JAN’S LATEST FAVORITES LIST!!! 2020 has been a difficult year in many regards, but let’s focus on the good stuff!! Jan (from Australia!!) had plenty of happy and interesting “personal life” comments for us this year, often by way of our Monday ritual, “Three Things”.
So let’s get to know her better through her latest highlights of the year (P.S. OMG SHE IS MAKING ME HUNGRY!! She’s quite the busy baker… and I would LOVE to try her cooking):
I like a sweet Christmas or holiday romance at this time of year. It sometimes feels a little weird to read Christmas romances at other times of the year though. Does anyone else find that too?
1. Hubs and I are “going bush” for a few days soon – going to stay in a cabin in a more remote part of our state. It’s a very pretty area and we can’t wait to go. Melbourne lockdown is over and our state has been clear for more than three weeks now so we’re all starting to come out of our shell. Borders are opening (to interstate). Eek. I’m a bit nervous about that but just hope everyone will act responsibly.
* A funny bit of trivia. Every day in our state (Victoria) when they announce again zero deaths and zero new cases for today they say “double donuts again today” to represent the two zeroes. My son has been texting me two donut emojis each day when they make the announcement. BTW we had double donuts again this morning. Yay!
1. Leslie I want an air fryer too but I have your same problem – nowhere to fit it!!! My kitchen is already jam packed with all my other stuff. I read all these air fryer tips and recipes so jealously!!!! I’m not a fan of cooking smells either, like fish, or cabbage. Ugh. Pongs out the whole house.
2. We’ve been baking our own bread with a slow-rise recipe. Really simple. Slow rise overnight then cook it in a very hot oven in a cast iron dutch oven. Crusty and yum! Now that’s a nice cooking smell. Of course the dutch oven is one of the many things taking up space in my kitchen LOL.
1. It’s spring down here in Australia and my garden is full of daisies in shades of pink, mauve, purple and white as well as a taller bright golden coloured one that they contrast with. They flower for ages. So pretty. My rosemary bush is covered in gorgeous dusky blue flowers too.
2. Only a few more days then I have two weeks holiday from work. Woo hoo. Can’t go away on holidays anywhere cos of the restrictions, but we will do some fun day trips.
3. Made bread in my bread making machine yesterday and it rose so super-high it almost touched the lid. What???? The loaf turned out higher than it’s wide so I had to cut it sideways. LOL. I’m not sure why it rose so high. The only thing I can think of is that when I added the water it was a little bit warmer than lukewarm. *shrugs*
I had to google manwich. Never heard of it. AFAIK we don’t have it in Australia. Sounds like that may be a good thing LOL. I do like a decent meatloaf, though.
2. Having pork chops tonight, baked with apple, onion, sage and breadcrumbs on top. Yum.
3.) Have been doing more baking than usual while home on holidays. Can’t go anywhere, so….. I’ve made bread, muffins flavoured with orange from our own backyard tree, savoury scones (what you guys call biscuits, maybe??) flavoured with cheese, tomato, onion, baby spinach. It’s fun. Last night made a chicken casserole with an epic amount of veggies. Lots of tomatoes, zucchini, capsicum, onion, baby spinach. Had the savoury scones with it. Turned out good.
1. I’ve just started three weeks holiday from work. Middle of winter and don’t really want to go anywhere cos of covid so just staying in and reading, baking, knitting, relaxing 😀 Might go for a few day trips just to get out of the house. We’re not on lockdown but need to stay sensible.
2. Baked a slice yesterday with home made lemon curd and shredded coconut on a kinda shortbread base. Lemons from my own backyard tree! So proud LOL.
3. Am thinking about upgrading my technology this year. New phone and laptop. Maybe even a new kindle????? I’m saving my pennies and eyeing off different models of stuff. Fun to browse online.
I love my herb garden. I have sage (it has pretty purple flowers), a rosemary bush, oregano, lemon thyme, chives, mint, parsley. And I have a little bay tree for fresh bay leaves. It’s the best thing to be able to pop outside and pick fresh goodies when you’re cooking. Buying herbs is so expensive too.
In summer we grow lots of basil. It makes the best pesto with lots of garlic. Freshly picked basil smells so good.
Note: Here’s one from her from back at the very start of the year – in January, Australia was facing a HUGE wildfire issue:
It’s very smoky here today (and for the next few days apparently). Southern and eastern Australia is having a very bad bushfire season this year, and the smoke has spread everywhere, even over to Auckland in New Zealand, apparently. Crazy.
Luckily I’m not directly affected by the fires, but the smoke is quite hazardous and we all have to stay inside as much as possible. No gardening this week.
Sadly there have been some lives lost, and lots of houses and property as well. We are all praying for a swift containment of the fires. A lovely big downpour of rain would be wonderful!
Some US fire-fighters have recently arrived to help us out. It’s great to see. We really appreciate it. They have also called in the (Australian) military to help out, including the navy who had to evacuate people from the beach!!!!!
Memories about scary movies: I used to stay at my cousin’s house and we would stay up late and watch scary movies on her black and white TV (yup) and scare ourselves silly. Then we had to go outside in the dark to her outside toilet!!! Eek! That was scary. We kept expecting a vampire or some other monster to pounce on us. It was kinda fun, actually…….
And a look back on New Years Eve 2019 (we did a fun questionnaire and here were Jan’s answers):
1. How do you feel going into 2020? Positive
2. If you chose 1 word to be a mantra or guide for 2020? Hope
3. If at some point you have a chance to drop everything and hop on a plane where are you going? Are you going London. Yeah, I want to go in 2020. I was there about 3 years ago and fell in love with the place but only had a short visit. Now I want to go back to visit all of the museums, galleries and historic palaces I missed last time LOL
4. Song starting off your New Year? I’ve been listening to sad songs lately like Adele’s Someone Like You just cos I like them. Maybe a song for the new year would be something like Don’t Worry Be Happy. Ha ha ha. I’m really a glass half full kinda girl, even though I like wallowing in sad songs sometimes.
5. A character you could use as inspiration? Someone said Hermione Granger. I’m gonna be a copycat and say same. I like her courage and feistiness.
6. And then just because who was the swooniest fictional couple you met in 2019? West Ravenel (rawr) and Phoebe, Lady Clare, from Devil’s Daughter by Lisa Kleypas. A beautiful love story set in Victorian England. *swoon*
AND NOW… IT’S TIME FOR HER BEST OF 2020 LIST!! 😀
Here’s my best of 2020 list 🙂
As always, I did lots of rereading of old favs. But here are the best that I read for the first time this year:
The Troubleshooters series by Suzanne Brockmann <— A bit late to the party, but in 2020 I discovered this well-written romantic suspense series starring lots of hot Navy SEALS. Very enjoyable. Reading in order is best for this series, I think.
Boss in the Bedsheets by Kate Canterbary <— I really liked this couple. Great meet-cute.
Jan: It’s better than it sounds from the title. I enjoyed it. …Quirky writing style and good characters…
Stone Cold Kiwi by Rosalind James <— Lovely romance between very real, complicated people, beautiful New Zealand setting.
Jan: She has three little red-haired kids. Her marriage has imploded. The H is a hot doctor….
I’ve holidayed in New Zealand and it’s beautiful! I enjoy books in that setting.
Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid <— Another one where I’m late to the party. What a fabulous book. Fantastic writing. Her other books are now on my tbr pile (or mountain he he)
Jan: …can see why everyone loves this writer. Fascinating book about rock n roll in the 1970s. What a trip (literally, LOL) …(not really a romance, but a fantastic book anyhoo)
I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira <—Terrific fictional account of famous artist Degas and his complicated relationship with American painter Mary Cassatt. Paris in the belle époque period. If you are interested in painting or the impressionists, totally engrossing.
True Story (Deverells series) by Jayne Fresina <— A fresh and quirky romance set in a castle in Cornwall, England.
Jan: Quirky, interesting and different from the usual “dukes” type of thing. The first one is True Story. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m a bit over dukes. LOL. I mean, come on, how many hot, hunky young dukes can there really be in historical romancelandia? There has to be a limit……..
If you’re going to try the Deverell books, I think it’s best to start with number one. It’s lovely, and the others will also make more sense.
The Rules of Seduction by Madeline Hunter <— A serious, brainy, sexy hero, a man of real integrity. (My fav kind of hero 😉 Cleverly written plot. Lovely romance.
Jan: the series I’m reading is good. First book is The Rules of Seduction by Madeline Hunter. Not your usual cliche HR.
England’s Perfect Hero by Suzanne Enoch <— This book is made by its charming and wonderful hero, who has serious ptsd after his shocking experiences in the Napoleonic Wars. He is gradually coaxed out of his shell by a kind and lovely young lady, and also by his very supportive siblings.
Jan: There’s a nice little mystery in the book too.
News of the World by Paulette Giles <— This one isn’t a romance, but it’s a great read. An elderly man, former Texas Ranger, on a road trip to take a young girl home to her family after her years of living with a native American tribe. Lovely father/daughter type relationship. (Tom Hanks is making a film).
Jan: …Set in 1870s US Old West. Not a romance. An old guy who makes his living moving around reading newspapers and bringing news of the world to little Western towns.
He takes on the task of returning to her family a ten year old white girl who was captured by Indians when she was little and has forgotten even how to speak English. It kinda has that True Grit feel. Or maybe Lonesome Dove. I truly loved the book of Lonesome Dove.
…Quality writing, and something different if you want a change from romance, which I do now and then.
A Bride For The Prizefighter by Alice Coldbreath <— Fresh and different romance set in Victorian England. Set in the middle to lower classes – no dukes! Which makes a nice change.
P.S. Like Jan’s reading style? Find more of here favorites here:
- Reader Favorites – Jan’s 10 Books That Stayed With Her…
- Reader Favorites – Jan’s Favorite Low Angst Romance Books
- Reader Favorites – Jan’s Top 10 Reads of 2017
- Reader Favorites – Jan’s Best Books of 2018 List
- Reader Favorites – Jan’s Top Ten Best Books of 2019 List
➔➔➔ Looking for more of our favorite recommendations? Browse our “Ultimate Favorites Lists” here. Are you in the mood for a certain kind of story? Browse our favorite “genre/trope categories” here and our reader favorites lists too.
➔➔➔ Do you have your “Best of 2020 list” for us? Send it to me here. 😀