Nan has a short story in A Stone Mountain Christmas  
An excerpt will be posted tomorrow!
Atterwald by Nan Monroe 

Delicious Cannoli Dip recipe

Posted by Josie | 8:26 AM | 6 comments »

Cannoli Dip

This dip is a crowd pleaser and easy to make for the holidays or any time of year. Enjoy!

1 cup ricotta cheese
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup mascarpone cheese
6 oz mini chocolate chips

1. place ricotta cheese in a cheese cloth and drain in the fridge overnight in a colander in a bowl.
2. the following day, add all ingredients into bowl (except chocolate chips) and mix with a mixer until desired consistency. If you beat too long, the cream will turn into butter
3. once you reach desired consistency, fold in chocolate chips
4. refrigerate, freeze, or serve
5. serve with cannoli chips, pretzels, graham crackers, and/or fruit.

Sausage Rolls—the perfect Christmas morning recipe:

I love easy recipes, especially any featuring only 3 ingredients. The following recipe was shared by a caterer. It's her go-to recipe for any occasion but she especially enjoys baking it on Christmas morning for her family.

You will need:
1 lb. ground sausage (Jimmy Dean)
1 tub soft cream cheese
2 packages crescent rolls

Brown sausage thoroughly and drain. Add cream cheese.

Roll crescent roll flat, pressing seams together. Spread sausage and cream cheese in one layer onto dough, then roll up. If you use saran wrap, it will be easier to roll.
Chill overnight in refrigerator.

The following morning slice roll, place on cookie sheet, and bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.

Do you have a favorite recipe using only 3 ingredients or less? Please share. It’s the holiday season, so we’re not counting calories. :)


In honor of December 1, I'd like to share an excerpt from A Stone Mountain Christmas. Let the Christmas posts begin!

                                         Matt's Christmas Angel
                                            Mary Marvella
“What am I going to do about Matt?” Guenivere Jones asked her mirror. “He’s the nicest person I’ve ever known.” Gwen brushed her long, auburn hair for the fiftieth stroke on her way to one hundred. Gwen had inherited G Granny’s hair color, a tad too red for her taste.
Of course the mirror made no suggestions. It never did.

“He’s thoughtful, he’s kind, and he’s not bad looking, either.” Gwen sighed and shook the brush at her reflection.

G Granny insists he’s my beau. She’s even ordered her wedding dress cleaned and pressed for me to wear. But Matt and I aren’t even dating. The white velvet gown had been altered for G. Granny, Grandma Mary, then for Felicia Guenivere, Gwen’s mother.

“Stroke ninety-nine. I quit.” Gwen stuck out her tongue at the mirror. “G. Granny, I’m not getting married this Christmas. Not to Matt, not to anybody, so you’re wastin’ your time getting the dress ready. When the time's right I'll wear it, if I get married in the winter, like all you other Gueniveres have. ”

Gwen loved G. Granny. Everyone loved the matriarch, the reason every first daughter in the family had been named Guenivere for four generations. Her premonitions were legendary. Sharp as a tack, she had lived nearly one hundred years, but she was so-o-o-o wrong this time. If Gwen even had a daughter, she would not name her Guenivere.

Matt was her best friend in the whole world. She adored him, but she wasn’t in love with him.

Gwen slid into bed, ready for a good night’s sleep. She and Matt had only twelve days to accomplish their twelve traditional Christmas missions. This Christmas would mark their twenty-fifth together as best friends. Gwen settled down into her nest of comforters and pillows. Ninety-nine strokes. No one does the one hundred brush stroke thing anymore. Hah!

Sleep captured Gwen in its gentle arms and eased her into her fondest memory. She was three years old and playing in her sandbox, the one mama said had been hers once upon a time. A child she’d never seen walked up to her sandbox and stood, staring at her.

“You Gwen?” The boy's face puckered up in a frown.

Gwen nodded slowly. “Uh huh. Who are you?”

The boy looked bigger than she was and real skinny. His glasses made him look like an owl. He carried a pail and a shovel. He had light, short hair.

“Matthew Henry Simmons,” he said. He must be serious about the long name, because he wasn’t smiling.

“This is my sandbox. Wanna play?”

“Sure.” He still didn’t smile.

 Gwen grinned when she thought about his red plastic bucket and shovel. She remembered the gentleness of five-year old Matt. He had been her playmate ever since. That Christmas he had told her about the "Twelve Days of Christmas" song he’d learned in kindergarten. He’d also taught her to count to one hundred.

Look for more excerpts from A Stone Mountain Christmas

Christmas' Best Bet, Humble Pie
Follow Mary Marvella on Twitter @mmarvellab