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 http://www.jamhands.net/

Sweet Chicken Bacon Wraps
Makes 12-15 wraps

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

Directions
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**
http://www.pawnation.com/2013/11/25/thanksgiving-food-dogs-and-cats-can-eat/1
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.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow is the official start of the holiday season. Although most of the stores began putting Christmas displays up the day Halloween items went to half price! We haven’t decided if my husband and I will brave the stores on Black Friday. We usually take part just because the atmosphere is so exciting and it's an adventure. When our children were growing up, it also provided a great deal of bargains. I’ll do the annual sale paper perusal to see if there is anything that I can’t live without being offered at rock bottom prices. Of course, this year many of the stores are opening on Thanksgiving Day. After a big dinner, I am positive no shopping will be happening. We are more of the triple espresso 4:00 a.m. kind of shoppers! Now, just writing about it has me pumped up, ready to face the crowds.
When it comes to things to be grateful for on this special day, I have an abundance of blessings. Among them are my wonderful husband of thirty-one years, two loving children, my dogs, my health, and all of the basics that make a comfortable life. I am thankful of these every day of the year because I realize how fortunate I am to have them. I'm giving special new thanks this year for our daughter-in-law, Jackie and our son-in-law, Keith. I'm grateful for both of them because not only are they terrific people, but they have made our son and daughter extremely happy. No parent could ask for more than that. I embarked on my writing career this past year and it has been amazing. I am so appreciative for this new journey because I have made awesome friendships, received some incredibly touching letters, and great feedback. I give thanks for my readers daily. That means that if you are reading this or one of my books, thank you.
If this holiday finds you having to deal with one of life's dark clouds that hangs low over our heads occasionally, my hope is that sunny skies are just beyond the horizon. If you woke up this morning, free and able to move about, there's a brand new day before you and a reason to be grateful. Give thanks for today because it’s an opportunity that's denied many.
I wish all of you the happiest of Thanksgivings! If you are traveling, have a safe trip. Enjoy your family, friends, and yummy food. I'm including some great recipes that you may want to add to your table.


**Special Thanksgiving Recipes of the Day**
All of these recipes are on Pinterest

Maple-Pecan Sweet Potatoes
Courtesy of: http://www.myrecipes.com/ Photo: Ellen Silverman; Styling: Toni Brogan
Ingredients
2 3/4 pounds sweet potatoes
¼ Cup Half & Half
3 Tblsp. Butter, Melted
3 Tblsp. Maple Syrup
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
½ tsp. Freshly Ground Pepper
¼ tsp. Vanilla Extract
¼ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/8 tsp. Ground Allspice
1 Lg. Egg, slightly beaten
Cooking Spray
½ Cup Mini Marshmallows
2 Tblsp. Chopped Pecans
Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Pierce potatoes several times with a fork; place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 1 hour or until tender. Cool slightly; peel and mash in a large bowl.
3. Reduce oven temperature to 350°.
4. Stir half-and-half and the next 8 ingredients (through egg) into sweet potatoes. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Sprinkle the top with mini-marshmallows and chopped pecans; bake 12 minutes or until the mini-marshmallows are slightly melted. Serve immediately.
Bill and Cheryl Jamison, Cooking Light

Vanilla & Honey Glazed Carrots
Courtesy of: http://www.susannahskitchen.com/
Ingredients
• 2 cups of prepared Carrots
• 1 tsp. Salt
• 4 Tblsp. unsalted Butter
• 4 Tblsp. Honey
• 4 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Instructions
Boil the carrots in water for approximately 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside. In a medium sauté pan, melt the butter. Add honey and vanilla, and stir until dissolved. Add the carrots. Cook on medium heat cook for two minutes. Stir gently, until carrots are glazed on all sides. Enjoy immediately. Yields 6-8 servings.

Easy Cranberry Sauce
Courtesy of: http://www.feingold.org/enews/ThanksgivingRecipes/
Ingredients
1 Bag cranberries (about 340 gm)
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Directions
*If you like this recipe, you can buy lots of cranberries while in season, and freeze them until ready to make the sauce.
WASH the cranberries.
PUT in a small or medium pot with the water and sugar.
BRING to a low boil, and simmer until the berries pop.
MASH a little with a fork or a potato masher.
Cook until you like it -- the longer you cook, the smoother the sauce. If you want it very smooth, mash it through a Foley Mill, or blend in a food processor or a blender after it is cool.
CHILL until dinner.

Easy Pumpkin Pie
Courtesy of: http://mommysfavoritethings4u.blogspot.com/
Total Time: 1hr 5mins
Ingredients
1 (6 ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (do not use evaporated milk)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. With mixer, beat pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices, and salt. Pour into crust, bake for 15 min.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F; bake 35 to 40 minutes longer or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean.
Cool before serving either plain or with your favorite topping. Refrigerate leftovers.


**Pet Tip of the Day**

On a personal note: Bentley is doing much better. He is back to his belly-rub begging, food mooching self!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Authorgraph Explained

Everyone enjoys getting autographs. Whether you are getting a DVD, tee shirt, photo, or your favorite book signed, it’s always fun. The problem nowadays is many of us have our books contained on our ereaders. Until a few years ago if we wanted our favorite author’s signature, unless we went to a book signing, and had our Kindle written on with a marker, we were out of luck. Now, with the introduction of Kindle Graph renamed to Authorgraph that has changed. The new name reflects that fact the digital signature work on a variety of readers in addition to the Kindle.
Many of you may have noticed the “authorgraph” square on this page and on my Facebook. First, let me confess that I didn’t put it on the pages because I thought that I’d be inundated with requests for my digital autograph! I was required to have one to join a particular author site. I figured that if I was going to sign up for it, then what the heck, I might as well offer it to my readers.
To be honest with you, I wasn’t sure how it worked so I decided I’d better try it. Here’s how it works: There are over 5,000 authors registered so you have a lot from which to choose. You request an authorgraph from your favorite authors listed and receive a personalized note along with their signature. You will get an email when the authorgraph arrives. Simply click to download the attachment and choose which ereader you where you want it delivered. It appears on your Kindle or the device you’ve chosen in a few seconds. It is very cool, absolutely FREE, and extremely user friendly. I’m glad that I gave it try and now I’m happy I can offer it to my readers. I am going to start a collection on my Kindle to see how many I can get.
If you would like to try it, just click on the square located on the left of this page and start your collection today!


**Recipe of the Day**

Vanilla Peach Coffee Cake
From my Yummy Pinterest Board courtesy of http://www.quickfoodrecipes.org/

Ingredients:

For the batter
3 cups all- purpose flour
3 eggs
3 peaches, large size
½ cup sour cream
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ baking soda
8 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ almond extract
¼ teaspoon salt

For the topping

¾ cup flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup light brown sugar
5 tablespoons melted butter

Method:
The butter (8 tablespoons) is whisked for 5 minutes with the regular and the brown sugar. The eggs with the vanilla- almond extracts are mixed in and added the sour cream. In another bowl, the flour is combined with the baking powder, the baking soda, and the salt. The flour mixture is poured into the mixed composition and beaten until incorporated. In a different bowl, the topping ingredients (sugar, flour, cinnamon) are added, mixed, and then blended well with the 5 tablespoons of melted butter. A 9-inch size springform pan is greased and the batter is spread on the bottom. The peaches, peeled and thinly sliced are evenly placed on the batter surface. The topping mixture is evenly sprinkled on top of the peaches. The cake is baked for 45 minutes in the preheated oven (350 degrees F). When baked, the peach cake is removed from the oven and set to cool for a few minutes. The side of the springform pan is removed and the cake is cut when is completely cold. Enjoy!


**Pet Tip of the Day**

A personal note: We had quite a weekend. Our Basset Hound, Bentley got an ear infection that was causing him a tremendous amount of pain. As it always happens, it started bothering him around 1:00 a.m. Sunday morning. I keep Otic drops on hand because even though I am ever vigilant with his ear cleaning, he still gets the occasional infection. Why I didn’t notice it until he was in so much pain, I’m not sure but my guilt is heavy! We stayed up trying to make him comfortable and he was feeling a little better today. It looks like we will be visiting the vet first thing Monday morning though. He may need a s-h-o-t and some antibiotics. I just don’t want him hurting anymore. Our dogs are just like our babies and as all parents; we’d rather take their pain ourselves than see them suffer. I told my husband last night that it would be nice if he could really talk as he does in my books so he could tell us the problem. I’ll let you know how he is doing. Useful Tips and Odd Facts are from the terrific website: http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/tips.htm
1. Using metal water dishes outside in winter may be a risk, because your pet's tongue could stick to the frozen metal. In the summer, metal bowls can get very hot and burn your dog.
2. If you have a puppy that pees on your carpet: After soaking up most of the mess with a paper towel, sprinkle a generous amount of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) over the area and leave it to absorb both the traces of urine and the odor.
3. If your dog runs away from you and you finally catch up to it, no matter how angry you are at the dog, do not yell or smack it or your dog will never come to you when called for fear of being punished.
4. Do not leave your dog unattended on a choke chain. The chain could get caught and strangle the dog.
5. Do not leave your dog in the car unattended on hot days. Even with the windows open, temperatures in cars WILL reach deadly levels. It only takes five minutes! If you see a dog locked in a very hot car, do something to try to help it before it's too late.
6. Do not make your dog walk on extremely hot or cold asphalt, cement, etc. The pads of their paws are not made out of steel. If it is too hot for you to walk barefoot, then chances are that it is too hot for your dog also.
7. To keep your dog busy, buy toys with little holes in them (such as a Kong), put both big and small pieces of kibble in the toy, and give it to your dog. This will keep him busy for quite a while, presuming he has a few small ones that he gets out quickly. You can also wedge dog biscuits in the holes with a smear of peanut butter.
8. When your dog is teething, instead of have him chewing on couches, walls, etc., buy a few (cheap) washcloths. Soak the washcloth with water and put it in the freezer. When fully frozen, give it to the dog to chew. It will thaw out so have another one ready in the freezer. (Be careful when doing this with very small dogs, as they may get a chill. I have heard of small dogs getting too cold too quickly when chewing on ice.)
9. For teething puppies, mix chicken or beef broth (look for low fat, low sodium brands) with 1 ½ cups of water. Pour the mixture into ice cube trays to made broth ice cubes. They are tasty treats on hot days. (Be careful when doing this with very small dogs, as they may get a chill. I have heard of small dogs getting too cold too quickly when chewing on ice.)
10. Do not leave your pet in an area with dangling phone cords, drape cords or other items that it might be able to strangle itself. Be aware of electric cords that may be chewed by the pet.
11. I have a dog that used to love to dig. When I'd fill the hole and re-seed, he'd just dig it up again. One day I was watching him wander around the yard, and I noticed he took extra care not to step in his droppings. So, the next time I filled up a hole, I buried a little dung at the bottom and left some dung on top. He avoided the freshly seeded grass, and his droppings made excellent fertilizer. This won't work for all dogs...I also have another dog that loves to dig. This trick does not work on her, as she does not care where she steps.
Please note: the feces of dogs or any other meat-eating animal are NOT SAFE to use as fertilizer on plants that will be eaten by people, such as veggies, fruits, or herbs. The feces can spread disease, even if it comes from a healthy dog.
12. Is your dog digging? Try putting cayenne pepper in the holes—they don't like the sensation when they go back to dig again.
13. Does dog urination burns your lawn? Try giving them some tomato juice every day (either in a bowl or on their food) and it should solve the problem.
14. After soaking up the majority of urine or picking up the poop, baby wipes do a great job and pick up all smells with no stains left behind.
15. Male guide dogs always squat to urinate. This is so the handler can quickly determine whether the dog is urinating or defecating during potty breaks by feeling down the length of its back. This assists the handler in determining where the poop will land so they can clean up if the dog is hunched up to defecate.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Hunger Games Catching Fire is the Hottest Ticket in Town!


I’ll be the first to admit that I am no movie critic.  My husband and I don’t go to the theater on a regular basis.  When we do, it is usually to see a comedy.  I very rarely take a chance with a movie based on a book I’ve enjoyed.  The reason is that they never live up to the show that played out on my mind’s big screen.  I won’t mention any specific book to screen movies that were let downs but I’m sure you have a list of your own.

I read the Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games” trilogy as they came on the market.  It didn’t take many chapters to fall in love with Katniss, Peeta, and Gale.  Her writing captivated me as I imagined a world of chaos, fear, and death.  I was skeptical when the announcement came that the series was coming to the big screen.  Some of the costumes and settings were so well defined in my head; I didn’t believe anyone could recreate them to match my imagination.

I held out and did not go watch Hunger Games when it debuted.  I received the DVD as a Christmas present last year.  It was wonderful!  I have watched it several times.  I am still amazed that the director and actors are spot-on in adaptation of the book.  It is one of my favorite movies in my collection.

I was anxious for the release of Hunger Games ~ Catching Fire.  When my daughter-in-law, Jackie and her sister, Jaime invited me to join them to see it this morning, I jumped at the chance.  Wow, it is AWESOME!  Believe me when I tell you that it live up to all of the hype that it has received.  If it does not win the Oscar for costume design then something is seriously wrong.  It has some of the most spectacular clothing that I have ever seen in a movie.  Katniss wears many wonderful dresses but one in particular is breathtaking.  Of course, Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket sports some of the most outlandishly fabulous clothes imaginable!

The scenery and special effects could not be more realistic.  I think I jumped out of my seat at least four times!  If we are keeping emotional count, I cried at least once, okay probably three times, hated President Snow no less than ten times, and cringed a lot.  I told Jamie that it was exactly what I saw in my mind and she agreed it was also, what she had imagined.  As two avid readers, I don’t think a movie can get a higher compliment!

As far as the actors in Catching Fire, all of the original cast members are back.  Well, the ones that weren't killed during the last Hunger Game!  Jennifer Lawrence as the beautiful, brave Katniss, Josh Hutcherson is the handsome, protective Peeta Mellark, and Liam Hemsworth breaks our hearts as Gale Hawthorne.  All three of them play their characters believably and with heart.  Woody Harrelson as the alcoholic Haymitch Abernathy along with the aforementioned Elizabeth Banks as Effie trinket is pure joy.  As usual, I love to hate Donald Sutherland as President Snow.  As you can tell, in my opinion, the entire cast is brilliant and I think they all deserve to win as many awards as kudos as their industry can bestow on them.

I can’t think of enough different adjectives to praise Hunger Games~ Catching Fire.  If you get a chance run, don’t walk into your local theater, grab a bucket of popcorn, and settle down for a fantastic time.  It is truly an example where a movie IS as good as the book. 

**Recipe of the Day**

King's Copycat Hawaiian Bread

http://lepetitbrioche.blogspot.com/   
makes 3 loaves or 24 large rolls
from
food.com
 
6-7 cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups pineapple juice
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 (1/4 ounce) envelopes yeast
1/2 cup butter (one stick) melted

Directions:

Beat the eggs. Add the pineapple juice, sugar, salt, ginger, vanilla, and butter.
Place 3 cups of flour in a large bowl. Stir in the egg mixture until well-combined. Sprinkle in the yeast, one packet at a time, and mix. Add the remaining 3 cups of flour and mix in. If dough is sticky and difficult to handle, add more flour. Dough should be slightly tacky, but not wet. Knead the dough for 5 minutes until it forms a smooth ball. Place dough in a greased bowl and set aside to rise until doubled in size (about 1 1/2 hours).


Punch dough down and either divide into three equal parts for bread loaves or 24 balls for dinner rolls. Place in greased loaf pans or shape into rolls.

Cover and place in a warm place to rise until doubled in size. The secret to light and airy rolls is making sure they've risen enough....this is an exercise is patience

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or golden brown.

Brush tops with melted butter. Serve warm

***Pet Tip of the Day***

Thanksgiving Turkey Talk


Check out the following tips from ASPCA experts for a fulfilling Thanksgiving that your pets can enjoy, too.

Talkin’ Turkey
If you decide to feed your pet a little nibble of turkey, make sure it’s boneless and well-cooked. Don't offer her raw or undercooked turkey, which may contain salmonella bacteria.

Sage Advice
Sage can make your Thanksgiving stuffing taste delish, but it and many other herbs contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression to pets if eaten in large quantities. Cats are especially sensitive to the effects of certain essential oils.

No Bread Dough
Don't spoil your pet’s holiday by giving him raw bread dough. According to ASPCA experts, when raw bread dough is ingested, an animal's body heat causes the dough to rise in his stomach. As it expands, the pet may experience vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating, which could become a life-threatening emergency, requiring surgery.

Don't Let Them Eat Cake
If you’re baking up Thanksgiving cakes, be sure your pets keep their noses out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs—they could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.

Too Much of a Good Thing
A few small boneless pieces of cooked turkey, a taste of mashed potato or even a lick of pumpkin pie shouldn’t pose a problem. However, don't allow your pets to overindulge, as they could wind up with a case of stomach upset, diarrhea or even worse—an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. In fact, it’s best keep pets on their regular diets during the holidays.

A Feast Fit for a Kong
While the humans are chowing down, give your cat and dog their own little feast. Offer them Nylabones or made-for-pet chew bones. Or stuff their usual dinner—perhaps with a few added tidbits of turkey, vegetables (try sweet potato or green beans) and dribbles of gravy—inside a Kong toy. They’ll be happily occupied for awhile, working hard to extract their dinner from the toy.

 Charles M. Schulz "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving"

Friday, November 22, 2013

Paperbacks!


I felt just like Steve Martin in the movie “The Jerk” earlier tonight.  Around 7:30 p.m. the U.P.S. truck rolled up in front of my house.  The man came trudging up my driveway with a big box.  “My new books are here!  My new books are here!”  I was shouting, jumping, and running around like a lunatic!  When I cut the box open and saw the shiny new covers, the feeling has to rank up there with one of the most exciting that I can remember!  Don’t get me wrong, it was very thrilling to see my books on the Kindle for the first time.  There is just something about actually holding a “real” book.  To see them with my name on the cover was surreal.  Remember, I spent years shelving and checking in/out other authors’ books, never imagining I’d have any of my own!

The problems at CreateSpace have been repaired and both books are now available to order in paperback.  I appreciate everyone’s patience but there is plenty of time to order your copies for Christmas!  (hint, hint)  Since I don’t want to spend this entire blog tooting my own horn, I’m going to let my friend and editor, Leiah Cooper of “So I Read This Book Today” http://soireadthisbooktoday.com/ do it for me!  This is a copy of her blog post.  Thanks for your support Leiah!
 
SHOWSTOPPERS IS OUT IN PAPERBACK! WOO HOO!
21Nov

The Returns 2 ~ Showstoppers is out in paperback on Amazon!
The Returns 2 ~ Showstoppers is out in paperback on Amazon!
The holidays are nearly here, and what better gift than beautiful copies of SHOWSTOPPERS for all your friends and family? Heartwarming, funny, and all around lovable, these canine companions, along with their Angel Guardian, her Angel Mentor, and their favorite FBI Agent are on another adventure!
Travel with them, from New Orleans to New York as they track down the evil people who are kidnapping famous show dogs!
The Returns 2 ~ Showstoppers is out in paperback on Amazon! Click the link above and you can purchase copies for everyone on your list!
 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

An Interview with a High School Librarian


I am excited about today’s post for many reasons.  It is my first interview, it highlights one of my favorite people, and it is a great topic.  Every job at a school is important, from the hard working custodial staff to the principal.  These employees deserve our admiration and gratitude far beyond what any of them receive.  One of the most underappreciated of these jobs is the school librarian.  As I have previously mentioned, I worked in the school system for fifteen years in various positions.  The last several years were as a library clerk.  I had the privilege of working under three amazing librarians.  I have also met many others through the close-knit library family.  These unsung heroes choose to spend their lives teaching the love of reading to our children.  It is an invaluable service not only to our future leaders but also to our country as a whole.  In the words of Mark Twain, “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” 
Now without further ado, here is my interview with Amy Bridges.

Hello, let’s start by letting my readers know a little about you.  Tell us about yourself.
From as long as I can remember, I have had a book in my hand.  Reading is a fundamental part of who I am.  Currently I am a high school librarian in Shreveport, La. I taught English for 11 years, and I have been a librarian for 6 years.  I am married with two boys, ages 11 and 9, and a baby girl on the way.  I have lived in La all my life, but I have traveled extensively.  I love European history, Oreos, shopping for shoes, and rooting for the LSU tigers.

 What made you decide to become a librarian?
I think it is my abounding love for books and literature that steered me in the direction of the library.  It was where I wanted to spend all of my free time, and I thought that getting paid to guide people in the direction of the right book was just the job for me! 

 Why at the high school level?
In college, I focused most of my attention on the works of Shakespeare and the Romantic poets.  When teaching became my profession of choice, it just seemed natural to go into high school where these particular subjects were already being taught.  I stayed at the high school level when I became a librarian because of my newfound love for YA literature.

 What is your biggest challenge in getting students to read?
Every day I hear students say that they hate to read.  When I ask them why, they say that reading is boring, or that they haven’t found anything to interest them.  Typically, their experience with reading has been what was forced on them in the classroom.  It’s my mission to find that child a book that they will fall in love with, and fall in love with reading in the process.

 What is the most popular genre among boys/girls?
Currently, my girls are reading Supernatural / Paranormal Romance books like Lauren Kate’s Fallen series.  I also have many girls who love drama, as in Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl, and Hollywood High.

Boys are a little different.  Right now I am seeing lots of anime/manga with the boys, as well as dystopian novels.  I almost had a fight when Veronica Roth’s Allegiant came out and I only had two copies.  Another one that they love is Lex Thomas’ Quarantine series.  Oh, and of course James Patterson or Rick Riordan see their fair share of action.

 How has technology changed the library?
Well, computer usage is the meat and potatoes of my library.  Students come in to work on school projects or check email.  When the computers are down, I see considerably less traffic than when the computers are working.  However, I do have lots of kids who check out books regularly, so the computer usage hasn’t seemed to slow down circulation.

 Does your school offer library science in the curriculum?
Our school does offer Library Science, which I’ve taught for the last four years.  It is typically offered to freshmen.  I try and incorporate the skills of how to use the library with research skills.

 If you were granted one wish for your library, what would it be?
An unlimited budget.  I wish I could buy every book a student comes in and asks for, but my limitations on funds makes that hard sometimes. 

 How have the cuts in the government budget affected the way you operate?
Budget cuts have been felt everywhere, but I feel them especially hard here in the library.  I simply cannot order the number of books, magazines, databases, and AV materials that I’d like to with a limited budget, so I have to prioritize.  Some things have been on my list for years!

 What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Absolutely, without a doubt, the most rewarding part of my job is the relationship I form with my students over our mutual love of reading.  I have students all the time who tell me that they hated reading until they read that book I told them about…  That’s the best reward ever!

 Have eBooks had an impact your readership?  Will any of the books in your library be available to students online?
At my school, we don’t have a large eBook readership.  Many of my students do not have eReaders or iPads, so the demand for eBooks has been very minimal.  I have over 100 eBooks in my collection that have been provided by my district, so students have access to them if they want to.

 Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
Thanks for spotlighting high school libraries!  There are awesome things going on here that I am so proud of! 

Thank you so much for volunteering to be my pilot interview!  I hope my readers have gained some insight into the important job that you do on a daily basis.  In your honor, my recipe of the day is homemade Oreos!

** If there are any authors out there who are interested in donating books to Mrs. Bridges’ library, please contact me.

 
**Recipe of the Day**
*Homemade Oreos*


Ingredients

1 18.25oz. Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix
3 Tbsp. Shortening, melted

½ Cup Cake Flour, measured then sifted

1 Egg
3 Tbsp. Water

2 Tbsp. brown Paste Food Coloring (optional)*

 
Filling

3 ¾ Cups Powdered Sugar

½ Tbsp. Granulated Sugar

½ tsp. Vanilla Extract

½ Cup Vegetable Shortening

2 Tbsp. Hot Water

Directions

1.     Combine cookie ingredients in large bowl.  Add the water a little bit at a time until the dough forms.  Cover and chill for 2 hours.

2.     Preheat oven to 350˚

3.     On a lightly floured surface, roll out a portion of the dough to just under a 16th of an inch thick.  To cut, use the lid to a spice container about 1 ½“ in diameter.  Arrange the cut out dough rounds on a cookie sheet that has been lightly sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove wafers from over and allow to cool completely.

4.     As the cookies bake, prepare the filling by combing the ingredients with an electric mixer.

5.     When the cookies have cooled, roll a small portion (1/4 heaping teaspoon) of the filling into a ball (just over ¼” in diameter), and press it between two cookies.  Repeat with remaining cookies.  Makes approx. 54-58 sandwich cookies

*The food paste color is an optional step to achieve the original cookie color.  If you omit this ingredient, be sure to increase the water amount in the cookie mixture from 3 Tbsp. to ¼ cup.  This food color paste gives the cookie the dark brown/black color.  It is sold in the cake decorating supply area of craft and art supply stores or Wal Mart.

**If the dough seems too tacky, you can add up to ¼ cup of flour as you pat out and work the dough.  Use just enough to make your dough workable but not tough.

**Pet Tip of the Day**

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/introducing-your-dog-your-new-baby

I am so excited for Amy’s new baby girl!  She has two rough and tumble sons as well as a large and
lovable Pyrador (Great Pyrenees & Black Lab mix).  I’m sure all three of these boys will be great protectors of their little sister.  Here are some helpful hints for introducing Finn to little Anne-Marie.

Many dogs who haven’t spent time around children find babies utterly baffling.  This isn’t surprising.  They move, sound, smell and behave very differently than adults do.  If your baby is still on the way, please see our article on Preparing Your Dog for a New Baby to learn steps you can take to help your dog adjust to the new changes ahead.  If your bundle of joy has arrived, keep reading for important tips on making introductions and early interactions between your dog and baby as smooth as possible.  If you spend time developing a good relationship between them now, they will likely become the best of friends for years to come.

Bringing the Baby Home

First impressions are important.  Your dog should have pleasant experiences with your baby right from the start.  When bringing your baby home from the hospital, send everyone else into the house first so your dog can express her usual excitement to see people.  After she’s had a minute or two of greeting time and expends some of her energy, have someone leash her.  This is important, even if you have no reason to believe that she’ll react poorly to the baby.  That person should also get some small treats ready to use during your dog’s first few moments with the baby.  (It may help to prepare these treats in advance and keep them in a container near the front door.)

It’s crucial to stay calm and relaxed when you and the baby enter the house.  If you seem nervous and jumpy, your dog will pick up on your feelings and may become nervous as well, thinking that the bundle in your arms is something to worry about.  Instead, speak to your dog in a soft but cheerful voice as you walk into the house.  Have your helper distract her with plenty of treats so that her attention is divided between them, your baby and the other people present.  The helper can ask your dog to respond to obedience cues, like sit and down, using the treats to reward her polite behavior.  Praise your dog for any calm interest in the baby. Avoid scolding your dog.  Remember, you want her to associate the baby with good things, not your displeasure.

 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

For the Love of Dogs


The Truth about Dogs
Dogs are truly remarkable animals.  They don’t hold grudges, they live their lives trying to please us, and instinctively know when we need a silent friend beside us.  My dogs have brought me joy, love, laughs, and a reason to smile every day.  They have also been the inspiration for my two books.  Some of the most serious people turn into completely different people when they are with their dogs.  I decided to feature some great dog quotes on today’s blog.  I hope that you enjoy them and give your best friend an extra belly rub.  Be sure to watch the video “So God Made a Dog” under Pet Tips of the Day at the bottom of my blog.

I always say, the time you spend with your dog makes the difference in a great dog or a crate dog.  ~
Faith Fullilove in “The Returns

The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue.  ~ Anonymous

Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.  ~ Ann Landers

If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.  ~ Will Rogers

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.  ~ Ben Williams

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.  ~ Josh Billings

The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.  ~ Andy Rooney

We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare, and love we can spare.  In return, dogs give us their all.  It’s the best deal man has ever made.  ~ M. Acklam

Dogs love their friends and bite their enemies, quite unlike people, who are incapable of pure love and always have to mix love with hate.  ~ Sigmund Freud

A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.  ~ Robert Benchley

Anybody who doesn’t know what soap tastes like never washed a dog.  ~ Franklin P. Jones

If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to Heaven, and very, very few persons.  ~ James Thurber

If your dog is fat, you’re not getting enough exercise.  ~ Unknown

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.  ~ Mark Twain

 Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our life whole.  ~ Roger Caras

If you think dogs can’t count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then give him only two of them.  ~ Phil Pastoret

My goal in life is to be as good of a person as my dog already thinks I am.  ~ Unknown

Dogs laugh but they laugh with their tails.  ~ Max Eastman

A dog is not “almost human” and I know of no great insult to the canine race than to describe it as such.  ~John Holmes

Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.  ~ Karen Davison

 ** Recipe of the Day**

Tamale Pie from: http://www.eat2gather.net/

Ingredients

1 lb. ground meat (beef, turkey, or chicken)
1 16oz. for of beans (Black, Pinto, Refried or Northern)
1 16oz. jar of your favorite Salsa
1 Cup Shredded Cheese
 
1 Cup Yellow Cornmeal

3 Cups Water

1 to 3 tsp. Chili Powder

Directions
Brown meat in ovenproof skillet.  Drain off excess grease.  Add beans and salsa then let simmer.  In a separate saucepan boil 3 cups water, whisk in cornmeal, stirring until thick, and then add chili powder.  Spoon cornmeal mixture over meat and sprinkle with cheese.  Bake in 375˚ oven for 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and cornmeal begins to make a nice crust. 

*Note:  You can add extras to make it your own such as green chili peppers, chopped green peppers, onions, minced jalapenos, or a can of sliced black olives.

**Pet Tip of the Day**
 
 

 

 

 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Happy Update & Ho~Hos

It has certainly been an exciting few days since my new book launched! I still have a million things to do in order to update profiles and listing on all of the sites where I’m listed. It’s very exciting to see two books with my name on them! Thanks to my awesome readers, my sales have been brisk and many people are letting others “borrow” The Returns. I have ordered several printed copies since they just became available through the CreateSpace store. I can hardly wait to hold one! Both paperback books will be linked to my Amazon pages, but it obviously takes a few days. Until then, you can order the printed editions by clicking the "Order Paperbacks" tab at the top of this blog.
My plan is to have a couple of contests here on my blog as well as my Facebook page. This is one of the reasons that I ordered extra print copies! I've had a few ideas for contests, but would love to hear some suggestions from my readers. If any other bloggers have run successful campaigns in the past, I’d appreciate the information. I thought of a “Guess How Many” with a picture of a container filled with items. The first person to guess the correct amount wins! Please leave me a comment if you have any ideas by going to my contact tab.
I appreciate the support you have shown me and I hope both books leave you feeling happy with a smile on your face!
IMPORTANT UPDATE!! BOTH BOOKS ARE NOW AVAILABLE THROUGH Createspace or Amazon!  YOU CAN ORDER BY CLICKING ON "ORDER PAPERBACKS" TAB ABOVE.  Thank you so much!

**Recipe of the Day** (In honor of Bentley)
http://www.babble.com/best-recipes/homemade-ho-hos/

Homemade Ho-Ho’s
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa powder (preferably Dutch processed), plus more for dusting pan
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons butter, melted

For the filling:
1/2 cup sugar
4 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the frosting:
2 cups good quality chocolate chips (I like Guittard)
2 tablespoons butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a half sheet pan (17×12 inches), then line with parchment paper. Butter the paper and sides of pan and dust with cocoa powder. In a medium-sized, heat-proof bowl, set over a saucepan of simmering water; whisk together the eggs, sugar, and 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder. Whisk almost constantly until mixture is warm to the touch. Remove from heat, and with an electric mixer, beat on high for several minutes until the mixture is smooth, falls in ribbons, and is cool to the touch. Stir in vanilla.

2. Combine the rest of the cocoa powder, flour, and salt in small bowl, and fold a third of it into the egg and sugar mixture. Fold the next third in until well incorporated, followed by the melted butter, and the last third of the flour mixture. The batter should now fall in thick ribbons. Spread evenly into prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes, or until cake springs back when touched. Allow to cool.



3. While the cake cools, make the filling. In a medium-sized bowl, with an electric mixer, cream sugar and cream cheese until the sugar dissolves. Switch to the whisk attachment (if you have one), and add in cream, a little at a time, until it is well incorporated. Raise the speed to high, and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold into vanilla. You may taste a little, but try not to go crazy. You’ll need it for the filling.





4. When the cake is almost fully cooled, cut into 10 equal pieces. Spread filling even over the cake, and take each section and carefully roll up, being careful not to break the cake or squish out the filling (but this will probably happen, so don’t panic. My son said that the frosting is for filling in the cracks). When all pieces are rolled up, place in the freezer to set for about 20 minutes.

5. In a small, microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips, and the butter. Microwave on high for 45 seconds. Stir, and microwave for 10 seconds more until all the chips are melted.
6. Remove the naked ho-ho’s (no innuendo intended here) from the freezer, cut off any filling oozing out the sides, and coat in the melted chocolate mixture. Place on parchment paper and return to the freezer until the frosting is set.


**Pet Tip of the Day**
http://www.agway.com/know_how/pets/pet_safety/11_fall_pet_dangers_to_avoid.html

More Fall Safety Tips
Antifreeze: Every year more than 10,000 dogs and cats are accidentally poisoned with automotive antifreeze. Pets are attracted to the sweet taste of ethylene glycol and one to two teaspoons will poison a cat and three tablespoons is enough to kill a medium size dog.
Allergies: Fall weather can bring about all whole new set of allergies. Ragweed and mold are two big aggravates, along with grass and dust. Look for signs like scratching, biting, chewing, sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, and hives and rashes.
Arthritis: Cold weather can lead to arthritis caused by inflamed joints. If your dog or cat is limping, having trouble moving, jumping, or sitting, moving slower than usual, or whimpering when he moves, he may be suffering from seasonal arthritis.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My New Book Covers Are Revealed

Let the bells ring out and the banners wave!! I am proud to reveal the new covers for The Returns series. The Returns 2 ~ Showstoppers will be available this week through Amazon.com. It has been nearly a year since I first uploaded The Returns on Amazon Kindle. At that time, everything I knew about writing, publishing, and book promotions could have fit inside a thimble! I have said it before and I’ll continue to say, “What a difference a year makes!” I dare say my knowledge will at least fill up a gumbo pot! I know that I will continue to learn every day through trial and error.
I must say several things at this point. First, I’d like to say how much I have loved the first beautiful cover for The Returns. I will always be grateful to Jay Bowen for his design and help. I had absolutely no idea about book cover design and he was a lifesaver. Second, I want to thank all of my family and friends who have supported me by Facebook postings and word of mouth. I am truly blessed to have all of you in my life. Third, none of this would be possible without my wonderful readers! I have received some of the most heartwarming letters and incredible reviews. I can honestly say that some of my reviews brought tears of joy and pride to my eyes. The incredible thing about my readers is that many of them have become friends. I sincerely thank each of you with my whole heart. Finally, I must thank my husband, Skipper for his constant love and belief in me. That thanks also goes to my children and their spouses. All of them have listened to me ramble on and on about my book. They have been so patient, understanding, and proud of me. I must have done something very right in life to deserve them!
Now, I am ready to move forward with The Returns 2 ~ Showstoppers! This brings up a whole new batch of thanks! One of my readers has become so much more than a friend; she has become my editor, mentor, sounding board, and hero! Leiah Cooper http://soireadthisbooktoday.com/ has proven to be one of the most patient people that I know, and believe me the past few days have proven that ten-fold! If anyone reading this is looking for an excellent editor, look no further! My new covers are the brainchild of Holly Madison of Whimsical Graphix. When I contacted her about making my new cover art, the first thing that she did was to download The Returns and read it. She came up with two brilliant covers that both capture the fun and feeling of my books. She was a joy to work with and let me have major input in her designs. I was extremely proud to have her work on my books and strongly recommend her for any author looking for a graphic designer! Just contact me and I will put you in touch with both of these wonderful women! Holly even used my real dogs for the covers! Of course, Bentley now insists on being called “Hollywood” and Pierre is even more of a Prima Donna! LOL!
As always, my love and thanks go to the wonderful dogs and cats that have been the basis for The Returns. Anyone who has ever loved their pet knows how difficult it is to say good-bye to them. In writing my books, I have been able to bring them back to life and laugh with them again. That has been an absolute gift from God to me. I certainly hope they bring a smile to your lips as they take on this new adventure!
If you already own the eBook version of The Returns, you will be able to download the new edited version at no charge. There are a few changes from the original storyline but nothing major. You can go to your “Manage My Kindle” page to update your copy at no additional charge! It may take a few days before the update is available. I will ask Amazon to contact my readers by email so keep an eye out for a notification. It is usually several weeks to receive the letter so it is quicker to check your personal Amazon page. Don’t forget to check out my Facebook page for some upcoming contests that you won’t want to miss!
Now…drumroll please! My new covers!