A funny note to end the year… in my family’s hometown of La Grange, Texas, we have a wassail festival every December called Schmeckenfest. Wassail is apple cider with citrus juices and many holiday spices served warm. It’s Old Norse for “be in good health” or “be fortunate,” and the tradition somehow landed in central Texas. Sometimes wine, mead, or whiskey are added to make it extra warm… at Schmeckenfest there is a competition for both “leaded” and “unleaded!”

Well, I decided to compete in the 17th annual Schmeckenfest this year with my Cherokee great grandmother’s wassail recipe, representing my family’s business, Schultz Texas Properties, and handed out hundreds of little steaming cups during the festival. I had started brewing at around 9AM, juicing many oranges fresh, and enjoying all the spices so much—maybe too much. Like an alchemist or something. (Book research, naturally. Does my next fantasy book series have a character who’s an aspiring cook? That is entirely possible.)

Long story short (and secret recipe omitted), we won the “unleaded” taste test! The Main Street city manager said it was a grassroots win, with stiff competition of 30+ other entries from businesses around La Grange. I was surprised and delighted to win!

But the best part is earning the title of “Schmeckenmeister.” Yes, really. I kinda want to put it in all caps on top of everything else in my social media bio. 😂