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Friday, March 30, 2018

A Celebration of Grease by Suzanne Rossi

Hi everyone!

Confession time. I love to eat. Come on, admit it, so do you. I can eat Mexican cuisine three times a week. Ditto with Asian. Bar food turns me on. I love a good burger, medium rare, with a variety of toppings. Italian? Oh, my God, YES!!! And since I live in Memphis, that means I have access to the best barbeque in the world--pig, of course. Do not, however, try to serve me Greek, Indian, or what passes for cuisine in Britain. Not fond of German food either. I don't like lamb, honey, or curry.

As a result of my lovefest with food, I watch a lot of cooking shows on TV. My husband is not as enamored as I am, but humors me by watching along. Last week, we were tuned in when one of the contestants served up a pile of something swimming in oil. (I think the show may have been Worst Cooks in America.) When questioned as to the cooking method, the lady simply stated, "I'm from the South."

I had to laugh because it's so true. Southerners love their fried food. We take a perfectly wholesome, healthy offering and turn it into a pending heart attack. If it's edible, it hits the deep-fat fryer.

So I got to thinking about those fried foods we all love and their origins.

Let's start with the obvious--fried chicken. Nothing is more Southern than fried chicken, right? Well, sorta. West Africans were frying chicken in hot oil long before it became a staple in the South. The basic recipe came over with them on slave ships. Somewhere along the line flour, buttermilk, and seasonings were added. I can't think of any restaurant that advertises Southern cooking not having it on the menu.

Chicken fried steak is one of my favorites. Visually, it resembles the German dish, Wiener Schnitzel. But it took a Southerner to add Southern spices, cover the thing in gravy--lots of gravy--and have the guts to serve it as a breakfast meat.

Let's move on to another Southern delicacy--corn dogs. The corn part says it all. Jam a hot dog on a stick, dip it in a thick coating of cornmeal and milk, and then pop it in the fryer. Garnish with lots of mustard. I know some people who consider this gourmet dining.

And who hasn't heard of fried Twinkies? This dessert was supposedly invented by an Englishman in Brooklyn, New York. Doesn't matter. It took Texans to embrace the concept and make 'em famous.

One of the newest fads in Southern cuisine is deep-fried turkey. People all over the country have been frying turkey in hot oil for years, but it took someone from Cajun country down in Louisiana to think up dropping the whole bird into a vat of boiling oil. Cuts the cooking time of an oven drastically. Make sure, however, that the turkey is completely thawed before attempting this method. I'm sure many of you have seen the YouTube video of what can happen if you don't. BOOM!!! Exploding deep-fat fryers and turkeys launched into orbit. I've heard that there are even competitions being held to see who can send those buggers the highest. Now, I can't confirm any of this, but if it's one thing Southerners like more than food, it's competition, so I can see it happening.

Last, but not least, is the ultimate in deep-frying cuisine. Here in Memphis there's a restaurant called Dyer's. It was opened in 1912. Burgers are their specialty. The buns are dipped in the fryer as are the burgers, the burger is assembled, and then redipped. A total glorification of fat. You haven't lived until you feel it run down your arm as you take that first bite. It is rumored that the grease has never been changed. Yep, not once in over a hundred years. It's strained daily and new oil is added from time to time, but that's it. Whenever the owners change locations, they hire an armored car and a police escort to transport the fryers to the new establishment. I kid you not. The last I heard they are located on Beale Street, so if you ever visit do the tourist thing and give it a try. You can do cardio workouts later.

All this talk of greasy food has made me hungry. Luckily, it's noon. A burger--fried, of course--sounds like an option. A damned good option.

Happy eating and I'll be back next month.


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

April Online #Herbal Lore Class with Beth Trissel

If you missed my other classes, or want to catch the updated version, I'm giving my Herbal Lore and the Historic Medicinal Uses of Herbs class in April for Charter Oak Romance Writers. Non-members are welcome to join in. Register at this link. Scroll down:
(Dill and heirloom poppies from Monticello growing in our garden)
This workshop spans centuries of herbs and their lore from the ancients, through the British Isles, Colonial America, Native Americans, the Granny Women and the Mountain People of the Blue Ridge and Alleghenies (general Appalachia).

Mountains surround us here in the Shenandoah Valley. This area is rich in history, plants, and people who went to great lengths to thwart witches. Seriously. And, of course, this fear of witches was widespread in Europe and the UK.

Folk were fearful of evil in general, and getting elf-shot... We've got herbs for everything.

There's so much fascinating stuff to cover in this class. Too much, so I encourage participants to download and save the files for later. I also welcome discussion and questions. It's more enjoyable with participation. Otherwise, I feel like I'm talking amongst my selves.

My aim is for this sharing time together to be fun and informative. I often incorporate herbs into my writing and into my life. Some of the more archaic herbal uses are frowned upon today, and/or illegal. I recommend avoiding those.
This is my class outline, but I guarantee I will post even more than this. I have a wealth of information to share, and am accumulating more all the time.
Week One:

Introduction to the workshop and meet and greet.

The wisdom of Native Americans. A focus on Native American herbs.
The Granny Women. A focus on the mountain people and old time cures, both herbal and some white magic.

Week Two:
Colonial American herbs (Part One)

Colonial American herbs (Part Two)

Week Three:
Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles.

***Class members will receive the eBook of my herbal, Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles. Also available in print at Amazon: 

Other related posts on herbs in the British Isles, including the Druids.

Week Four:

‘What can kill can cure’ but definitely kill and watch out for werewolves (Poisonous herbs and those believed to have power against werewolves and vampires)

For protection from spells and enchantment, the sacred, healing herbs
Knock yourself out and Ward off the Plague: Dwale, an Old-English Antiseptic

The Vinegar of the Four Thieves
An opportunity for final sharing from participants, wiping away fond tears, and virtual hugs. 

“As Rosemary is to the Spirit, so Lavender is to the Soul."
– Anonymous
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Monday, March 26, 2018

I Love Hearing From Readers by Vonnie Davis

Writers live for book reviews. But when a reader you've never heard of takes the time to reach out personally with an email, it brightens your week in so many ways. Every writer hopes she touches a reader. With me it's usually with a giggle or snicker. So much sadness and meanness is happening to us now. A few words of kindness brightens my world.

Here's her email--
"I just started reading my very first one of your books- "Finding Cameo"- and I have a minor complaint.

My ribs hurt, my glasses are all messy from where I've had to keep wiping the tears out from behind them, and my cat is mad at me because I'm making these weird laughing, gasping, and wheezing sounds when she was trying to sit on my lap.

And I'm only to chapter 9 so far. Heaven only knows WHAT shape I'll be in by the time I finish the book.

Good heavens, you're funny. I LOVE the way you write. I sadly needed a good laugh tonight, and you have definitely delivered. I just wanted to drop you a line and tell you thank you SO much for making me laugh so hard tonight.

-Jenny X, still giggling and wiping the tears out from behind her glasses


Bowie Matheson filled in the blanks of a computerized arrest form for public drunkenness against Giles McFlinn—his third apprehension this month.  It was nae coincidence Giles’ wife had moved out a month ago.  ′Tis what a man got for marrying for lust instead of wedding a friend. Someone he could talk to and discuss the secrets of the world with.
Bored to death with the dull routine of police clerical work, he stood, stretched, and snatched his empty coffee cup off the metal desk. He was pouring a fresh jolt of caffeine when a wild-eyed, redhead stormed into headquarters. She vibrated with angry thunder and flashed with lightning. Bloody hell if she didna make the fine hairs on his arms stand straight out.
Bowie wasna so sure what it was about the unknown female that snagged his attention or made him overflow his mug, burning his hand. He cussed, reaching for napkins to wipe up the mess and dry his hand. His scalded skin stung. Even so, his policeman’s eye for detail took note of her advance.
He didna think it was her long, swinging ponytail or her huge golden spiral earrings that mesmerized him. Nor did he imagine it was her attention grabbing siren-red lipstick she wore so thick it needed kissing off, nae that he’d offer. And he certainly wasna a bit aware of her tight navy skirt hugging thighs made to wrap around a man’s neck.
Her blue gaze landed on him like a thousand-watt sex bomb. That is if bombs had wattages, he wasna so fookin’ sure right now.
“You!” She pointed with a deep-red fingernail as she swayed down the aisle toward him. Navy stilettos beat a staccato beat on the tiled floor further wakening his sex-starved cock. “I want to talk to you or I won’t ever get a decent night’s sleep again.”
What the bloody hell? She couldna mean him. True, he’d gotten shite-faced drunk two nights ago when he found out about his promotion, but he hadna picked this beauty up. Fook him stupid, he’d never forget a pair of legs like hers. She must be yelling at someone else. He spun to see who was behind him. Nae one.
A prickle of unease zigzagged up his spine as she continued to stalk toward him.
Damn, the lass certainly ken how ta make an entrance. There wasna an eye in the place nae focused on the crimson-haired beauty. He supposed the whole police department wondered why she resembled a tigress on the prowl. Sheer irritation shimmered off her and it seemed to zero in on him.
Och, she’s the one. I pick her fer ye. She’s got a mind fit ta challenge ye.
Bear, I ken ye have the duty to pick a mate fer me. But nae now. Nae her.
In their shifter world, the bear half chose the mate for the human half. It was their tradition and at this moment Bowie would like to belt the rat-arsed bastard who’d thought of this insane idea. His bear was choosing on looks which was verra nice for a couple of night’s fun. But when it came ta the long haul, he was more attracted to a woman’s mind; someone he could have long, intelligent conversations with.
Bowie kept his eyes lowered as he carried his coffee to his battered and scarred metal desk. He didna want to give her cause to yell at him some more because he had nae clue what was bloody wrong with her. When she settled in the chair in front of him, her citrusy perfume damn near took his breath away.
His hand trembled slightly when he placed his coffee mug to his right. He leaned forward, folded his hands, fell headlong into her mesmerizing cobalt eyes—and waited.
It didna take long for the next verbal explosion to happen. “My name is Cameo Stone. I’m from south of Cambridge, here in Matheville for a job interview.” Her fingernails clicked a beat on his desk, grating his nerves. “I’ve come to warn you.”
“And what would ye like to warn me about, Ms Stone?” He twirled his ballpoint pen between his fingers.
“I’m going to run you over with my car.”
Aw shite, another nut case. Better bring an officer over to witness the threat.
Bowie motioned for his cousin Chief Detective Kendric Matheson to join them. “Kendric, this young lady is new to our town from England and her name is Cameo Stone.”
Kendric sat on the corner of Bowie’s desk and folded his arms. “I’m pleased to meet ye.” His gaze shifted from Bowie to Cameo, a dark eyebrow arched in question.
“Would ye please tell the head detective what ye just told me?” Bowie gulped his coffee and burnt his tongue. Bloody hell!
She tugged on the hem of her white sweater, emphasizing her full breasts. “I’m a normal woman who has a gift or a curse, depending on how you look at it.” She paused, her gaze going from Kendric back to him. Neither one spoke. They’d heard stories begin like this many times. “I have prophetic dreams. I can foretell the future through them.”
“We ken what prophetic means, miss.” Kendric muttered before giving Bowie an amused look. After all, they lived in an area of bear shifters, witches, fairies, seers, and a warlock who occasionally passed through on his way to wreak havoc on someone’s life.
She nodded. “Good. Last night I had the same dream three times. I was driving on a narrow country road somewhere around here. A man ran out of the woods with a sawed-off shotgun. He had pale-green eyes and wore a black knit cap and a thick black jacket. I didn’t see him at first. Along the edge of the road was a large red rock with a rivulet of water draining from a crack in the tall boulder. He turned his weapon on me and I saw this emblem with the initials, HSS. 
“I tried to swerve my car out of the way since he was aiming at me and I hit a patch of ice. From the water draining out of the big red rock, I guess, the water had frozen because it was so cold.” She grabbed Bowie’s hand. “Then you came running out of the woods, shooting your pistol at him. I tried to miss you, but I ran into you and saw the name on your badge.” She pointed at it. “You rolled over my hood, across my windshield, and made some strange noises on the roof of my car. Then a bear rolled off the boot and ran after the first guy.”
Both Kendric and he laughed.
“It wasn’t funny! I couldn’t find you,” she yelled. “Three times I was naked and I couldn’t find you!”
Laughter erupted throughout the open working space. Officer’s heads swiveled in their direction.
Bloody hell, Bear, this beautiful whacko is who ye want me ta mate?
Kendric, known for his often bizarre humor, glanced at Bowie. His laughter turned into hysterics for they were both shifters. He ken why the man in her dreams had morphed into a bear.
Bowie had stopped laughing, though. In fact, he’d slipped his hands under the desk to hide Bear’s claws materializing along with his warning.
Dinna laugh at our mate. I willna stand fer it.
“Fook me blind with a pogo stick,” Kendric managed between guffaws. “What I wouldna give for a naked woman ta come after me three times in one night.” He stood and walked toward his desk.
Something Cameo had said niggled at his mind. “Did ye just say ye saw the initials HSS?” His bear claws retracted.
“Yes, there was an emblem on his black knit skull cap with those initials on it. His cheeks had these odd tattoos.” He nodded in response to her answers. She relaxed a little now that he’d taken her words to heart. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018


By Judy Ann Davis

If you are of Ukraine or Polish ancestry, Easter is the time you marvel at the skills needed to make pysanky eggs. Pysanky –from “pysat,” means “to write,” and these are intricately decorated raw eggs, but now are often wooden ones or eggs with the content (yolk and white portion) removed.

The art of wax-resist egg decoration in Slavic cultures probably dates back to the pre-Christian era. Fragments of colored shells with wax-resist decoration on them were unearthed during the archaeological excavations in Ostrówek, Poland, where remnants of a Slavic settlement from the early Piast Era were found.

In modern times, the art of the pysanka was carried abroad by Ukrainian emigrants to North and South America, where the custom took hold. Ironically, it was banished in the Ukraine by the Soviet regime where it was deemed a religious practice, and it was nearly forgotten. Since Ukrainian Independence in 1991, there has been a rebirth of this folk art in its homeland and a renewal of interest in the preservation of traditional designs as well as research into its symbolism and history.

Today, in the United States, pysanky egg decoration has been transformed into an art form that only those with patience, perseverance, and attention to detail are able to perform.

The artist uses a soft wax, like beeswax, and many colors of dye to create these incredible designs resembling batik. The designs are “written” in hot wax with a pinhead or special stylus called a pysachok or kistka which has a small funnel attached to hold a small amount of liquid wax.

The artist starts with a white egg, moving through the color chart from light hues like yellow to darker ones, adding the waxed design, layer upon layer, until finally the egg is often dipped in black. Then, it’s held close to a candle or heat source. The wax is rubbed off to reveal the entire design.

By tradition, Pysanky eggs, which are decorated with symbols of Easter, life and prosperity, were included in the traditional Polish Easter Basket along with butter to symbolize the good will of Christ, babka (bread) for the bread of life, and kielbasa which symbolizes God’s favor and generosity. Other foods like ham, smoked bacon, salt, and cheese were included. The basket was lined in a white linen cloth that could be drawn over the top of the basket. It was then taken to church to be blessed. A candle was tucked inside the basket to represent Christ as the Light of the World. Sprigs of greens were added to represent spring, new life, and the Resurrection.

With Easter around the corner, I wish everyone a Happy Easter and a basket filled with your favorite goodies. May your life ahead be as colorful and bright as the delightful pysanky eggs!

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

5 Ways To Slow Down Your Life And Really Enjoy It

Do you want a more peaceful life? Here’s 5 ways that you can begin today:

Please add your ideas and comments below.

1.  Turn off the Wi-Fi. We’re all on sensory overload. Lose yourself in some coloring, your favorite cookbook, or a great page-turner.

2.  Play soothing music.

3.  Take a long walk. Or meditate. Or cook. Pick an activity you enjoy.

4.  Meaningful, unhurried lunches, or enjoying a cup of coffee with friends or family are important connections. Make time for them.

5. Do you have a dream vacation in mind, perhaps to Ireland? Tape a picture of the perfect place on your bathroom mirror.

A perfect read for St. Patrick’s Day, my Contemporary Sweet Romance novel, Oh Danny Boy, is available in ebook, paperback, and audiobook.  (free on KU!)

Danny, the hero, owns a chain of coffee shops in Ireland. 

Savor a cup of coffee and Happy Reading!

Oh Danny Boy

“This pot of gold could hold more than they bargained for…”

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


Laurean Brooks

As a child growing up in the country, I have many fond memories of the days my siblings and I spent exploring the woods and wading streams. I especially have sweet remembrances of the pets we made out of farm animals. 

When I was seven, I doted on a neighbor's half-grown Guernsey calf and named her Dusty, while my sister made a pet out of their Holstein bull she called Cloud.

In tears, we soon left Dusty and Cloud behind when Daddy bought a farm a few miles down the road. It was there our uncle brought us a half-dozen bantam chicks. I claimed a little red hen, Sandy, which I taught to jump on my shoulder to eat corn from my hand.

Besides two dogs of questionable heritage, we soon had a cow, a pony, chickens, and a pair of goats. My older brother bought two pigs to add to the mix. He named them, Porky and Ham. With each spring, came bursts of new life. While the fruit trees blossomed and the locust trees gave off their sweet fragrance, baby chicks pecked out of their shells to venture out into a new world protected by their clucking mother.

One spring while the baby chicks hopped around their Mama, a new addition to our farm animals made his appearance. “March” was the first goat born on our farm, and by far the cutest little creature I had ever seen. The little white goat and I immediately bonded. I claimed March as my own and named him for the month in which he arrived.

A fallen Catalpa tree in the barnyard became the perfect prop for us to compete for “King Of The Log.” I couldn't wait to come in from school to play our game. March and I spent countless hours winning and losing the crown.

I would climb up on the log and yell, “I'm the new king of the log!” My coronation lasted about five seconds before March butted me off with his surprisingly hard noggin. Before I could pick myself up, he sprang up on top of the log to announce himself as the victor of the coveted title. After a playful struggle, I regained the title. But only for a moment. March nudged me off the log again. So, the game continued.

Those childhood days have drifted farther from me with each subsequent sunrise and sunset, but I would be fibbing if I said I didn't yearn for those simpler times and special moments on the farm. Rural living is a busy life and the chores are never-ending, but greater are the rewards.

If you enjoy heartwarming romance with a bit of mystery, check out  my ebook,

Jill doesn't know how to take Rob. One minute he's boisterous and outgoing,, the next minute, he's close-mouthed. When she asks him about his childhood, he starts avoiding her.

Rob has a secret. What is he hiding? Will Jill's uncovering of the truth destroy their budding relationship?


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Women's History Month

Women have always played a part in Texas History whether she remained in the background as the "woman behind the man or the wind beneath his wings", or more prominently. To celebrate Women's History Month, here are a few prominent women from Texas history.

Sarah Cockrell (1819-1892) A business woman who built the first iron bridge over the Trinity River in Dallas in 1872. She thought big and invested wisely and set up her own corporations. When she dies in 1892, her properties were so extensive that her will had to be published in pamphlet form.

Mollie Goodnight

Mollie Goodnight (1839-1926) established the first ranch household in the Texas Panhandle in 1877. she rescued orphaned buffaloes, had her own cattle brand, the Flying T, and helped establish the Goodnight College in 1898.

Elizabet Ney

Elizabet Ney (1833-1907) was a renowned sculptor from Bavaria. She moved to Texas with her husband in 1872. She secured a commission to create statues of Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston for the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. She became the outspoken advocate of the teaching of fine arts in the state's schools and was instrumental in the founding of the Texas Fine Arts Association.

Minnie Fisher Cunningham

Minnie Fisher Cunningham (1882-1964) was president of the Texas Equal Suffrage Association from 1915-1920 and became the first executive secretary of The National League of Women Voters. She was an important leader in the campaign for votes for women on the state and national levels. Graduating in 1901, she was one of the first women in Texas to receive a pharmacy degree from the University of Texas Medical School. She ran for but lost races for the U,S. Senate in 1928 and for governor in 1944.

Sarah T. Hughes
Sarah T. Hughes was an attorney, legislator, women's rights activist, United Nations supporter, and Texas' first state and federal judge. A member of a Dallas law firm from 1923-1935, she was elected to her first term in the Texas House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1930 and voted "Most Valuable Member" her second term. In 1935, she became Texas' first female district judge and was re-elected seven times. She was Dallas county co-chair of the Kennedy-Johnson campaign in 1960, and in the following year, President John F. Kennedy appointed her Texas' first female federal judge. After Kennedy's assassination in 1963, she administered the Presidential oath of office to Lyndon B. Johnson.

These are but a few of the women who have influenced me and I hope by reading about them you'll be inspired to read more about them or look up other influential women across our great nation. Thank you for stopping by today. Please leave a comment about women who may have inspired you.

Hugs, Carra