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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Dandelion Salad for the Taste of Early Spring!

We've been taught to look upon this humble weed/herb as a plague in our lawns, but perhaps we should have more respect for the much maligned dandelion. The leaves are full of vitamins, so I searched out an old Southern recipe for a tasty hot dressing to pour over the tender greens. Be sure to gather young leaves or they will be too bitter.

You can also use this dressing for other greens like watercress, spinach, and endive. My mother-in-law made dandelion salad years ago, then forgot her recipe. But I found it in the Mennonite Country Cookbook, which is about as country as you can get. I gathered tender dandelion greens and mixed them with some spinach I wintered over, and made the salad yesterday. Very good.
For The Salad itself:
4 cups chopped dandelion leaves
3 hard-boiled eggs
3 slices of bacon
For The Hot Dressing:
1 1/2 Tablespoons flour (or gluten-free flour)
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups milk or water
Wash and chop dandelion leaves. Cut bacon in pieces and fry. Remove bacon from drippings. In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients, add egg, vinegar and water or milk. Stir until well blended. Cook this mixture in the bacon drippings until thickened and cool slightly. Pour over dandelions and mix lightly. Garnish with sliced eggs and bacon. If you are reluctant to use bacon fat in the dressing, I suggest substituting butter. Adjust proportions to suit your taste.~
The valley is greening up and looking far more hopeful than the brown we've lived with since November. A blanket of snow is pretty but we haven't had much white stuff this year, though the rain has finally returned after months of drought. I'm in my 'giddy about the earth awakening' mode and have been chronicling spring in the garden. Early crocus, snowdrops, and miniature iris are in bloom now. These faithful flowers come back each February/March and are as tough as nails. They have to be with our crazy weather this time of year.
"A house without a garden or orchard is unfurnished and incomplete."  ~A. Bronson Alcott (1799–1888), quoted from
Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there. ~Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732
One of the worst mistakes you can make as a gardener is to think you're in charge. ~Janet Gillespie
My little bit of earth in the front garden is one of the places that I find my bearings. The rhythm of my day begins with a cup of coffee and a little bit of weeding or dreaming. ~Betsy Cañas Garmon,
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Monday, February 26, 2018

I'm Finally Done by Vonnie Davis

I finished a novella this evening--a paranormal based on the Zodiac. I prefer my shape shifters more comical than full of crime. But this one
took me in a different direction and, for a while, I wasn't sure I knew how to get out of the mess I'd written myself into.

Perhaps if I'd take the time to outline or plan a book, I wouldn't end up in such a mess. But, alas, I start with two names, a location, an opening situation, and go from there. Sometimes, it's a fun journey and at others it's like the time my luggage got lost on a seven-day cruise. I went to the Caribbean. My luggage went to Brazil.

I've had a logo designed for my shifter books, so readers can tell at a glance, they're one of mine.

So, what shall I write next? Book two of an erotic series? Book three of a romantic suspense series set in Paris? Or another bear shifters. I've got the burr set a little under me skin and I do enjoy writing it a wee bit. For more on my books, please go to

Saturday, February 24, 2018

FEBRUARY - National Bird Feeding Month

 by Judy Ann Davis
 For me, feeding the birds is a natural stress-free and entertaining activity. There is nothing more exciting then to see a new species of bird appear at your feeder or to see the colorful finches, cardinals, and blue jays mingle with the common song sparrow that sings a cheery tune in the bushes outside the windows. Often, when I write my books, I insert the song of a bird or a specific bird call in the story to make the setting seem more real.
Finches and Woodpecker 

It is estimated that one-third of the U.S. adult population feeds wild birds in their backyards. For many, it’s a fun activity that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike and encourages bird watching as a hobby. It also allows wild birds a supplement to their natural diet of weed seeds and insects while offering entertainment and relaxation for the human population.

In 1994, Congressman John Porter, of  Illinois, introduced a resolution to recognize February as National Bird Feeding Month. This is the time, in cold climates, when many birds need the most help with their food supplies as well as a place to find available water.

For young children, bird feeding and watching, is an excellent educational experience. They can identify the different species of birds, use a field guide, learn the feeding and living habits of birds, do research projects and reports, and most of all—have a pleasant interaction with adults.  With the use of a digital camera, they can chronicle the various types of birds with pictures, learning the skill of photography as well.
Song Sparrow

If you’ve not tried bird feeding as a hobby, give it a whirl. It’s like having your own wildlife reality show where the characters change every few minutes and their antics and songs keep you entertained.

Twitter ID:  JudyAnnDavis4
Blog Link: “A Writer’s Revelations” ~
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Thursday, February 22, 2018

5 Benefits of Eating Dark Chocolate by Josie Riviera

Did you know that dark chocolate is very nutritious? It contains fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc, plus other nutrients.

Here are 5 Benefits of Eating Dark Chocolate:  :)

1.  Dark chocolate is a source for antioxidants
2.  Because dark chocolate contains cocoa, it may lower your blood pressure.
3.  Dark chocolate may improve risk factors for heart disease, because cocoa lowers oxidized LDL.
4.  The bioactive compounds in dark chocolate may help to protect your skin from the sun.
5.  High-flavanol cocoa in dark chocolate may improve brain function

Of course, take the above with a grain of salt…or sugar! Avoid consuming large amounts of dark chocolate daily because of the excessive calories.

Besides the above benefits, let’s not forget that chocolate is delicious, especially in February. So go ahead. Indulge!

Do you like white or dark chocolate? Please leave your comments below.

My Valentine sweet romance, 1-800-CUPID is the first book in my new series, Flipping for You. If you love home decorating and flipping houses, you will enjoy this story.

When the heart flips, there’s no telling where the walls will fall.

Candee dreams of turning a neglected Victorian home into a haven for disadvantaged children—like the girl she used to be. Except she could lose her dream to a house-flipper looking to make a quick profit.

At first glance, Teddy is certain this house is too far gone to make a good flip prospect. But the more he looks at it—and at Candee—he begins to realize some things, like love, are worth the risk. If only he can convince her they’ll have to start by tearing down some walls…

Josie Riviera is a USA TODAY Bestselling Author of contemporary, inspirational, and historical sweet romances that read like Hallmark movies. She lives in the Charlotte, NC, area with her wonderfully supportive husband. They share their home with an adorable Shih Tzu who constantly needs grooming and live in an old house forever needing renovations.  Follow her on Bookbub.

Have you ever tried something you were afraid to try because it mattered so much to you? I did, when I started writing. Take the chance, everyone, and just do something you love.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Different Twist To George Washington's Cherry Tree Tale

by Laurean Brooks

I've pondered for days about what to write for my February 20th  blog post. Since Valentine's Day has come and gone, and it's close to February 22nd, I  will pay tribute to our first president, General George Washington, who was born on that day.

As the tale goes, George's father asked the lad, “Son, did you chop down the cherry tree?” Young George replied, “Yes, Father, I cannot tell a lie. I chopped down the cherry tree.”

Instead of punishing him as George expected, his father commended him for his honesty, and his mother rewarded George with a final slice of cherry pie from the fallen tree.

Moving forward a couple of centuries, my dad told a similar story. I'm not sure how true it was, but I would not be surprised. This tale is about a mischievous boy from a large family. One who also fessed up after he messed up.

One day the boy was calmly asked by his father, “Austin, are you the one who pushed the outhouse into the creek?”

Recalling the story he had learned from a recent history lesson about George Washington and the cherry tree, Austin hiked his chin and proudly confessed, “Yes, Pa, I pushed the outhouse into the creek.”

Austin's father yanked him up by his overall straps and hauled him to the woodshed, kicking and screaming. Turning the boy across his knee, Austin's father applied the board of education to his backside. When he had finished, he set Austin on his feet. Gripping his slim shoulders, he turned the teary-eyed boy to face him.

“Son, look at me. This hurt me more than it hurt you. Do you understand why I had to punish you?”

“No, I don't!” Austin wailed. “George Washington's pa bragged on him for telling the truth about chopping down the cherry tree. And his ma even fed him a big slice of cherry pie afterward.”

Austin's father paused before he announced, “That may be true, Son, but George's pa was not IN the
cherry tree.”

Four Morals To This Story

1.  The Truth, though necessary, can hurt. “Ouch!”

2.  Put extra padding in the seat of your pants BEFORE you fess up.

3.  Always knock beforehand, to ensure no one is USING the outhouse.

4. You can't have your pie and chop down the tree, too.

My romance novel, JOURNEY TO FORGIVENESS is based on my parents' story, set during the Great Depression. Austin Brady is a mischievous character who loves to tease Jenny Larsen. He says she's prettiest when she's riled. Jenny is sure Austin is a thief because he fled with her valise.

Watch the sparks fly!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Spindletop and Beaumont, Texas

Good Morning on this cloudy but beautiful Sunday. I thought I would share a bit about the town I've used for the setting of my latest release, Mail Order M'Lady, Brides of Beckham series. I always look for weather events or other historical exciting/inciting events. When I decided to set this story in 1901, Spindletop and the oil boom was the perfect setting.In my research I discovered the following that was normal or worse for an oil town.

The town of Beaumont, Texas, was a dangerous place to be in 1901. Managers of flimsy boarding houses along the dirt ruts of "Main Street" charged exhausted riggers almost half a day’s pay to rent a cot for twelve hours. Enterprising restaurateurs-built fires under 6-foot vats, filled them with water and dried beans, and charged oil hands 15 cents for a cup of “soup.” Gas blindness or even gas-induced death was a daily gamble for workers on the seeping rigs. There was also no shortage of gambling and fisticuffs in the ratty saloons. Things got so bad in one Texas boom town that Governor Moody sent the Texas Rangers to settle things down.  Safe drinking water was nowhere, and dysentery was everywhere. In short, a boomtown wasn’t a healthy place to call home for very long.

Image result for beaumont tx 1901
Several large fires occurred at Spindletop and in Beaumont during the years following the first gusher in 1901. Reports of a fire on March 4, 1901 recorded that a derrick, a boarding house, and a box car were all consumed by flames that soared several hundred feet high. In 1902, the City installed a large steam whistle atop Eastern Texas Electric Company for fire notification. The number of blasts from the whistle would indicate the box number and location of a fire.
Mail Order M'Lady Blurb:
 Lady Anne Medvale, the daughter of the Marquess of Thamesford, has created a scandal by running away with a prominent politician. In America, alone and penniless, she answers an ad in The Grooms’ Gazette and travels to Beaumont, Texas as a mail order bride.

 Morgan Grant, a dedicated cattleman/lawman isn’t looking for a wife, but circumstances present themselves and he marries an unlikely mail order bride.
Can the two of them overcome their differences to live happily ever after?
Boston, Massachusetts, October 1900
Lady Anne Medvale left the office of the bank president. She walked over to her lady’s maid who had accompanied her on the cross-town trip.
Without preamble, she said, “Come along, Iris.”
Iris O’Donnell joined her, waiting until they were outside on the walk before asking, “What did he say, my lady?”
When she was satisfied no one was near enough to overhear, Anne answered, “He confirmed the communiqué I received from their establishment last week. There will be no more credit at the bank. We are on our own.”
“You had speculated, at the time of your decision not to marry Mr. Ballard, this might be your father’s response.”
“Yes, but I’m stunned, none-the-less,” Anne agreed, “I had hoped he would see reason, and not compel me to marry a man I don’t love or force me into a desperate situation. I suppose I should have known better.”
Having been born a girl instead of a boy, she’d understood she couldn’t inherit her father’s title or the estate. She would never have any money of her own, as any monies she inherited would go to her husband. Her father, Henry Medvale, Marquess of Thamesford, had always been more than generous with his daughters, with the assumption that they would someday marry. Margaret and Elinor, both younger, had married last year, fulfilling the family’s expectations.
 Anne, at twenty-three, was becoming an embarrassment and a liability. There was no one waiting in the wings for her, for evidently, she had spurned one too many suitors. Plus, there was her dalliance with Mr. Smith, which had endangered her reputation and further fueled her father’s course of action. Perception was a wicked thing.

 Currently, Mail Order M'Lady can be found in the five book collection, Rustlers and Ribbons with Kirsten Osbourne, Amelia C. Adams, Peggy l Henderson, and Margery Scott.

Good to see you all, have a blessed day,

Friday, February 16, 2018

Feeling Flirty? by @JoanReeves #SmartGirlsReadRomance

Even though Valentine’s Day is in the rearview mirror, the world is still thinking about romance, flirtation, and affairs of the heart. Why? Because this is International Flirtation Week.

Get Your Flirt On

Flirting isn’t just for attracting a man or a woman for the initial get-acquainted contact.

Flirting really  should be part of your ongoing love relationship. Just because you’re settled into a relationship doesn’t mean you can’t add sizzling sexiness to the mix.

Don't worry, I'm not talking about a rendezvous with your hubby at a no-tell motel or greeting him at the door wearing plastic wrap.

Here are a couple of ideas to help you get your flirt on using my favorite kind of book: the romance novel.

Who knows better about sizzling, sassy, sexiness than romance writers and readers. As a card-carrying romance author, trust me. I know what I’m talking about.

These suggestions actually are the result of emails from older couples--retired and with more leisure time on their hands--who send me fan mail and they say they like to read my books together!

3 Steps To Flirtation Using Romance Novels

1. Have your lover/spouse read to you. Aloud. A love scene from your favorite romance novel.

Did you ever see the movie, In Her Shoes (book written by Jennifer Weiner), starring Toni Collette as Rose, Cameron Diaz as Maggie, and Mark Feuerstein as Simon?

There’s a scene where Simon, pursuing spinsterish Rose, finds the romance novel she has stashed away. He picks it up and begins to read this torrid love scene aloud.

He finishes the passage, turns to her, and says: “I don’t know about you, but I’m officially turned on.” Priceless — and hot!

Then there’s the scene in Jane Austen Book Club (book written by Karen Joy Fowler) where Prudie, played by Emily Blunt, gets husband Dean, played by Marc Blucas, to read aloud from Jane Austen's Persuasion.

There is nothing explicit or graphic about that book, but, wow! Their reading aloud a love story about persuading two people who once loved to love again unlocks the passion simmering beneath the surface.

So, put your favorite romance novel and your husband in the bedroom with you and a bottle of wine and lock the bedroom door.

2. A variation of the above: you be the reader. Same result.

3. Don’t want to read? Buy an audio book. Queue it up to a scene you love. Run a bubble bath for two, turn on the iPod or cell phone, and dive in.

(By the way, if you have small children, it’s probably best to wait until they’re asleep. There’s nothing that takes the sizzle out of a romantic interlude like a child banging on the bedroom door and hollering, “Mom, Fido barfed on the rug.”)

Post Script

Flirting with your significant other is akin to “dancing like no one’s watching.” It takes courage. Be brave and go for it. Carpe nocte. (Seize the night.)

April Fool Bride Only 99 Cents Today Thru Feb. 22!

Is it a marriage of convenience or something more?

Oil heiress Madeline Quinn needs a husband by the time she turns twenty-five in order to claim her full inheritance. Mad Maddie, as the tabloids christened her, has learned the hard way that men only see dollar signs when they look at her.

Maddie decides a marriage of convenience is the only answer. She turns to the one man in the world she can trust, her housekeeper’s son who always treated her like a little sister when they were growing up—until one disastrous night when she acted impetuously.

Jake Becker hasn’t seen Maddie since the night she tried to seduce him. Why should he help the woman who changed the course of his life? Simple. Revenge.

Or is it something else? Something that sizzles like steam heat between Maddie and Jake that neither can resist!?

April Fool Bride is on sale today through next Thursday, February 22, 2018.

The 99 cent sale price is good at all retailers:

Amazon Kindle * iTunes * Kobo * Nook *  

Smashwords * Scribd * 24Symbols * Playster.

Joan Reeves is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Sassy, Sexy Contemporary Romance. Her books are available in audio, ebook, and print.

All of her books have the same underlying theme: It's never too late to live happily ever after. She lives her HEA with her hero, her husband, in the Lone Star State.

Joan invites you to visit her online at her Blog and Website. Follow her at:  Facebook * Twitter * YouTube * Amazon Author Page * BookBub Author Page.

Click here to sign up for Joan's mailing list. You'll receive a free ebook, one of her popular romance novels, just for signing up. You'll also be the first to know about new books and giveaways.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


By Guest Author Sylvia McDaniel

Sweethearts Candy

My fondest memories of Valentine's Day are from elementary school. Of course, I'm old enough to remember Valentine's Day parties and the little valentines you gave to your classmates. I have fond memories of going through my valentines to see what everyone wrote on the cards, looking for that special person in your class.  Every year someone would give you a little box of Sweethearts, the heart-shaped candies with sayings on them.  I remember putting a Kiss Me heart on the desk of a little boy that I liked in the third grade. He was my first boyfriend until Susan, that naughty temptress, lured him away.

For fun, I thought I would see if I could find some history on how these candies were created. Wikipedia had a full page devoted to these cute little candies. They began in 1847 when Oliver Chase invented a machine that cut lozenges from wafer candy. He built a candy factory and his brother, Daniel made a stamp that you could press into the candy with different sayings. At that time, the candies were made for weddings and had some unique sayings.  The heart-shaped candies that we know didn't get their start until 1901. Every year, Necco produces over 100,000 pounds of hearts each day from February through mid January.  In 1990, the company that owns the candies updated the sayings.

Curious to see what the updated sayings were, I bought a bag of Sweethearts. Now, I have an extremely busy life, but I decided I would write down all the sayings in that bag of candy. There were 56 different sayings, which I'm not going to bore you with here, but I'll give you the ones that I don't remember and thought were unique. So here they are: Game on, Reach 4 It, Race Me, Friend Me, Let's Ride, Hey Babe, Time 2 Dance, Shake It, UR Hot, UR It, Wink Wink, Soul Mate and Text Me! Glad to see the candy makers are keeping up with the times, though Race Me is kind of strange? Race me to the bedroom?

 Receiving a Valentine is always fun and every year my husband gives me a sweet card, candy and/or flowers. This day we all celebrate love with our significant others, our children and family. As Romance Readers and Writers, this day is made just for us.

What if you lived in a town called Cupid, Texas and there was a superstition that if you danced naked around the Cupid statue at midnight, the first person you saw was your true love. Would you do the Cupid dance for love?

If you’re looking for a fun series that will leave you with a smile on your face, then check out Return to Cupid, Texas. The Box set is only .99 cents through February 15th. Here's the buy link:

USA Today bestselling author Sylvia McDaniel has published more than thirty western historical romances, contemporary romance and even a few sci-fi novels.  Known for her sweet, funny, family-oriented romances, Sylvia is the author of The Burnett Brides a historical western series, The Cuvier Widows, a Louisiana historical series, Lipstick and Lead, a western historical series and several short contemporary romances.

Married for over twenty years to her best friend, they have one dachshund that reigns Queen Supreme over the house, a new puppy who is challenging the queen and a good-looking, grown son who thinks there’s no place like home. She loves gardening, hiking, shopping, knitting and football (Cowboys and Bronco’s fan), but not necessarily in that order.
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Monday, February 12, 2018

Developing a Plot by Paty Jager

bowls made by Paty
I've wrapped up another Shandra Higheagle mystery. Artful Murder will be available in March. The setting for the book came about on a subconscious thought that had my amateur sleuth Shandra Higheagle using the excuse of volunteering at a high school to get information on a suspect in the book Haunting Corpse

Artful Murder opens with her volunteering at the high school.

Deciding who would be murdered, I came up with a teacher no one liked. That gave me endless possibilities for suspects. I laid all of these possibilities out on my suspect chart and then started populating the school with teachers and drawing the layout of the school.

I discovered putting Shandra in a new location required more work than having her stay in Huckleberry.  But it was all fun.

Thinking up why the teacher would be disliked, I came up with a teacher from my past who, while not being as "slimy" as the teacher in my book, he gave me the creeps, but it was known throughout the high school that if you wore a dress and sat in the front row you received an A that day. I made my murder victim, more creepy and slimy than the one I encountered in school.

When I finished with the book, Warner High is not a place you would want to send your students due to misplaced principles of the principal, teachers who didn't push for change, and the lecherous art teacher.

I'm just glad Shandra volunteered at the school and helped to bring all the secrets and shadiness out in the open.  ;)

Here is the cover and blurb. The book will release next month. As always, there is the ongoing romance between Shandra and Detective Ryan Greer.

Book ten in the Shandra Higheagle Mystery Series
Secrets… Scandal… Murder…
An autistic boy and his brother need potter Shandra Higheagle’s help, or so she believes. One of the teachers at the school where Shandra volunteers is found dead after a confrontation with the older brother. Shandra knows the boy is innocent. Digging into the teacher’s life she and Ryan turn up scandal.

Detective Ryan Greer has believed in Shandra’s dreams in the past, but she can’t always be right. When his investigation uncovers a principal on the take, females being harassed, and parents kept in the dark, he discovers more suspects than the brothers. Shandra’s time at the school is coming to an end, and the killer has struck again.
Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 32 novels, 6 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. This is what Mysteries Etc says about her Shandra Higheagle mystery series: “Mystery, romance, small town, and Native American heritage combine to make a compelling read.”

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