Sunday, 24 January 2021

Get Ready for Mardi Gras with YA Author Leigh Goff's Shrimp and Grits and her latest Southern Gothic Read...

My latest novel, Koush Hollow, is a Southern Gothic tale that deserves to be paired with Southern cuisine. This is one of those comfort dishes I seek out when I head farther south. It makes for a mouth-watering breakfast, lunch, or dinner. This recipe comes from the late chef Bill Neal who has influenced cooking across the South. This particular recipe was borrowed from Cook's Corner on My Recipes.

 
Photo by Iain Bagwell
Shrimp & Grits

2 cups water
1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth
¾ cup half-and-half
¾ tsp. salt
1 cup regular grits
¾ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp. butter
½ tsp. hot sauce
¼ tsp. white pepper
3 bacon slices
1-pound medium-size shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ tsp. black pepper
⅛ tsp. salt
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
½ cup green onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp. hot sauce
Lemon wedges

Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually whisk in grits. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until thickened. Add Cheddar cheese and next 4 ingredients. Keep warm.

Fry bacon in a large skillet until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon, and set aside.

Sprinkle shrimp with pepper and salt; dredge in flour.

Sauté mushrooms in hot drippings in skillet 5 minutes or until tender. Add green onions, and sauté 2 minutes. Add shrimp and garlic, and sauté 2 minutes or until shrimp are lightly brown. Stir in chicken broth, lemon juice, and hot sauce, and cook 2 more minutes, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet.

Serve shrimp mixture over hot cheese grits. Top with crumbled bacon; serve with lemon wedges.

How about a little more Southern charm while you enjoy your delicious meal?






Koush Hollow: Where bayou magic abounds and all that glitters…is deadly.

After her father’s untimely death, Jenna Ashby moves to Koush Hollow, a bayou town outside of New Orleans, dreading life with her wealthy mother.

As the sixteen-year-old eco-warrior is introduced to the Diamonds & Pearls, her mother’s exclusive social club, she comes to the troubling realization that secrets are a way of life in Koush Hollow.  How do the Diamonds & Pearls look so young, where does their money come from, and why is life along the bayou disappearing?

As Jenna is drawn into their seductive world, her curiosity and concerns beg her to uncover the truth. However, in this town where mysticism abounds and secrets are deadly, the truth is not what Jenna could have ever imagined.

EXCERPT

This excerpt is from Chapter 1 of Koush Hollow. The sixteen-year-old main character, Jenna, seems to have a waking nightmare where an interesting creature appears, but only to her. Is it real or is it a dream?

Tap, tap.

My eyes flashed wide. A curvy, gray-haired lady tapped on my passenger side window. Jenna, snap out of it, I thought to myself. I breathed and remembered how to roll the window down.

“You okay, hon’?” She stared at my hands. “You’re shaking like you drank ten café lattes.”

“I’m j-just a little on edge. I mean, I thought I hit that…that woman.”

She jolted upright and looked around. “What are you talking about?”

My gaze flitted all around her. “She w-was r-right there—the painted woman,” I stuttered and pointed. “Where did she go?” My knees finally stopped knocking, allowing me to slide out of the car.

“You didn’t hit anyone. Are you on something?”

I stumbled to the front and bent over searching underneath the car. Nothing. No one. I stood up and scanned the sidewalks, but I didn’t see the mysterious woman anywhere.

“Maybe you shouldn’t be driving, hon’.”

Maybe I shouldn’t be.

“Is there someone I can call?” she asked.

I wiped my sopping wet forehead with the back of my hand. It had to be stress affecting me. It had been a tough few months and maybe it was catching up with me. I turned to the kind woman. “I’m only a few minutes from my mother’s house.” I’d get the Diet Cokes and vitamins later. “I’ll be fine. Thank you.”

We both returned to our cars. She waited for me to move. With trembling fingers, I managed to shift into drive. I pumped the brakes to see if they worked. They worked fine. The rattling sound in the engine was gone, too. I could hardly think straight. Was that Voodoo woman real or a figment of my imagination? I shoved aside the bad feeling, inhaled a calming breath, and decided to apply logic, which suggested the whole thing was a brain-glitch from stress. However, no matter how logical I tried to be, the uneasy feeling remained.


Leigh Goff writes young adult fiction. She is a graduate from the University of Maryland and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI).

Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area's great history and culture. Her third young adult novel, Koush Hollow, a Southern gothic set in New Orleans, will release on September 1, 2020 from The Parliament House.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Guest Post: MAMMA MIA! by Anne Montgomery...

 I was so out of my league!

Sometimes we do things that, as Forrest Gump would say, "Just don't make no sense."

 And I am guilty of such an act, mostly because I ignored the numbers and severely overestimated my abilities.

 I have written about the fact that I performed in a community theater production of the musical Company in the past. Though it was initially terrifying, in the end I made friends and had fun. So, it seemed rational that I give it another try. Mamma Mia was coming up and I wanted to give it a shot.

 I started singing along to the Mamma Mia CD in my car in February.  I thought I was ready. Even the cast descriptions didn't deter me. Though, admittedly, the fact that the "elder" female characters were listed as "late 30s-early 50s" should have tickled my spidey senses.

 This time around, auditions were very different. Four times the number of actors showed up. And there was improv involved. Still, I thought I had a shot at making the cast, until I arrived at the dance callbacks.

 My first clue should have been the young lady spread-eagled flat on the floor, stretching in preparation. In fact, the stage was littered with bodies of those limbering up. I was a tad bemused, as I had seen the movie and didn’t notice too much complicated-looking dancing, at least not from the named characters. Had I considered that the stage version might be vastly different from the one with Meryl Streep and her pals, I might have been forewarned.

Those hoping for a spot in the cast filled the stage facing a thin, twenty-something with a high, tawny pony tail and black leggings. She announced that we would be learning a series of dance steps.

 “OK! Face the back," she said, reminiscent of a drill instructor. " Now, hips left, then right, and spin to the front. And … right arm up high. Good. Now side step. And back. Other side. Full turn to the left and drop to your knees.”

My head popped up. Drop to my knees? Did she mean the ones that have functioned for the last 15 years thanks to the miracle of modern science, infusions injected with big-ass needles that always make me wince? Those knees?

Not wanting to stand out, I dropped to the floor. I almost bellowed like a moose giving birth, but managed to stop myself.

“Now roll over on your butt and jump up.”

In my case, said roll did not occur. I just stared at the choreographer.

“Now … leap!” She took to the air.

Leap? The thing about leaping is there always tend to be landings involved.

The choreographer encouraged us to leap in this fashion. Don't you agree it hurts just to look at this picture?

“Those of you who want to can bend your leg while leaping. Like this.” She launched herself skyward again. “Point your toes,” she said, alighting gracefully. “Second line, move up to the front.”

Hoping no one would notice, I melted into the back, which would be my primary strategy throughout the ordeal.

After an hour, we took a break. To my horror, five minutes later we were at it again.

“Let’s do another one,” she said. “This one will be easy. Even I can do it.” She smiled prettily.

What I wanted most was to go all Tonya Harding on her kneecaps. “See what you feel like when you’re over 60,” I muttered under my breath, as I mounted the stage.

Another hour passed. I longed for my chiropractor.

I know what your thinking. Why didn’t I just go sit down? Pride, I suppose. Or maybe just plain stubbornness. A few other older women had taken seats. I say “older” here with a caveat. If I had to guess, with the exception of my friend Scott, there was probably no one over 50 auditioning. Clearly, I was pretty much alone as a mid-sexagenarian.

Mercifully, the dancing finally ended. But my humiliation was not over.

Scott appeared. “Hey! You need to go in the back.”

I heard women’s voices singing Dancing Queen from backstage. “Why?”

“The mothers are auditioning,” he explained, using the term applied to the older adult women trying out for a part.

Not knowing how I could have missed the others being called away, I leapt – OK, in my mind, I leapt – onto the stage and bolted through a curtain and down a ramp toward the piano, where about eight women were lined up single file.

“I am so sorry I’m late!” I shouted.

All heads turned toward me. A woman looked up, paper and pencil in hand. “Your name?”

“Anne.”

She scrutinized the document.

The director rose from his seat.

“You’re not on the list,” he said. “You were called back only for a dancing part.”

I suddenly realized that if getting a part hinged on my dancing skills, I would need other plans for the summer. “I am … so sorry!”

I fled.

I found Scott in the seats and chastised him. It wasn’t his fault, though. He simply assumed I should be back there with the others, which in retrospect was sweet.

The director soon dismissed those of us who wouldn’t be invited to participate in any further auditions. Totally dejected, I sneaked out the back door.

When I got home, my sweetie pie stared at me. “I’m sorry,” he said without asking what happened.

I wondered if he’d had a premonition, since he already had a glass of wine poured and waiting for me.

“Maybe they did you a favor,” he said a short time later, as I sat in my jammies feeling sorry for myself, rubbing my aching knees.

I sipped my wine and pouted. “Maybe.”

Later that night, wrapped in two cold packs and a heating pad, I licked my wounds and considered whether I would ever try out for another play.

I'm thinking about it. I'll let you know.

Here's a little from my suspense novel based on a true incident. I hope it intrigues you.


As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon.

When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers.

And then the girl vanishes.

While the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born deep in the wilderness.

BUY LINKS

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.

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Start the New Year off on the Light Side with Sloane Taylor's Easy Baked Chicken Breasts...

Every cook in this busy world needs a fast yet tasty dinner ready in minutes, not hours. Here is just the recipe you are looking for. You may want to increase the proportions for this mouthwatering dish since it freezes well.

 
Photo by Vitchakorn Koonyosying on Unsplash
Easy Baked Chicken Breasts 
Non-stick cooking spray
3 boneless chicken breasts
½ cup mayonnaise
5 tsp. Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 425° F.

Spray a light coating of cooking spray into an ovenproof dish that will hold the chicken comfortably.

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Set on a plate.

Mix mayo and bread crumbs together in a small bowl. Spread onto both sides of chicken.

Lay chicken in prepared dish. Sprinkle Parmesan over the top of coated chicken.

Bake 20 minutes or until the juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a sharp knife.

Easy Baked Chicken Breasts, Baked Sweet Potatoes, and Steamed Asparagus are just three of the easy and delicious recipes you will enjoy from my fun cookbook. Here's a little more info for you.






Ready to ignite that old flame? Or perhaps spark a new one? Take your partner by the hand and turn on your stove. A true romantic, award-winning author Sloane Taylor brings her creativity to the kitchen with easy-to-make meals sure to spark the intimacy and quality time you want with your special someone. Cooking together is only the start of the fun!

Create 45 complete dinners for two and flavor your evenings with a new dish. These 80 recipes use everyday foods already on most kitchen shelves. The recipes are easily increased for those fun times friends or family join your table.

Date Night Dinners, Meals to Make Together for a Romantic Evening, is an ideal gift for engagements, bridal showers, anniversaries, or for anyone who wants to spice things up.

 
What People are Saying About Date Night Dinners

Bring your date nights back home! Sloane Taylor's delicious meals are the perfect prelude to romance. Helen Hardt,#1 New York Times, #1 USA Today, and #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author   
These recipes are sure to please the palate and make your romantic night a perfect memory. Enjoy! Jan Springer, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Romance Author

With Date Night Dinners Sloane Taylor reminds us that our relationships should be savored like a fine meal. Chris Pavesic, Award-Winning Sci-Fi/Fantasy Author

Any recipe is a perfect date night dinner because it can quietly simmer away while the diners are doing umm…other things. Vonnie Hughes, Romantic Suspense Author

BUY LINKS


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


Sloane Taylor
is an Award-Winning romance author with a passion that consumes her day and night. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday.

The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy. Learn more about Taylor's cookbooks, Date Night Dinners and Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire on Amazon.

Excerpts from her romance books and free reads can be found on her website, blog, and her Amazon Author Page. Connect with Taylor on Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday, 3 January 2021

My Meandering #Authorlife…


Bet y’all are glad to put 2020 to bed, and start 2021 with clean sheets. Actually, we were lucky and blessed in a way as our lives weren’t so disrupted. True, we had to hunker down when everything (except certain stores) closed for a few months due to Covid-19, but our health, safety, and much of our sanity remained intact. Thank God the liquor stores were deemed essential! LOL! Of course plans, celebrations, and milestones went out the window, and my mother had to adjust with no visitors in her nursing home until I was made her essential caregiver in September. Masks became in fashion, and social distancing a requirement. I’ve had so many Covid-19 tests now, I swear my nose wants a divorce!

A shining light in 2020 is that it gave us time to reflect and review our lives and lifestyles. What we liked, what we didn’t, what we needed to get rid of, and what was important to us. Board games became popular again amongst families, as did learning to cook from scratch. We really got back to basics, and slowed down from the hustle, hustle, hustle of the ‘real’ world. I for one was happy for the break. I believe, at least in my author life, I was trying too hard to be like other authors, and not being my authentic author self. Trust me, that’s so exhausting.

So, I continued to post my weekly #authorlife images on my social media platforms to show people how ‘mundane’ an author’s life can really be. It’s not all about meeting readers at book signings, having extravagant book launches, receiving eye-popping advances from publishers, and making movie deals with our books (though that would be nice). The idea is to be present, connect, and engage. That’s all. Writers know there’s a lot of sweat equity behind showing up to write, whether blog posts, articles, or full blown novels. Not to mention (but I will) the hours spent creating marketing plans, posting ads on all your social media accounts, and constantly promoting your back list of books. An author’s life is also a fine balance between being there for your family, friends, or pets, as well as doing important tasks like housework, cooking, laundry, and grocery shopping. Add dealing with an unexpected pandemic, and you’ve got to juggle a whole lot more! Or…you can choose to drop those balls and focus on what you really want.

I was blessed to be quoted on author Colleen Story’s Writing and Wellness annual quote round-up post, which I’ll share with you here:

“Trust that inner voice of yours….Write what’s important to you, what you want to say, in whatever genre you’re compelled to write in….Know that you’ll be in it for the long haul if you want to make it as a career writer, so don’t give up on your dreams.”
~Sharon Ledwith

I never did give up. Recently I submitted the third installment of The Last Timekeepers young adult time travel adventure series, The Last Timekeepers and the Noble Slave to my publisher, Mirror World Publishing. I got the nod that this book will be published in the late summer or early fall of 2021. This will be my sixth published book to date, and I truly know that I’m in for the long haul. Or as I’ve dubbed it, ‘my meandering #authorlife’.

As I wait to begin edits on the next Last Timekeepers saga, I’ll be working on a side project to help and inspire writers with tips and tricks from my past blog posts. Plus, I’ll be getting back to writing the third installment of Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls entitled Sticks and Stones. So, bring on 2021! I’ll be ready. I’m betting you are too.

If you’re an author, what does your #authorlife look like? Did 2020 give you a chance to reflect on what kind of writer you want to be? Or were you a writing machine, churning out your best work? Would love to read your comments! Wishing all my followers a very Happy New Year in 2021! Cheers, be well, and thank you for reading my blog.

Sunday, 27 December 2020

A Recipe and Read for the Holidays: Pizza Bread and Children's Book 'Blitzen Learns How to Fly' by Tina Ruiz...

Nothing goes to waste in my kitchen. If I have leftover Italian or French bread it becomes the base for a dinner. And what a dinner it is – easy – quick – delicious. Can’t beat that if you’re on a busy schedule or tight budget. 

PIZZA BREAD

½ loaf Italian or French bread

1½ cups spaghetti sauce, possibly more

½ lb. Genoa salami or pepperoni, sliced thin

3 or 4 slices fresh tomatoes

1½ cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Split the bread in half lengthwise.  Smear spaghetti sauce on the white part of the bread. Lay meat slices on top. Scatter on mozzarella and then Parmesan.

Place the bread on a cookie sheet then pop them into the oven until the cheese melts, and VIOLA, dinner is ready! 

A nice treat after the pizza bread is a dish of vanilla ice cream topped with Kahlua or your favorite coffee liqueur.  No whip topping, just the ice cream and liqueur.  It is sooooo good and really hits the spot.

Here’s a brief intro to my children’s Christmas book your little ones will enjoy.


Blitzen was born at the North Pole, but he is unable to fly. Because of that, he is taunted and called names by the other reindeers. Rudy saw what was happening, and he decided to teach Blitzen how to gain some confidence. And with a little magic powder from Santa, Blitzen is not only able to fly, but he becomes part of Santa's famous team.



Amazon Buy Links

Tina Ruiz was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school. She began writing children's stories when her own were little. Through the years Ruiz wrote twenty-seven books. Most of those stories went into readers for the Canada Board of Education. Two did not. Mayor Shadoe Markley is a story about a ten-year-old girl who becomes Mayor for a Day through a contest at school.

Little did Ruiz know that story would “change the world.” The book came out at early January 1988. By the end of that same month, everyone was calling the mayor's office at City Hall, trying to get the forms to fill out so their children could participate in the contest. Thirty years later that same contest is still runs at full speed. And not only in Calgary, but all across Canada. The Mayor's Youth Council is now in charge of the celebrated contest and invites Ruiz to attend and meet the lucky winner. It's usually followed by a hand-written thank you card from the mayor himself. Recently Ruiz was invited to be part of the Grand Opening of Calgary's New Library where the mayor shook her hand and introduced her to the attendees.

Tina has worked in television and radio as well as being a professional clown at the Children's Hospital. She lives in Calgary with her husband who encourages her to write her passion be it high-quality children's books or intriguing romance.

Stay connected with Tina Ruiz on her Facebook group Tina Speaks Out.

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Christmas Brunch Made Easy by Sloane Taylor...

After we entertain Christmas Eve, we tear through the house cleaning up before the kids and grands come for brunch Christmas Day. This meal is wonderful because so much can be prepared well in advance and stored in the fridge until it’s time to cook. 

MENU 
Breakfast Soufflé 
Hash Browns 
Fresh Fruit Salad 
Mini Croissants 
Christmas Cookies & Leftover Desserts 
Mimosas 

Breakfast Soufflé
 
1 lb. (½kg) ham, bacon, or breakfast sausage 
9 eggs, lightly beaten 
3 cups (750ml) milk 
1 tsp. (5ml) dry mustard 
Diced green, red, and/or yellow pepper to taste 
½ lb. (57g) sharp cheddar cheese, grated 
½ lb. (57g) Swiss or Gruyere cheese, or a combination of the two, grated 
Diced onion to taste 
Freshly ground black pepper to taste 
4 – 1 in. (2.54cm) slices Vienna or French bread, cubed 

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). 

Dice ham or bacon. If you use ham, set aside in the bowl you use for the eggs. Fry bacon to the crispness you prefer. Drain on paper towels. If you use breakfast sausage, fry meat until no longer pink. Be sure to break up any clumps. Drain meat in a colander while you continue to prepare the soufflé.

Add all ingredients, except bread, to eggs. Stir well. Gently stir in bread. 

Pour mixture into an ungreased 9 x 13-inch (33 x 22cm) glass baking dish. Bake 1 hour or until a knife inserted in the center has no egg clinging to it. 

This dish can be assembled one or two days ahead of time. On serving day allow the soufflé to sit on your counter 1 – 2 hours before you bake it. 

Leftovers are excellent from the microwave. 

Hash Browns 
If you need to increase the hash browns recipe for a larger group of people, it’s best to sparingly add more garlic powder. As is this recipe serves 6. Leftovers reheat beautifully. 

3 russet potatoes (about 1½ pounds), peeled 
1½ tsp. (7.5ml) garlic powder, not salt 
Freshly ground pepper, to taste 
¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil 

Shred potatoes on the large holes of a box grater or use the coarse grater disk on a food processor. Transfer them to a bowl of cold water. Allow them to soak for 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and then rinse under cold water. You do this to remove the starch that makes hash browns gummy. 

Transfer shreds to a kitchen towel. Gather together ends of towel and twist over sink, squeezing firmly to wring out as much liquid as possible. This step creates crisp hash browns. Transfer potatoes to a medium bowl and toss with garlic powder and pepper. Be sure to evenly distribute the seasonings. 

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes, press down to form a thin layer and cook for a minute or two. Stir and then press down again. Cook until a dark golden crust forms, about 5 minutes. 

Turn potatoes in sections. This is easier than trying to turn the food as a whole. Continue to fry until hash browns are crisp and browned all over, 5 minutes or so. Transfer to paper towels to absorb excess oil. 

Fresh Fruit Salad 
1 banana, peeled 
1 pear, cored 
1 tbsp. (15ml) lemon juice 
¼ pineapple, peeled, cored, and diced 
1 kiwi, peeled and sliced 
10 seedless red grapes, halved 
10 blueberries 
10 raspberries, optional 

Slice banana into bitesize pieces. Scoop into a medium-sized bowl. Dice pear and add to bowl. Sprinkle lemon juice over fruit to stop it from turning brown and mix well. 

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.

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. 

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

Sloane

Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning author with a second passion in her life. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.

Taylor's cookbooks, Date Night Dinners, Summer Sizzle, and Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire are released by Toque & Dagger Publishing and available at all book vendors.

Excerpts from her books and free reads can be found on her website, blog, and her Amazon Author Page. Connect with Taylor on Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday, 20 December 2020

A Few of My Favorite Things for this Crazy Covid Christmas...


Given this unprecedented year (bet you’re getting tired of that word), 2020 has been an eye-opener for many people. In truth, I believe this year has brought families closer. Priorities changed, and I think for the better. Work has too. Many people now work from home, cutting travel time and saving the environment, as well as purchasing power suits and dresses for the office, opting for jeans and yoga pants. Though far from over, this pandemic has caused people to think about the impending holidays, how they want to spend them, and with who.

Since most of my family won’t be joining us over the holiday season due to Covid 19, we’ve had to come up with ways to fill the void. Yes, we’ll be decorating our house inside and outside, and I’ll be writing up Christmas cards to mail to family and friends. Guess I’m old school that way. We also get our fill of those sappy Hallmark Christmas movies playing 24/7 on the television. However, one stumbling block to contend with is that my 90-year-old mom is in a nursing home. Depending on the severity of the pandemic, she may or may not be joining us this Christmas. I’m keeping my fingers crossed though, and sending out positive vibes while asking Santa for a huge favor to stuff her in his sleigh and fly her over to our house!

So in lieu of a ‘traditional’ Christmas this year, here are some of my favorite things I don’t plan on giving up:


First Favorite:
Eggs Benedict breakfast on Christmas morning. It’s a must. Been doing this breakie for years. If anyone doesn’t know what this tasty dish is all about, here’s the basic recipe:

1. Prepare hollandaise sauce according to package directions (I’m lazy and get the packaged hollandaise sauce, but you can find a recipe to make from scratch on your favorite cooking site).

2. Place English muffins and Canadian bacon (or Black Forest ham) on the same baking sheet. Broil 2-3 minutes or until English muffins begin to lightly brown and bacon/ham is warm. Remove from oven.

3. Bring pot of water to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Crack one egg into a small bowl and gently slip into the simmering water. Repeat with remaining eggs. Allow eggs to simmer 3-5 minutes or until they reach desired doneness. *We use a poached egg pan, which is much easier.

4. Top each English muffin with warmed bacon/ham, 1 egg, salt and pepper, and hollandaise sauce. Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika, parsley or chives if desired. Trust me, this rich, delicious meal will last you until Christmas dinner.

Second Favorite: Single Malt Scotch. If it’s good enough for Ernest Hemmingway, it’s good enough for me. I ask Santa for a top shelf bottle every year, and he never disappoints!

Third Favorite: Books or gift cards from online bookstores or local bookstores, because you know, winter is coming! Plus, I love supporting my author peeps out there.

Speaking of books, I’ve got two young adult book series available for purchase online or through ordering from your local bookstore for the teen readers in your life. Here’s a glimpse of the premises of both series:

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mysteries…

Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with this freakish power while trying to have a normal life. Now, imagine being uprooted and forced to live in a small tourist town where nothing much ever happens. It’s bores-ville from the get-go.

Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected.

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventures…

Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers—legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial—five classmates are sent into the past to restore balance, and bring order back into the world, one mission at a time.

Children are the keys to our future. And now, children are the only hope for our past.

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventure Series:

The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, Book #2 Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, Book #1 Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Legend of the Timekeepers, prequel Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mystery Series:

Lost and Found, Book One Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Blackflies and Blueberries, Book Two Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀