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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

The Christmas Bears- Sherri Easley


This is a revised version of the story I posted in January 2022.

It was the first Christmas after losing my son, and I was struggling to find joy in anything, especially the holidays. I had not put up my tree and there was no trace of anything festive.

My daughter saw a post on a social media Mom’s page, asking if anyone had experience in repairing memory bears. Not for the first time, my daughter volunteered me. I am beyond blessed and sometimes frustrated that she seems to believe I can fix or make anything when it comes to sewing.

I got the poster’s information, and we chatted a bit by text. Her grown son was off to college and was struggling with being away from home and in his new environment. The only thing he asked for that Christmas was for his childhood bears, “Bear” and “Other Bear”, to be repaired.

When the woman brought the bears to me, all I could do was bite my lip and think to myself, this would require a miracle. 

She handed me two ragged, brown, near faceless bundles and explained to me how she held one of them while she was in labor with her son and that her son loved the bear so much; they had to find another one because the first one was showing wear.

She asked how much it would cost to repair the bears, and I told her I wasn’t sure I could fix them and that there would be no charge. I've always felt that when you are blessed with a skill or gift, you should pay it forward as much as possible and this was the perfect opportunity.

 I researched the well-loved bears to see how they looked in their less loved days and found, to my shock, that they were originally white. Picking one up, I inspected it closer, wondering what I had gotten myself into and doubting if I could return them to their actual youth. 

Doing what I always do when in doubt- I jumped in and started testing ideas. 


I made a bath of warm soapy water with an oxygen powder and let the little guys just hang out and swim for a while in my kitchen sink. That hardly made any difference, so I sprayed them with a different oxygen based cleaner and a miracle occurred. I rinsed them well and wrapped them in towels to squeeze the water out, then let them dry.

 I used a wire dog brush and gently brushed them out. I was shocked to find that they still had fur; at least a little. I had to be careful, because the fabric was pretty fragile. Then, I fattened them up with fluff, stitching the many holes and sewed their heads back on.

I used oil-based paint pens to retore their eyes, being careful to add that special white dot for the gleam. It was the nose, though, that brought the bears to life and gave them back their personalities.  

During the process, I sent a photo to my daughter and the difference was so stark that she asked if I had changed out the fabric on them.

 The last time I saw the bears, they were neatly tucked in a box awaiting pickup. I thought nothing more about them until Christmas eve when I got an emotional video of the young man opening his gift and his sweet and sentimental reaction at the realization it was Bear and Other Bear and in a cracked voice, he said to his mother taking the video, "thank you, Mom." 

… and just like that – the joy and spirit of Christmas found me once more.


Saturday, December 2, 2023


By Caroline Clemmons

Is it just me, or does this time of year excite everyone? I suppose I’ve never gotten over a childhood anticipation of the Christmas season. Do you feel the magic in the air?

I no longer venture into department stores on Black Friday, but I have in the past. In fact our youngest daughter and I used to wait in line until a store opened and then weaved our way through the crowd to obtain the bargain we sought. But the season is more than snapping up bargains! For Christians, it's a time to celebrate the birth of Christ--even though we have no idea of the real day of his birth. I'm embarrassed to say I don't know what the season represents for all the other religions, except for those who are Jewish.

But that's not the point. Don’t you find people kinder and friendlier at this time of year? To me, it seems people of all religions are even nicer during the holiday season. No matter the religion, there are holidays from the middle of November through the middle of January. Don’t be offended if someone offers “Happy Holidays.” That’s a phrase to celebrate with everyone. 

The twelve days of Christmas begin on December 25th through January 6th.

We always plan to have decorations up and ready to turn on the day after Thanksgiving. Seldom do we manage that goal. Currently, we’re decorating the inside of our house. The outside lights and figures went up yesterday. Each year we add to our decorations, even though we have quite a few—a couple of wire reindeer, an angel, a small Merry Christmas sign, a wreath on the door, lights along the eaves, and a nutcracker/soldier by the front door. 

Last year, someone stole our lighted candy canes. I suspect it was kids on a dare. The theft didn’t dampen my spirit for the season, but it made me sad for the thieves. This year, Hero bought more candy canes. We’re hoping the thieves don’t return.

Our youngest daughter is as much a fan of decorating as I am, so we should have every surface covered. LOL We find magic in the air during this season, which is my favorite time of the year.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays. Wishing you the best this year and in those to come, and that your heart is filled with magic.


Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Happily Ever After by Bea Tifton

It’s almost Christmas and we are watching a lot of Hallmark Christmas movies in my household. Many people make fun of Hallmark movies, but there’s a reason those movies are so popular. People love a happy ending. Most people, even people who don’t realize it, have a romantic spot in their hearts. The people in these movies are good people and they fall in love with other good people. However improbable the situation, we suspend our disbelief because we want to know that they end up together. Sigh.

I have belonged to several book clubs through the years, including leading and choosing books. They all had great people in them, but one group of women in particular felt that books with happy endings were unrealistic and without merit. Those people didn’t seem inordinately unhappy, but, really?  Every time two people ended up together or the book ended happily in some way, tied up with a neat ribbon, those people would pan the book. They wanted a book catharsis, real life is difficult, situations don’t really have those tidy little endings, etc. I finally decided that even though I love talking about books with people, and I do, I was going to go rogue and read the books I wanted. Life is hard, not to mention chaotic and unpredictable. The news is stressful and realistic enough.   I feel books with happy endings can be excellent, well written books, and I need to read something that I know will turn out well.

And as far happy couples being unrealistic? I always bit my tongue so I wouldn’t say, “Wow. What happened to you?” My parents are coming up on their 60th wedding anniversary. When I was younger, there was an elderly couple I liked and admired in my church. They had this easy familiarity with each other and their mutual love and affection was obvious in the way they spoke and looked at each other in any interaction.  Each Sunday as they walked to their car after the service, I watched as they quietly joined hands for the walk together. It never failed to touch my heart.

So I say, watch those movies! Read those books! Be proud that you are still open to life and love!  And above all, live happily ever after.

Photo Credits:
Pixabay "Full Length of Happy Friends in Snow on Field"
Helen Lopes "People Drinking Liquor and Talking on Dining Table Close-Up Photo"
Vlada Karpovich "Happy Elderly Couple Holding Hands"
Andrea Piacquadio "Woman Open Arms While Close-eyed Smiling Photo" 


Sunday, November 26, 2023

Pumpkin To Talk About: A Thanksgiving Post by Laura Hunsaker

I have pumpkin to talk about! 

I had a book drop this week! With it being Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday weekend, I wanted to make sure that it was out and ready for everyone. Many of us had a long weekend and spent a lot of that time reading. Having new books out this week is always a plus in my book. Add to that, the feedback has been fantastic and the excitement has been building. 

So let's talk turkey. 

With it being Thanksgiving for my American friends, I thought I'd write a post about being grateful for all of my readers, even if they've only ever read my blog posts or social media. Because I am! I'm incredibly grateful for that!

I've got stuffing to lose.

Quite often I fall into the trap of more is more, but sometimes less is more. I feel like now is that type of situation. Sometimes there isn't a better way to say something other than the simplest, and in this case, those words are: Thank You

(Also, I those puns are awesome. I regret nothing! lol)

Amazon   |  Barnes & Noble   |  Kobo  |  Google Play   |  Smashwords  |  Goodreads

She’s running from her past…

Lark Seawell is the daughter of a serial killer. His reputation has long been a shadow looming over her since his arrest when she was a child. Especially since she’s the one who called the police. She has spent her entire life trying to live as anonymously and quietly as possible. She is not her father’s legacy.

He wants to be her future...

FBI agent Jay Sutherland is visiting a friend in a small mountain town when free spirit Lark asks for help with her injured dog. He is instantly enamored with her, and their one night stand stays with him far into the next morning, though Lark is long gone. When his partner realizes that she is the daughter of The Highwayman, Jay refuses to believe Lark is anything like her father.

What happens when she stops running…

When a trail of dead bodies follows Lark on her cross-country drive, the FBI believes she’s the killer. How can the sweet woman who rescues injured animals and makes him feel things he hasn’t felt in years be a murderer? The bodies don’t lie. Jay knows there’s more at play. If he’s wrong, and Lark is as much a monster as her father, he may be the next target…

*Author's Note: This book contains a sunshiney heroine, a gruff hero, a couple of goofy dogs, some intense action, and begins when a one night stand leads to more…

Thursday, November 23, 2023


by Judy Ann Davis

Thanksgiving has come and gone. We have so much to be thankful for in the United States that I thought I would just re-post a poem I always loved at this time of the year. It’s by an unknown artist. 

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving with friends and family. My husband and I usually spend the day cooking together. Both our sons live too far away (Alaska and S.C.) to join us for only a short time. We do try to sneak in a Skype meeting sometime during the day to converse with them and the little ones. If anyone is traveling this weekend I wish you a safe journey home. 

Let’s also hold those who are fighting for their freedoms around the world in our hearts, minds, and prayers. Freedoms are precious desires and needs and are essential in all our lives.

 Giving Thanks - Author Unknown

For the hay and the corn and the wheat that is reaped,
For the labor well done, and the barns that are heaped,
For the sun and the dew and the sweet honeycomb,
For the rose and the song and the harvest brought home -
Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving!

For the trade and the skill and the wealth in our land,
For the cunning and strength of the workingman's hand,
For the good that our artists and poets have taught,
For the friendship that hope and affection have brought -
Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving!

For the homes that with purest affection are blest,
For the season of plenty and well-deserved rest,
For our country extending from sea unto sea;
The land that is known as the "Land of the Free" -
Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving!
NEW - NEW - NEW     
COURTING BETSY -Book 3 of the Ashomore Brothers Series



Monday, November 20, 2023

Of Crunchy and Clean by Liz Flaherty

I love crunchy mornings. 

I come to my office when I get up. It's a 50-some-foot trek from the back door of the house to the double doors at the far end of the detached garage. It's always dark when I come out, and the weather determines how quickly I make the walk. I've been known to hustle if it's raining or the wind's blowing particularly hard.
Other than that, I saunter. Because morning's my favorite time of day and because I love seeing and hearing the day wake up. Sometimes the cats, Gabe and Susie, join me as I come out here, begging for breakfast even though at the ages of 19 and approximately 12, they probably know they won't get it until after the sun comes up. Of course they also know, because I've said it every day of their lives, that they need to "get out from under my feet!" 

They don't get out from under my feet, though, and I like seeing them in the morning. My husband is still sleeping as I get the coffeepot ready for him and step out of the house. We are together a lot in retirement, and we both like that we have our own spaces and times in that togetherness.

I love the sounds of where we live, regardless of the season--although it's hunting season now, and I could definitely do without hearing gunshots. Harvesting is still going on, and the equipment has already hummed to life in the fields. Trucks rumble past the house, and it's almost as if they're trying to be quiet so as not to wake anyone. Deer rustle through the cornfields. I fancy I can see them casting looks back over their shoulders to see if the hunters are eyeing them.

It's frosty this morning, so everything rustles because it's all crisp. In a neighborhood often redolent of reminders that livestock live here, too, there is a cleanness to the smell of mornings like this that I can't even describe. But I can so appreciate it. I step outside occasionally in my slippered feet and my office sweater just to take a deep breath and remember how grateful I am. 

It's Thanksgiving week. Wishing you joyful and healthy days. I hope they're crunchy.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Gratitude, Acceptance, Wisdom by Joan Reeves

This year has passed faster than all the others, or so it seems.

It's been a year of learning acceptance of loss, of change, and of reality.

At the beginning of the year, I announced on SlingWords, my personal blog, that the only thing I wanted this year was just to be happy each day.

I'll admit that was more challenging than I imagined, but it made me think each day of reasons to be happy which resulted in my focusing on gratitude and what I have instead of what I lost.

Gratitude Is Everything

As the holidays approach, I wanted to share something with you that I've read many times in my life. It's full of wisdom that fits today as much as it fit the 1920's when Max Ehrmann wrote it. It's called the Desiderata—Latin for "things desired."

I first read this in the hippie era when I was a teen. I thought it was written by a contemporary poet from my touchy-feely generation. Taht was when I bought a plaque that had the Desiderata laminated on it. The truth of what Ehrmann wrote inspires and comforts.

I've always hung the plaque on a wall where I notice it every day. I find myself reading it when I feel troubled. This poem is now in the public domain so I'm reprinting it below. 

Copyright and Public Domain

This is a cautionary note for Authors. Max Ehrmann (1872-1945) who wrote and first published the Desiderata in 1927 forfeited his copyright of the material because of free distribution in several projects. Read the Wiki that contains the full story of how it lost its copyright status and became part of pop culture.

DESIDERATA by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.


Friday, November 10, 2023

Ode to the Green Bean Casserole by Bea Tifton

 Forgive the repost. Once again, I feel the need to extol my love for this seasonal food.

Recently, a company who looked at Google results compiled a list of each state’s favorite side dishes for Thanksgiving. Texas’ choice was the green bean casserole. Love it or hate it, given the number of places you’ll see green bean casserole this coming holiday, they weren’t far wrong.

Oh, the humble green bean casserole. That goopy mushroom soup. Those wonderfully healthy canned fried onions. Sigh. I love you so. And this is indeed your season to shine. 


 Many people associate green bean casserole with the 1970’s, but it was actually invented in the 1950’s.

Most popular food companies had recipe pamphlets that sold for a low price filled with ways to
use their products. Of course, Campbell’s Soup Company did the same, offering a stylish pamphlet replete with tips and recipes. Dorcas Reilly was a home economist who worked in the Campbell’s kitchen. She concocted the green bean casserole recipe in 1955, and she claimed in subsequent interviews that she didn’t actually remember how she came up with the recipe.

Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup had been available since 1934, used as casserole filler in the Midwest so often that in Minnesota it was sometimes nicknamed, “Lutheran binder.”  Campbell’s estimates 40% of the Cream of Mushroom soup sold in the United States goes into making the modest green bean casserole. 

I took a very scientific poll regarding how people felt about GBC, i.e., I posted a question on my Facebook page and my friends generously answered. I got some great responses. 


Emma loves GBC so much that when Dorcas Reilly passed away at the age of 92, her father called her to tell her. I hope she  made a casserole in memoriam. Tony correctly identified GBC as comfort food. He even keeps the ingredients on hand and makes it year-round “in case the muse strikes.” Jeannie likes it but can’t eat it anymore. Moment of sympathy for Jeannie. Bummer. Miranda grew up in Wisconsin and ate it there. Texas may have put it on the map, but the indomitable GBC is popular throughout the country. Meagan and Sharon associate GBC with the past. Meagan says she "feels like it’s 1970 again” when she makes it and Sharon still likes GBC “perhaps mostly for nostalgia.” 

Not everyone’s a fan. Nina, a gentle, sweet person, was punished as a child for refusing to eat GBC and hurting her mom's, aunt's, Grandma's, and Mimi's feelings as a result. She still seems a little traumatized by it, so if you are invited to her house, take a soufflé instead.  Sarah likes it but she’s “not crazy about it", and Greg would rather just have “real green beans.” Guess that’s a “No” to the canned fried onions. Donna is a native Texan who is so “over it.” Probably she’s eating at Nina’s for Thanksgiving then. 


Several of my enterprising friends put their own spin on GBC. Elizabeth puts green beans in onion soup mix. Karen has her own recipe with mushrooms and cheese mixed in. Zara adds cooked mushrooms. Wendy, the “designated green bean casserole-maker for her family” uses fresh mushrooms, sour cream, sautéed onions, and cheddar cheese. 

 And now, my two favorite stories.

When Diane first got married in 1959, someone gave the happy young couple an enamel casserole dish, all the required ingredients, and the recipe for green bean casserole. What a cool wedding gift!


My friend Sadie was an elementary school librarian. Ten years ago, a young student wanted recipes. She took him through the cookbook section, thinking he wanted sweets, but he wanted something that wasn’t in the kid focused cookbooks, green bean casserole. Sadie found the recipe in a magazine and took it to his modest home, along with the ingredients. She says that “he and his aunt made it for their family holidays. To him, it symbolized a good life.” 

Time to get out your ingredients. We're making Green Bean Casserole, ya'll.  This recipe is taken from the official Campbell's site.


  • 1 can (10 1/2 ounces) Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup or 98% Fat Free Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 dash black pepper
  • 4 cups cooked cut green beans
  • 1 1/3 cups French's® French Fried Onions


Tips For the cooked green beans: Use 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) green beans, drained, about 1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans or 16 to 20 ounces frozen green beans, thawed, for this recipe.

Step 1 Stir the soup, milk, soy sauce, black pepper, beans and 2/3 cup onions in a 1 1/2-quart casserole.Step 2 Bake at 350°F. for 25 minutes or until the bean mixture is hot and bubbling.  Stir the bean mixture.  Sprinkle with the remaining onions. Step 3 Bake for 5 minutes or until the onions are golden brown.

Prep Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes           Serves: 6          231 calories/serving

Happy Eating, Dear Reader, and Happy Thanksgiving

Photo Credits
Google Images "Green Bean Casserole"
Google Images "Dorcas Reilly"
Wikimedia Commons "Thanksgiving Dinner Table, Broward County, Florida, 1971"
Paula "Vegetable Mushrooms and Knife on Wooden Board"
RDNE Stockproject "A People Having Dinner Together"

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

November Ramblings~by Sherri Easley

 November used to be my favorite month, but since my son died from covid, it’s bittersweet. His birth was the first time I really understood the depths of love between a mother and child. He would have been 46 on November 26. I do my best to put on a brave face and be a functioning member of society, but in those rare still moments, the sadness is overwhelming.

That brings me to my next topic.

It’s 7 PM and I am freshly showered and in bed recovering from a two-day craft show while filling out the application for another one in December. I tell myself just one more show, just one more batch of wholesale bags, just one more… fill in the blank, and then I will have time to finish that book or do a few repairs around the house and dig out of this mess I have made over the last few months, but at all costs, I must not be still.

Age may cure me of this madness, since it is much more difficult to recover from these events as I get older.

Alas, this is a blog about writing- so here is an excerpt from my work in process that I confess, I have not touched in three months:

Everyone turned to watch as the beautiful middle-aged woman entered the room. Abreast of the latest fashion, she wore a floral print dress in shades of pink and yellow that fell just below her knees. The fitted waist showed off her trim figure, and the full skirt swayed gracefully as she meandered about the room. The dress had short sleeves, which revealed her bronze toned arms and a modest neckline that was accented by a strand of pearls that glinted in the light.

Beside her, she carried a small wicker basket filled with sewing supplies, including needles, thread, and buttons, assuring each of her guest had the tools to complete her task. Her auburn hair fell in loose waves, held back from her face with a simple hairpin. After checking on a few of the ladies, she settled in amongst them to work on her own project. Her nimble fingers moved swiftly over the fabric, sewing a hem with precision and care as she chatted amiably with the other women, nodding and smiling as she stitched.

Kathryn’s mother Juliette was a social butterfly and the host of this weekly sewing social, where women came together to reattach buttons and mend uniforms for soldiers. Juliette thrived in these gatherings, but to Kathryn, the event was nothing more than an antagonistic cacophony of laughter, giggles and shrieking voices that, in combination, over stimulated her senses and wreaked havoc on her nerves. Between shallow conversations and superficial niceties, Kathryn equated her mother’s gatherings to nothing less than torture.


Here's to wishing you a blessed and love filled Thanksgiving with your family and friends.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

The Greenhouse Effect by @JacquieRogers #gardening #harvest #autumn


The Greenhouse Effect 

We finally got the garden harvested.  I'm just so tired.  Mr R and I made apple cider (with the press from Hero and Caroline Clemmons).  I canned marinara, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili sauce, salsa, bean soup, green beans, and made three kinds of jellies.  

No help, either, because while making a riser for my book display, Mr R tried to cut off his fingers with the table saw.  No, not kidding.  We spent several hours in the ER.  Update: his fingertips have mostly grown back, although a little lopsided, he even has fingernails, and the bone splinters healed themselves.  So all's well that ends well.  But still, that was rather traumatic for both of us.

And since it practically kills me to do garden work, we're in it up to our necks now, because Mr R built a greenhouse for me.  Here it is, partially finished, but he now has the outside mostly completed.

Mr R, looking wicked as he aims his drill at me.

I spent the past week drying herbs.  Now I'm wondering why since herbs will grow year around if we get the climate control correct in the greenhouse.  But old habits die hard.  I've always wanted a greenhouse so now I have to make it worth 30 days' worth of work and 947,861 trips to Marsing Hardware and Home Depot.

Anyway, I pooped myself out so Mr R took me to town for supper.  We went to a special place from both our childhoods even though we didn't know each other then, and also since the restaurant is a half a block from where it used to be.  This is the Hong Kong Restaurant in Nampa, Idaho.  

Mr R grew up in Nampa but I only went there once a year (big city, you know.  20,000 people and cars every whichaway) to attend the Snake River Stampede, the biggest rodeo, even still, in our area.  And afterward, Dad took us to the Hong Kong.  This was a super special treat because we rarely ever ate at restaurants, there was no Chinese food in Owyhee County, and besides, we were all totally famished after watching a three to four hour rodeo.

I had almond chicken and Mr R ordered moo goo gai pan.  Yummy!

Dad always had the breaded shrimp, Mom ordered pork chow mein, and I didn't care what I got as long as pork and seeds showed up on the table.  And of course I always scooped up too much hot mustard with my first piece of pork, so blew out my sinuses and anything else that might ail me.  But to this day, that's the first thing I want.  Nope, it doesn't make sense to me, either.   

Anyway, I order other things now that I'm all grown up and sophisticated--that would be almond chicken.  Mr R had moo goo gai pan, and we took about five pounds of food home so guess what we'll be eating for the next few days. LOL.

As for reading, I'm back on a fantasy kick.  I guess I never grew out of the fairytale stage.  What are you reading?

Stay safe, and until next month, Happy Reading. 📚😍

If you're on TikTok, friend me!  My handle is @jacquierogersbooks.  
You can get videos of Honey Beaulieu and Sassy's latest updates there.  And goofy videos of her scribe.  Heck, we even do a few cooking videos.