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Friday, November 30, 2018

Post Holiday Hangover by Suzanne Rossi

Hi everyone.

Have you ever looked forward to a great holiday get-together only to have some of your expectations dashed? That happened to me this year. Nobody's fault. It just happened.

Let's begin with the positive. My son from Rockford, Illinois, Kevin, arrived on Wednesday afternoon with his three sons. The weather, which has been unseasonably cold, moderated to normal with high temps in the upper 50s. That's a good thing. On Thanksgiving day, I had the whole family together for the first time in a long while. Dinner went off without a hitch thanks to my youngest son, Brendan, who helped in the kitchen with some of the prep work.

I refuse to go anywhere on Black Friday, so that day was spent watching football games. It was fun cheering for our favorite teams even when they occasionally didn't match. LOL. The kids had brought their PlayStation and spent much of the day in the bonus room playing games and generally being on their best behavior.

Now for the downsides. I'm one of those people who always thinks guests will eat more than they do. So, this year I decided to curb my instincts and be sensible. My husband, oldest son, and I really don't care for turkey, so I bought ham for a change. A nice, boneless, 6 pound ham. I also decided to go rogue and make roasted potatoes with garlic and olive oil. Rockford son made corn with a twist--finely chopped red onion, garlic, and butter all done in a slow cooker. Everyone loved it and it's now on my list of veggies. I stuck to tradition with green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and rolls. And of course, pumpkin pie--my favorite. With 12 people for dinner, I figured I'd need two. Wrong! Nobody ate any pie until late in the afternoon. Plus, Kevin also brought a cherry/apple pie.

I totally underestimated on the ham. Apparently, I cooked it to perfection because the leftovers were slim and disappeared at lunch the next day. So much for that ham casserole on Saturday night. Neither the stuffing or roasted potatoes were much of a hit. I tossed a whole lot of stuffing into the garbage. (I never keep leftover stuffing. People get food poisoning from leftover stuffing more often than turkey.) The green bean casserole and cranberry sauce also had more left than I anticipated. Oh well. Add to that Brendan and his family were due for a second meal at my daughter-in-law's family celebration. We normally have the feast around five, but in order to see everyone, I shifted my dinner to one o'clock. My son's in-laws were serving theirs at six-thirty. To be honest, no one was all that hungry when I finally declared, "Dinner's ready." Except for the ham. They ate hearty on that.

Friday afternoon we were watching football when Kevin's weather alert went off on his cell phone. Rockford was under a Winter Storm Watch from 3 AM Sunday to 6 AM on Monday. Snow was predicted to accumulate anywhere from 4-6 inches with strong winds. He was planning on leaving Sunday morning. As the day and evening wore on, the Watch was upgraded to a Warning and the snow amounts to 8-12 inches. The winds also increased. This spells blizzard. So he had to leave for home on Saturday to beat the storm. I sent the remains of his cherry/apple pie and a whole pumpkin pie with him.

Saturday night I had no ham, no stuffing, no corn, and nothing much to make. We ordered in pizza.

Sunday I made soup and sandwiches. Long holiday weekends tend to confuse me as to what day of the week it is. It takes me a while to get my act back together. Unfortunately, this also includes my culinary skills which are limited to say the least.

And just to add to the downside, we woke up Monday morning to find the downstairs furnace had crapped out. Inside temp was 64, outside 34. Called a repairman who inspected the thing and declared it dead. Needed a new one immediately. Luckily, they were able to deliver and can now watch TV without wearing two hoodies, gloves, and a stocking cap. I guess it was just part of the holiday hangover.

However, I really don't have much to complain about. In spite of the pitfalls, I enjoyed seeing my family and had fun. Kevin will be back for New Years and the New Year's Eve dinner will be at a local Italian restaurant with him, other family members, and close friends.

So here's hoping you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and family, too. Have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful new year.

Oh, and before I forget, book #3 of the Snoop Group series, A Taste of Death, was released in all formats on November 26th. It's available from and over at
Here's a blurb and the cover.

Anne Jamieson and the rest of the Snoop Group are once again called into action when Fran Harrison, the former President of their writers' group, dies in front of dozens of witnesses during a luncheon. The death was no accident. Someone knew about the victim's severe peanut allergy. Now it's up to Anne and her friends to find a killer. But Fran was not a popular person and the list of suspects is long. Then Anne finds a second body. The more the women investigate, the more they put themselves in danger, and the killer will do anything to get away with murder.

Thanks for reading along and I'll see you next month.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Fascinating Story Behind Civil War Time Travel Romance Secret Lady (Ladies in Time)

Many stories lie at the heart of my upcoming January 9th release, time travel romance Secret Lady (Book 3 Ladies in Time) from The Wild Rose Press. The characters in this mystery/adventure aren't related to the first two releases in the series as I began a new thread. While strongly historical, Secret Lady has enough paranormal in it to categorize the story as fantasy.

The setting for Secret Lady is as close to home as I can get, our old farm-house (with a slight upgrade) in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. I transformed our lush dairy farm into ‘Lavender and Lace Herb Farm’ and relocated it several miles up the road on the farm we once rented. During the Civil War, horses were hidden in the Alpine like woods beyond the house.

(Our house with the wild midsummer garden by Elise)

(Behind our farm by hubby Dennis)

(Our pond by Dennis)

I gleaned inspiration for the story from events that occurred to my ancestors and my husband’s family, and their peers during the Civil War. My great-great-grandfather fought at Gettysburg and was captured at Pickett’s Charge, but the focus of this story is our richly historic valley. I grew up hearing about The Burning (autumn 1864) when Major General Philip Sheridan brought hard war to our green valley, called The Bread Basket of the Confederacy. In Sheridan’s ruthless destruction of farms, livestock, and supplies that might sustain Rebel troops, he unleashed Hell on countless innocents. Among the greatest sufferers in Rockingham County were the peaceful Mennonites, my husband’s ancestors among them. These plain, hardworking people are my adopted people and a vital part of the book.

(Old-Order Mennonite Buggy Passing our farm. Image by Dennis)

Our farm stands where the worst of The Burning took place, and it occurred to me that our Victorian house might have been built soon after the Civil War because its predecessor was destroyed. We knew our home dated at least to the mid 1870’s from an elderly woman who visited here decades ago and said she was born in the house. We dated our home even earlier after finding it on an 1866 map, plus our bank barn has original features that pin it to that era.

Our old barn. Image by Beth. It used to be red.)

This past spring, in what was my last conversation with my father-in-law before his death, I asked him if he knew of a farm that once stood on our land that might have been destroyed during The Burning. His adamant ‘yes!’ surprised my husband who wasn’t aware of its existence. However, hubby never asked.

Dad Trissel told us he used to walk back the long lane that leads behind our farm up to the wooded hills beyond and there he saw the remains of a burned-out farm (woods have since overgrown the site). He also told us our farm used to encompass that land which was later parceled off. We decided to walk back to the woods and search for any remnants from the past. Fortunately, we chose April for our exploration as the only trace of earlier dwellers our untrained eyes could detect were the faithful daffodils outlining what must once have been a house, barn, and outbuildings.

(Daffodil discovery in dry early spring before rains came with me and granddaughter Emma.)


If we had chosen any other season for our walk, we wouldn’t have noted anything. We later learned foundation stones and usable timber were reused in rebuilding homes and barns after The Burning. Scavengers must have been at work, and nature has taken a toll over the years. I’m not sure what my father-in-law saw in the nineteen forties, but more than we did. The daffodils are an heirloom variety that used to grow in my garden, likely from those same bulbs. Not appreciating their historic value, I replaced them with more attractive varieties and must restore these blooms to a spot in the yard.

More research is needed to determine whether the farm behind us was, indeed, burned during Sheridan’s infamous valley campaign and whether that family built our present house or fled, and another took their place in the building. We learned the road that runs in front of our house used to cut through the meadow, which would account for a farm being located back there. The stream ran beside it those days, and springs also provided water. It could be as Dad Trissel said.

A strong sense of history hangs over the woods, our farm, and our fair valley called Shenandoah, ‘Daughter of the Stars.’  Fiery war once raged here, but we survived and rebuilt. Of course, we did, we’re Virginians.

(The valley much as it would have looked then. Image by daughter Elise)

Secret Lady Story Blurb:

Torn apart by time, reunited by flames.

At Lavender House, Evie McIntyre is haunted by the whispers from her bedroom closet. Before she can make sense of their murmurs, the house "warbles" between times and transports her to the Civil War. Past and present have blended, and Evie wishes she'd paid more attention to history. Especially since former Confederate officer, Jack Ramsey, could use a heads up.

Torn between opposing forces, Jack struggles to defend the valley and people he loves. Meeting Evie turns his already tumultuous world upside down. Will solving the mystery of the whispers return her home, and will the handsome scout be by her side?

Against the background of Sheridan's Burning of the Shenandoah Valley, Jack and Evie fight to save their friends and themselves – or is history carved in stone?


She took a steadying breath, turned the brass knob, and stepped into the room. The fragrance of lavender greeted her. Grandma G. had tucked sachets under her mattress to help her sleep and left small cloth bags in the drawers of an antique dresser. A sachet of apricot scented agrimony lay beneath her pillow.

This age-old herb was thought to induce slumber and offer protection against the dark forces. Other powerful herbs scented the room. Angelica, St. John’s Wort, and sage were in the bunch on the bedside stand beside the antique brass lamp with an ornamental white shade.

The walk-in, but duck your head, closet at the far side of the room summoned her. Boxes of Christmas decorations, a Santa, and reindeer figures stored inside the slanted nook partially hid the steps leading to the attic and the presence she swore was there. She hadn’t encountered the being in question. Yet. It wasn’t cool for a nineteen-year-old to harbor terrors of a closet, but she did.

She threw her hands up after a particularly loud summons. What do you want from me?”

There was a rap on the downstairs door. ~

Secret Lady will be out in kindle and print at Amazon and in eBook from all major online booksellers. The novel is available in pre-order
at Amazon:

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***If you are interested in reviewing please contact me: bctrissel@yahoo. com

(Old barn behind our farm.  Torn down now, sadly.)

Monday, November 26, 2018

When Do You Decorate for Christmas?

Vonnie Davis
Growing up on a farm in South-Central Pennsylvania, ten-days or a week before Christmas, Dad and I would walk through the rolling hills of dormant wheat and corn fields to the forest on the back few acres of our property. He hefted a long-handled ax. I carried the rope and much too much excitement for his liking. Dad enjoyed the quiet of nature; evidently I enjoyed the sound of my own voice.

After carrying the tree across our country road, we sat it in a bucket of water and leaned the pine against the side of the house for TWO days. An eternity for a kid eager to decorate. I knew better than to whine; my parents would never have tolerated it. 

When I had children of my own, we never put the tree up and decorated the house with my snowmen collection until the weekend after Thanksgiving. 

My youngest son and his wife buy their tree the day after Thanksgiving. Too soon im my opinion, but since I was there most of last week I was included in the tree farm experience this year.

Mike and Ryan
My grandson Ryan was home for the holiday, flying in from Boston a few hours after I arrived by car. Ryan is a junior at MIT. A creature of habit, he expects two things when visiting the tree farm about an hour away from their home in Frederick, MD. Number One: He carries the saw and does the physical work. Number Two: While he climbs over the Jeep roof to secure the tree, Tina has to set up a tailgating party of leftover pies, cupcakes and a couple thermoses of hot chocolate. Tina, who can't handle a lot of cold thanks to Reynard's disease, has expectations, too--a  propane heater. There's plenty of teasing and laughter. Yes, ladies, going for a Christmas tree with them is a fun experience.

But, wait, there's more. The tree decorating tradition. Since Ryan was nearing 3, there are a collection of pictures of Mike holding him up to place the angel on the treetop. This year was no different even with Mike's bad shoulder. Ryan claimed this would be the last year since he'll be 21 in May on my 71st birthday. Yes, he was my 50th birthday present. And we do share a special bond.

Mike in Santa shirt holds up Ryan to place the angel.
The day was fun. Still, decorating on the 23rd was just too early. But . . . those fun-loving kids had put me in the holiday spirit. I'm decorating today. Sigh. Don't judge.

So, when do you typically decorate?

***  Need a good Christmas read? I have 3 for your enjoyment. SANTA WORE LEATHERS  was an Amazon choice for November's book of the month. They've dubbed it "the sexiest Christmas fireman romance of 2018." I'm thinking it might be the only Christmas fireman romance, but I'll take their kind words just the same. 

***  Then there's UP THE CHIMNEY .  

***  And for a bear-shifter Christmas romance, there's HIS MIDNIGHT STAR. 

*** December 4th marks the release of my part in the Heart's Desired Mate Series. Seven paranormal authors each wrote a book about various shifters in a private community in the Sierra Nevadas who are affected by a love potion gone wrong. Goodness, the whole town is in a sexual frenzy for a night, leaving everyone shocked and rather embarrassed the next day. BEARY SASSY: THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC is a fun read.

Also available in paperback by 12/06.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Snow in Pennsylvania

by Judy Ann Davis

This year, winter snowflakes arrived in Central Pennsylvania on November 15th without giving advanced notice. If you didn’t get all your outdoor chores finished, like trimming the shrubs, storing or covering the patio furniture, or shoving the barbecue grill undercover, you’ll now have to wait for a sunny day and first melt. Luckily, at the Davis house, we were able to get most winterizing finished. 

I’m a fan of November. It’s the month when we celebrate the first Thanksgiving of the Pilgrims as well as offering our gratitude for all we have. We gather with our family and friends together, without the hassle of presents, and enjoy good food and friendship.

It’s the month when we can snuggle down and enjoy the many smells of the season from the cinnamon and sugar in an apple pie baking in the oven to luscious, rich scent of a steaming cup of hot chocolate. Squash of all varieties become a staple fall accompaniment to a pork or beef roast. Cooked, baked, and roasted root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, beets, and potatoes, stored for winter use, appear on our holiday tables. These are our comfort foods. And they remind us as the temperatures fall that winter is around the corner.

My favorite dessert during November and December is pie. Pumpkin, apple, and pecan pies show up on our table during the holidays. Here is my favorite recipe for pecan pie:

Pecan Pie

4 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
l cup light corn syrup
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons melted butter (or margarine)
2 ½ tablespoons dark rum
1 cup (about 7 ounces) shelled pecans

1.    Beat eggs lightly in a large bowl. Stir in sugar, corn syrup, salt and butter, mixing just to blend. (Do not over beat.)  Stir in rum and pecans. Pour into a prepared, unbaked, 9-inch pastry shell.
2.    Bake in moderate oven (375 degrees) for 40 minutes or until filling is golden brown and firm to the light touch. Serve at room temperature with a bowl of lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Do you have a favorite winter pie or dessert?
 If so, please share your seasonal choice in the comment box below. 

This month, I'm featuring my anthology of short stories:

This is a collection of nineteen humorous and serious
short stories exploring the lives and relationships
of the young and old. 
These are clean, contemporary stories 
for an audience of all ages.
Amazon Author Page: 
Twitter ID:  JudyAnnDavis4 
Blog Link: “A Writer’s Revelations” ~
Goodreads Author Page:
Yahoo Groups: and and

Thursday, November 22, 2018

5 Best Things to Eat on a Cruise Ship Buffet

Recently, I completed my sweet holiday romance, Aloha to Love. The setting includes a cruise ship bound for Hawaii, and the Hawaiian islands.

It’s been said that a cruise ship has enough food to serve a small country, so it was difficult to choose which foods to mention, but I came up with the following:

1.  Made-to-order omelets and waffles.
2.  Fresh pasta.
3.  Frozen yogurt and ice cream stations.
4.  Caramelized cheesecake and my personal favorite, tiramisu.
5. Formal dinners featuring an international cuisine.

Now it’s your turn. If you’ve ever been on a cruise, what foods did you like the best? 
Please leave your comments below. 

Love food? Love Hawaii? Pick up your copy of Aloha to Love today!


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 Josie on Bookbub and “like” her Author Facebook page.

If you enjoy reading, and love free books and ARC’s, join my VIP Facebook group today!


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Blessing Box And A Tribute To Those At The First Thanksgiving

Laurean Brooks

As we approach Thanksgiving day, I would like to honor the Pilgrims who made this holiday possible. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by this hardy, faithful band the year following their landing in the New World in October 1621. The feast from their harvest lasted three days.

In an account by attendee Edward Winslow, he wrote that the celebration we call Thanksgiving included 90 Native Americans and 53 pilgrims. After enduring a year of hardship while settling in this uncivilized land, the Pilgrims prepared a feast to thank God for their survival and His blessings. The American Indians were invited to the feast. It was they who played an instrumental part in the Pilgrims' survival by teaching them how to plant crops so their food supply would never run out.

Down through the years, families have formed their own traditions, keeping the holiday basically the same. Thanksgiving is still a day to celebrate our blessing—an occasion surrounded by a huge meal and family and friends gathered around the table.

Our meal consists of 20 or more family members and friends. We have a huge turkey with dressing, and side dishes and desserts too numerous to mention. We bless the food, then partake of the feast. Laughter and conversation reverberate throughout the house.

The most memorable Thanksgivings for me were when we had the Blessing Box. I covered it with Christmas paper and cut a slit in the top large enough for a hand to reach inside. Each family member wrote what he or she was most thankful for. Without revealing it, each dropped his/her folded paper through the slit. The box was then passed around the table so everyone could reach in and take a paper out. The object of the game was to read the paper aloud and guess whose wrote it. If the person who drew the paper could not guess, everyone joined in and made guesses.

The messages in the blessing box evoked emotion; some of the notes made us laugh while others made us teary-eyed. One paper that threw us for a loop was written by my niece who was a newlywed. She wrote, “I am thankful for my two children . . .” Since she was not a mother or even expecting, no one could guess who had penned the note. After letting us sweat for several long minutes, my niece admitted she had written the note and that the “two children” were none other than her newly-adopted cats.

Somehow, in all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, the Blessing Box was forgotten. I think it's time to reinstate it. Don't you? As Americans who live in a free land, we have much to be thankful for. 


She thought by running away, she could escape her past. Never in her wildest dreams is Jaela expecting what she finds in Macon. Her place of escape leads to an interesting summer spent with a simple handyman whose mixture of charm and teasing frustrates her and draws her like a magnet at the same time.
Beneath A Macon Moon by [Brooks, Laurean]
Will Jaela's soul-searching lead to emotional healing and a lasting love? What will she find tucked inside her childhood music box?

Sunday, November 18, 2018

How Do You Celebrate?

This Thursday is Turkey Day. Are you a traditionalist or do you celebrate in a non-traditional way?

This year our family is taking the more traditional route. Both our children and grandson are coming to our house for breakfast and snacks to watch the parade.

In the afternoon, we're going to my niece's house for our version of a Norman Rockwell dinner. We set out the turkey, sliced by my nephew, potatoes, dressing, gravy, green bean casserole, corn, cranberry sauce, and rolls, all arranged buffet-style.

Each of us will say our special Thank You for the Blessings of another year with our family and friends. We will take a plate of our favorite dessert and watch our football team win or lose. No matter the weather, it will be a beautiful day. We have so much to be thankful for.

Wishing you all a blessed day and 2019.

Happily and gratefully yours,

Friday, November 16, 2018

Old Fashioned Thanksgiving Dessert by @JoanReeves

My mom learned to cook from her mother. I'm proud to say both my mom and my grandmother were amazing cooks.

With Thanksgiving approaching, I thought I'd share this recipe for an old-fashioned pie from the treasure trove of recipes handed down to me.

My mother told me this pie recipe was handed down through my grandmother's family. Back in the day, family recipes were treasured and closely guarded.

I remember when my Great Aunt Hattie came to visit and made her Banana Pecan Cake, disclosing the recipe to my mother. She made my mother and me promise not to share it outside the family!

No Security Clearance Needed

If you've never heard of Chess Pie, it's not because it's Top Secret. It's just that it's rarely served in today's world.

That may be because it must be made from scratch. You won't find Chess Pie in the freezer section of the supermarket.

Momma made this pie often in the winter and served it warm. You can also serve it cold.

Be sure and have a cup of rich dark coffee to accompany this creamy sweet deliciousness.

Old Fashioned Chess Pie

2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons plain flour
2/3 cup melted butter
4 eggs beaten well
1 cup cream (you can use evaporated milk but it will alter the taste somewhat)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 unbaked pie crust (8-10 inch diameter)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix sugar and flour together and stir in melted butter. Mix well and let cool a bit. You don't want the melted butter to be super hot or the eggs will scramble when you add them.

Add the beaten eggs slowly, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Next, add the cream and vanilla and blend well.

Place the unbaked pie crust shell on a heavy cookie sheet and pour the filling into the crust.

Bake in the preheated oven at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Serve warm with a warm raspberry or strawberry homemade syrup. (Just add sugar to taste to fresh berries and cook on medium heat until thickened, about 20 minutes.) Or serve cold with fresh fruit and/or whipped cream topping.

Bottom Line

Grateful doesn't begin to cover my feelings. I feel thankful, grateful, and blessed.

For what are you thankful? If it's a person, be sure and say how much you appreciate and love him or her. Do it today.

Tell me in a comment what you're thankful for and you'll be entered in my Random Draw November Giveaway.

Prize is 1 of these Writing Journals
(1) Prize is one of the Writing Journals shown at left--if you're in the United States. Outside the U.S., prize is ebook selection.

(2) Leave your comment and email address written out, NOT as a hot link.

(3) Winner chosen by random draw from all those who leave comments on my blog posts.

(4) Drawing held on Black Friday, November 23, 2018, and announced on the blog.

(5) Winner will be contacted by email no later than Nov. 28.


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