Rules are made to be… used

The other day, I came across this handy dandy list and had to share.

rules for life

I live by these rules of behavior (and others, of course), but I never even realized that until I saw them in print. Which got me thinking… each of us has unwritten rules that guide us through life (or that we rebel against!), rules we learned from our parents or other role models or in school. Rules against which, right or wrong, we judge ourselves and others.

It’s the same with my fictional characters. Like real people, they hold self-judgments they certainly judge other characters. Oftentimes, the reasons for those judgements, their particular rules, remain hidden, even to me, their creator, and only appear as the story unfolds and begins to deepen. I love that slow reveal, which feels real and yet magical to me. And I enjoy showing the reader, and eventually the characters, just how misguided these rules can be.

Over the next few days and weeks, I plan to consider some of the other unwritten rules by which I live. What are the rules you hold dear, that maybe you’ve never realized you have?

Until Friday, and wishing you a day of insight and realization,


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Coffee, please

coffee beans

No question about it–I love coffee. The aroma, the ritual of making a pot of the stuff, the taste… What’s not to love?

For years, I’ve used this reliable Capresso coffeemaker that I bought at Costco. I have the option of grinding my own beans or using the pre-ground stuff. I can set it to make strong, medium or weak coffee. Cool, huh? I like this machine and am happy with it.


But then… When I visited Ashland, Oregon, in September, I tried something new (to me, anyway) that blew my coffee tastebuds out the water. Coffee made with the Chemex method. The barista who offered it had me sample both regular coffee and the Chemex-made coffee. The Chemex kind was smoother, richer, and superior to any coffee I’ve ever tasted.

In fact, I was so impressed that I headed for a shop that sold the pot and filters and bought the equipment.

What, you may ask, is Chemex method? It’s an old-fashioned way of brewing coffee, and yet it isn’t widely known or used.


The filters are odd-looking, and require a bit of folding, which isn’t so difficult to master.

CHEMEX fliter

Use any ground coffee, but it should be a fine ground (as opposed to a coarse ground). Follow the instructions, and voilà … Great coffee!


I don’t brew Chemex coffee every day. For that, I use the Capresso. But when I’m in the mood for something special that takes a little manual effort, I reach for the Chemex pot and filters.

Thanks for letting me share.

Until Wednesday, and wishing you a perfect coffee (or tea) day,


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Pie, Pie, Beautiful Pie

deep dish apple pie

It’s fall, and I’ve got a yen for pie. Not just any pie–apple pie. Several years ago, I tried the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe for deep dish apple pie. After tweaking amounts and ingredients a bit, I can truly say without a doubt, that this is the best apple pie I’ve ever made or tasted.

The crust (makes top and bottom crust):

1/1/2 sticks chilled, unsalted  butter

3 cups unbleached flour

1 scant tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp sugar

1/3 cup cold shortening

approximately 8 Tbs ice water

Dice butter. Dump into the bowl of a food processor, along with flour, salt, sugar and shortening. Pulse until butter is the size of peas. With the food processor running, slowly pour in ice water until the dough begins to form a ball. Wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.

While the dough chills, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and make filling.

Note: This is a large amount of filling, so be sure you have a large pie pan. Or just pile high like a mini-mountain. 🙂

The pie:

4 pounds apples (I use a mixture of Granny Smith, Honey Crisp and any other apples that look good), cored and sliced and peeled if you prefer. (I don’t peel mine.)

1 Tbs lemon zest plus 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 Tbs orange zest plus 2 tsp freshly squeezed orange juice

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup unbleached flour

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp allspice

Roll out half the pie dough and fit into the pie tin so that about a half inch of dough extends over the rim. Save the other half for the top. In a large bowl, combine apples, flour, sugar, salt and spices. Pour carefully into prepared pie tin. Place top crust over the apples, again with extra dough extending over the edge. With your fingers, crimp the crusts together. Slit the top dough in several places to allow steam to escape. Bake at 400 for approximately 40 minutes, then without opening the oven, lower heat to 350. Bake for 30 minutes more, until crust is browned and the juices are bubbling out. Serve warm or cold with ice cream if desired.

I am drooling now :-), so please excuse me while I run to the store for the ingredients and make this myself…

Until Monday, and wishing you good pie,


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Fun and Games…


Do you play those online games that seem to be going around (especially on Facebook)? I do! I’m not sure why I enjoy them so much. The lists of sometimes lame questions, the multiple choice answers that don’t come near what I would answer if I could… They certainly aren’t accurate.

And yet, I have played dozens of these things. What color hair should I have? According to the quiz, platinum blonde. Which character in Downton Abbey am I? According to the quiz, Anna Smith, head housemaid. What’s my old person name? Myrtle. And on and on. Silly, you’re thinking. I agree. But fun. Even laughable. I guess that’s why I continue to play.

If you play, too, I’d love to hear about your experiences. If you never play, I’d like to hear about that, too.

Until Friday, and wishing you games that make you smile,


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It’s Raining Books!

This is an exiting month for me, with FOUR books for your reading pleasure.

Now available in bookstores everywhere and as an ebook:

front cover

Mr. Right-There-All-Along

Since she was a teen, there’s been one guy that restaurateur Dani Pettit can always count on—her best friend, Nick. Their relationship is purely platonic…that is until a single kiss changes everything. Now Dani is falling hard for the one man she shouldn’t fall for—the one who can truly break her heart.

Although rancher Nick Kelly knows he’s to blame for his string of failed relationships, Dani is the only woman he ever trusted. Nick doesn’t want to be just another guy who lets her down, but his new feelings for Dani are too strong to resist. Do they dare risk their lifelong friendship for a once-in-a-lifetime love?

Also available as e-book exclusives:



You knew about those two, but not this one, which I just self published. It was my second book, a Special Edition, and came out in 2001.


Entrepreneur Will Stoner was a competent executive, but when he became guardian to the son he’d never known about, Will did the only thing he could—he hired help. Dena Foster did a great job with his son. Her gentle ways took the trepidation out of parenting, and despite a bad marriage that made Will mistrust women, he warmed to Dena. Now he wanted more from this nurturing beauty—for himself.

First he had to erase the doubt he saw in Dena’s eyes about his feelings for her. Was being a successful businessman, caring father and loving husband too much to ask for?

For more information about these three ebook exclusives, visit

Until Wednesday, and wishing you happy reading,


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Recipe: Pumpkin Chocolate Tea Bread

I love to bake in the fall and winter. The house always smells so good! This is a delicious, easy to make recipe that my family loves.

choc pump spice bread

Pumpkin Chocolate Tea Bread

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Heaping 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon each cloves and nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 9×5″ loaf pan.
  • In a small saucepan, melt the butter, then whisk in the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and pumpkin.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together all of the remaining ingredients, except for the chocolate, then stir them into the pumpkin mixture until just combined.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips.
  • Pour into the prepared pan. Bake in the center of the oven for about an hour, or until a toothpick tester comes out clean. (At this point, I’m busy, licking the pan. Because even the batter is yummy.) Cool for at least 10 minutes.
  • To remove the loaf from the pan, run an offset spatula around the edge, then invert it onto a cooling rack. Turn right side up and serve in thick slices.

Until Monday, and wishing you baking aromas that make your mouth water,


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Hello October, My Old Friend

happy october

Happy October!! I happen to love the fall. The crisp, cool days, the turning leaves, the pumpkins and the hints of the coming winter.

Kids are buckled down, learning new stuff and doing their homework. TV shows are back on the air, and new ones are available to check out. Apples are in abundance and so is freshly squeezed cider. Yum!

In a few weeks, the leaves will be ready to rake into piles. Oh, the smell of freshly raked leaves. As a child, I remember spending quite a while cleaning up the lawn. I was supposed to put the leaves into trash bags, but sometimes I couldn’t resist jumping into the pile I had made. What fun that was! Sure, it meant cleaning up after myself, but the fun was worth the extra work.

Until Friday, and wishing you a leaf-pile of fun,


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