Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Are You Too Old For Trick or Treating?

The question that arises every year at Halloween is when is someone too old to go trick-or-treating? If it is a tween or older
person responsible for tagging along to make sure their younger siblings are safe, then I say it’s okay. They should be rewarded for having to pull guard duty. It’s a personal decision but here are some funny ways to help you make the call.

You may be too old to go Trick-or-Treating if...
10.You can’t go until you get your college paper done.
9. You stop by the bar for happy hour before you hit the neighborhoods.
8. You can remember back in the day when Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles costumes were first introduced.
7. You wish more houses gave out raisins because they keep you “regular.”
6. You have to get home early because you have work in the morning.
5. You drive from house to house.
4. The younger kids say, “Excuse me, Sir or Ma’am” when they walk past you.
3. Your hand cramps and you are winded carrying your pumpkin up to a house.
2. Everyone looks so much younger than you do except the homeowners.
1. Your water breaks and you go into labor.

Halloween is a wonderful night full of fun and excitement for children. Let’s face it, there comes a time when you are simply too old to go out begging door to door for candy handouts. The bottom line is if you ask yourself if you are too old to go, then you probably are. That’s the time to go to a party or help hand out candy at your own house. At least that way you can have the kind of candy that you like best! No matter what you decide to do this Halloween, have a great time, stay safe, and watch out for those little goblins roaming the streets!

**Recipe of the Day**
This recipe was pinned from Pinterest

Monday, October 28, 2013

40 Websites for KDP Select Free Promo Days

   One of the programs available when you publish your book through Amazon is KDP Select. This allows you to earn a higher percentage of your sales, receive payment when your book is “borrowed” or “loaned.” Every ninety days you can schedule up to five days to offer your book as a free download. I have mentioned before there are authors on both sides of the fence concerning the giveaway program. It has been a benefit to me by getting my first book, The Returns, into the hands of many readers I would have never reached. Every writer must research the different options and make the choice that is best for them. Today’s blog is aimed at those who have chosen KDP Select and are scheduling FREE days.
   The first thing you want to do is go to your KDP account and click on the book you are scheduling. Go down to manage promotions and follow the on screen directions to input the days you’d like to have your free event. Make certain that your days don’t coincide with days that families gather such as the major holidays. People aren’t as likely to sit down at their computers to browse through lists of books on these days or on major shopping days.
   I like to keep an Excel spreadsheet of my days by the hour so I can keep track of the peak downloading trends. I also list my rankings on Amazon’s Top 100 Free list. Don’t forget to list the various countries your title is available. In the past, Sunday afternoons have been the time of my heaviest traffic.
   As soon as you have scheduled your days, you need to get the word out to as many outlets as possible. The earlier you submit, the better chance you have of being listed. If you have the money to spend on advertising, you can purchase space on most every website offering free books. However, if your budget is tight, don’t despair. There are still many sites willing to help authors by listing your book at no charge. Some require a certain number of reviews, a two-week notice, or have some other stipulations. Be sure you read and understand the instructions before submitting your listing. Most of the free sites will not guarantee that your book will be listed but you should still submit it to as many sites as possible. Keep a list of the sites where you sent the information and check to see if you made their list on your designated days.
** I’d like to offer credit for many of these sites to J. C. Mells, the wonderful author of the “Pierced” series and awesome blog . If you haven’t read her books or her blog, I highly recommend you do both!
   All of the following websites were accepting submissions in August during my last free promotion. If any have changed their policies since then, I am not aware of it. Good luck!
Websites for KDP Promotional Listings
1. 100 Free Books @
2. Addicted to eBooks @
3. Authors Marketing Club @
4. Awesome Gang @
5. Bargain eBook Hunter @
7. Book Goodies @
8. Digital Books Today @
9. eBook Deal of the Day @
10.eBook Habit @
11.eBook Lister @
12.e Reader Café @
13.E Reader Eutopia @
14.E Reader Girl @
15.E Reader News Today @
16.E Reader Perks @
17.E Reader Eutopia @
18.Free & Discounted Books @
19.Free Book Hub @
20.Free Booksie @
21.Free Book Dude @
22.Free e Books Daily @
23.Frugal Freebie @
24.Great Books Great Deals @
25.Hunt 4 Freebies @
26.Indie Book Bargains @
27.Indie Book Promo @
28.Indie Book of the Day @
29.It’s Write Now @
30.Kindle Book Promos @
31.Kindle Book Review @
32.Kindle Books & Tips @
33.Mama Says Read @
34.More Than a Review @
35.Orangeberry Tours @
36.Pixel of Ink @
37.Snicklist @
38.That Book Place @
39.World Literary Café @
On the day of your giveaway, hit the following Facebook pages!
• eBooks Free
• Solid Series Facebook Page
• Only Romance Facebook page
• Ebooks of Horror Facebook page
• Share FREE eBooks
• GalleyCats New Books Page
• Free Today on Amazon
• Free books are Us Group
• Free Books for Kindle
• Ebook Deal of the Day US
• Ebook Deal of the Day UK
• Free Book Deal
• Free Kindle and Nook Books for Readers
• Kindle Korner
• Free Kindle Books & Tips
• Reading Kindle
• Indie Kindle
• Kindle Finds
• iAuthor
• Ereader1US

**Recipe of the Day**

Avocado Chicken Salad via my sister-in-law C. Bryant’s Facebook page.
2 or 3 boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts
1 Avocado
¼ chopped Onion
Juice of ½ Lime
2 Tbsp. Cilantro
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cook chicken breast until done, let cool and then shred. Mix with all other ingredients.
Frosty Paws Frozen Treats for Dogs 
32 oz. plain yogurt
1 mashed ripe banana
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons honey
Blend until mixed well. Freeze in ice cube tray or egg carton lined with waxed paper.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Life's Lessons

Over the past week I have noticed quite a few people are blogging or tweeting about feeling depressed or angry. Researchers have labeled the emotions felt at this time of the year as SAD or “seasonal affective disorder.” Apparently, the shortened daylight hours are at the root of these feelings. I don’t suffer from the disorder; I just don’t like it getting dark at 5:30p.m. Of course, the stores pushing Christmas shopping a month before Halloween probably doesn’t help those that are financially stressed. The truth is that everyone has problems to deal with in their lives. No human is exempt from the pain of losing a loved one, being hurt by a friend, being let down by someone they trusted, experiencing failure, or suffering from an illness. It doesn’t matter what our status in life is, whether we are rich and famous or poor and anonymous. Life has a way of handing out joy and suffering on a fairly equal basis. Although, when it is our turn to suffer, it certainly feels like we are given more than our share of grief. The most important thing to remember when life is getting you down is that it will get better. There ARE people who care about you and want you to be okay. The ones that don't care about you are probably the toxic people you should expel from your life before they poison you. Sometimes it's the kindness and caring from strangers that can make all of the difference in someone’s life. Just remember to be nice to others because you have no idea of the struggles they are going through.
I have collected these inspirational words of wisdom from various places over the years. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to locate or verify an author to credit most of the works although they have appeared on many sites.

Imagine there is a bank account that credits your account each morning with $86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day. Every evening the bank deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day. What would you do? Draw out every cent, of course? Each of us has such a bank, its name is time. Every morning, it credits you 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off at a lost, whatever of this you failed to invest to a good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no over draft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day's deposits, the loss is yours. There is no drawing against "tomorrow.” You must live in the present on today's deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness, and health. The clock is running. Make the most of today.”
― Marc Levy, If Only It Were True

The Value of Time
To realize the value of one year:
Ask a student who has failed a final exam.
To realize the value of one month:
Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.
To realize the value of one week:
Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.
To realize the value of one hour:
Ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
To realize the value of one minute:
Ask the person who has missed the train, bus or plane.
To realize the value of one second:
Ask a person who has survived an accident.
To realize the value of one millisecond:
Ask the person who has won a silver medal in the Olympics.
Time waits for no one. Treasure every moment you have.
You will treasure it even more when you share it with someone special.
-Author Unknown

Ten Commandments for Worriers
I. Thou shalt not worry...for worry is the most unproductive of all human activities.
II. Thou shalt not be fearful...for most of the things we fear never come to pass.
III. Thou shalt not cross bridges before you come to them...for no one has ever succeeded in accomplishing this feat.
IV. Thou shalt face each problem as it comes...for you can only handle one problem at a time anyway.
V. Thou shalt not take problems to bed with you...for they make very poor bedfellows.
VI. Thou shalt not borrow other people's problems...for they can better care for them than you can.
VII. Thou shalt not try to re-live yesterday for good or is gone forever.
VIII. Thou shalt be a good listener...for only then do you hear ideas different from your own.
IX. Though shalt not become bogged down with frustration...for 90% of it is rooted in self-pity, which interferes with positive action.
X. Thou shall count thy blessings, never overlooking the small ones...for many small ones add up to one big one.
-Author Unknown

Life’s Lessons
I've learned –
that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is be someone who can be loved. The rest is up to them.
I've learned-
that no matter how much I care, some people just don't care back.
I've learned-
that it takes years to build up trust, and only seconds to destroy it.
I've learned-
that it's not what you have in your life but who you have in your life that counts.
I've learned-
that you can get by on charm for about fifteen minutes. After that, you'd better know something.
I've learned-
that you shouldn't compare yourself to the best others can do.
I've learned-
that you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life.
I've learned-
that it's taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.
I've learned-
that you can keep going long after you can't.
I've learned-
that we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.
I've learned-
that either you control your attitude or it controls you.
I've learned-
that regardless of how hot and steamy a relationship is at first, the passion fades and there had better be something else to take its place.
I've learned-
that heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.
I've learned-
that money is a lousy way of keeping score.
I've learned-
that my best friend and I can do anything or nothing and have the best time.
I've learned-
that sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you're down will be the ones to help you get back up.
I've learned-
that sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.
that true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance. The same goes for true love.
I've learned-
that just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have.
I've learned-
that maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had and what you've learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.
I've learned-
that you should never tell a child their dreams are unlikely or outlandish. Few things are more humiliating, and what a tragedy it would be if they believed it.
I've learned-
that your family won't always be there for you. It may seem funny, how people you aren't related to can take care of you and love you and teach you to trust people again. Families aren't always biological.
I've learned-
that no matter how good a friend is, they're going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that.
I've learned-
that it isn't always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you are to learn to forgive yourself.
I've learned-
that no matter how bad your heart is broken the world doesn't stop for your grief.
I've learned-
that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.
I've learned-
that just because two people argue, it doesn't mean they don't love each other and just because they don't argue, it doesn't mean they do.
I've learned-
that we don't have to change friends if we understand that friends change.
I've learned-
that you shouldn't be so eager to find out a secret. It could change your life forever.
I've learned-
that two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.
I've learned-
that no matter how you try to protect your children, they will eventually get hurt and you will hurt in the process.
I've learned-
that your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who don't even know you.
I've learned-
that even when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you, you will find the strength to help.
I've learned-
that credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being.
I've learned-
that the people you care about most in life are taken from you too soon.
I've learned-
that it's hard to determine where to draw the line between being nice and not hurting people's feelings and standing up for what you believe.
-Author Unknown

**Recipe of the Day**

Georgia Pralines

• 1 cup Chopped Pecans • 1 cup Brown Sugar • 1/3 cups Whipping Cream • 1/4 cups Butter • 1 cup Powdered Sugar • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
Preheat oven to 350˚
Chop pecans and place on baking sheet or shallow pan.
Bake pecans for 8-10 minutes or until pecans are toasted and fragrant.
In a medium saucepan, bring brown sugar, whipping cream and butter to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for about 1 minute. Remove from heat, and whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.
Gently stir in toasted pecans allowing mixture to thicken and cool slightly.
Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
Drop heaping spoonfuls of mixture onto paper and allow to harden/cool for at least 30 minutes.
Preparation time: 10 minutes * Cook Time: 20 minutes * Servings: 24

**Pet Tip of the Day**

Pets Are Good For You

How pets can affect mood and health
While most pet owners are clear about the immediate joys that come with sharing their lives with companion animals, many remain unaware of the physical and mental health benefits that can also accompany the pleasure of playing with or snuggling up to a furry friend. It’s only recently that studies have begun to scientifically explore the benefits of the human-animal bond. Studies have found that:
• Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
• People with pets have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets.
• Playing with a pet can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.
• Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets.
• Heart attack patients with pets survive longer than those without.
• Pet owners over age 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets.
• A pet doesn’t have to be a dog or a cat. Even watching fish in an aquarium can help reduce muscle tension and pulse rate.

One of the reasons for these therapeutic effects is that most pets fulfill the basic human need to touch. Even hardened criminals in prison have shown long-term changes in their behavior after interacting with pets, many of them experiencing mutual affection for the first time. Stroking, holding, cuddling, or otherwise touching a loving animal can rapidly calm and soothe us when we’re stressed. The companionship of a pet can also ease loneliness, and some pets are a great stimulus for healthy exercise, which can substantially boost mood.

How pets can help to make healthy lifestyle changes
Adopting healthy lifestyle changes can play an important role in easing symptoms of depression, stress, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and anxiety. Caring for a pet can help with those healthy lifestyle changes by:
• Increasing exercise. Exercise doesn’t have to involve boring repetition at a gym. Taking a dog for a walk, riding a horse, or simply chasing a kitten around are fun ways to fit healthy daily exercise into your schedule.
• Providing companionship. Isolation and loneliness can make disorders such as depression even worse. Caring for a living animal can help make you feel needed and wanted, and take the focus away from your problems. Most pet owners talk to their pets, some even use them to work through their troubles.
• Helping meet new people. Pets can be a great social lubricant for their owners. Dog owners frequently stop and talk to each other on walks or in a dog park. Pet owners also meet new people in pet stores, clubs, and training classes.
• Reducing anxiety. The companionship of a dog can offer comfort, help ease anxiety, and build self-confidence for people anxious about going out into the world.
• Providing sensory stress relief. Touch and movement are two healthy ways to quickly manage stress. This could involve petting a cat or taking a dog for a walk.

Pets and older adults
The key to aging well is to effectively handle life’s major changes, such as retirement, the loss of loved ones, and the physical changes of aging. Pets can play an important role in healthy aging by:
• Helping you find meaning and joy in life. As you age, you’ll lose things that previously occupied your time and gave your life purpose. You may retire from your career or your children may move far away. Caring for a pet can bring pleasure and help boost your morale and optimism. Taking care of an animal can also provide a sense of self-worth.
• Staying connected. Maintaining a social network isn’t always easy as you grow older. Retirement, illness, death, and moves can take away close friends and family members. And making new friends can get harder. Dogs especially are a great way for seniors to spark up conversations and meet new people.
• Boosting vitality. You can overcome many of the physical challenges associated with aging by taking good care of yourself. Pets encourage playfulness, laughter, and exercise, which can help boost your immune system and increase your energy.

Visit your local animal shelter to adopt your new best friend and improve both of your lives!!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Let's Cook Up Some Halloween Party Food

It’s almost time for your Halloween party! Your RSVPs are coming in, your decorations are piling up, waiting to transform your home into a House of Horrors, and you are itching to get into your costume. What’s left to do before the big night? The menu has to be planned, a grocery list written, and tons of food brought in to satisfy the masses. The best plan is to have more food than you think you will need. Nothing will cause an abrupt stop to a party quicker than running out of food or drinks. When we hosted parties, we always cooked a turkey and a ham for sandwiches. It’s easy to set up an area with condiments, rolls/bread, and the sliced meats. Of course, you’ll want to have plenty of chips, dips, nuts, and salty snacks. Desserts and sweets are a must but it’s Halloween so be sure you have the traditional Trick-or-Treat style candy set out. Remember, your guests will all be in costumes and their mobility may be limited so finger foods will be the easiest. You can revisit my blogs for the recipes for the Cajun Crackers from Sept. 26th and Candy Corn Poke Cake from Oct. 10th. The recipes I am listing below are easy to follow and quick to prepare. Remember the less stress is always best! I hope your party is a “spirited” affair!
Be sure to save the seeds from your pumpkins when you carve them, they are delicious roasted!

**Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds (Pull all the strings and goo off of them)
2 teaspoons melted butter (olive oil or vegetable oil work well)
~These Spices are added to your individual taste & may be omitted (I use a few shakes of each)
Garlic Powder
Cayenne Pepper
Seasoning Salt
Cajun Seasoning

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Toss pumpkin seeds in a bowl with the melted butter or oil and seasonings of your choice.
Spread pumpkin seeds in a single layer on baking sheet.
Bake for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.

3 Avocados (peeled, seeded & mashed)
1 tsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon or Lime Juice
1/8 tsp. Tabasco Sauce
1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 Clove Garlic (crushed)
2 med. Tomatoes (peeled, seeded & chopped) *Hint: drop tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minute then plunge in cold water for easy peeling.
Mix ingredients & serve chilled.

**Hot & Spicy Peanuts
2 tsp. Vegetable Oil
2 Cups Peanuts
2 tsp. Cajun Seasoning or Chili Powder
¼ tsp. Cayenne Pepper
½ tsp. Garlic Salt
Heat oil; add peanuts, Cajun spice, and red pepper. Stir approx. 2 minutes or until peanuts are warm. Transfer immediately to paper towel to drain. Allow to cool and store in airtight container.

**Cowboy Caviar Dip
2 cans Mexicorn
1 can Ro*Tel (reg. or hot)
2 cups shredded cheddar
6 green onions (sliced)
1-Cup mayo
1 Cup Sour Cream
Mix well and serve chilled.

**Halloween Trash
16 oz. jar of Dry Roasted Peanuts
12 oz. Bag of Halloween colored M & M’s
21 oz. Bag of Candy Corn
Mix ingredients and enjoy!

**Pickapeppa Cream Cheese
1 5oz. Bottle Pickapeppa
1 8oz. Cream Cheese
Shake Pickapeppa and pour over cream cheese. Serve with crackers.

2 Pkg. Lil Smokies Sausages
2 Pkgs. Crescent Rolls (Cut into thin strips)
Sesame seeds
Wrap each sausage with crescent roll strip. Wrap in “Mummy” fashion. Bake according to crescent roll directions. When golden brown remove and add sesame seeds for eyes. (You can also use food coloring and a toothpick to make “dot” eyes)

Pet Tip for Your Halloween Party
It is best if you can kennel your pet during party time. A house full of strangers in costumes is going to upset your four-legged friends. If you don’t want to board them overnight, then put them in their own kennel or in the fenced back yard. Under no circumstances, allow them to roam among your guests. They risk being stepped on, accidentally escaping, and some guests may be allergic or not like animals. Not to mention all of the yummy treats that will tempt them. Your Halloween party is no place for your pet. They will thank you later.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Social Media Button Madness

I know what you are thinking…WOW! Look at the new Social Media buttons M. K. has added to her blog! Okay, that’s probably not what you are thinking but if you had any idea how long it has taken me to figure out how to add them, you would at least notice them. Hahaha! As I have previously mentioned, my computer skills peaked at the time of the floppy disk. I am learning through trial and error, admittedly, there are more errors than successes. I am determined to build and maintain my blog without asking anyone (my kids) to come over and do something for me. It’s a matter of pride and the need to overcome my fear of technology. When I first decided to start a blog, I looked at all different kinds of blog pages. There are fancy, cutesy, high-tech, bookish, themed, and funny ones. The thing in common with almost every single one of them was the Social Media Icons. They all had them and they were really cool looking. Thus began my quest for the ultimate icon. If you haven’t ever looked into the vast collections, take it from me, the selection is staggering. You can choose from plain buttons to coffee cups and anything else you can imagine. I spent several days just perusing through my choices. I finally decided on a free set and followed the instructions to download them. Easy as pie, right? So it seemed until I couldn’t find where they downloaded. Yes, that’s right…I lost my free icons. Defeated, I gave up for the day.
After a good night’s sleep and several cups of coffee, I was ready to go in search of my new elusive free icons. I found them and discovered they were in a zip file. Uh-oh! Well, I may be overcoming my fear of technology but I haven’t actually succeeded so no, I wasn’t doing a zip file yet. I just deleted that little booger and searched some more. This led me to good old Google “how to” with every combination of installing Social Media buttons/icons I could think of to learn. Some made the process sound simple so off I go on my search for another set of buttons. This process of going between button search and Google instructions went on for several weeks. I did have other things going on so it’s not like I actually devoted days on end to the task. I’m still getting everything pulled together for the launch of my second book “Showstoppers,” working to improve my blog, while trying to gain followers, as well as everyday life things.
Finally, I decided that this was the week. I was going to figure out how to replace my tiny generic icons. I found a person’s site and it looked promising. As usual, he started out reassuring me I could do this in a few easy steps. Three steps later, and he wanted me to start replacing codes. The part of my brain that should comprehend the knowledge began receiving “white noise.” The snarky part of my brain was saying something about all of the brain cells I so frivolously fried in my youth and how helpful they would be now. The logical part of my brain just told me to click off the page and go get more coffee. I’m a very logical person. After a couple of cups of coffee, I returned determined to win this battle. I can’t tell you what I did that was different from the hundreds of other times I typed “How to” in the search bar but the Google Gods smiled down on me. I discovered Pam’s DIY Design Fanatic Blog and she had obviously experienced the same problems as I had. Bless her heart and I thank her so much! She posted a video from Emily at Blogoholic Designs Emily makes the process so simple it is amazing! I don’t know either of these women but I am forever in their debt! I wish that I had found them a month ago. If you are in a similar situation, I hope that this blog can help pay it forward! I’m sure that as with all new things, I will be changing these icons until I find the perfect ones but before you leave, go ahead, and click on one of my buttons, they really work!

**Recipe of the Day**

Cream Cheese Banana Nut Bread
***Makes 2 loaves***


3/4 c. butter, softened
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 c. sugar
2 large eggs
3 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 medium bananas)
1 cup roughly chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract


Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended. Stir in bananas, pecans, and vanilla. Spoon batter into 2 greased and floured 8x4 inch loaf pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean and sides pull away from pan, shielding with aluminum foil last 15 minutes to prevent browning, if necessary. (I found that after one hour, my banana bread wasn't cooked completely through. I ended up baking it for an extra 10-15 minutes.) Cool bread in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool 30 minutes on wire racks before slicing.
Source: Southern Living magazine

Pet Health Tips
Nearly 600 pets have died and more than 3,600 have been sickened in an ongoing, mysterious outbreak of illnesses tied to jerky treats made in China, federal animal health officials said Tuesday.
Most of the cases have been in dogs of all breeds, ages and sizes — although 10 cats have been sickened, too — after eating chicken, duck and sweet potato jerky treats. The pace of the reported illnesses appears to have slowed, but federal Food and Drug Administration officials are now seeking extra help from veterinarians and pet owners in solving the ongoing puzzle. “To date, testing for contaminants in jerky treats has not revealed a cause for the illnesses,” Martine Hartogensis, a deputy director for the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in the new report. “Despite these warnings, we have continued to receive reports of illnesses in both cats and dogs.”
The new numbers are up from some 500 deaths and 3,200 illnesses tallied in January, but the rate of reports has fallen sharply since then, mostly because two of the largest sellers of pet jerky treats announced recalls tied to the presence of unapproved antibiotic residue detected in the products.
FDA officials don’t think that antibiotic residue is the big problem that has stumped the agency since 2007, when pet owners started reporting their animals were suffering gastrointestinal and kidney problems after eating the popular jerky treats. Instead, it’s likely that the recall of Nestle Purina PetCare Co.’s Waggin Train and Canyon Creek Ranch treats, plus Del Monte Corp.’s Milo’s Kitchen Chicken Jerky and Chicken Grillers home-style dog treats simply resulted in fewer treats being available. Three other smaller retailers also recalled the treats because of the problem.
In fact, FDA officials remain as uncertain as ever about the source of the problem that has led to reports of illnesses and warnings about the possibility of Fanconi syndrome and other kidney problems in animals that ate jerky treats. “We still are extensively testing treats for a number of things,” Hartogensis told NBC News. “We do seem to be getting some leads, but we still have a little bit of a ways to go.”
Kendal Harr, a veterinary clinical pathologist who has been tracking the problem, says that the specific compound responsible for the illnesses continues to elude experts.
"I think that what it tells us is that the intoxicant is something that we're not used to dealing with as a toxin in North America," she said.
Now, in an open letter to US veterinarians, FDA officials are asking the vets to track and send detailed information about any animals sickened by jerky treats, including results of blood and urine tests. In addition, the agency is asking vets to send urine samples from suspect pets for analysis.
“This testing will allow FDA to get a better idea of how many of the suspected cases involve Fanconi syndrome, whether or not the pets display symptoms of kidney or urinary disease,” the report said.
About 60 percent of reports cite gastrointestinal illness in the animals, and about 30 percent flag kidney or urinary troubles, the report said. About 135 cases of Fanconi syndrome, a specific kind of kidney disease, have been reported.
At the same time that they’re seeking help from vets, FDA officials are putting out a fact sheet for owners that can be posted at veterinary hospitals, pet supply stores and other sites.
The agency has repeatedly cautioned that the treats are not necessary for a balanced diet, but the warnings stop short of a recall, Hartogensis said. The agency is still validating tests to detect the same kind of antibiotic residue that New York officials found earlier this year.
“If we do find an adulterated product, we will recall them,” Hartogensis said. “In terms of doing a blanket recall, at this point we don’t have enough evidence to do a blanket recall within the authority that we have.”
Because there's no formal recall, it's not possible to list affected brands, although a previous FDA analysis indicated that three of the top-selling brands of jerky treats sold in the U.S. were mentioned in connection with pet illnesses.
That doesn't sit well with pet owners like Robin Pierre of Pine Bush, N.Y., who contends that Waggin' Train chicken jerky treats were responsible for the sudden death in 2011 of her previously healthy 2-year-old pug, Bella, who developed kidney failure. She has long called for FDA to crack down on treat makers — and manufacturers.
"I am disgusted that our government continues to protect corporate American and China," she told NBC News. "They need to start protecting the American consumer so that this does not happen again. As soon as a product is in doubt, a warning label should be placed at the point of sale so that consumers can make an educated choice."
If a pet does become ill after eating the treats, FDA is asking owners to provide detailed information — up to and including results of a necropsy to test an animal’s tissues after death.
In the meantime, officials are trying to reach pet owners who might still have treats on hand to make sure they know about the potential problems.
“Right now, the focus for us is to make the public aware that these cases are still coming in,” she said.
Pet owners can report problems with jerky treats at the FDA's consumer safety portal.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Truly Trivial Stuff

It’s the beginning of another week. You probably have a new pile of work on your desk, new projects to tackle, and new uninteresting knowledge to cram into your overcrowded brain. Wouldn’t it be great if someone gave you some fun useless knowledge to give your brain a chance to relax? Well, look no further! Just sit back, relax, and absorb a little truly trivial trivia.
Did you know…?
*People can be fined, arrested, or jailed for making ugly faces at a dog in Oklahoma.
*In Texas, it is illegal to put graffiti on someone else’s cow.
*Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.
*Mark Twain was the firstperson to use typewriter when writing a published novel.
*It is impossible to lick your elbow.(If you tried this, you probably do not have an over abundance of zinc or copper in your hair.)
*The first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time TV was Fred and Wilma Flintstone.
*Honey is the only food that doesn’t spoil.
*Women invented bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, and laser printers.
*Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, was allergic to carrots.
*The dial tone of a normal telephone and a housefly’s hum are both in the key of “F.”
*A pregnant goldfish is called a “twit.”
*40% of people at a party will look in the host's medicine cabinet.
*There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.
*Maine is the only state that is just one syllable.
*Rubber bands last longer if they are refrigerated.
*Almonds are part of the peach family.
*A cat’s jaw cannot move sideways.
*The sentence, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” uses every letter of the alphabet.
*The airplane Buddy Holly died in was “The American Pie.” (That’s the reason for the title of Don McLean’s hit song)
*A goldfish has a memory span of about 3 seconds.

Now, if you remember any of this longer than a goldfish does, congratulations! Of course, if you retain it long enough to win a million dollar random trivia contest, you’re welcome. One more thing before you get back to work…October 21, 2013 is National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day so I’ve included the recipe below.

**Recipe of the Day**

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Crust: • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
• 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 stick melted salted butter


• 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
• 1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
• 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
• 1/4 cup sour cream
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
• 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
For crust: In medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.
For filling: Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar, and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined.
Pour into crust. Spread out evenly and place in oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.

Dog & Cat Trivia

*Adult cats have 30 teeth while adult dogs have 42.
*Cats can jump seven times their height.
*Almost every dog has a pink tongue except the Chow whose tongue is black.
*A cat has four rows of whiskers. They use them to determine if a space is too small to squeeze through. The whiskers act as feelers to help it judge the precise width of any passage.
*The dog on the Cracker Jacks box name is Bingo.
*Cats spend nearly 30% of their lives grooming.
*Cats have more than 100 vocal sounds while dogs have only around 10.
*A recent poll showed that 33% of dog owners admit that they talk to their dogs on the phone or leave messages on an answering machine when they are away from home.
*The most popular name for a dog is "Max."
*Over 1 million dogs in the U.S. are left as the primary beneficiary in their owner's will.
*And the best reason of all to own a cat or dog is this...96% of ALL pet owners say their pet makes them smile every single day!
*Remember October is National Dog Adoption Month so visit a shelter near you.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

May I Quote You?

I’ll admit to never being one that enjoyed having to memorize things. It didn’t matter if it was the Preamble or the rules of algebra. I usually retained things as long as needed then quickly moved them to the useless knowledge bin in my brain. One exception has become second nature to me. I am a “quotaholic.” It started when I was in the sixth grade. My teacher, Mrs. Williams made us memorize a quotation every week. They always fascinated me, whether they were funny, inspirational, or deeply profound. Quotes are one of the few things that I can hear once and recall years later. This comes in very handy when playing Jeopardy. If it weren't for the computer making storing quotations so simple, I would have probably been featured on a segment of "Hoarders" buried under piles of papers, notebooks, and "Favorite Quotes" books. I seriously have a file full of them separated in categories. If you don't believe me, click on my Pinterest link. There are several boards dedicated to quotes. It's not just me though, right?!?
Here are some that we've all heard from sources we know:

The Bible: “For God so loved the world” – John 3:16
Politicians: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Movies: “Here’s lookin’ at you kid.” – “Casablanca” (1942)
Gossip: “And then she said…” – This statement is usually emphasized with air quotes
Authors: “To be or not to be: that is the question.” - Shakespeare / Hamlet (Act III, Scene I)
Parents: “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times.” “Don’t make me turn this car around.”
Television: “Yada, yada” – “Seinfeld”

As you can see, a person doesn’t have to be famous to be quoted. They are everywhere you look. You can see them emblazoned on tee shirts, coffee mugs, posters, car bumpers, and billboards. Many people have their favorites tattooed on their bodies. When I was researching this topic, I noticed several blogs are primarily on the subject of quotes. It made me feel a lot better to know that I am not alone in my obsession. Let’s face it…quotations have made their mark. Feel free to quote me on that!

Chocolate Éclair Desert


2 (3.5 oz.) boxes vanilla instant pudding
3 c. milk
1 (8 oz.) container Cool Whip
Graham crackers

1/3 c. cocoa
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. milk
1 stick (1/2 c.) butter (or margarine)
1 tsp. vanilla


For the filling:

1. Combine pudding mix and milk; beat. Stir in Cool Whip.
2. Place a layer of graham crackers in the bottom of a 9x13" dish. Spread 1/2 of the pudding mixture over the graham crackers. Repeat with another layer of graham crackers and pudding; then top with a final layer of graham crackers.

For the topping:

3. Bring cocoa, milk, and sugar to a full rolling boil; boil about 1 minute, stirring very frequently. Remove from heat and cool one minute. Add butter and vanilla; stir until butter is melted.
4. Pour chocolate topping over the top layer of graham crackers.
5. Refrigerate overnight.

October is American Humane Association's Adopt-A-Dog Month

What Can An Adopted Dog Bring To Your Life?

There are as many responses to that question as there are dogs in this world! That’s why -- during American Humane Association’s Adopt-A-Dog Month celebration in October -- we’re encouraging people to adopt a rescue or shelter dog and experience the joy of finding their own answers.
Are you looking for:
•an exercise buddy?
•a best friend and confidant for your child?
•a dog you can train with to learn animal-assisted therapy?
•a partner in agility competitions?
•a constant companion for your favorite senior citizen?
•a fuzzy face to greet you after a hard day at work?

An adopted dog can be all these things -- and so much more!

Your local shelter is the perfect place to find dogs of every type, size, age, and personality -- all waiting for a loving home. Or, if you prefer a particular breed that isn’t currently available at a shelter, go online to find a breed-specific rescue group in need of adopters like you.
Find out what a shelter or rescue dog can bring to your life this October during Adopt-A-Dog Month!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Random Thoughts

I decided to take on the monumental task of organizing my mountain of “saved email” yesterday. Until the inspiration hit me, I had always kept all of the mail in this particular account just tossed into the general saved file. After looking for a particular correspondence for over an hour, I decided it was time to make files. Of course, the fun part was finding all of the jokes that I’ve saved for years. I have no idea who originally penned this particular list but they have my thanks and admiration! I am in no way claiming these as my own, although I have definitely had most of them at one time or the other. Enjoy!

Random Thoughts
1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to clear, immediately, your computer’s history if you die.
2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.
3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.
4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.
5. How in the heck are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
6. Was learning cursive really necessary for anything other than my name?
7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.
8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.
9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least KIND OF tired.
10. Bad decisions make good stories.
11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.
12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blu-Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection... again.
13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.
14. "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this -- ever.
15. I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Dang it!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voice-mail. What did you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?
16. I hate leaving my house confident, looking good, and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.
17. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
18. My granddaughter asked me in the car the other day, "Grandpa, what would happen if you ran over a ninja?" How in the heck do I respond to that?
19. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.
20. There comes a point in every woman’s life when she feels it is pointless to shave above the knee.

**Recipe of the Day**

Sopapilla Cheesecake

2 cans Pillsbury Crescent rolls (use seamless if available)
2 8 oz. Cream Cheese (room temperature)
1 ½ cups Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 stick Butter (1/2 cup) *use REAL butter not margarine

Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Unroll and press 1 can of crescent rolls into the bottom of baking dish, pressing the seams together.
In a separate bowl, blend the cream cheese, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Spread over the top of crescent rolls.
Unroll the second can of rolls and place on top of cream cheese mixture, again pressing seams together.
Melt butter and pour over the top layer of crescent rolls. Mix the remaining ½-cup of sugar and the cinnamon together. Sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar mixture generously over the top of melted butter.
You can always mix more sugar and cinnamon to add, it should look similar to the way you enjoy your cinnamon toast!
Bake at 350˚ for 30 minutes until bottom crust is slightly brown and it is bubbly. Cool and enjoy. Keep refrigerated.

Microchipping for Dogs and Cats

I am not endorsing any particular brand of microchipping for your pet but these questions are ones I have asked myself. I hope they provide answers for you as well. Of course, your veterinarian will be able to provide additional information on this subject.
*This information is from
Here are some common questions and misconceptions about pet microchips.
Q: Will it hurt my pet when he gets the microchip implanted?
A: It won’t hurt any more than a routine vaccination – having a microchip implanted doesn’t even require anesthetic. The procedure is performed at your veterinarian’s office and is simple and similar to administering a vaccine or a routine shot. The microchip comes preloaded in a sterile applicator and is injected under the loose skin between the shoulder blades. The process takes only a few seconds, and your pet will not react any more than he would to a vaccination.
Q: Will a microchip tell me my pet’s location?
A: Pet microchips are not tracking devices and do not work like global positioning devices (GPS). They are radio-frequency identification (RFID) implants that provide permanent ID for your pet. Because they use RFID technology, microchips do not require a power source like a GPS. When a microchip scanner is passed over the pet, the microchip gets enough power from the scanner to transmit the microchip’s ID number. Since there’s no battery and no moving parts, there’s nothing to keep charged, wear out, or replace. The microchip will last your pet’s lifetime.
Q: Why does my pet need a microchip when he already wears a collar with tags?
A: All pets should wear collar tags imprinted with their name and the phone number of their pet parent, but only a microchip provides permanent ID that cannot fall off, be removed, or become impossible to read.
Q: How much does it cost to microchip my pet?
A: The average cost to have a microchip implanted by a veterinarian is around $45, which is a one–time fee and often includes registration in a pet recovery database. If your pet was adopted from a shelter or purchased from a breeder, your pet may already have a microchip. Consult your pet adoption paperwork, or have your pet scanned for a microchip at your next vet visit to reveal the unique microchip ID number and register it.
Q: Isn’t microchipping only for dogs?
A: Both cats and dogs need to be microchipped. Cats often do not wear collars, and may not have any other form of ID. A recent study showed that less than 2% of cats without microchips were returned home. However, if a cat is microchipped, the return-to-owner rate is 20 times higher than if the cat was not microchipped.
Q: Can anyone with a scanner access my contact information from the chip?
A: Microchips carry only a unique identification number. If your pet gets lost and is taken to a vet clinic or animal shelter, your pet will be scanned for a microchip to reveal his unique ID number. That number will be called into the pet recovery service, and you will be contacted using the contact information on file with your pet’s microchip.
**It is vital to keep your contact information up to date so that you can be reached.
Q: How many times do I need to microchip my pet?
A: A microchip will normally last the lifetime of your pet because it is composed of biocompatible materials that will not degenerate over time.
The HomeAgain® microchip has the Bio-Bond™ patented anti–migration feature to help ensure the chip stays where it’s implanted. Also, since microchips require no power source and have no moving parts, there’s nothing that can wear out and need to be replaced. Pet parents can also check to make sure their pet’s microchip is still working by asking a vet to scan it during their pet’s next checkup.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Are you Giving Birth or Publishing a Book?

I am preparing for the release of my second book in The Returns series. I thought it would be less nerve wracking than when I took the blind leap into the world of self-publishing for the first time last November. I find that while my eyes are opened quite a bit wider this time around, it is still a very scary prospect. The best way to describe it is to compare it to the birth of my second child. That may seem like a strange comparison but I’m sure other authors who are also parents will be able to relate. For all of you who can’t, let me try to explain…

Of course, the conception is still the most thrilling and earth shattering part of the entire process.

The First Trimester:
You are excited at this new addition to your life! Soon, you’re plagued with questions. Are you ready for the additional responsibility? Do you have enough time and love to share? What if you fail miserably the second time around or make mistakes? This is a time where you get sick to your stomach, run your hand through your hair, smile, and shake your head. There are many days of self-doubt and sleepless nights. This is definitely not as easy as everyone makes it look. How do people survive with having dozens? Your excitement wanes.

The Second Trimester:
You get to feeling better and your confidence is soaring. The nausea is gone for the most part and your energy has returned. The thrill and excitement are back! The time will fly by now. You seem to be cruising right along. This baby will be done before you know it! A third is one is certainly possible. Your first one is doing great and people are saying wonderful things, which build your confidence. Oh, life is great!!

The Third Trimester:
Well, the time is crawling at a snail’s pace. You are certain that there is no light at the end to the tunnel. The closer the end comes, the more nervous you get. What if there is something horribly wrong with it? You have a great doctor (editor) and you trust their judgment so why are you still worried? Why does it take so long? Are you ever going to get everything ready? Is it too late to back out? Yes, it’s way too late soooo…

Delivery Date:
Ok, you simply cannot put it off any longer. It has to meet the world! You pray it will be a smooth and wonderful delivery. This second “”baby” already has a special place in your heart and you love it unconditionally. All you can do from this point is hold your head high, smile, and welcome the new life you created into the world.

Now, of course there is a huge difference in giving birth to a child and publishing a book. However, the point I’m trying to make is the feelings of uncertainly and doubt plague us in any new endeavor. The best we can do is simply the best we can do. My book, Showstoppers should be released in the next couple of weeks. My nerves are frayed but I’m definitely more excited than scared. I am much wiser than I was this time last year and with wisdom comes confidence. Like any experienced parent, by the time my third book is ready for publishing; I’ll probably not even break a sweat! Yeah, right!

**Recipe of the Day**

Fried Dill Pickles

•1 jar dill pickle spears
•1 cup flour
•1/2 cup plain yellow corn meal
•1 tablespoon seasoned salt
•1 cup milk
•Vegetable Oil to cook in
•Ranch Dressing for dipping

1.Pour vegetable oil to a depth of at least 1/2 inch in medium sized skillet and place over medium high heat. Drain pickles and place spears on paper towel lined plate to absorb moisture while you prepare breading.
2.Place corn meal in small bowl. Add 1/2 cup flour and seasoned salt. Stir until well combined. In separate bowl, pour remaining flour and place milk in third bowl.
3.Using your hands, dip a pickle into milk, then flour, then milk, then cornmeal breading. Repeat until all pickles are breaded.
4.Carefully place pickles into hot oil and cook until browned, stirring once if needed, about ten minutes.
5.Remove from skillet and place on paper towel lined plate. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving with ranch dressing.
These are extremely hot inside for several minutes after cooking.
Makes about 8
You can also do this with dill pickle chips *

***Pet Care Tip of the Day***

Spaying & Neutering

Spaying is a general term used to describe the ovariohysterectomy of a female animal. Neutering is a general term used to describe the castration of a male animal. However, neutering is often used in reference to both genders. The surgical procedure, performed by a veterinarian, renders the animal incapable of reproducing. Here are answers to some questions you may have about this beneficial procedure.
When can I have this procedure done?
Both procedures can safely be performed at as early as 8 weeks of age. American Humane Association is a strong proponent of juvenile or pediatric spay/neuter since it is both healthy for pets and effectively reduces pet overpopulation.
Why should I have my pet neutered?
Animal shelters, both public and private, are faced with an incredible burden: What to do with the overpopulation of dogs and cats that they cannot find homes for? Approximately 3.7 million animals are euthanized at shelters each year, due to the sheer fact that there are not enough willing adopters. Having your pet spayed or neutered ensures that you will not be adding to this tremendous burden.
What are some of the health and behavioral benefits?
Through neutering, you can help your dog or cat live a happier, healthier, longer life. Spaying eliminates the constant crying and nervous pacing of a female cat in heat. Spaying a female dog also eliminates the messiness associated with the heat cycle. Neutering of male dogs and cats can prevent certain undesirable sexual behaviors, such as urine marking, humping, male aggression, and the urge to roam. If you have more than one pet in your household, all the pets will generally get along better if they are neutered.
A long-term benefit of spaying and neutering is improved health for both cats and dogs. Spaying females prior to their first heat cycle nearly eliminates the risk of breast cancer and totally prevents uterine infections and uterine cancer. Neutering males prevents testicular cancer and enlargement of the prostate gland, and greatly reduces their risk for perianal tumors.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Tuesday's Terrifying Tales

All three frightfully wonderful books recapped today will have you sleeping with the lights on tonight. If you haven't read "It" or "Phantoms" in a while, dust them off and relive the terror. "Bad Games" is a new release and the first in a frightening series that I'm sure you'll enjoy.
It by Stephen King :
You can’t really have a Halloween list of scary books without listing “It.” My favorite Stephen King novel is usually whichever one I happen to be reading at the time. "It" is truly one of my all-time favorites. If you weren’t afraid of clowns as a child, you probably became deathly afraid of them after reading this classic. Set in the town of Derry, Maine the story brings together a group of childhood friends. Reuniting, they are forced to confront a terror they thought they’d killed 28 years earlier. Fulfilling a childhood promise that was sealed in blood, they face old secrets, terror, and discover the strength of friendships made to endure the test of time.
Phantoms by Dean Koontz:
Phantoms is a suspense-filled ride from the very first sentence. When Dr. Jenny Paige and her sister return to the beautiful ski town of Snowfield, California their welcome is deadly silent. There are no cars or people out in the town. The drama escalates when they arrive at their deceased mother’s home to discover the housekeeper dead and her body covered with strange bruises. They soon discover that death has visited almost everyone in the small resort town leaving no answers as to the cause of their demise. Seeking help from the sheriff’s office in the next town they discover their best help may come from the man being questioned for murder. Together, the group battle unseen forces in this white-knuckle novel that will leave you thankful for nightlights! Koontz states in the afterword that he regrets this book being the reason he gained the title of “horror writer.”
Bad Games by Jeff Menapace: Patrick and Amy are taking a quiet family getaway to the family’s vacation cabin in Pennsylvania with the children. What could possibly go wrong? Well, if you add in a mixture of bad luck, bad timing, and the sadistic Fannelli brothers, plenty! When the brothers decide it is time to play a “game” where they make the rules, a dream vacation becomes a nightmare. A fantastic debut novel! This is the first book in a series and you will be anxious to start the second book Vengeful Games.

**Recipes You'll Hate to Know**

Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies


•1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
•1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
•1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp brown sugar
•1/2 tsp vanilla
•1 egg
•1/2 tsp salt
•1/2 tsp baking soda
•1 1/2 cups flour
•3/4 cup stick pretzels, broken into thirds
•1/2 cup caramel bits
•1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


1.In a stand mixer, cream butter with sugars. Add vanilla & egg. Incorporate & scrape bowl.
2.Combine salt, baking soda, & flour. Gradually add to wet mixture. Mix until combined.
3.Fold in broken pretzels, caramel bits, & chocolate chips with a spatula.
4.Spoon onto a baking sheet with parchment paper.
5.Bake at 350*F for 11-12 minutes.
*Makes around 2 dozen cookies.

Report Animal Cruelty
Most people simply cannot imagine abusing an innocent animal and yet all too frequently we see horrific examples of how inhumane humans can act. Animals are not able to speak for themselves so it is up to those of us who can, to speak on their behalf. Just as you would if you suspect a child is being abused, please call and report animal abuse. Listed below are signs provided on the ASPCA website to look for if you suspect animal abuse. It is important to document incidents and contact authorities before it’s too late.
Physical Signs
•Collar so tight that it has caused a neck wound or has become embedded in the pet's neck. •Open wounds, signs of multiple healed wounds or an ongoing injury or illness that isn't being treated.
•Untreated skin conditions that have caused loss of hair, scaly skin, bumps or rashes.
•Extreme thinness or emaciation—bones may be visible.
•Fur infested with fleas, ticks or other parasites.
•Patches of bumpy, scaly skin rashes.
•Signs of inadequate grooming, such as extreme matting of fur, overgrown nails and dirty coat.
•Weakness, limping or the inability to stand or walk normally.
•Heavy discharge from eyes or nose.
•An owner striking or otherwise physically abusing an animal.
•Visible signs of confusion or extreme drowsiness.
Environmental Signs
•Pets are tied up alone outside for long periods of time without adequate food or water, or with food or water that is unsanitary.
•Pets are kept outside in inclement weather without access to adequate shelter.
•Pets are kept in an area littered with feces, garbage, broken glass or other objects that could harm them.
•Animals are housed in kennels or cages (very often crowded in with other animals) that are too small to allow them to stand, turn around and make normal movements possibly with too many other animals.

These are the ONLY marks anyone should ever leave on a dog!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

So Many Costumes...Only One Night

Your Halloween costume is only limited your imagination, whether you decide to visit a costume store for a one night’s rental, a novelty store for a purchase, a fabric store for a pattern along with material, a thrift store, or raid your closet for inspiration. Your costume should be fun, comfortable, and safe. Through the years, I have gone each route and been successful.
1. Costume Stores: Shop early and be prepared to pay a deposit. Most stores run the gamut from very simple costumes to elaborate designs and the costs are reflective. You can also find a variety of accessories including wigs, make-up, jewelry, and novelties such as wands, swords, etc. $$$
2. Novelty Shops: Most novelty shops have packaged costumes available from children‘s designs to ultra-sexy. These stores carry the year’s popular costumes. According to Google Shopping Data 2013’s most popular character costumes are : “The Fox” (based on Ylvis’ viral video hit “What does the Fox say?”), “Breaking Bad” (Walter White or Heisenberg), “Duck Dynasty,” “The Minions” from “Despicable Me 2,” Batman, Daft Punk, Daenerys (from “Game of Thrones”) and flapper-inspired dresses from “The Great Gatsby.” Sadly, the top trendsetting costume pays homage to Miley Cyrus’ performance on the MTV Video Music Awards. The Miley Cyrus’ Twerking Teddy & Foam Finger costume along with the Robin Thicke pin-striped suit is the hard to find seasonal favorite this year. Thankfully, there is still a huge demand for “Walking Dead” costumes so take heart America! $$$ ~ $$
3. Fabric Store: If you are handy with a needle and thread, or better yet, a sewing machine, the world is your oyster. There are so many ideas available in patterns this year. The material designs seem almost limitless. Take a couple of hours and peruse through the catalogues then wander through the bolts of fabrics, shelves of ric-rac, sequins, and feathers. Know that on Halloween night, you will be the envy of those of us who can’t sew a straight line! $$
4. Thrift Store: If you are on a budget or simply like a huge selection of a variety of clothes, hats, shoes, and handbags then your local thrift store is ideal! You can walk in as yourself and walk out with the makings of transforming yourself into anyone imaginable. Do you fancy yourself a clown? Grab some oversized plaid pants, a colorful shirt, funky tie, giant tennis shoes, and wild hat. Hippie? Easy…faded flair jeans, retro tee shirt, glasses, vest, and a scarf to use as a headband. Inside these walls every character you can dream up is waiting, just browse, and let your mind wander. $$ ~ $
5. Homemade: I believe some of the best costume can be found in your own home. We have come up with some fun costumes in the past from things around the house. I dyed my graduation gown black to become a witch one year. I added boots, a witch hat from discount store and used green face make-up. One year we dyed some old thermal underwear green, covered cardboard with foil, bought “bald” wigs, re-used the green face make-up, attached little Styrofoam balls into straws to head antennas, and became a
Martian couple. A guest who won our costume contest covered his face and neck with gauze wrap, wore a black suit, hat, and sunglasses. He was the Invisible Man and it was awesome! If you can find the basics in your closet and pick up a few accessories at the store, it is possible to be original and outstanding without spending a fortune. $

Dressing up for Halloween is fun whether you are dressing for a party, to take the kids trick or treating or to surprise the neighborhood goblins when they ring your doorbell. Hiding behind a mask somehow lets us release some of our inhibitions and become more childlike for a few hours. So go ahead… have fun, eat some candy, laugh, dance, and let the spirit of the night shine through you! November 1st will turn come and turn you back into an adult.

*Cute & Simple Halloween Party Recipe*

Witches' Hat Cookies

1 Bag of Keebler Fudge Stripe Cookies
1 Bag of Hershey Kisses
1 Tube Orange Frosting

Turn cookie fudge side up. Add squirt of frosting and place Kiss on top. Presto…Witch Hat!

Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Pooch Treats
From ASPCA website
Your dog will love the taste and enjoy the crunch!


2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup fresh or canned pumpkin (not seasoned pie filling)
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup water as needed

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, pumpkin, peanut butter and cinnamon in a bowl.
3. Add water as needed, but the dough should be stiff and dry.
4. Roll to 1/2 inch thick and cut with holiday cookie cutters.
5. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until hard.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Are You a College Football Fanatic?

When fall rolls around it means back to school, cooler weather, shorter days, and COLLEGE FOOTBALL!! I’ll admit to being one of “those” fans that’s a little obsessed with my team. I won’t mention my favorite team by name but let’s just say I’m from Louisiana. If you look forward to Saturday as much as I do, then you may be a serious college football fan. Here are some of the other telltale signs…

1. You begin every Saturday watching ESPN Gameday.
2. Most of your wardrobe is in your team’s colors including shoes, socks, and jewelry.
3. At kickoff, you have gone through as many good luck rituals as any player.
4. Your neighbors have learned to ignore blood-curdling screams coming from your house during a game.
5. You have deep love and respect for your coach/you hate and trash your coach all in the span of two plays.
6. You have a deep love and respect for your quarterback/you hate and trash your quarterback in the span of one play.
7. It’s okay for you to trash talk your team but nobody else is allowed to diminish their awesomeness.
8. You own a complete set of party ware with your team logo.
9. Proudly fly team flag in front of your home unless it is a holiday when the American flag is flown.
10. Your pets have team jerseys, bandanas, collars, and leashes.
11. You simply don’t understand why anyone would plan a party, wedding, or funeral during a scheduled game.
12. When officials make a call against your team, they’re blind idiots. When officials make a call in your team's favor, they’re geniuses.
13. You believe all of the different conferences are tough but yours in the toughest.
14. If someone forgets and calls you during game, it goes straight to voice mail. There’s no dying or emergencies allowed during a game. Sorry.
15. A win or loss sets the mood for the rest of the day.
16. If a storm knocks out power, you have back-up plan.
17. There is that one rival team that inspires a hatred that coould be borderline psychotic.
18. You prefer to watch game in the privacy of your own home because people stare when you display your intense team spirit in public places.
19. You think college games are better because the players perform for team and school pride, not for millions of dollars.
20. Everyone is entitled to their favorite teams and you understand their loyalty. You secretly know their loyalty is wasted on the wrong team.

If any of these items describe you, congratulations! You are hopelessly addicted to college football and it our time of the year! So put on your team clothes, grab your team koozie with your favorite beverage, pile up on the game snacks, and get ready for some football!! Have a great season!

Game Day Recipe

Ro-Tel Cheese Dip

1 ~ 1 lb. (16 oz.) VELVEETA®, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 can (10 oz.) RO*TEL Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, drain approx. 90% of juice
1 Lb. ground beef

Brown and drain ground beef.
Combine Velveeta and Ro*Tel in microwaveable bowl.
Microwave on High for 5 minutes or until Velveeta is melted completely and mixture is well blended. Stir after first 3 minutes.
Remove and add ground beef. Serve with chips.

Pet Care Tip for Today

I have seen several news reports recently on dogs that have eaten poison mushrooms and become violently ill and worse. While 99% of mushrooms are non-toxic, the 1% can cause life-threatening risk to your pet. It is difficult to tell which ones are okay so the best advice is to keep your dog away from areas where mushrooms are growing. If you notice them springing up in your yard after a rain, remove and discard them. Be sure to wear gloves before handling mushrooms. If you suspect your pet has ingested a wild mushroom, contact your vet or animal poison control immediately.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Halloween Party Plans

October 31st has always been an exciting day for children. For adults it simply meant handing out candy or taking the kids trick or treating. According to statistics, all of that changed in the 1990’s. Halloween has become a big business for grown-ups. I think it’s great for adults to dress in costumes, have fun, and act silly. My husband and I used to have a Halloween party every year. We were ahead of the crowd since we began them in 1982 B.C.(before children) Although we have long since given up the tradition due to switching into parent mode. Our new tradition became handing out candy and following our young ones from house to house. I’m going to share some tips to help make your party a hit. Over the next couple of weeks, several blogs will cover this topic starting with the most important, planning your party.

Plan Ahead:
*Buy or print your invitations and get them in the mail. People start making their party plans early. Be sure to indicate if it’s a costume party, adults only, BYOB, directions, and a number for RSVPs.
*Plan your music for the evening. We purchased a Halloween horror sounds CD and incorporated the eerie noises between popular songs. It certainly adds to the ambiance of the scary night. It is also important to include music for all of your guests' entertainment. Don’t be afraid to mix music from all genres.
*If you are planning to serve alcohol, reserve a keg or margarita machine early. If you are serving wine, you should call and make sure they will have the type and amount you’ll need. Check the sale circulars for discounted prices on sodas. You will want to have plenty on hand for the night. There will be guests who bring liquor and need Cokes or 7-Up for mixed drinks. Remember the designated drivers and those who don’t enjoy alcohol.
*Plan your decorations for both inside and outside of your home. We always made a backdrop for people to give everyone a great photo op. If you aren’t artistic, you can use hay bales, scarecrows, and balloons.  There are so many great creepy decorations available to enhance the mood. It is important not to overdo decorations; you want to make sure your guests have room to move around without knocking things over. Remember the earlier you get your decorations, the better the selection. Keep in mind everyone will be in costumes so be careful with open flames on torches or candles.
*A costume contest is always a big hit. Just cut small strips of paper, buy several Halloween themed pencils, and a plastic jack-o-lantern to hold the votes. Have everyone write down their favorite costume and after a couple of hours, go count the votes and make the big announcement. Be sure you have a nice prize for the winner. Door prizes add extra excitement to your party. Many restaurants, clubs, and businesses will donate if you ask. You can make up candy bags decorated with orange and black curling ribbon to give away. You can find many great ideas on Pinterest.
*If you make your party plans in advance, you can reduce the stress that too often comes with planning a party. The websites listed below have wonderful decorations and you still have time to order. I will feature more blogs with ideas for food, costumes and everything you need to have a frightfully fun Halloween!

**Recipe You'll Be Happy to Have**

Candy Corn Poke Cake
*This recipe is on Pinterest courtesy of Lisa at

1 White Cake Mix
Food Coloring
1 14oz. sweetened condensed milk
1 Tub of Whipped Topping
Candy Corn


Make the cake batter as directed.
Then divide it into three equal parts.
Color one yellow, one orange, and leave one alone. Make sure you add enough to make it really vibrant.
Spray the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan.
Spread the yellow layer evenly across the bottom, and then stick it in the freezer (make sure it is sitting flat).
Leave it in freezer for 20 minutes.
As soon as you pull it out, very carefully add the orange layer, pouring it as evenly as possible around the pan, and gently spreading it out to cover the yellow.
Return it to the freezer for 20 more minutes.
Preheat your oven to the temperature specified on the cake mix.
Taking out the cake batter pan, again, carefully spread the white layer.
Let it sit on top of the preheating oven for at least 30 minutes.
Bake according to package directions.
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, poke holes throughout the cake with the end of a wooden spoon.
Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the cake, making sure to fill each hole.
Top with whipped topping, candy corn, and enjoy!
No tricks, these Treats are for your Pets from the ASPCA

Halloween Cat Cookie

Your kitties will love the fishy flavor of these tasty treats.
1/4 cup warm water
5 Tablespoons parmesan cheese
3 Tablespoons soft margarine
1 Tablespoon cod liver oil
1 cup white flour
1/4 cup soy flour
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Combine water, cheese, margarine and oil.
3. Add flour and form dough.
4. Roll to 1/4 inch thick and cut with small holiday cookie cutters.
5. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Five Websites to Help Authors

When I tell someone that I’m an author, a surprising amount respond by telling me they write or plan to write a book someday. I think that’s great. Writing is definitely a freeing and self-satisfying experience. Watching the characters in your mind come to life in print is a rush. Having a reader enjoy your book has to be one of the most exhilarating experiences in a writer’s life. Why don’t more people take the leap? The fear of the unknown, rejection, and there are many obstacles to overcome. It takes someone not afraid of shameless self-promotion because as an indie, that's part of your job. Believe me; I am very new in the world of independent authors and self-publishing so all of these feelings are close to the surface. There is so much to learn, my poor Google site has begun to sigh when I start typing “How to…” Luckily, I have found some wonderful resources to help guide me on this journey. The most surprising resource I have found is other authors! In an extremely competitive marketplace, I find fellow authors more than willing to share ideas, helpful websites, advice, and pitfalls to avoid. I’m not sure about other independent entrepreneurs but authors certainly have turned out to be a wonderful group of people. This article is an attempt to pay it forward by telling you some of the terrific sites I’ve found or been referred to since publishing my debut book The Returns. You may already be familiar with them but if not, I suggest you take the time to explore each one to see if they are a good fit for you.

AUTHORSdb ~ Authors Database is free and simple to join. The site allows authors to list their books, blogs, social medias, and much more. They list agents and publishers along with the services each has to offer. Everyone loves badges, contests, and recognition for their work and AUTHORSdb certainly fulfills that desire. They are great at tweeting; have an awesome Facebook, and overall do a wonderful job in promoting authors. It is easy to navigate the site and is set up very professionally. **Personal note: My book cover is in the book cover contest currently underway on their site. Please click the golden star in the left margin and support me with your vote! Thanks in advance.

Authors Marketing Club ~ AMC is a very popular site for writers and they offer a variety of services. Basic membership is free, offering many opportunities such as marketing tips, one book enhancement and book submissions. You can purchase a Premium membership, which allows you more options to enhance your book descriptions, more promotions, and book widgets. Either choice is very beneficial to the author. They also offer video web classes from time to time that provide great information. You can also find a one-stop list of other sites where you can submit your Free KDP days. AMC is also a great place for readers to find their new favorite books.

Bookgoodies ~ Bookgoodies has everything for the reader and the writer. Authors can submit an interview, post their books, join in a variety of forums, and seek advice along with a multitude of author services. This site is also free to join and participate. It’s a great site for readers to join since they can read interviews with their favorite authors as well as find bargain or free books. The author interviews will give them a peek inside the motivation and inspiration of their favorite books. I have always found they answer inquiries promptly and are very willing to help.

Goodreads ~ Goodreads is probably one of the best-known book sites that combine authors and readers in one location. Amazon recently purchased the site. It features forums for readers, writers, bloggers, and offers something for everyone. There are contests, trivia, quotes, recommendations, and gives you a place to organize and rate all of your books. It is a huge social network and I enjoy all aspects of the site. I have met many wonderful people and gathered a lot of valuable information here. The Goodreads librarians are always helpful and respond to your concerns or questions very quickly. If I have one complaint about the site, it would be the book rating system. I hope that since the site is now a part of Amazon, they will adopt the Amazon rating system.

World Literary Café ~ WLC is a fun and active site for authors, bloggers, and readers. It offers countless ways to promote your books and blogs such as Blog Follow, Facebook Like and Twitter Follow. These programs help build your audience and provide much needed exposure. There are many classes, forums, and services available for writers and readers. I have found this to be an extremely helpful place to learn from and connect with a variety of authors. The staff is very helpful and friendly. I highly recommend WLC no matter which aspect of writing you are pursuing.

I hope you discover one or all of these groups to be helpful in your pursuit of becoming an established author. I will have other blogs describing some of the mistakes I have made in hopes of keeping you from doing the same. On another personal note, I would like to take this opportunity to offer sincere thanks to the above-mentioned groups for their help and support over the past year.

**Recipes You’ll Wish You Didn’t Know**
Meatless Taco Salad

1 ~ Head of Lettuce (Chopped)
2 ~ Medium Tomatoes (Chopped)
1 ~ Purple Onion (Chopped)
1 ~ 16oz. Can of Whole Kernel Corn (Drained)
1 ~ 15 oz. Ranch ~ Style Pinto Beans (Rinsed & Drained)
1 ~ Bottle Catalina Dressing
1 lb. Sharp Cheddar Cheese (Grated)
1 ½ Bags of Nacho Cheese Doritos (Crushed)

Mix tomatoes, onion, corn, and beans in extra large pot.
Cover and refrigerate overnight (12 hours), stirring occasionally.
Add lettuce, Catalina dressing, cheese, and Doritos.
This makes quite a bit so make sure you use a large pot to mix. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving. As the salad marinates, it will condense but it makes enough for parties, camping trips, or alongside burgers.
*This is one of my favorite recipes in the world! The taste is very original and addicting!

Pet Safety

You wouldn’t allow your child to be unrestrained in your car so why would you let your four-legged family member? Unrestrained pets in a car can be a distraction to the driver, accidently get under the driver’s feet, and can put both the driver and pet at risk for serious injury or death. In the event of an accident, your beloved pet will become nothing more than a projectile. To transport your pets safely do the following:
•Never allow pets to travel in the front seat. I know it’s tempting; they are so cute and really like to be up front with you. The front seat puts them at risk of severe injury or death if an airbag deploys.
•Don't let dogs ride with their head out the window. Of course, they love it but a sudden stop could cause severe neck injuries and debris in the air can cause eye irritations and injuries. Love them enough to tell them “no.”
•This is one of my biggest pet peeves: NEVER let your dog ride untethered in the back of a truck bed! This dangerous practice puts them at risk of being thrown from the vehicle in the event of an accident. Any sudden stops and starts throw the dog about the truck bed. Injuries to legs, hips, back, and head are too great of a risk no matter how convenient or innocent it may seem. Every dog should rate a crate!
•To keep your pet safe, confine cats to carriers, secured with a seatbelt. If your dog wants to go for a ride with you, there are specially designed seat harnesses, doggie seats, or put them in a kennel/crate.

This is something many pet owners will balk at but if you can’t adhere to any of these modes of transporting your pet, then please leave them at home. A quick trip in the front seat of your car unrestrained could accidently leave you with a heartbreaking outcome. It’s simply not worth the risk to your dog, cat, or heart.