Monthly Archives: June 2014

Book Review – Shelter Mountain by Robyn Carr

Sheltermountain

I think I’ve done a couple reviews on Robyn Carr books, and here is yet another one. I’m complete hooked on her Virgin River series and am grateful I found it so late, as there are eighteen or nineteen stories out there for me to grab and read.

Take small town life and toss it deep in the redwoods of Northern California and you’ll find yourself in Virgin River, amongst a group of retired marines who are close-knit, and meeting the women who show them there’s more to life than flashbacks and pain.

Shelter Mountain is, so far, my favorite of the series. Life in Virgin River revolves around Jack’s Bar.  Preacher is part owner and the bar’s cook, and a very good one. A big guy, he’s almost painfully shy. When a beaten-up Paige shows up on his doorstep with her small son, his protective instinct shifts into high gear.

I fell in love with Preacher myself. Quiet, unassuming, he’s the perfect gentle giant to help Paige and her son recover, not knowing at the time that he’ll be going through some healing of his own.

This story also keeps us close to Virgin River’s first story, that of Jack and Mel. As well, we get glimpses into other characters that, I think, will be featured in later stories. I’ve been reading these stories out of order, but it doesn’t seem to matter. It’s easy to figure out how Virgin River is doing each time I pick up a book. I’m going to be sad when I’m all caught up on the series, I think. It’s quickly becoming a second home to me. 🙂

Here’s a link to Robyn Carr’s website and the blurb about this story:

John “Preacher” Middleton is about to close the bar when a young woman and her three-year-old son come in out of a wet October night.  A marine who has seen his share of pain, Preacher knows a crisis when he sees one—the woman is covered in bruises.  He wants to protect them, and he wants to punish whoever did this to her, but he knows immediately that this inclination to protect is something much more.  Paige Lassiter has stirred up emotions in this gentle giant of a man—emotions that he has never allowed himself to feel.

But when Paige’s ex-husband turns up in Virgin River, Preacher knows his own future hangs in the balance.  And if there’s one thing in the marines’ motto of Semper Fidelis—always faithful—has taught him, it’s that some things are worth fighting for.

When life hands you lemons…

I’m sure we’ve all heard that old adage, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade, but for me it’s not that simple. You see, the kitchen is not where I am at my most confident, so those lemons might not end up as juicy thirst-quenching lemonade. Over the years I’ve tried to learn to be a good cook, but it never seems to work out. I stick to the recipes, weigh and measure everything, make sure the oven is at the right temperature, but all to no avail.

A recent attempt at making gluten-free bread failed miserably with the finished result resembling a replica of the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Then there were the lemon cupcakes that ended up as flat as biscuits, and chocolate covered strawberries that nearly had AJ heading for the dentist chair with a cracked tooth.

The most common sound emanating from our house is the sound of the smoke alarm going off, usually because I’ve wandered away and got caught up in something more interesting than being in the kitchen. A friend (a really good one, I hasten to add) once mentioned that the only action my oven ever saw from me was when I polished it. The same friend bought me a lovely message board and couldn’t resist leaving a little joke on it. It’s a good job I love her, isn’t it?Message Board

My lack of culinary skills has been at the heart of many a joke. Work colleagues never quite let me live down the fact that AJ had been searching for somewhere to hide my Christmas present one year and decided that the oven was the safest place because I rarely went there.

What’s strange is that every time we’ve moved house over the years, the first room I head for when we view a new place is the kitchen. If the kitchen isn’t right, then the house isn’t right. Plus, I adore watching TV cooking shows, and just love buying new kitchen gadgets and equipment.

How I’d love to be able to cook, and really admire those who can throw ingredients in a bowl and a while later produce a mouth-watering dish. But alas, it doesn’t seem to be on the cards. It’s a good thing AJ likes cooking (and is good at it) or the poor chap would likely starve as a result of my woeful attempts.

So, how about you? Do you like to cook? Are you someone who can whip up a cake or meal from the ingredients in your store cupboard, without a recipe? If so, maybe you can send a little magic dust my way. Bon appetit!

Pineapples – Product of Paradise.

DownloadedFileI knew when I did the last blog I wouldn’t want to stop the fruit theme. When I saw an article in this months Costco Connection I couldn’t resist writing about the exotic Pineapple.

The largest fresh fruit producer and distributor for the United States is Costa Rica. If I had been guessing I would have said Hawaii.

There are no seeds in pineapples, instead the leafy top is planted or sometimes the slips and suckers, offshoots of the plant that grow out of the base of the fruit and between the leaves. It takes from 12 to 20 months to produce mature fruit. It’s a wonder they are so affordable.

Unlike other fruit once a pineapple is picked it stops ripening. When you see one in a store it is as ripe as it will ever be.

Yummy, and good for you.
Pineapples nourish and protect our bodies. Bromelain is an enzyme found only in pineapple. Its anti-inflammatory properties are effective for sports injuries, swelling and as treatment of osteoarthritis. Ongoing research indicates it may possess cancer fighting qualities.

Vitamin C is also prevalent in pineapples and they have a high manganese content that promotes healthier skin and fights free radicals. Ummm fighting free radicals (aging) is a real good thing.

I’m on a role here so don’t be surprised if I shoot through the summer blogs with this fruit theme.

Signs and Cusps

I’ve never had my future predicted by Tarot cards or psychic readings or other methods. Mostly because I get too caught up in the argument that, if I have an inkling into my future, I’ll subconsciously make it happen. So I go glibly along, ignorant of any future tendencies other than my own attempts at planning things out.

However, being as today is the day after my birthday, I thought I’d chat about Zodiac signs, and specifically, those of us born on and around the cusp. If you are born from the 19th to the 23rd of any month, you’re born on the cusp, meaning you carry the traits of two signs, not just one.

Now, I’m not all that into astrological predicting, but I do always find it interesting to look at the traits. And you know what the best thing about being on the cusp? I can pick and choose my traits. Okay, so maybe it’s kind of a “born with it” thing, but there are twice as many traits I can attribute to myself.

Like Cancer, I have close family ties.
Like Gemini, I try to see both sides of the problem.
Like Cancer, I’m emotional. Okay, maybe TOO emotional. Lol.
Geminis are quick-witted. Wait a minute. I’m not quick with responses by any definition. So that one doesn’t apply.
Cancers tend to be strong-willed. Also known as stubborn, a quality my family says I possess. 🙂
Gemini’s can tackle multiple things simultaneously. Nope. Not me. One thing at a time for this girl. 🙂

I could go on and on, but I have to say, I’ve always called myself a moon child. I love the moon, and the water, both traits related to Cancers. So I consider myself a Cancer with a couple Gemini traits thrown in for well-rounded measure.

How about you? Any cusp children out there? Do you believe in readings and signs?

Sleep Interruptus by Valerie J. Patterson

Mr. Sandman and I–apparently–are not currently on speaking terms.  I’m not all too certain when our relationship turned or–for that matter–why it turned, but, alas, it has.

Mr. Sandman was, at one time, my very dear friend.  Now, it appears he has found a new hobby, a new friend, or has simply decided to go shopping, on vacation, or is watching TV or reading a book and is no longer interested in whether or not I get a deep, full, revitalizing slumber.  He didn’t leave me abruptly so that I would notice his departure immediately.  No, in fact, he slowly backed out of our relationship until one night–in the wee hours of the morning–I was left wondering what had happened to our once stellar relationship.

To the best of my recollection, it all began one fateful night in May when I awoke somewhere between two and three with dizzying thoughts of the day ahead’s full calendar.  I figuratively ran through what was sitting on my desk, which really was a manageable amount of work, then tucked my arm under my pillow, settled back down, and fell back into a restless, tossing-and-turning sleep that did me no good.

From there, it just progressed into being robbed of more and more sleep each night until I finally reached the point I’m at right now–Sleep Interruptus!

It’s maddening, really.  I get to listen to my hubby sleeping soundly.  I get to listen to the traffic I normally never hear.  There’s the occasional cat fight, bump in the night, and let’s not forget counting the time between when the central air kicks off and kicks back on again.  Oh, and I get to plan out the coming day like nobody’s business.

I’ve got remedies for Sleep Interruptus like reciting the 50 states in alphabetical order frontwards and backwards.  Running through the alphabet and reciting only girls names that end in “LY” or boys names that actually contain two names in one like Ed-Ward and Wil-Liam.  Oh, I can get creative!  Mostly, I’ve turned to saying my prayers again or counting my blessings.

I’m fairly certain Mr. Sandman has begun to come around and his attorney is talking to my attorney about mending our relationship instead of divorcing from it entirely and finally.  I’m really looking forward to rekindling the romance with sleep!

So how about you?  What remedies do you have for giving Sleep Interruptus the heave-ho?

Until next time, may Mr. Sandman come calling each and every night, and may your dreams be sweet and light.

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SUMMER

Is spring almost over?—hard to believe. We have been fortunate and had a pretty nice spring this year. Got our garden in early and it actually came up, well all except one package of beans, very strange. We replanted and … Continue reading

Inside My Head and A Thank You to God

Jillian here-  hope you all had a lovely Father’s Day.

DSCN0136Inside my head is a scary place. I can’t seem to remember that the third MONDAY is my day. I keep thinking it’s the third Wednesday – I can always remember the first Wednesday is mine and that I have a day in the third week but blast it all, Monday will not stay in my mind.  Maybe it’s psychological?

Anyway, I remembered in time to pop over here and say something. Points for me!!

These last few weeks in my life have been very stressful and I have been on the verge of a nervous breakdown off and on since the first week of May. This coming week was weighing heavily on my mind and I spent much of the weekend either praying for a certain burden to be removed or worrying about things that may or may not happen.  Don’t you  hate it when you feel like that?

Any way, even thought I know fretting doesn’t work and only makes one miserable, I found myself wallowing in it too much this weekend so every time I would fret, I’d change it to a prayer.

Lo and behold, today, I found that prayer had been answered.  So, the question in my head now is when will I let go and trust that God, who has always taken care of me, will continue to do so? What’s a good way to learn to trust and let things work themselves out without stressing?  Anyone know?

Happy Friday the 13th

Happy Friday the 13th.   To me it’s just another day of the week, but I will say when I had the day job I hated going into the office, it seemed like everything went the heck in a hand basket.

Last month I spent some time in New Orleans at the Romantic Times convention.  If you’re a reader this is one of the best conferences to go to, especially if you live close.  This year they did a Fan-tastic day on Saturday for all the readers along with a huge book signing. For me that was one of the best days of the conference, as I got to met lots of the readers just hanging out at the hotel.

I haven’t been to New Orleans since pre-hurricane Katrina. While the French Quarter survived with little damage, as I rode the shuttle in form the airport I could see storm damage still. It was to the outlaying areas.

But lots of little unique stores were missing from the French Quarter, which makes sense because many of the people who ran these shops lost their homes and now their businesses.

It was fun to go back and walk around. And here are some pictures for all of you too look at.

What would New Orleans be like if I didn’t go to Cafe Du Monde for Au Lait coffee and Beignets.

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And here’s a night picture of Jackson Square

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And no trip would be complete without Bourbon Street

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Summer — Fruit

exps121582_RDS2028401A11_29_3bCThis isn’t officially a recipe blog. It was just that I was trying to come up with something to blog about and I got this email with pictures of fruit recipe’s. Yes, they are advertising recipe’s, but it was like looking at a picture of summer. And, with this being June, the epitome of summer, I thought I’d share

When the kids were home, many many years ago, I had this fruit pizza I made. For that first year I made it for every occasion I could think of, and it was a favorite for potlucks. I’ve since lost the recipe, but with internet I’m not worried. Besides, now I tend to put my fruit in smoothies.

So some fruit history. Or as Jillian would say… “Fruit Facts.”

Each fruit has its own history so I am just taking a few of my favorites.

220px-Pokok_manggisMy favorite fruit is Mango. I recently tried a Mango Margarita with salt on the rim. OH MY GOSH so good.

Mangoes are native to southern Asia and India but today are also grown in Florida. If I lived in an area with the right weather I’d definitely plant one of these trees. I could write an entire blog on this fruit and may do it.

• Banana’s – just about the first fruit we feed babies and a staple around my house. I don’t like them too ripe. When they get that way I slice them, and put them in baggies to freeze for smoothies.

• Pineapple – Another favorite of mine. After having pineapples in Hawaii and bringing one back, I became a firm believer in fresh over canned. Or at least if I can get one like these were. Even though the exterior of this fruit is a bit formidable, they are considered a universal sigh of hospitality and friendship, and have been since they were first came to the Americas.

• Blueberries – I love every kind of berry and in everything you can possible put them in. I picked blueberries for this blog because it took me awhile to cultivate a taste for them. They were eaten by Native Americans (sometimes with meat) and were also used as a medicine.

I could keep going as there are so many fruits I deem my favorite. Maybe I will play with the fruit theme for a while. It’s fun to look up information on what I take for granted.

Tartar Sauce

I haven’t published a recipe in a while, so thought I’d post about my tartar sauce saga. First, I have to explain that I’m a dill pickle convert. I’ve always loved cucumber chips and sweet pickles. In fact, the first fight hubby and I ever had was when he poured dill pickle juice into my newly made (at 10PM at night for a potluck when I was tired and only wanted to go to bed) sweet pickle potato salad.

Thankfully, we got past that first fight twenty five years ago. And somehow, in the process, I started making potato salad with dill pickles. Not sure how that happened. Anyhow, the same thing with tartar sauce. I grew up with sweet relish tartar. He liked dill pickle. Now, I like dill pickle, too. Hmmm. I sense a pattern here. Maybe I’m a dill pickle person hiding behind a sweet pickle personality?

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with homemade tartar sauces, because I really don’t like the jarred ones from the store that much. I’ve been frustrated because I haven’t really liked the taste of homemade, either. Until I came upon this simple recipe. The difference? This one uses dill pickle juice instead of lemon juice to tang it up. I think it was the lemon juice I didn’t like. Also, I wasn’t making it up hours earlier and letting it sit. That’s HUGE with tartar sauce. It really lets the flavors blend.

Dill Pickle Tartar Sauce

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/4 cup minced dill pickle
  • 2 Tablespoons dill pickle juice
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • celery salt to taste

Mix together and refrigerate until ready to use. Keep up to 3 days in the fridge.

If you’d like to read reviews or more on this recipe, I picked it up from allrecipes.com, my go to place for recipes. You can read more here.