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May 5, 2021 | Holidays

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Party hearty, eat well, and stay safe.

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Make Mother’s Day Extra Special

May 3, 2021 | Author Friend Promo, Gardening

from Emma Lane

My son brings me a gigantic fuchsia plant every year for Mother’s Day. I love it. I confess, it’s for my favorite small bird, the Hummingbird. She shows up right around Mother’s Day every year and it’s a perfect gift for my deck. The female nests close by and some years bring her off spring to the flowers. So darling, so sweet, so tiny, as they cling to the perch, all wobbly and delicate. You watch and wonder how she managed to raise three babes in a demitasse nest. They love to sip from fuchsia blooms of this plant and I skip artificial feeders for that reason. Some years a second plant joins the first. I am honored on Mother’s Day. My son understands me well. No roses, no candy. Feed my birds.

In the greenhouse, I’m creating a Succulent Bowl. These collections of various, and there are many, varieties of succulents live peacefully together in one container. They are perfectly suited to indoor dwelling in a sunny window. These plants require very low maintenance, water once a week, if that; and they tolerate well the dry indoor air. Caution: do not over water!  My good friend swears fairies live amongst hers. I place meaningful messages on small decorative rocks. It’s easy to add your own favorite sayings. Another friend creates a fairy garden complete with toadstools and small winged fairies. It’s fascinating to find small lovelies hiding between the different succulents. Enjoy! These bowls are a perfect Mother’s Day gift for a busy Mom with their easy-care maintenance.

My last suggestion for your Mom’s special day is a gift certificate to her favorite plant nursery. Even for a novice gardener, a visit to the plant world is an “upper” for these still dreary Covid days that are still hanging around. The visit is outside in the fresh air and, by the first week in May, many perennials and annuals are already in bloom. Stick to the locals who will give individual attention to their customers that the ‘big boxes’ can’t. Honor your Mom on her special day and she will keep this event warm in her heart for a long, long time. I know I do.

Another good gift is my latest Cozy Adventure/ Mystery, Whispers of Danger and Love

 

The heroine is a landscape architect who speaks gardening. She struggles with a client who demands a cutting garden mid summer, (and a hunky detective who seems bound to destroy her plants.) I enjoyed relaxing in her garden even as I created it from my own imaginings. It was also fun to watch the sparks fly between a couple who knew each other as children but must readjust their thinking as adults.

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes cozy mysteries as Janis Lane, Regency as Emma Lane, and spice as Sunny Lane.

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma’s new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

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A TREAT FOR MOM

April 28, 2021 | Cooking

Mother’s Day is Sunday May 9 this year.

Do something really nice that day for the lady who does so much for you throughout the year. This brunch will show her how much you care. A few fresh flowers on the table are a nice touch.

MENU

Quiche

Fresh Fruit salad

Croissants

Raspberry Jam

Butter

Zucchini Bread for Dessert

Mimosas

Quiche

1 frozen deep-dish pie shell

1 tsp. (5g) butter

6 bacon strips, cut into ¼ in. (.64cm) pieces*

¼ cup (30g) onions, chopped

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

1¼ cups (230ml) heavy cream

3 pinches white pepper**

¾ cup (85g) swiss cheese, grated

2 tbsp. (25g) butter, cut in small bites

Preheat oven to 375° F (190°C).

Place pie shell on cookie sheet. Use a fork to poke several sets of holes in the bottom and around the sides of the shell. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Melt butter in a heavy skillet. Add bacon, and ham if you’re including it, and onion when foam subsides. Cook until meat is lightly browned. Remove from skillet with a slotted spoon to paper towels.

Beat or whisk eggs, yolks, cream, and seasonings in a large bowl. Stir in cheese.

Scatter meat, into pie shell. Gently ladle in egg mixture. Sprinkle the top with butter bits.

Bake for 25 minutes or until a sharp knife inserted in the middle of the quiche comes out clean.

The dish may be served hot, warm, or room temperature. It also makes a wonderful appetizer. Leftovers reheat in the microwave beautifully.

*Diced ham, ¼ lb. (125g), is also good in this recipe in place of the bacon or along with. All other ingredients and process remains the same.

**No need to buy white pepper if you don’t have it. Use black pepper only a little more as it is not as strong as white pepper.

Fresh Fruit Salad

1 banana

1 pear

1 tbsp. (15ml) lemon juice

¼ pineapple

1 kiwi

10 seedless red grapes, halved

10 blueberries

10 raspberries, optional

Peel and slice banana into bitesize pieces. Scoop into a medium-sized bowl. Core and dice pear then add to bowl. Sprinkle lemon juice over fruit to stop it from turning brown and mix well.

Remove rind and core from pineapple then dice the fruit. Add ¼ to banana mixture. Store the extra pineapple in a glass bowl or plastic bag. Refrigerate for future use.

Peel kiwi and slice then stir into salad. Gently fold in remaining fruit.

Spoon into a glass bowl, cover with cling wrap, and chill until time to serve. Leftovers are still good the next day.

Zucchini Bread for Dessert

Make this bread a day or two in advance to free up your Mother’s Day morning.

2 cups (200g) grated zucchini

2 cups (200g) sugar

3 cups (300g) flour

1 cup nuts, chopped, optional

¼ tsp. (1.25ml) baking powder

2 tsp. (10ml) baking soda

1 tsp. (5ml) salt

1 tbsp. (15ml) cinnamon

3 eggs

1 cup (250ml) vegetable oil

1 tbsp. (15ml) vanilla

Preheat oven to 350° F (180°C).

Grease 2 loaf pans with butter. Cut and fit a piece of parchment paper to the bottom of each pan. I do this because my pans are old and food sticks to the bottom. Nothing attractive about serving zucchini bread with a big hunk missing.

Combine all dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. This includes the zucchini. Adding fruit or veggies to a flour blend helps them to not sink to the bottom of the bread while baking.

Beat wet ingredients together in a large bowl.

Slowly stir dry mixture into wet mixture. Be sure to blend well.

Pour batter into pans. Bake 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool on a rack before slicing. This bread freezes great.

Mimosas

1 bottle sparking white wine or champagne, cold

1 carton orange juice, cold

Tall slender glasses

Fill glasses half full with wine. Tip the glass slightly as you pour to retain the fizz. Top off with orange juice. Don’t stir. That will destroy the bubbles.

Enjoy your day and remember to tell your mom you love her.

Sloane

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GARDENING & WRITING

April 26, 2021 | Author Friend Promo

Can they possibly have anything in common?

from C.D. Hersh

Henbit

The warm days this week enabled us to take a stroll through the yard, another put-our-butts-in-the-writing chair avoidance tactic. We found a slew of winter weeds scattered throughout the landscape. Some tiny-leafed, prostrate thing has taken over a portion of the easement making it the greenest it has been in years. Buckhorn plantain spills out between the path stepping stones. Flat rosettes of chickweed carpet the stone gully in the backyard, and henbit, with its scalloped leaves and purple stems, juts out of the grass—or at least what passes for grass in the lawn.

We’re letting the unidentified weed taking over the easement and the lawn. It’s green, low growing, and doesn’t look like it would need much mowing. But after an afternoon of surfing weed identification web sites (another avoidance tactic), we’ve come to the conclusion that we might have to dig out this patch of weeds and eradicate it every other spot we find. You see, if we’ve identified it correctly, we’re harboring shot weed, also known as hairy bittercress. Oh, it looks innocent enough, but when it sets seeds the slightest touch will send hundreds of seeds shooting out in a three-foot radius across the lawn into flowerbeds and pathways looking spots to hide and root.

Jimson Weed

Fighting weeds in the garden is a full-time task. It starts in early spring with digging out winter weeds like plantain, chickweed, and henbit from the paths and flower beds. By the time we get those eradicated the dandelions rear their yellow heads. After that it’s pigweed and purslane and nutsedge and Canadian thistles and Jimson weed and ground ivy and goose grass. Spring and summer progress marked by an army of weeds marching through the garden. We hoe and pull and mulch and spray, and they just keep coming. The only thing that keeps them under control is persistent daily effort—and maybe a hard, hard freeze.

Like the cycle of weeds in the garden, writers face different challenges along every stage of our careers. As soon as we think we have a handle on our craft and profession something new springs up and surprises us. The beginning writer’s weeds might be learning the basics of the craft or finding that story idea or dealing with writer’s block. For some it’s getting to the end of the book, or figuring out what to do with the sagging middle. For the more skilled, unpublished writers the weeds that need pulling could be social networking, getting an agent, or getting published. Whatever the weeds in your writer yard there’s one universal truth—they will always be there. Our job is to figure the best way to control them.

We’re not beginning writers. We know how to write. That has been reinforced with a number of contest placements. We have a good grasp of the skills and have been published. We know our stories and the characters. We even have books waiting in the wings to be written. But we still have writing weeds to pull—BIG ones.

We haven’t finished our series—yet.
We want to write in several genres, which presents branding problem and sometimes an identity crisis.
While we have some social networking and internet connections there isn’t a large following wanting our books—one of the biggest weeds for a lot of writers.
Currently, we spend more time blogging than writing the books.

Gertrude Jekyll, one of the most important British landscape designers and writers, once said, “There is no spot of ground, however arid, bare or ugly, that cannot be tamed into such a state as may give an impression of beauty and delight. It cannot always be done easily; many things worth doing are not done easily; but there is no place under natural conditions that cannot be graced with an adornment of suitable vegetation.”

Gertrude’s advice applies not only to the garden, and all those weedy patches, but to writing as well. The road to success isn’t easy, but we can accomplish it. We can transform those bare, ugly pages into something overflowing with suitable vegetation (the best words and story we can make). When we finally reach that goal it’s worth the work. So, pull those weeds out of your writing garden and create something beautiful!

We’re going to try this year to get rid of our biggest weed and finish our next book.

What are the writing weeds that are stopping you from creating your masterpiece? Do you have a plan to pull them out?

While you figure out what weeds to attack here’s an excerpt from the first book in our series.

In the wrong hands, the Turning Stone ring is a powerful weapon for evil. So, when homicide detective Alexi Jordan discovers her secret society mentor has been murdered and his magic ring stolen, she is forced to use her shape-shifting powers to catch the killer. By doing so, she risks the two most important things in her life—her badge and the man she loves.

Rhys Temple always knew his fiery cop partner and would-be-girlfriend, Alexi Jordan, had a few secrets. He considers that part of her charm. But when she changes into a man, he doesn’t find that as charming. He’ll keep her secret to keep her safe, but he’s not certain he can keep up a relationship—professional or personal.

Danny Shaw needs cash for the elaborate wedding his fiancée has planned, so he goes on a mugging spree. But when he kills a member of the secret society of Turning Stones, and steals a magic ring that gives him the power to shape shift, Shaw gets more than he bargained for.

EXCERPT

The woman stared at him, blood seeping from the corner of her mouth. “Return the ring, or you’ll be sorry.”

With a short laugh he stood. “Big words for someone bleeding to death.” After dropping the ring into his pocket, he gathered the scattered contents of her purse, and started to leave.

“Wait.” The words sounded thick and slurred . . . two octaves deeper . . . with a Scottish lilt.

Shaw frowned and spun back toward her. The pounding in his chest increased. On the ground, where the woman had fallen, lay a man.

He wore the same slinky blue dress she had—the seams ripped, the dress top collapsed over hard chest muscles, instead of smoothed over soft, rounded curves. The hem skimmed across a pair of hairy, thick thighs. Muscled male thighs. Spiked heels hung at an odd angle, toes jutting through the shoe straps. The same shoes she’d been wearing.

The alley tipped. Shaw leaned against the dumpster to steady himself. He shook his head to clear the vision, then slowly moved his gaze over the body.

A pair of steel-blue eyes stared out of a chiseled face edged with a trim salt-and-pepper beard. Shaw whirled around scanning the alley.

Where was the woman? And who the hell was this guy?

Terrified, Shaw fled.

The dying man called out, “You’re cursed. Forever.”
Amazon buy links:
The Turning Stone Chronicles Series page

The Promised One (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 1)

Blood Brothers (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 2)

Son of the Moonless Night (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 3)

The Mercenary and the Shifters (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 4)

C.D. Hersh–Two hearts creating everlasting love stories.
Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after.

They have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven other authors.

They are looking forward to many years of co-authoring and book sales, and a lifetime of happily-ever-after endings on the page and in real life.

Social Media Info:

Website
Soul Mate Publishing
Facebook
Amazon Author Page
Twitter
Goodreads
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FIESTA TIME!

April 21, 2021 | Cooking

Many people believe Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day. Nope, that is actually September 16. May 5 celebrates the Battle of Puebla which was Mexico’s victory over France in 1862. Another interesting fact – Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo more than the people in Mexico.

I met a wonderful lady in the Hispanic aisle when I was shopping for these ingredients. Lydia literally took me by the hand and taught me a great deal in just a few minutes especially about tortillas and refried beans which I’m sharing with you. I am thankful for Lydia and the time she spent with me.

MENU

Guacamole & Tortilla Chips

Beef Tacos

Flour Tortillas

Rice with Tomatoes and Onion

Refried Beans

Mexican Beer – Corona, Dos Equis, Modelo, Tecate

 

Guacamole

This dish can be made hours in advance of your dinner and stored in the fridge.

2 lg. ripe avocados

1 tbsp. (15ml) onion, chopped fine

5 drops Tabasco sauce

1 med. tomato, peeled and chopped

⅛ tsp. (.60ml) cumin

⅛ tsp. (.60ml) garlic powder

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Cut avocados in half. Lift out pits and save. Scoop out avocado from shell and place into a glass bowl. Mash with a fork. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Taste for seasoning and adjust to suit you.

Place guacamole into a serving dish. Bury at least one pit into the dip. This helps keep the avocado from turning black. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Photo by The BlackRabbit on Unsplash

Beef Tacos

1 lb. (500g) 90% lean ground beef

½ med. onion, chopped

1 cup (250ml) canned tomato sauce

2 tsp. (10ml) chili powder

½ tsp. (2.5ml) garlic powder

½ tsp. (2.5ml) dried oregano

½ tsp. (2.5ml) paprika

½ tsp. (2.5ml) ground cumin

½ tsp. (2.5ml) cayenne

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 220° F (100°C).

Brown beef in a large skillet set over medium heat. Be sure to stir and break up clumps. Stir in onion and cook 3 – 4 minutes.

Pour tomato sauce over meat mixture. Sprinkle on spices. Stir well. Cook 5 – 8 minutes longer, stirring often.

Pour into an ovenproof dish. Set in oven until ready to serve.

Flour Tortillas

1 package store bought flour tortillas

When you return home open the package, separate tortillas and lay directly onto your kitchen counter for 10 – 15 minutes. Restack tortillas, wrap lightly in a paper towel. Replace them in their original package, seal, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat a flat skillet over medium heat. Lay in a tortilla and warm for a minute or so. Turn. Fold tortilla in half. You now have a perfect taco shell.

Lay shells on a plate and serve.

Rice with Tomatoes and Onion

¼ cup (60ml) olive oil

1 med. onion, sliced thin

2 cups (200g) rice, not instant

2 cups (450ml) chicken stock, not broth

2 cups (450ml) water

14½ oz. (411g) can diced tomatoes

Heat oil in a large saucepan set over moderate heat. Swirl oil to coat pan bottom. Add onion. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes or until onion is transparent but not brown.

Pour in rice. Stir well for 2 – 3 minutes to coat all the grains. Do not let the rice brown or the dish will be bitter.

Stir in stock, water, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Cover pan and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until rice absorbs all the liquid.

If need be, keep rice warm in a low oven until you’re ready to serve.

Refried Beans

1 can refried beans*

2 strips bacon

Scoop beans into a microwaveable bowl.

Fry bacon until crisp. You want to render as much fat out as possible. Eat the bacon (no joke) and then stir the rendered fat into the beans.

Depending on how powerful your microwave is, heat for 1 – 2 minutes before serving.

* Buying canned beans is much easier than using dried pinto beans for this dish and probably better tasting. Be sure the can reads Authentic Refried Beans. La Preferida is the brand Lydia recommended. She was right. It was delicious as it has bits of bean in it instead of just being a heavy paste.

May you enjoy all the days of your life filled with good friends, laughter, and seated around a well-laden table!

Sloane

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iPhone Misadventures

April 19, 2021 | Author Friend Promo

by Catherine Castle

I got a new iPhone and, quite frankly, I’m ready to throw the thing across the room. Or maybe even in the nearest river!

To start off, I didn’t get the last of my five email boxes cleaned out. As soon as we transferred the email addresses over, the last email box began filling. And filling. And filling. Every time I read and deleted a new email, 100 more came over.

When it reached 900+ I said to Hubby, “I’m shutting this phone down before it loads all 5,000 + unread emails.”

I spent the next five hours hunched over the computer keyboard deleting the unread emails down to about 84. Then I deleted the 15,000+ deleted emails left on the server just to be sure they didn’t come back. Better to be safe than sorry, as Hubby as seen a few of his deleted emails return to unread status and pop up on the iPhone. Yes, I know, I can’t blame the iPhone because I didn’t clean out my online mail inboxes and trash. But this was just the beginning of the iPhone misadventures.

Unlike my beloved Blackberry, there’s nothing intuitive about this iPhone. Swipe right, swipe left, touch right, touch left. Swipe from the upper corner, tap on the bottom, touch here, touch there. Push partway up and to the right to see where you’ve been on the internet. Swipe up to trash something, or click right, or left depending what app you’re in. Yikes! Who can remember all that?

Stupid iPhone!

Additionally, my finger either doesn’t work or I don’t even touch something and stuff flies off or onto the screen. Once, while merely holding the phone, a box popped up with the message, “To reverse this action, tap the screen with three fingers.” What action? What had I done? What had I erased? Fortunately, the screen told me which fingers to tap with, so I tapped. And tapped. And tapped. The screen didn’t move. It didn’t tell me the unknown action was reversed. I couldn’t even see a back button.

“Honey,” I yelled. “Think I did something wrong!” By the time Hubby came to the rescue I’d punched enough things that the screen was back to what I recognized. Only heaven knows what I might have screwed up!

For every action I did on the Blackberry with one touch, it takes two, or maybe three or more on the iPhone. I’ve read some of the instructions, and tried to search things out on the iPhone book, but apparently I don’t know the new lingo well enough to find things. And I’m usually pretty good with searching. However, nothing seems to have the same names as the Blackberry did.

My texts to my daughter are filled with strange words that I didn’t type, courtesy of predictive typing. I tried to type PTL (Praise the Lord) and it came over on the text as “Pyle.” The words But I came across as “Bilirubin.” And the text screen, filled with facial icons, bubbles holding your text message, and sometimes giant emojis, takes up so much screen space that I can’t easily see the text thread. When my daughter retyped “Bilirubin” I thought SHE had typed the word, not me. I had no idea she was rolling on the floor laughing until the next day when I scrolled up the text stream and saw what I’d done.

And if you think that’s wild, wait until you hear these next items.

The other day, using my iPhone, I tried to call my hubby, who was driving my car. I knew he wouldn’t try to answer his new iPhone, so I called my car phone.  At the same time the car phone was ringing, I heard another call beep in. I ignored it, thinking it was a phishing call. Hubby never answered, so I hung up and called him again. The same thing happened. So, I hung up again. As I pulled the phone away from my ear, the second time, my daughter’s name scrolled across the banner on the top of the phone, indicating she was calling.

When I answered, she said in a concerned voice, “Mom, is everything okay. Why are you calling me so much?” (I never call her during work hours.)

“I wasn’t calling you. I was trying to call your dad in my car,” I said.

As she hung up I heard her say to someone, whom I later learned was her boss, “It’s okay. There’s nothing wrong. My mom has a new phone.”

When my hubby got to his destination, he called on his cell to see what I needed. He couldn’t remember how to answer my car phone. It doesn’t have Bluetooth pairing like his car. He received my cell phone call on the car phone and, at the same time, my daughter also received a call from my cell phone.

The stupid iPhone called my car phone, while husband was driving it, and called my daughter at the same time.

Here’s the kicker—I did NOT call my daughter’s cell. No way. No how. Not even possible. I swear I never touched her number. I clearly, and positively, know I called my car phone. Yet the iPhone showed it made both calls.

The phone somehow dialed both numbers at the same time! How is that even possible?

Stupid iPhone!

Later in the day I was having a conversation on our home land line when my cell rang. It was my daughter.  I knew it was her because I’d attached an ‘Oogah Oogah’ old car horn sound to her calls. An unmistakable and very loud sound. I answered and quickly said, “I can’t talk now. I’ll call back in a few minutes.” Then I hung up. A few minutes later I got another call from her on my cell—the same “Oogha-Oogah ring, but it was my son-in-law on the other end.

“Can I call back?” I asked. “I’m in the middle of another call.”

Son-in-law said, “She can’t talk. She’s on the house phone with her mother-in-law.”

“Then why did she call me just a minute ago?” I asked.

Son-in-law calls out to my daughter, “Why are we calling your mother?”

In the background I hear her say, “I didn’t call her. She called me! Twice!”

I know I didn’t call her. The iPhone log shows she called. She still swears she didn’t call me, but that I called her.

Stupid iPhone!

Earlier that same morning I tried to comment on a blog I’ve always had access to on the Blackberry. I’d reached the site via clicking on the title of the blog I’d received in my Catherine Castle mail inbox. The site kept kicking me off. I couldn’t like, share, or comment. So, I went back to the original email, which was still open on my email inbox, and scrolled down to the like button. Click—and I was over to the page instantly, all nicely opened. While complaining to my husband about the wretched phone’s behavior, I slid my finger down the screen to check for my author icon. I wasn’t there, but our joint author icon was.

“Did you just comment on her page?” I asked.

“No,” he said. “I was just headed over there right now.”

I rotated my phone screen so he could see it. “You’ve already commented.”

He squinted at me. “Did you open our author email and like the post? Because I did not like that post.”

“I didn’t!” I protested. Although, in all honesty, I sometimes have a problem and click the wrong email box on my phone. I did it with the Blackberry quite often by mistake. So much so that hubby’s threatened to take our joint author email off my phone.  He leveled a glary squint at me, not at all convinced I knew what I was talking about.

I switched back to my Catherine Castle email box. The email in question was on the top. I scanned it again. In the To: line it didn’t say Catherine Castle. Instead it had my husband’s name. Somehow the email addressed to his personal email box (which is another glitch I’ll not go into), got scrambled and put in my author email box and linked our joint author photo to it.

Stupid iPhone!

I could go on with my misadventures with the stupid iPhone, which I’m sure will continue until my weary blonde brain figures it all out or I end up in the funny farm. However, I’ve already exceeded a thousand words on this rant.

On the bright side, there are a couple of things I do like on the iPhone. I did discover one useful tool. I accidently deleted an email one evening and moaned in distress over my actions.

“Shake it!” Hubby said.

“What?” I replied.

“Shake it! Shake the phone!” he yelled urgently.

Bemused and befuddled, I did as he commanded, although I hadn’t the foggest idea why. An icon popped up on the screen.

“Now, tell it to untrash,” he said. “Hurry before the icon disappears.”

I did, and, Lo and Behold, my trashed email reappeared like magic.

Pretty cool for such a. . . Stupid iPhone!

 

I can draw pictures in my emails. A feature that I’m sure will be a giant time suck. I’ve already drawn and sent pictures to my daughter, and I’m considering how I can use this tool for Christmas email cards.

 

Twitter works again and so does Pinterest. So I can waste endless hours surfing instead writing, cleaning and practicing the piano. Although piano is never a waste of time. It’s more of a joy.

Hopefully, as time passes, I’ll find more to like and less to complain about. One thing is for sure—as I learn this new device I’m giving my family and friends lots to laugh about.

Do you have an iPhone? Have you any tips for me?

Catherine loves to laugh at herself and loves to write comedy. Check out her award-winning romantic comedy, with a touch of drama, A Groom for Mama.

Take your mind off the sound discrepancies between men and women with a copy of Catherine’s award-winning romantic comedy that has a touch of drama. You’ll laugh as Mama searches for a husband for her daughter.

One date for every medical test—that’s the deal. Allison, however, gets more than she bargains for. She gets a Groom for Mama.

Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom For Mama.

Amazon Buy Link

Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. A former freelance writer, she has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit (under her real name) in the Christian and secular market. Now she writes sweet and inspirational romance. Her debut inspirational romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing, has garnered multiple contests finals and wins.

Catherine loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, watching movies, and the theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Learn more about Catherine Castle on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out Catherine’s Amazon author page and her Goodreads page. You can also find Catherine on Stitches Thru Time and the SMP authors blog site.

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BUONGIORNO!

April 14, 2021 | Cooking

I enjoy experimenting with different food combinations and creating new recipes. This delicious dish is perfect for breakfast or even lunch, but then you may want to add a small salad and a glass of crisp white wine. 😊

Italian Breakfast Soufflé for 2

½ lb. Italian sausage, bulk or links

2 – 3 tbsp. butter, softened

4 lg. eggs

1 cup milk

1 tsp. dried mustard

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Chopped onion to taste

2 slices provolone cheese

½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

¾ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

3 – 1-inch slices Vienna or French bread, cubed*

Preheat oven to 350° F.

If you use links then squeeze the meat from the casing before cooking. Fry sausage in a small pan until no longer pink. Be sure to break up any clumps. Set aside.

Spread butter on the insides and bottoms of two baking dishes approximately 500ml or 17-ounces.

The following ingredients are to be equally divided between the 2 dishes when added. All stirring should be done gently.

Break 2 eggs in each prepared dish. Lightly scramble. Pour in milk. Stir. Sprinkle on mustard and pepper. Stir.

Tear provolone into pieces then add to mixture along with cheddar and mozzarella. Stir.

Fold in bread.

Bake 35 – 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center has no egg clinging to it.

Set the soufflés on dinner plates to serve so as not to scorch your table.

This dish can be assembled a one or two days ahead of time. Cover and refrigerate, but allow the soufflé to sit on your counter 1 hour or so before you bake it.

*I’ve used day old homemade bread and unseasoned cubes from stuffing mix. They both worked great.

May you enjoy all the days of your life filled with good friends, laughter, and seated around a well-laden table!

Sloane

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How Does Your Garden Grow?

April 12, 2021 | Author Friend Promo, Gardening

from Emma Lane

Theme gardens can be fun for adventurous gardeners who want to shake things up.

Photo by Emma Gossett on Unsplash

Colorful annuals. Their raison d’etra, reason for living, is to bloom and make seeds. To keep them full of their bright and beautiful blossoms frequent culling of the old blooms is the secret. Paying attention to color combinations will enhance bedding petunias such as blue and yellow; red, white and blue; primary colors-red, yellow and blue; all pastels.

 

Perennials are friends forever. The trick here is to plant staggered bloomers. Daffodils and tulips for spring give way to lupine and peonies in April and May. June is for roses (and brides) and July owns lilies. Hibiscus and other members of the family (Rose of Sharon) for late summer, and we all appreciate summer’s wind up with splashes of intensely colored mums and sunflowers. There are many beautiful perennials to be planted in between. Careful attention to foliage varieties is also important for a successful perennial bed: spiky Crocosmia, spreading Dianthus, and pretty round-leafed Baptismia australis which has an herbal gray cast to its foliage.

Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash

Butterfly and humming bird gardens are always fun. Certainly the tiny hummers appreciate blooms where they can dip in and steal a drop of nectar, but I’ve seen them take a tiny taste of flat but colorful yarrow. My son gifts me a huge fuchsia for Mother’s Day which is the very day I usually spot the first humming bird. They love this plant! Hummers prefer trumpet shaped blooms they can dip their long bills to drink the nectar, but I have observed them sipping from a daisy.

 

Shade gardens are wonderful underneath shaded walkways.  Besides the enormous varieties of hosta, spring bulbs can be followed with blue bells and other shade loving perennials. Brunneria is a precious substitute for hosta. Deer treat it with disdain. Begonias have a large variety for annual shade; my favorite is non-stop begonia in their vivid colors. Spring blooming shrubs are glorious such as rhododendrons, azaleas, dogwood and many others that liven up the woods before the trees leaf out.

Cutting gardens are wonderful for those who appreciate fresh cut bouquets for inside. Reserve a bed especially for: gladiola, tall zinnias, phlox, sunflowers, snapdragons, lisianthus, lilies, just a few of the varieties that are splendid cut flowers.

 

… which leads me to call attention to my latest Cozy Adventure/ Mystery, Whispers of Danger and Love.

The heroine is a landscape architect who speaks gardening. She struggles with a client who demands a cutting garden mid summer, (and a hunky detective who seems bound to destroy her plants.) I enjoyed relaxing in her garden even as I created it from my own imaginings. It was also fun to watch the sparks fly between a couple who knew each other as children but must readjust their thinking as adults.

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes cozy mysteries as Janis Lane, Regency as Emma Lane, and spice as Sunny Lane.

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma’s new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

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A Taste Treat from the Far East

April 7, 2021 | Cooking

This dish becomes a complete meal when you add egg rolls, pot stickers, and a glass or two of sake. The following recipe serves two.

Courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography

FRIED RICE
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
½ cup frozen peas, thawed
⅔ cup cooked pork, chopped fine
3 cups 1- 3 day old cooked rice
Pinch dried ginger
2 tbsp. butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. soy sauce
4 green onions, sliced fine, include 1-inch of green

Warm a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add oil and swirl to coat the pan evenly. Stir in peas, pork, and rice. Sprinkle on ginger. Heat through for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat while you prepare the egg.

Add butter to a small frying pan set over medium heat. Pour in egg and swirl to spread it around until almost done, about one minute. Flip with a spatula. Remove from the heat. Break into small pieces and then stir into rice mixture.

Carefully mix in soy sauce and green onion. Heat through for about 3 minutes.

Replace pork with chicken or shrimp for another tasty meal. Just be sure to use cooked alternatives.

May you spend all the days of your life filled with friends, laughter, and seated around a well laden table!

Sloane

 

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DAMAGE TO THE CHILDREN

April 5, 2021 | Author Friend Promo

from Anne Montgomery

 

The children of Colorado City, Arizona and the neighboring town of Hildale, Utah will long suffer the degradations of the “prophet” Warren Jeffs.

 

 

 

“We were told the world wanted to kill us, that people wanted to destroy us and our moral values,” Raymond Jeffs told San Angelo Standard-Times reporter Krista Johnson.

Ray Jeffs is one of the sons of Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned pedophile “prophet” of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

“I genuinely believed I would be destroyed because my dad told me that constantly,” Roy Jeffs, Ray’s brother said.

Roy continued to believe in his father until three of his sisters confessed that the man had abused them. After hearing his siblings stories, Roy realized that he, too, had been sexually assaulted by his father.

Johnson’s comprehensive reporting on the FLDS cult provides in vivid and horrifying detail the control the elder Jeffs concerted over his people, damage that will take many years to rectify. You can read the complete article here.

Here is a brief intro to my novel dealing with abuse and it’s aftermath. I hope you’ll take a moment to peek into it.

Two Arizona teens find their fates intertwined. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?

Rose Madsen will do anything to keep from being married off to one of the men in her Fundamentalist Mormon (FLDS) community, even endure the continued beatings and abuse of her mother. But when her mentally handicapped baby sister is forced to strangle the bird she loves at the behest of the Prophet, Rose frees the bird and runs away.

Adan Reyes will do anything to escape the abusive foster care system in Phoenix, even leaving his good friends and successful high school athletic career behind him. Ill-prepared for surviving the desert, Adan hits the road only to suffer heat stroke. Found by a local handyman, he catches a glimpse of a mysterious girl—Rose—running through town, and follows her into the mountains where they are both tracked and discovered by the men of the FLDS community.

With their fates now intertwined, can Rose and Adan escape the systems locking them into lives of abuse? Will Rose be forced to marry the Prophet, a man her father’s age, and be one of dozens of wives, perpetually pregnant, with no hope for an education? Will Adan be returned to the foster home where bullying and cruelty are common? Is everyone they meet determined to keep them right where they belong or are some adults worthy of their trust?

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Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter

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