Saturday, November 30, 2013

Romance Authors

I have already admitted to being an avid romance reader. It is a genre I never thought I’d fall so deeply in love with but alas, I am living happily ever after with these timeless stories. For years, I was strictly a Stephen King, Dean Koontz horror type reader. That all changed for me one fateful day.
I innocently picked up a Mary Higgins Clark title and read quite a few of her wonderful books. Although Ms. Clark is not a romance author, I consider her my segue from horror/mystery to mystery/romance. She always leaves me guessing right up to the end of her stories. I have never read one that was not thoroughly enjoyable but, my favorite must-reads would be “Daddy’s Little Girl” and “Loves Music, Loves to Dance,” and “I Heard That Song Before.” It doesn’t matter which you select, if Mary Higgins Clark’s name is listed as the author then it will surely keep you enthralled from the very first page.
It wasn’t long before I stumbled upon Nora Roberts. After one book, I was hooked on romance novels. I have read shelves of her books as well as her J.D. Robb series. She is an amazing talent, taking me all over the world with her beautiful words. Choosing my favorite book would be very difficult. I will confess to having read several more than once or twice. If you want to go by that recommendation then, on my simply can’t resist titles are “Black Hills,” “Honest Illusions,” and “The Reef.” I have to repeat myself here, it is impossible for me to actually choose a best of when it comes to Nora Roberts. In my humble opinion, she writes like Michelangelo painted, beautiful, captivating, and breathtaking. Have I mentioned that I’m a fan? Her books written under the pseudonym R. D. Robb are just as exciting. As with most series books, start with the first, “Naked in Death.” You will want to continue with the entire collection of Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband Roarke.
Carol Grace is one of my favorite go-to authors anytime I am looking for a happily-ever-after. Isn’t that the reason we read a romance? She writes wonderful stories with great characters that quickly capture your heart. She manages to do this without graphic sex scenes and a barrage of profanity. This seems to be a rarity in today’s romance market. I have read many Carol Grace titles and enjoyed all of them. I recommend “Cinderella in Overalls,” “Wild Mustang Man,” and “Welcome to Paradise” if you are trying to decide where to start with so many great choices.
The last author I’m listing today is another of my must-read romance writers. Karen Rose Smith is one more reason I am thankful for my Kindle. I already had a complete bookshelf of Nora Roberts before the Kindle came on the market. If I had to find a place to store my Carol Grace and Karen Rose Smith books in paperback, I’d have to do some major construction! Ms. Smith also writes feel-good romance stories. Her Search for Love series is very entertaining with every book in series a winner. Some of my must –haves on my Karen Rose Smith list would have to be “When Mom Meets Dad,” “Heartfire,” and “Wish On The Moon.”
I hope this helps any of you looking for a cozy romantic story to cuddle up and read in front of a roaring fireplace with a cup of steaming coffee, snuggled under a blanket. These authors all have the ability to take you away from the stress of your day and whisk to you a place of love and joy with the occasional touch of mystery. Many happy endings to you all.

**Recipe of the Day** On my Pinterest “Yummy” board via

Sweet Chicken Bacon Wraps
Makes 12-15 wraps

4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1 (1-pound) package sliced bacon
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Cut chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes. Cut each bacon slice into thirds. Wrap each chicken cube with bacon and secure with a wooden pick. Stir together brown sugar and chili powder. Dredge wrapped chicken in mixture. Coat a rack and broiler pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place chicken wrap on rack in broiler pan. Bake 350 for 30 to 35 minutes or until bacon is crisp.
Source: Paula Deen and The Food Network

**Pet Tips of the Day**
Thanksgiving is over and now you have leftovers stuffed in the refrigerator and your dog and cat staring longingly at you each time you open the door. “Surely, there is something in that big box of food you can share, Human!” Pawnation comes to the rescue. Here is a list of approved food you four-legged friend can have in small portions.
TURKEY: Make way for the bird! The main event of the Thanksgiving meal, turkey is also the item on the menu you can feel most comfortable sharing with both your cat and dog. Cats are carnivores, so the meat on the table is the most natural thing to feed your feline. Opinions differ on whether raw or cooked meat is better for pets, so consult your veterinarian if you don’t feel sure. Either way, feed your pet lean, white meat instead of the fattier dark meat, and try not to go overboard.
CRANBERRIES: Cranberries are great for both cats and dogs. Not only are they full of vitamins A, B1, B2, and C, but they’re well-known for helping maintain healthy urinary tracts. Cats are especially prone to urinary-tract infections and can benefit from eating cranberries (or taking cranberry supplements). On Thanksgiving, if you’re making cranberry sauce from scratch with fresh fruit, feel free to share. Canned cranberry sauce and jellied cranberry sauce, on the other hand, are full of sugar and should not be given to pets.
CARROTS: Fresh, raw carrots are frequently cited as an ideal snack for dogs. Dogs love their sweet, crisp taste, and carrots boast lots of vitamins, fiber, and potassium. The crunchy root vegetables are even good for your dog’s dental health, helping to remove plaque from teeth and keep breath fresh. Drop a few carrots your dog’s way before you cook them or add a bunch of salt and fat. Cats can also enjoy the benefits of carrots, but cook them first for your feline. Raw carrots may be hard for some cats to digest.
GREEN BEANS: Green beans make a healthy "anytime" snack for your dog. These nutritional powerhouses are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber, and they’re low in calories, so even if your dog is on a diet, you won’t have to feel guilty about slipping him some string beans on Thanksgiving. However, if you’re planning to use the beans to make a green-bean casserole or some other rich dish full of salt and fat, be sure to share with your dog before your prepare the dish.
SWEET POTATOES: Despite being “sweet,” these spuds are actually healthier than regular potatoes because they have a lower glycemic index, which basically means they’ll wreak less havoc on your dog’s blood sugar (and yours). They’re also full of fiber, vitamins, and carotenoids. If you want to share sweet potatoes with your dog, set some aside without any salt or butter on it.
MACARONI AND CHEESE: Delicious, gooey mac and cheese is a staple of many Thanksgiving tables. Whether or not it’s OK for your dog to eat depends on how you serve it up. Obviously, the final product is going to be loaded with salt and fat, and is too rich to share with your pet. However, a little bit of cooked, plain pasta is basically just bread, so you can feel OK sharing a tiny portion as a treat. If you’re making your mac and cheese from scratch, a small bit of the fresh cheese is also safe to share with your cat or a dog (unless your pet is lactose intolerant).
PUMPKIN: Pumpkin is good for dogs to eat not only because it’s low in calories and bursting with vitamins, beta-carotene and fiber, but also because it helps with a dog’s digestion. If Fido is suffering from an upset tummy, diarrhea or constipation, a little bit of pumpkin may be just what the veterinarian ordered. If you’re using canned pumpkin for your pie, though, it’s better not to share it. The processed stuff isn’t healthy for dogs like fresh pumpkin is.
CORN: Corn doesn’t necessarily have any nutritional benefit for dogs to enjoy, but it also won’t harm them, so if you really want to, you can share your corn with your dog (in moderation) on Thanksgiving. Here’s one important caveat: Don’t give a dog corn on the cob. Dogs love to chew on corn cobs like bones, but it may be unsafe. Your dog could accidentally swallow the cob, which can lead to choking or a life-threatening intestinal obstruction. **One of the members on the Basset Hound Forum just went through this with their Basset. It had to have surgery to remove the corn cob.
BREAD/ROLLS: Think of bread like treats. It’s safe as long as you share a little, not a lot. Bread is high in calories and has a high glycemic index, so too much can lead to weight gain very easily, especially if butter is in the mix. Sharing a roll is fine, just don’t toss roll after roll to your begging best friend at the Thanksgiving table.

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