I’m excited to begin a new year! I don’t need everything new. I’m content with our home of thirty plus years and my 1995 Mercedes C220. I’ve kept some of my clothes for decades; I do not need a new wardrobe.

The house will seem stark when we take down our tree, but I’ll adorn our home with winter white. I keep white lights around our front door on a timer and some in the back yard all year. I will decorate the house for winter. I have cute little snowmen, white snowflakes, and white floral arrangements that I display. And I ignite our two gas fireplaces. Up on the island we have a wood burning fireplace with an insert that puts out tons of heat, but these gas burning fireplaces are mostly ornamental. Yet I love to watch the flames and I feel cozy.

Our weather in the Puget Sound area has turned icy cold. I doubt we will get above freezing all day, which puts a damper on my walking with Piper, our Cairn terrier. Fortunately, I have a treadmill in the basement and a stationary bike with a stand that I built for my laptop. But those don’t help Piper, who gets squirrely when she doesn’t get enough exercise. So, I layer up and take her at least around the block.

No matter the temperature, my husband loves to go to the island! Freezing air has moved into Puget Sound, but nothing like when I was growing up in NJ, CT, and visiting my grandma on Manhattan Island. We’d simply bundle up and go.

Chilly winter makes me yearn for hearty meals. Since our two sons and I eat gluten-free, spaghetti is always a yummy choice using gluten-free noodles. I’ve tried to emulate my mother’s fabulous spaghetti sauce my whole adult life but have come up short. And spaghetti is one of those recipes with endless variations around the world

Here’s a good sauce recipe almost anyone will enjoy. I used to hide diced carrots in my spaghetti sauce so our two boys would eat more vegetables. My mother told me that carrots make the spaghetti sauce taste sweeter. And of course, a hearty dessert must follow. Bread pudding using gluten-free bread if needed or rice pudding are delicious. I get hungry just thinking about food, don’t you?

Easy Spaghetti


1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 lb. ground sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
pinch (1/8 teaspoon or less) red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons minced fresh basil
1 (15 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 cup water
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1–2 Tablespoons additional fresh basil, to finish


  • In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté 4-5 minutes or until slightly softened.
  • Add ground beef and sausage. Stir and cook the meat until it’s no longer pink. Drain, though I like to leave a tablespoon or two of fat for added flavor.
  • Add the minced garlic, Italian seasoning, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and 2 tablespoons of fresh basil. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and water. Stir to combine.
  • Simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar. Add the rest of the fresh basil and serve warm with grated parmesan cheese! 

January is a good time to make plans and take up a hobby such as knitting, crocheting, or trying new recipes. Have you ever made Waldorf Winter Stars? It’s a fun and easy papercraft to add color to your windows. And of course, reading new books or revisiting favorites from the past. Indoor activities when it’s too nasty and slippery to go outside.

I’m making new friends. Among them is bestselling author Debbie Macomber!  How cool is that? Although she has closed her fabulous and spacious office in the Pacific Northwest, she has not retired and is working on a new manuscript. She has always been such an encouragement to me. I recall hearing her speak to a small group years ago about how she never gave up. Personal testimonies by people who persevered are always uplifting for me. That’s one reason I write about women who have stayed true to their dreams.

Enter my Giveaway by January 22 for a chance to win a $100 Amazon Gift Card plus a copy of my latest novel, Reinventing Ruthie or another of my books if you’ve already purchased a copy. US only. Winner will be announced Tuesday, January 23 and has three days to respond to my email. Only by responding to my email can you win.