Is it cold yet in your neck of the woods? Right now I’m in Uruguay, where it’s in the high 70s to low 80s. Delightful!

In the New York City area, winter showed up gangbuster style right before Thanksgiving. Just two weeks earlier, my husband and I ate lunch al fresco at our home in Pennsylvania, reveling in the gorgeous air and sky and the few trees still bright with yellow leaves. Later that afternoon, the temperature dropped thirty degrees! I don’t love winter, but I love the way it sometimes arrives—BIG. I couldn’t believe how cold it was that night. Got out the flannel jammies. Hope you’re staying nice and warm.

The holidays aren’t commercial here in Uruguay, which makes them all about family, food and just celebrating. I’ll be back in New York mid-December, and I’m vowing to keep our season simple. If you manage to accomplish the simple approach this year, tell me about it on my Facebook page. We could all use a few tips!

Pasta Uruguay Style!

My Uruguayan friend, Maria Laura, taught me a fabulous way to make tomato sauce for pasta. Using one fresh tomato per person (in winter, use canned San Marzano tomatoes), chop and sauté them in olive oil in which you’ve already let some garlic bloom. As the chopped tomatoes heat up, add salt, pepper, julienned basil and some heavy cream. To die for!

Books/Shows I’m Loving

I so enjoyed Alafair Burke’s THE EX. Not only a strong legal thriller, but Olivia is an awesome protagonist, flaws and all. I wish I could have had a drink with her!

And just finished ALL THE MISSING GIRLS by Megan Miranda. Beautifully written. Scary. My cup of tea exactly.

On Netflix find the third season of the British crime drama “The Fall.” First, though, watch seasons 1 and 2. But lock your doors. You will be utterly terrified. Considered one of the great British crime dramas. Also really like “The Guilty” on PBS.

And speaking of books, here’s a fun holiday gift idea for you. Tuck a note in a little box that you’ve pre-ordered my March 21 psychological thriller, THE SECRETS YOU KEEP, for the recipient. Will work for men as well as women readers on your list! And don’t forget to pre-order a copy for yourself!

Happy holidays, everyone!