Category Archives: Hearth & Home

Autism Warning Signs For New Parents to Know

As mom to an adult son with autism, you can bet I’m already aware about it! But for those of you not in the special needs trenches, autism is a neurological condition that affects the language and social functioning of up to 1 in every 68 children. Children’s developmental milestones are part of my skill-set. With the help of my Speech Pathologist sister-in-law, my child was ultimately diagnosed as a toddler and received early intervention services right away. We were lucky, because research is showing early treatment of the condition can significantly improve an affected child’s learning outcomes.

Autism or No?

The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to watch for the possible warning signs of autism, which may appear as early as two months old. And, as they recommend, “If you observe any of these, talk to your doctor, who will then decide whether more testing is necessary. Don’t fret if you occasionally see one or two of these—it could be another type of language, learning, or behavior problem, or even nothing at all.”

2-3 months: Your baby isn’t making frequent eye contact.

3 months: He isn’t smiling at you.

6 months: He doesn’t laugh.

Around 8 months: He isn’t following your gaze when you look away from him.

9 months: He hasn’t begun to babble.

1 year: He isn’t consistently turning to you when you call his name. He hasn’t begun to wave bye-bye.

12-14 months: He hasn’t said a single word.

14 months: He isn’t pointing to show interest.

18 months: He doesn’t play “pretend.”

Women Love Smartphones More than Men?

“Women Love Smartphones More Than They Love Their Man” and similar headlines are scattered across the internet as I type this article. No doubt, they’re effective at grabbing readers’ attention.

A new study published Sunday showed a significant disparity between how much leisure time women spend on their Smartphone compared to time with their romantic partners. This relationship study’s findings tap into our innate curiosity about gender differences and our desire to learn secrets for successful romantic relationships in spite of modern distractions.

Previous studies on this topic showed that men use their Smartphone more hours per week, and that men are slightly more likely to sleep with their Smartphone in bed than women. However, this newest one focused not only on tech usage comparisons between the sexes, but tech usage versus connection with each other. The conclusion was that women, on average, “…spend twelve hours more a week interacting with their Smartphone than with their partner.”


Most articles related to this study slammed home the same message. Women who choose to spend more free time with a Smartphone than a partner must either be avoiding or neglecting him. Hmm. I assume the intent is to warn women their Smartphone leisure use has the potential to endanger a long-term romantic relationship.

Online men’s magazine articles add fuel to the fire, too, proposing that men affected by this kind of “harmful” behavior better act fast, or risk losing their relationship altogether.

women love smartphonesAre Study Findings The Tip of the Iceberg?

Curious about the strongly implied warnings regarding the concern women love Smartphones to the detriment of their romance, and the validity of the same over-simplified causal relation presented in article after article on the topic, I knew I had to dig deeper. As expected, I discovered plenty of studies to support my belief there are a variety of factors equally likely at play. For example, studies have shown that men, on average:

So, if a man isn’t at home or available to engage in leisure activities with his partner, couldn’t that account for a woman’s amount of Smartphone use during her free time? Maybe I’m naïve, but I choose to think more optimistically about the majority of couple’s affection for each other. We don’t have to keep a tally of how many minutes we spend together versus being apart. Many of us women (and men, for that matter) might love how our Smartphones enrich our lives, but we’re not in love with them.

The REAL Reasons We Women Love Smartphones

This informal list is based on my experience and observations of my girlfriends who also happen to love their Smartphones. It’s not comprehensive, by any means. Nor are the items in order of importance. I’m simply sharing my thoughts because I want to know whether you agree, disagree, or have other reasons you feel should be included on the list.


  • Better than running errands after a long workday or crammed into activity-filled weekends
  •  Easier, quicker comparison shopping to stretch our hard-earned family dollars further
  • Conserves gasoline, our car’s life-span, and precious time
  • Avoids stressful driving in crazy traffic, being exposed to that nasty stomach bug going around town, waiting in long lines, and the hassle of fighting for a parking spot on big sale days
  • More selection (My Pinterest Board – Love My Heels – can serve as Exhibit A) and cool online-only opportunities (Can you say, LulaRue?)
  • Can be accomplished while squished between other patients in the doctor’s waiting room, while beautifying at the nail/hair salon, and between numerous trips chauffeuring our kids to-from school, sports, church, and other important functions

Social Media Friendships

  • To catch up on news of our friends and family who live far away, or connect outside of work with coworkers in a relaxed, fun setting
  • To develop and nurture friendships with like-minded people we’ve met and connected with online (Yes, these can become REAL friendships!)
  • To reach out to others in times of grief or loss or stress for comfort and support, and to provide the same in return
  • To B.S. with the girls via texts (Yeah, we do it, too.)


  • Current events
  • Books, movies, art, travel, cooking,  or any hobby or topic we’re interested in
  • History
  • Helpful tips for our daily life–housecleaning, laundry, pets, sewing, health, exercise, travel, etc.
  • Planning for the future

But in the end, does it really matter if we women love Smartphones or not, or how we choose to spend our leisure time, as long as we’re not harming anyone or breaking any laws?

And they all lived happily ever after…

Years before I became a novelist or felt the need for a Smartphone in my life, I recall my shock upon overhearing two coworkers discussing their attachment to the device, and how one of them actually took it to bed with her.

Fast forward to a few months ago. I woke up one morning to discover my Smartphone lying on the bed between my Honey and me. I paused to reflect on that for a  moment. But I didn’t feel any less attached to my Honey because the phone happened to be there. When he glanced meaningfully at the Smartphone, I smiled as I reached for it. Setting it on the nightstand to keep it nice and safe, I then rolled back over and snuggled closer to my husband.

It’s your turn. Do you love your Smartphone? If so, please take a moment and share why! 


Beach Days Ahead Giveaway

Are Beach Days Ahead?

Well, of course they are! And man, how we need them after a season of overcast skies and short, chilly days. To help celebrate the blossoming of a new season, and in anticipation of my very first reader newsletter–squee!–I’ve decided that now’s the perfect time for a “Beach Days Ahead” Giveaway! But more details about that in a minute.

Let’s Talk About Spring

I’ve always considered myself to be more of a summer girl. I love sipping cold drinks by the pool, wearing a bikini beneath my tank and shorts, and swimming laps for exercise. But in recent years, I’ve grown to appreciate the gradual warming of the earth. The past few weeks I’ve found myself eager to start my daily stroll around our front yard and taking the time to slow down to, well, smell the flowers. If you’ve located me on social media, you might already be privy to my flower obsession.  Here’s one of my favorite #instaflower in  #myfrontyard photos. (Visit me at Instagram if you’d like to see more–plus an embarrassingly huge number of cat photos.)

@JolyseBarnett #instaflower

I used to plant flowers and tend them faithfully with my children’s help while my husband/their father worked far away. In recent years, as my writing has taken more of my focus and my Honey is home full-time, he has taken over the spring outdoor festivities. Perhaps what I love best about his gardening style is the element  of surprise. He’ll buy a bag of bulbs and scatter them about, burying them much like a squirrel would for winter. Then, as each one sprouts, we enjoy playing a game of “What kind of flower is that?” or  “I bet you five bucks this flower will be __color word__.” Then, too, we walk around and watch nature at work…bees and butterflies pollinating…birds nesting…squirrels scampering…in addition to those blooming flowers. Who knew my own front yard could hold such wonders?

And maybe the best part isn’t necessarily the games we play, but the fact that we’re playing them together. I’m wishing you the same simple joys this spring…doing whatever you love with the one(s) you love.   oxo Jolyse

And now, as promised…

Beach Days Ahead Prize Package

Beach Days Ahead
Beach Days Ahead Package

All you need to do to be entered for this giveaway is:

  1. Sign up for my newsletter. Scroll down to the bottom and fill-in the box under “Newsletter Sign-Up” with your email addy. Be sure to also confirm your subscription when you receive the follow-up email from this site. (The first newsletter will be emailed to your inbox upon the release of Text Me, Maybe in May–with special, members-only treats and info!) If you’re already a subscriber, you’ve already fulfilled this part of the entry.  🙂
  2. Comment below about your favorite part of the season or share one of your own favorite photos.

That’s it!! Easy, right?

Extra points toward your entry will be awarded for:

  • sharing this post
  • following me on Instagram
  • subscribing to this blog

text_450The winner will be announced in my first newsletter, along with my recipe for Sweet Hands Sugar Scrub, an exclusive “interview” with my swoonworthy hero in my romantic comedy, Text Me, Maybe, among other surprises.

Let’s hear it for summer’s little sister!


Romantic Comedies – Love Can Be Funny

Romantic comedies are my favorite! So when my honey gifted me a selection of romantic comedy DVDs one Valentine’s Day some years back, I was thrilled. (To read a related Valentine’s Day post that gives an overview of Leap Year, visit Love is in the Air.)

Romantic Comedies DVDs

But the best part?

As I poured over the pile of romantic comedies in the gift box, my honey uttered those four little words I was dying to hear.

“Watch one with me?” he asked.

I nodded.

“You choose.”

I held one of my favorite titles that he’d refused to watch whenever I’d suggested it. “Even this one?” I teased.

He smiled. “Sure.”

I squinted at him. “Who are you and what have you done with my husband?”

He shrugged as if to reassure me it was a non-issue.

Moving closer, I asked, “You do know what movie this is?” In an effort to jog his obvious memory lapse, I read the title and quoted him. “As appealing as watching hair grow, and—”

“And as painful as pulling it out.” He nodded. “Yeah, I remember. Why don’t you get the movie set up while I pour the wine?”

Now that is love…

Check out my other giveaway!
Check out my other giveaway!

“Okay,” I mumbled, shaking my head. The guy hated shopping but he’d trekked to the video store, scanned titles and picked ones I liked best, then stood in line and paid for them. He could’ve passed over those two titles he abhorred, but he hadn’t.

And I’d thought that after twenty-five years together, he couldn’t surprise me anymore. Slowly, I slid my selected DVD into the player.

“Ready?” My honey handed me a glass of Malbec.

I smiled, lifting the drink in a toast. “To you, the man willing to suffer emotional hardship for my viewing pleasure.”

He laughed. “It won’t be that bad.”

“No, it won’t.” I agreed, and handed over the remote—a symbol of power in our household.

He clicked Play, then hugged me close at the first strains of the movie’s soundtrack. “Love Actually?” He gazed at me. “Great movie, but we just watched this one a few weeks ago. Why’d you change your mind? You haven’t seen the other one in over a year. I bought it because I knew you’d be so excited to finally see it.”

I shrugged. “You really like this one. I can watch the other one another time, whenever I want, because of you.”

Yeah, love can be funny that way.

JOLYSE’s Favorite (movie) Romantic Comedies

Valentines Day Basic Graphic MINE

When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, French Kiss, The Holiday, Love Actually, Before Sunset, Before Sunrise, Wedding Date, Thirteen Going on Thirty, Just Like Heaven, Maid in Manhattan, Overboard, Roxanne, Sleepless in Seattle, Hope Floats, While You Were Sleeping, The Wedding Singer, The Ugly Truth, Enchanted, The Proposal, Definitely Maybe, Made of Honor, How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, Sweet Home Alabama,  and Leap Year.

Romantic Comedies ‘LOVE CAN BE FUNNY’ Giveaway

Now it’s your turn. Share your favorite romantic comedy OR a funny or heartwarming story about love to be entered into my “Love Can Be Funny” giveaway. One lucky reader will win a $5 Amazon Gift Card. (Winner will be announced Saturday, February 13th.)

Picture Books for Life

Picture books were scattered around me in a semi-circle as I sorted them on a cold January morning. Most would find a new home and a few, beyond repair, would go by way of the recycle bin.

My honey walked into our home’s upstairs hall where I worked. “What are you doing with those?” He pointed at the smallest stack of picture books I’d tucked next to me. “I thought you wanted to give them away so other children could enjoy them.”

I nodded at the large pile soon to be placed into a canvas tote headed for the library. “Most will. These are different. We have to keep them.”

He tilted his head. “What makes those picture books so different?” He squatted next to me and picked up the tattered book on top, then fanned its yellowed pages. “This one’s falling apart.” He wrinkled his nose. “And it’s musty.”

“So?” I said, reaching out to retrieve the book before he accidentally caused it harm. “It’s my favorite picture book.” I set the frail paperback onto the other two. “I’ve had this since I was really young.”

“That explains why it’s falling apart.” He smirked, teasing me about my recent preoccupation with my advancing years.

“Haha.” I swatted his arm. “It’s not a favorite picture book of mine as a parent or teacher, but from my perspective as a little kid. That’s what makes it extra special.”

He slid the other two books carefully from beneath the top one. “Let me guess,” he said. “These belonged to Thing 1 and Thing 2.”

I had to smile at his reference to our children, a nickname we rarely used now that the older was out of the house and our baby was a year shy of adulthood. “You’ve got it.”

He shook his head and laughed softly. “You’re such a sentimental girl.” He stood and left me alone with my thoughts.

My Four Favorite Picture Books

Picture Books Fan at Five

I hadn’t saved all my favorites. One of my go-to picture books as a little girl was a beautifully crafted paperback version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. I assume the book was handed down to my younger brother and me from our older siblings. I don’t recall the specific drawing on the front cover, but I remember how large that book felt in my hands, one that seemed twice as tall as it was wide. I’d skim my fingers across the cover, the smooth gloss a contrast to the rich velvet texture of Santa’s suit. I’d always read that story aloud, loving to hear the rhythm and rhyme of the holiday poem as I dreamt about Christmas. The whimsical drawings were my tangible proof that Santa and his magic were real. I wonder if that book is still hidden away in my parents’ attic, waiting for me to reclaim it. I wonder, too, if that picture book was as special to my siblings as it was to me.

Picture Book Fan at Six
First Grade

Another picture book I treasured from a very young age was a pop-up hardcover of the fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood. In fact, if I recall correctly, that story book tied with Big Wheels as my favorite birthday present the year I turned six. My grandparents arrived at my childhood home on a sunny afternoon where my family was celebrating my birthday in the back yard. I ran to greet them. Grandma exited the car, a grin on her face and a present in her hand. I couldn’t read all the words in that picture book at first, but I knew the story from kindergarten. I was amazed by the 3D pop-up that brought the events to life in my imagination and allowed me to “read” it until I learned to how to decode advanced vocabulary. By the time I was a teen, the book was well-worn and some of the pop-up sections were held together by scotch tape, but good enough to take along with me when I babysat and pulled out whenever my charges required extra entertainment. I’m pretty certain I’d have thrown the picture book away at some point before college. I located a new version of the book online recently, though. Maybe I’ll order it.

One of my Favorite Picture Books
Little Red Riding Hood Pop Up Picture Book

Like millions of other children past and present, I loved Dr. Seuss. Green Eggs and Ham was–and is–my favorite of his picture books. At one point I could recite the entire story by heart, and bet I still could if I read it a few times to refresh my memory. I don’t know if my family owned that particular picture book, but I had plenty of opportunities to read it in school or borrow it from my local library.

Picture Book The Man Who Didn't Wash His Dishes
Note the Price at Forty-Five Cents (1971)

Unlike my other favorite picture books from my early childhood, I’m unsure most of my readers would be familiar with The Man Who Didn’t Wash His Dishes. This was also a unique book since I managed to keep track of the original and ultimately shared my childhood favorite with hundreds of students before retiring it from my classroom library about a decade ago—the binding too loose to hold its pages well. This Phyllis Krasilosky story is about a man who is too tired to do the dishes one evening after dinner. He opts to relax with his cat instead. (Who wouldn’t, right?) Well, the next night the man puts off doing the chore again, and again the next night and so on. Until one evening, he can no longer avoid the work. The work is tremendous, but the satisfaction he feels upon its completion makes that night hanging out with his cat all the more rewarding. He never shirks his work again and stays organized and happy. That idea of taking care of the little things to prevent them from interfering with quality of life appealed to my Virgo personality and evolved into my mantra of as an adult.

Picture Book text and illustrations

My Children’s Top Pick Picture Books

Picture Book Filled with Humor
A Funny Picture Book

My daughter’s favorite book as a preschooler was The Wee Puppy Who Wouldn’t Go To Sleep by Jane B. Mason, a story with an adorable, stubborn character (much like our daughter) who learned to go to sleep when told (which our daughter eventually did). On the other hand, my son’s favorite read as a little guy was Don’t let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, a Caldecott winner by Mo Willems. Our son says he loved it so much because the pictures and words made him laugh. I agree that’s a pretty good reason to like a story.

Picture Book With a Lesson
Adorable story with a lesson

As I turned down the sheets to crawl into bed later that evening, I noticed something out of place on my bookshelf. I walked over to take a closer look. Well, what do you know?, I thought. My non-sentimental, minimalist spouse must’ve retrieved the three picture books from the storage bin in the attic while I’d been at the library.

It’s your turn. What were your favorite picture books as a child?


Gift Ideas for Black Friday

Heart Pendant Silhouette with Red Twinkling Background
Heart Silhouette

Welcome to my first Jolyse’s Friday Find post. Since this also happens to be Black Friday, the coolest shopping day of the year for all my bargain and gift hunting friends, I’ve decided to include more than one of my favorite discoveries this week. Enjoy!

Jolyse’s Choice for Coolest Gadget Gift of 2015

Do you have a bunch of peeps on your gift list and you want to impress but don’t want to break the bank? Check out the Tile, a tech gift anyone can use–from your uber-cool twenty- and thirty-something nieces and nephews to your eighty-something parent. From my research, the device is reasonably priced at $25 for one. A pack of 12 is $17.50 per Tile, or $15 a Tile on Black Friday. Since the battery is sealed within the little unit, owners receive an email eleven months after activation with the opportunity to order a new one at a reduced price. (Currently, Tile owners are offered a replacement at $12 and are sent a prepaid envelope to return the old Tile for recycling). The company appears to provide great customer service with a replacement warranty if a Tile doesn’t perform as stated for the year. I like the premise of this little gadget and think it has potential down the road for more uses, the concept of a community of Tile users helping each other locate lost or stolen items for each other just one of the possibilities. That’s just plain cool in my book.

Gift for Multi-Taskers

There are many organizers and planners out there, but I’d highly recommend Erin Condren planners. My friend, Jeannie Moon, gave me one for Christmas last year and I’m hooked. How can I not use it? It’s pretty, sturdy, functional and personalized to fit my needs. I can organize my home life, my day job, my writing life, and my health/fitness goals all in one book. It’s too large to misplace but small enough to fit in a larger purse or briefcase/backpack. Oh, and the Black Friday sale has 30% off selected items.

Gift for Car or Truck Owners

I first spied this practical gift idea on TV last weekend–the HALO Bolt Portable Charger and Car Jump Starter and immediately thought of buying it for my sixteen-year-old son. (Shhh. Don’t tell him!) He has been quite nervous during bad weather ever since Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Sandy hit our region, the latter storm having knocked out our home’s power for eight days. He’d like the light  on the charger in addition to the charger for his phone and other electronic devices. I think women may like the jump starter aspect. I know I do.

Gift for Readers

If you’re the type of person who reads anything and everything available, from the back of the cereal box at the kitchen table to the toothpaste tube while hanging out in the bathroom doing your thing, I suspect you’d agree with me that books are books, whether print or ebook. I’m the happy owner of a Kindle Paperwhite I received for Mother’s Day this past May, but the newest version released this summer’s on Black Friday sale for $99 dollars.  If you want to splurge, Kindle has once again improved their technology with the Kindle Voyage at $199.  It’s super-thin at 7.6 mm and weighs only 6.4 oz, about an oz. less than the Paperwhite.

Gift for Writers

Like many writers, I go weak at the knees when I enter a stationery or arts & school supplies store. Always have. I’ll write on napkins, in cheap spiral notebooks, whatever’s handy when the muse strikes, but Moleskine makes my favorite journal. I always carry a small, ruled one everywhere with me and keep another on my nightstand. The plain, small notebooks are perfect for anyone in your life who like to doodle, sketch, and write observations, ideas, lists, or whatever their creative little hearts desire. (Think unusual stocking stuffer! You could pair it with a cool pen or three.) For Black Friday sales, go to They’re also offering free shipping for orders of $30 and more.

Now it’s your turn. What Black Friday or holiday gift giving ideas have you found?



photo credit: Darker Hearts via photopin (license)

‘Tis the Night Before Thanksgiving

‘Tis the night before Thanksgiving

When all through the house,

Mama is  busy spot cleaning

With help from her spouse.


Tom Turkey awaits in the sink,

The pumpkin pies are all baked,

Appetizers tucked tight in the freezer,

And the dining table’s prettily draped.


Ahhh…at last the preparations are done.


Time to relax before the TV,

With a glass of red wine or two,

Because tomorrow we’ll need our energy,

To entertain the whole danged crew.


But seriously.


I adore this time of year,

Love my family and friends.

I’m wishing you a happy holiday,

And a truly blessed year’s end.

In appreciation of my awesome readers, this week’s giveaway is a $5 Amazon gift card! To enter, simply sign up for my newsletter (I will only email you with news of a book release.) Then leave a comment below to let me know you were here. Easy peasy.

~oxo Jolyse

For the adults in the house…

Uncle Johnny’s** Thanksgiving Margarita–with a Hint of Christmas

Thanksgiving MargaritaINGREDIENTS


Tripple Sec

Rose’s Lime Juice

Cranberry Juice



Slice of Lime

Fresh Cranberry


1. Shake Tequila, Tripple Sec, Rose’s Lime Juice, Cranberry Juice in over ice.

2. Pour in glass rimmed with salt and sugar.

3. Garnish with lime slice and fresh cranberry.

**Read more:

And the winner of last week’s giveaway is…

KIMBERLY V. Congrats, Kimberly! You’ve won the Ebook &Tule Goodies Giveaway! Please contact me at with your addresses within two weeks to receive your prizes. (List Randomizer at was used to select the winner. Thanks to all readers who entered.)


Behind the Book: Home For the Holidays

L. I. November Sky
L. I. November Sky

Welcome to this week’s Moment! There’s a definite nip in the air and festive anticipation here on Long Island as the late fall and winter holidays quickly approach. I haven’t begun my Christmas shopping, but the weather and calendar are reminding me I better make that list!

During these hectic days, I hope you get a chance to pause and enjoy the little yet important things–those family traditions, friendships, and indulgences you treasure.


One of my favorite holiday indulgences is reading Christmas romances. So when I was given the opportunity to write one for fellow romance readers like you, I jumped at the chance.

Since my most vivid memories of the holiday center around the small village in upstate New York from my childhood, it only felt right to set A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW there. Christmas, like other holidays, includes home and family. I haven’t always had the luxury of returning to the Adirondack region in snowy December, but I do whenever possible and I always miss it when I can’t be there in person.


My heroine Jade’s hometown of Starling, New York is very much a fictional setting, but contains this writer’s wonderful, happy holiday nostalgia all rolled into one. That’s not to say that life in Starling is perfect for Jade’s family or the rest of its residents. The characters in A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW were created to be like people we’d meet on the street, know at work,  and have in our families–all with their own adorable idiosyncrasies. But, in spite of their human imperfections, they care and look out for each other year-round.

And especially at Christmas.

If you’ve read A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW, I truly hope you enjoyed it and that it left you “with a smile on (your) face and a warmth in (your) heart,” as an Amazon reviewer said it did for her.

If you haven’t read this Christmas novella yet, or if you have and you’d like to share the gift of reading with a friend, here’s your chance to win it!  All you need to do is sign up for my newsletter (I’ll never spam you or give your email to anyone, ever.) and share that you did that in the comment section below. All commenters’ names will be entered into a random drawing. One lucky entrant will win an e-book of A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW, a Christmas in New York Series collectible bookmark, a festive Tule Publishing pen (green or red), and a few holiday treats. Winner will be announced Tuesday, November 25th. International readers welcome. 🙂


Giveaway LW 2

And the winner of last week’s giveaway is…

MARY LAWSON. Congratulations, you’re the winner of last week’s Release Celebration Giveaway–a $10 Amazon gift card and holiday ornament!! Mary, please contact me privately at with your email and home addresses within two weeks of this announcement. (List Randomizer at was used to select the winner. Thanks to all the readers who entered.)

Now, remember… for a chance at winning this week’s giveaway, sign up for my newsletter (scroll to the bottom and there it is!) and let me know in the comments section. For extra fun (optional), share your favorite place to celebrate the holiday and give a reason why.

Let’s Talk Turkey: A Family Recipe

Happy November!

Like Jade, my heroine in A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW, I dabble in baking. While she enjoys making kraasstengels, a traditional Dutch treat, I make sugar cookies that my kids love to decorate.

I may bake the random goodies, but my Honey is definitely the chef in our family.  He has quite the repertoire of meals, and he rarely disappoints. When I asked him for a recipe to share with you, he immediately suggested his stuffing (aka dressing). He always makes this at Thanksgiving, but it can be enjoyed any time of the year when you want a meal for a large gathering.

Turkey Stuffing (for a 20 lb. bird)

  • 8 c. bread crumbs
  • 1 lb. ground sausage, slightly browned
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 medium onions – diced
  • 1 c. celery – diced
  • 1 c. red bell pepper – diced
  • ½ c. fresh chopped parsley (or cilantro)
  • 2 t. ground sage
  • 1 ¼ c. chicken broth
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 Macintosh apples – diced
  • 1 T. cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix ingredients together in a very large bowl then immediately fill the turkey’s cavities.

Last year, we cooked a 23 lb. Butterball turkey stuffed with the above recipe at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 ½ hours. It was delicious!

Do you have a family recipe you’re especially proud of and willing to share (pretty please)?


Awkward Moment, my Valentine?

Jolyse Barnett PhotographyFebruary fourteenth, the holiday of love, anticipated by some, ridiculed by others. In America, heart displays are featured in the malls and in jewelry commercials with cuddly teddy bears and rose bouquets.

My honey and I tend to celebrate low-key. Winter is a hectic time at work and school is in session. We may watch a movie, go to dinner, or exchange cards. One year was particularly memorable (See LOVE IS IN THE AIR post. My honey still gets kudos from my friends and me for his unique and lasting gift.)

People often remark that we should be as generous and giving like we are on December 25th. I agree and feel the same way about Valentine’s Day. Shouldn’t we appreciate our loved ones every day?

Exhausting, you say? Unreasonable? Perhaps, but as a gal still crazy in love after more years than I could have ever imagined, I believe it’s worth the effort. What are the keys to forever love? I don’t know for certain. Marrying our best friend, learning to laugh at ourselves, growing close in good times, and holding each other closer during bad, never forgetting why we fell in love…that has worked for us.

February Movie?

Rylie and I recently saw THAT AWKWARD MOMENT with Zac Efron and cast. We liked it- a lot. I’m a huge fan of romantic comedies as well as witty, off-beat (sometimes raunchy) dialogue/humor. This wasn’t your typical romantic comedy. It focused on three guys and their relationship issues. Still, I was satisfied with how their characters evolved, and I loved, loved the ending. I really like when a story comes full circle and ties together with a beautiful, metaphorical red ribbon.

So…you can imagine my surprise when I saw all the poor reviews for this movie. I’m curious. Have you seen THAT AWKWARD MOMENT? Did you hate it and regret spending money on it, or did you enjoy it for the elements that made you laugh out loud and the dark moment that left you with a tear in your eye and a lump in the throat?

Whatever your relationship status, Margarita Moments wishes you a wonderful Valentine’s Day.   xoxo  Jolyse