Thursday, November 30, 2017

Janis Thomas' outdoor dining adventures...plus a book giveaway

We're so glad to have Janis Thomas back at CLC today. The last time she was here was in 2014 to talk about Say Never, which was one of Melissa A's favorite books that year. (She even gave us a shout-out in her Amazon bio for that!) This time around with What Remains True (publishing tomorrow), her writing has gone in a different direction from her past three romantic comedies. She even has TWO copies to share with some lucky readers!

Aside from her three critically-acclaimed humorous women's fiction novels and Murder in A-Minor, the first in her musical murder mystery series, Janis Thomas has written over fifty songs, and two children’s books which she wrote with her dad. When she isn’t writing or fulfilling her PTA duties, Janis likes to play tennis, sing with her sister, and throw lavish dinner parties with wild menus for friends and loved ones (hence the topic of her "night out" post). Janis lives in Southern California with her husband, their two beautiful children and two crazy dogs. Her next novel is All That's Left of Me, publishing in June, 2018.

Visit Janis online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram


Synopsis:
In this mesmerizing drama, one life-altering event catapults a family into turmoil, revealing secrets that may leave them fractured forever . . . or bind them together tighter than ever before.

From the outside, the Davenports look like any other family living a completely ordinary life—until that devastating day when five-year-old Jonah is killed, and the family is torn apart. As the fury of guilt engulfs them, the Davenports slowly start to unravel, one by one.


Losing her son forces Rachel to withdraw into a frayed, fuzzy reality. Her husband, Sam, tries to remain stoic, but he’s consumed by regret with the choices he’s made. Eden mourns her brother, while desperately fighting to regain a sense of normalcy. And Aunt Ruth, Rachel’s sister, works too hard to care for the family, even as her own personal issues haunt her.


Told from multiple points of view—including Jonah’s—the family struggles to cope with unthinkable loss. But as they face their own dark secrets about that terrible day, they have a choice: to be swallowed up in sadness forever, or begin the raw, arduous ascent back to living. (Courtesy of Amazon.)


A Night Out in the Yard

Thank you Chick Lit Central for inviting me to post!

I gave a lot of thought to ‘the perfect date’ and ‘a night out on the town.’ I’ve been lucky enough to have many of both. And I have to agree with (Go-to-Gay) Keith Stewart on this subject. The ideal changes as you age.

When I was in my 20’s, living in New York City, a night on the town was just that. Cabs and clubs, open mics and Irish pubs. Staggering home at three o’clock in the morning, sweat-soaked from shaking my groove-thing to Bugs Moran and the Trouble Boys, impossibly sober from dancing out all the alcohol.

In my 30’s, having moved back to So Cal with my hubby, a perfect night out was always spent with my mom and step dad, going to fabulous new restaurants and indulging in martinis and lively conversations with two of the smartest and most knowledgeable people I knew.

After having kids, the perfect date was all about securing a babysitter and stealing two hours or less of ‘adult time,’ eating quickly, drinking coffee, staring at our watches, and wondering if the house would still be standing when we got home.

Allow me to go a bit tangential—you’ll understand in a minute. My mom had an amazing house, but more amazing than the house itself was her backyard. Almost a square acre, it was a wonderland when I was a child. As I got older, the yard became party central. This special place hosted countless birthday parties, wedding showers, weddings (including mine), baby showers (including mine), dinner parties. Any huge life event took place in Mom’s backyard. When my mom passed, I lost not only my best friend, but a magical venue filled with all the energy of celebrations past.
My husband and I have a small backyard, but we decided to honor my mom by making it into a magical place all its own. We did our best to utilize the odd shape and limited square footage and created a space in which we could gather the people we love together and celebrate life, just like Mom did.

I should backtrack again and let you know that my husband is a former chef, or what he likes to call a ‘recovering chef.’ Although he doesn’t cook for a living anymore, he loves to keep his hand in the kitchen. We are both foodies, and knew it was Kismet when we recognized our mutual love of a good meal and entertaining.

A couple of years ago, we started something we call our Amuse Bouche. The direct translation is ‘mouth amuser,’ and in fine restaurants an amuse bouche is a complementary bite-sized portion of food meant to hint at the chef’s vision for the meal. Our Amuse Bouche is a lavish dinner party we host twice a year in our backyard.



We string lights on the house and hedge. If it’s cool, we open the awning and fire up the heaters. We decorate the table especially for the occasion (my sister is in charge of this, and she does it
beautifully every time). We light candles and lay out the linens and set the music to low so as not to interfere with conversation. Sometimes, we have a guest chef. Mostly, Alex is the chef and I am the sous chef (which means he gets to boss me around). The menus are always extravagant and outrageous—if you’re not gastronomically adventurous, you need not RSVP, and there is always a copious amount of wine and spirits.

But the best part about these evenings is not the spectacular food, nor the wine, nor even the yard we worked so hard to create. The best part is the people gathered at the table around us, laughing, talking, eating, drinking, connecting. Some of our guests are strangers to each other, but by the end of the night, all of us are old friends, bonded by the breaking of bread together.

I still love shaking my groove thing, albeit earlier in the evening, and I still love trying new restaurants. And Alex and I still love our date nights and our alone time. But as I age (I turned 50 this year!) I have come to cherish these events and the magic they represent. The magic of being with those I love and sharing a singular experience no one will ever forget.


So, although we only host them twice a year, our Amuse Bouche in our lovely backyard, is my ‘night out’ of choice.

Thanks to Janis for visiting with us and sharing her book with our readers!

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

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Giveaway ends December 5th at midnight EST.

15 comments:

Janine said...

I have never really been to a dinner party, but the last dinner I went to was Thanksgiving at my mom's house. It was a small group, me, my husband, my mom, her new husband and a family friend. My mom surprised me when I saw a bottle of wine on the table. She has always been against drinking in her house, so it was a nice surprise.

dianne alvine said...

Your dinner party sounds wonderful.As for myself, I've not actually been to a dinner party, just family gatherings. Thank you so much for this giveaway.

traveler said...

I have attended a dinner party which was held in the summer and in the hosts backyard. The food was Italian and wonderful and the people interesting and lovely. This was held for the hosts brother and wife who were visiting from Italy.

Linda Kish said...

I'm not much for socializing but, I just attended my 50th class reunion which included a dinner party. Even for a social phobic like myself, it was pretty nice.

Kelley B said...

Thank You!

Jessica Meddick said...

I went to a dinner party at my cousin's house recently that was very fun. She served a lowcountry boil.

Susan Roberts said...

I haven't been to a dinner party in years - now we usually just attend family get-togethers but those are a lot of fun too.

Carla S. said...

My husband's boss hosted a wonderful dinner party recently! The food was delicious and we met lots of fun people!

Dianne Casey said...

I haven't been to a dinner party in years. We mostly have barbeques in the summer and more casual get togethers.

Bonnie K. said...

I don't generally do a dinner party other than with family for the holidays and birthdays. I did host a barbecue for my husband's co-workers one time. It was a farewell party for one of the workers.

Mary Preston said...

My sister throws the best informal dinner parties. Great food & company.

Melanie Backus said...

I always keep my dining table decorated and ready for whatever occasion might occur.

Tatum Rangel said...

I think it was two years ago when my next door neighbors hosted a small dinner gathering. The wife's parents also were visiting from England. I love when they're in town; their chats are always entertaining. :)

bn100 said...

was at a friend's house

A. B. said...

I have definitely done more attending than hosting of dinner parties. (I finally finished graduate school not long ago, and before that did a lot of solo travel.)

I would say that the dinner parties/events I've attended have been more on the side of informal, noisy get-togethers. I had a blast at a large dinner in Spain, many years ago. About two dozen people, many of us travelers and strangers, were gathered at one table. Much wine was consumed, followed by much dancing. It was a long and wonderful night, and the food and talk and wine and dance had a sort of magical way of bringing us together. New friends and travel partners? Drunken starlit Spanish nights? Not bad, I say. :)

--Ann