This week just flew by. I completely lost track of the days and now, here it is Friday. And since I am neck deep in canning peaches and pickles, (not in the same jar, I promise!) let’s get straight to it:
My husband and I finished the Second Season of The Umbrella Academy on Netflix last night. We are huge fans. I loved Season One so much, I think I’ve watched it like three times–there is so many details that are just so subtle, it really does require a second viewing.
At least, that is what I tell myself.
While I will warn you, it does have some serious violence, I watch it because I LOVE the characters. Klaus, Number Five, and Ben, steal my heart.
I picked a ton of blueberries last month and tucked them in the freezer for winter, but my family keeps sneaking a bag out so I will make the Blueberry Muffins from this book, Muffins, but Elizabeth Alston. My copy of the book is ancient and well thumbed and I don’t think there is a bad recipe in it, but the Blueberry Muffins are to die for. And happily, there are some used copies of the book on Amazon that won’t break the bank. I think I love cookbooks almost as much as fiction.
When I was in Chicago, I sat down with a group of my son’s friends who all want to be writers and we talked about the process and of course the conversation turned to favorite books. When asked about mine, I never hesitate–I absolutely adore The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery.
I love all her books (Anne of Green Gables, Emily of New Moon, Jane of Lantern Hill (a lovely story if you can find a copy), but The Blue Castle is my touchstone. The book I reach for when I need a friend, a cozy romantic read.
Garlic Roasted Cherry Tomatoes If you have a bunch of cherry tomatoes or just love tomatoes, this has to be my favorite way to make them. I roast them and throw them on pasta with some shrimp for an easy simple dinner. We eat them right off the pan. They go on pizzas. They are just the bomb. A cherry bomb. LOL.
And thank you for the suggestions of using coffee grounds to keep the little devil snails away. It has worked like a charm and saved my zuchinni plants. Now I am overrun in zucchini. And also peppers and beans and . . .
So the other morning I went through and gave the garden a good picking, bagged up all the food and donated it to the food bank. Usually I hand out food from the garden to whatever hapless friend happens to be over and they have no choice but to leave with bags of garden produce. I also usually sneak a zuchinni in the backseat of their car as well.
But this year, with so many people out of work and in need of help, and a general lack of gatherings of friends, I am committed to taking every bit of extra food to my local food bank. If your garden is overflowing, or you have a fruit tree that produces more than you can use, please consider donating that food to your local food bank. We all need to pull together.
Please stay healthy, safe and socially distanced. And try the Roasted Cherry Tomatoes. Really.
P.S. This post contains affiliate links.
Well, this is an abbreviated list of sorts–part vacation slides, part yummy recipe, and finally, a good listen.
First the roadtrip. My son and I drove 2329 miles in four days. Through Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois.
Secondly, I learned what a Derecho is. Thankfully, not up close. It traveled a few hours ahead of us, but we were very sobered by the damage we witnessed in Iowa and Illinois–trees ripped apart, flattened corn fields and semi trucks flipped over.
I then helped him move into an apartment in Chicago which is a third floor walk up in an old apartment building. Walk up as in walking up a very rickety set of old stairs. Ah, college apartments. But he’s thrilled to be back around his roommates, and we had a really fabulous trip.
Also, a huge thank you to everyone out there who is wearing a mask and doing their best to social distance. This has to be a community effort and we met a lot of people doing their best. To the places we passed through who are doing their part, you are most appreciated.
Driving over the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming and through the Bighorn National Forest. Just amazing vistas and views. Breathtaking at times.
Finally getting to see the Medicine Wheel in the Bighorn Mountains. (Hence the slight deviation from I-90 in Montana and into Wyoming).
The hike up to it was beautiful and then just the reverence of visiting a place native peoples have held sacred and visited for 1000s of years was amazing. We climbed up past meadows and looking out at the mountain tops around us, just added to the joy. Sadly we missed the bears everyone else saw and told us about, but we were followed by ravens that kepy up a lovely conversation with us.
All the laughter and stupid jokes and lame things we shared as we drove all those hours together. Ask me sometime about our new favorite driving game: Hay Corn. Inspired by the lovely state of Nebraska.
Slow-Cooker Paella. We stayed one night with my sister-in-law and her family and she had this ready when we arrived. It is so easy and so good. I can highly recommend. She also added more vegetables–broccoli and edamame, which really rounded out the entire meal. Spoon this into a bowl and enjoy!
Audiobook sale–Lorraine Heath’s delightful historical, The Earl Takes a Fancy, is on sale through Chirp for $3.99. I’ve never used Chirp, but I do like the price. And if you prefer just a good read, the Kindle version is currently $1.99. Your weekend reading or listening is all taken care of.
Here we go again! Another week and another Friday. And I am in a whirlwind.
I start off on a big adventure tomorrow–I’m helping my college son move back to Chicago. We will be driving from Seattle to Chicago, via Butte, Montana, Casper, Wyoming, and Lincoln, Nebraska, before we roll into Chicago.
You can follow along on our bubble adventures across the west and into the great midwest on my Facebook and my Instagram accounts. Wave at us if we are motoring through your neck of the woods.
And don’t worry, we have face masks and Clorox wipes I recently scored at Costco.
Please keeps us in your thoughts! And if you have any travel advice for these times, send it along! I’d love to hear about your experiences.
In the meantime, lets find Five Things to get this weekend going!
I’m going to give you homework while I’m gone. On road trips, I always take some very easy knitting–dishcloths that I use for homemade Christmas gifts. I love this pattern: Grandmother’s Favorite and invite you to knit with me.
“But, Elizabeth, I don’t know how to knit,” you say.
Never fear, here are two great videos on learning how and knitting this dishcloth. All you need are a pair of needles (ask around, a friend, your mom, your grandmother or neighbor will have a pair to loan you) and some kitchen cotton, like this Lily Sugar n Cream.
Come on, you know you want to learn. And crocheters, I found a pattern for you here.
Since I am in a travel vein, there is a fun book coming out on Tuesday, Eighty Days to Elswhere by kc dyer. She wrote the beloved book, Finding Fraser. Eighty Days to Elsewhere is a take on Around the World in Eighty Days, but this time the heroine is drawn into a competition that will help her save her family’s bookstore. Sounds like the perfect road book.
Hashtag alert! I’ve found two really fun Romance challenges running on Instagram during August: #inspiredbookchallenge and #summerflingscavengerhunt.
Each day you’ll find fun prompts to share or discover new books. My favorite prompt so far? Puffy Shirts. I think I know a thing or two about that:
Summer Eating. Wouldn’t be Friday without a recipe. When my garden is pumping out basil and tomatoes, I start making Pasta with with Brie, Tomatoes and Basil.
This pasta is the perfect summer dinner when you really don’t want to work to hard to put something on the table. Yummy and perfect. Thank you to Cooking with Alison for the lovely online recipe. My recipe is just a post it in my cupboard.
So maybe you don’t want to knit, well, I have something else to mesmerize you. Napkin Folding. Don’t ask how much time I spent watching this video. Who knew there were so many ways to fold napkins? Amaze your family this weekend.
Here’s my table from now on:
Have a fabulous and well folded weekend.
Hello my dear friends! This has been a hard week. In the ways that just shake you. More on that later.
Instead, let’s first share some things to make your weekend a little more special, adventurous and sweet.
What to read? Why not try an oldy but a goody.
The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer.
If you’ve never read Georgette, now is the perfect time to curl up with her delightful Regencies and bask in her extraordinary wit and sublime romance. I adore The Grand Sophy–it is always the Heyer book I recommend people read first. But my favorite is The Foundling. You’ll have to read both and let me know.
Did you know there is a graham cracker shortage? I’ve been trying to find them for a month. I have recipe that I wanted to make but needed graham crackers for the crust.
Well out of desperation (and a bit of inspiration) I grabbed up a bag of Teddy Grahams at the grocery store with the notion of “what the heck?”. Well, I will tell you that Teddy Grahams make a great substitute if you want to make a graham cracker crust, but be warned when you go to make it, there is always one Teddy who is going to know his fate.
Looking for something to watch this weekend?–other than the second season of The Umbrella Academy?? We watched The Old Guard this week and I really enjoyed it.
It actually inspired me to consider a new word for my Bullet Journal and writing life: Purpose. We should all have purpose in what we do.
Of course that I found this in a comic book movie with a lot of violence, might say something about me, but if you are looking for an adventure with great characters, give it a watch on Netflix.
Contest Winners!! A lot of you missed the contest in last week’s newsletter, but four lucky folks (Johanna L., Elaine M., Sandra M., and Stephanie F.) won download codes for the audio book of This Rake of Mine. I’ve got more codes to give away in the coming weeks, so make sure to keep a sharp eye out here, and if you didn’t get a chance last week, I’ve actually posted a contest for one last code for This Rake of Mine on my Facebook page–so you can enter there.
If you were wondering what was the recipe that needed, nay, demanded graham crackers, it was this Key lime Pie. I made it for a small luncheon of friends (socially distanced and wearing masks). We’ve been friends for more than 30 years, and recently learned that one of our group has terminal cancer. We haven’t lunched together since February, so now it was critical that we not waste any time.
Best bit I can share with you this week: Love your friends, keep them as close as possible, reach out, and when you can find graham crackers or Teddy Grahams, make them this pie.
Photo credit: A Classic Twist
Have a great week. If your state is having a primary on Tuesday–Vote!! Please. And if you can, request an absentee ballot for the November election. I want you to stay safe!
Until next Friday,
It’s Friday! Hurrah. We made it through another week. I hope your days have been bright and you have a weekend ahead full of things that make you smile.
Here are five things that have me grinning.
Mark your calendars: The Australian Romance Readers are putting on a virtual reader’s conference, A Romantic Rendezvous: Locked Down, August 1-2. So if you’ve ever wanted to go to a reader’s conference or go to Australia, here’s your chance–all from the comfort of your own home.
Take a look at the schedule, but just know I am not going to do the time zone math for you. LOL
The conference features over 50 sessions and 70 authors, including yours truly. You’ll find me I’m in a session with Cathy Maxwell and Lorraine Heath, two of my favorite people.
So mark your calendars and settle in with some snacks and enjoy.
Giveaway!! This Rake of Mine is now available in audiobook and I have three downloads to give away.
Rules: To use the download code, you will have to open a free account with Audiobooks.com, but after that you can listen away.
Cabbage Ramen Salad. You know the one, that ends up at every potluck and picnic? But this one is truly the best ever Cabbage Ramen Salad.
The trick, it turns out, is in toasting the ramen, almonds and sesame seeds beforehand. Pure Magic.
Also, make a note to add the sesame seeds to the toasting pan in the last minute or so, because those little suckers cook fast. As in burn fast. Just saying.
We devour this salad. Plan for seconds and thirds.
Photo credit: Barefeet In The Kitchen
Star Trek. I know that there has to be a few Star Trek geeks out there–of which I count myself one–who will love this beautiful documentary by Adam Nimoy, Leonard Nimoy’s son, looking at his father and iconic role as Spock.
For the Love of Spock is available to rent through Amazon Prime and other services and is so worth the viewing if you love Star Trek. Even if you don’t–it’s a great look back at the 60s and 70s.
Fun fact: I didn’t realize how much live theater Leonard Nimoy did.
In case your tastes run more cultured or you just want to see something utterly lovely, here is the Swan Lake Bath, featuring 27 professional ballet dancers from around the world performing Swan Lake from their bath tubs and showers. It’s only three minutes long, so you don’t even have to worry about getting your opera house clothing in order.
Have a great week and hope you find something new and exciting that lights up your heart. Please feel free to share my newsletter with your friends or anyone you think might like a little bit of something new every Friday.
Summer has finally arrived in Seattle. We never call it summer here until well after the 4th of July. But this week has been lovely and warm. And I keep hoping to catch sight of the Comet Neowise. I know, always with my to do list.
Also, some of you emailed me about last week’s recipe for Dutch Babies with questions about the pan. The recipe calls for a paella pan, but I have to confess, I make mine with a plain old cast iron skillet. As far as I can tell, any oven safe pan should work. Saturday breakfast, anyone?
So without further ado, here is this week’s list of Five Things.
Katherine Kingsley. Have you read her? Recently I saw someone post one of her books on Instagram and it was such a blast from the past. She’s one of those early romance writers who rose to fame in the 80s and early 90s and I LOVED her books. I was so inspired by them. I wanted to write these big, romantic books just like she did.
Not long after I sold my first book to Dell, I ended up seated next to her at a dinner. She was everything I thought she would be–amazing, interesting and just an outright character. She was an enchanting as her books.
So, what author got you hooked on romance novels, and have you met them?
Granchester. I love British shows–but British mystery series are really, really, my jam. I had watched the first few years of Granchester with the dashing cleric, Sidney Chambers, and then recently–like last week–found two new seasons. I’ve been streaming it from PBS. A little history. A little mystery.
I also have a thing for Foyle’s War . . . and . . .
I came to the end of a writing journal the other day. It is completely filled with my chicken scratched notes and scenes and a to do list (of course). And I went to get another one out of the closet and realized I was out of notebooks. What? Panicked, I had that moment of “what if I can’t get these any more?”
These being, the 8″ x 10″ Eccolo World Traveler Journals. I love these journals. The paper holds up. The notebook holds up. Here’s the one I just filled– it looks like its been through hell and back and still it is intact. And much loved.
Best journals ever. And happily, still available. So I ordered a bunch more. ‘Cause I got stories to write.
It’s summer so that means the grill is on. Honestly, in Seattle, we grill year round, but summer grilling is my favorite. Less rain. And plenty of fresh corn on the cob. So when find good, fresh corn, and I know we will be grilling that night, I throw it on the grill just like this.
I have two quotes on post-its that are on my computer that I read every morning before I start to write and they are:
Make a simple but profound change.
Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear. ~Isiah 50:4
I hope in this coming week you hear the words that guide you, and that you find an opportunity to reach for change.
Until next Friday,
Yikes! I absolutely forgot to send anything out last week. But in my defense, I had picked 50 lbs of strawberries and was, well, rather up to my ears in making jam. We now have all the jam. And strawberry preserves. Syrup. And sauce. LOL.
So that leads to me the first thing on my list this week. Which, no surprise, is food.
Dutch Babies. Which is a deceptive title, because they should be called really big popovers that pretend to be pancakes and happen to go well with . . . you guessed it, strawberries. I love making these for weekend breakfast and they are so amazingly easy to make. A dusting a powdered sugar and a healthy addition of strawberries (fresh or sauced) and you have the perfect start to your weekend.
Ripped Bodice’s 4th Annual Summer Romance Bingo. This is all about reading and fun and games. I’m in. Download a board here, and then start reading. I’ve even done up a list of my books that might help fill in some squares. Just doing my part. I have two favorite squares: Meddling Matchmakers (Felicity Langley, anyone?) and Secret Identity (Sophia D’Artiers in Brazen Angel.) Find your faves and get reading.
You can also find ideas by following the hashtag #RippedBodiceBingo. I know, me and my hashtags.
Oh, and there are prizes. But I don’t think any of us need incentives to dive into a good romance. Am I right?
Caroline Linden. Have you read her? She’s another of my faves who seems to fly under the radar and doesn’t get the attention she deserves. Well, she has a new series starting and the first book is out, About a Rogue, and I am dying to get my hands on my copy. I’ve got it on order and am rather impatiently waiting.
Have you read her books?
Fold and Fly Paper Airplanes No, I haven’t been making paper airplanes when I should be writing. That would be wrong. Just really, really, wrong. But if you are looking for something to keep the kids (or kids at heart) busy, this page is too much fun.
Not that I would know from personal experience. No. Never.
Hamilton. Yes, I know I am late to the game. But OMG, did I love finally getting to see this amazing production. It was movie night at the Boyle household (which means stovetop popcorn with M&Ms) and we all were mesmerized. Thus far the soundtrack has been on repeat and I’ve ordered the Chernow book, Alexander Hamilton, and My Dear Hamilton, by Stephanie Dray, because I am a complete history geek and must know more.
Until next Friday. Have a glorious weekend and a great week. Me? I’ll be writing. Not folding and flying airplanes. Promise.
I love the Ripped Bodice’s annual Summer Romance Bingo! What a fun way to find new titles and authors and just, well, READ.
But I also love adding to people’s squares and TBRs, so might I suggest if you are looking for ways to fill the following squares, I’ve got you covered.
And don’t forget, Ripped Bodice will be more than happy to order you any of these titles by giving them a call, (424) 603-4776.
I’m on a Boat
Goodness, where to begin? You could start with Brazen Temptress, where Captain Maureen Hawthorne (Yes, a LADY pirate) is caught up in a traitorous plan to ruin her estranged husband. High seas high jinks ensue.
One Night of Passion finds Captain Colin Danvers run out of the Royal Navy and taking up as a privateer. But before he set sails, he attends the infamous Cyprian Ball and meets the woman who will change his life. Imagine his surprise when he rescues her off the coast of Italy. Along with another surprise…
Finally, if you want to see true love finally come to fruition after decades of lost chances, Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress, gives Pippin her last chance to find her heart with her long lost beloved Captain Dashwell. Bring tissue.
My backlist is riddled with spies and secret identities, but if we are going to go for a straight out, Scarlett Pimpernell sort of alter ego secret identity, might I suggest:
Brazen Angel, my first book (which could also be used for Debut Novel), was a straight out twist on the Scarlett Pimpernell. My heroine, Sophia D’Artiers, is determined to save her jailed family in France. The only thing standing in her way is her betrothed, The Marquess of Trahern, who is hunting the elusive thief and suspected spy, the Brazen Angel. Little does Trahern know, his sickly bride to be is one and the same.
Following in her sister’s footsteps, Lily D’Artiers, agrees to pose as a French heiress to infiltrate Napoleon’s highest circles at the behest of the British government. But Lily has plans of her own and very soon finds them thwarted by the one British agent she’ll never be able to forget, Webb Dryden. (Brazen Heiress)
Title is a Pun
This Rake of Mine was featured in Writer’s Digest as a deceptive gardening book. Hint: There is very little gardening. It will also fill in nicely as yet another of my Secret Identity titles. But I happen to like the pun part. Be prepared to fall in love with Jack Tremont, rakiest of rakes. You have been warned.
Cover has a large piece of jewelry on it
This necklace that Lucy Ellyson is wearing is too die for. And so is her hero, the Earl of Clifton. How I Met My Countess.
While it works great for Secret Identity, it is also my debut novel, Brazen Angel. Here is the excerpt.
The matchmaking game is on in Something About Emmaline. Baron Sedgewick has made up a wife to keep the matchmaking mothers away from his doorstep, but someone is on to his plan and has marital plans of her own.
I have an entire series about the meddlingest meddling of all matchmakers, Felicity Langley. (To see how she got her start: Love Letters from a Duke, which in a sense will also count.) Now the Duchess of Hollindrake, she’s out to see a trio of troublesome widows married off. Start with How I Met My Countess, Mad about the Duke, and finish with Lord Langley is Back in Town.
A Midsummer Ball
First of all, do not suggest another color for the Midsummer’s Eve Ball buntings. Lady Essex will never approve. They have always been lavender and always will be. But do plan on falling in love. Along Came a Duke.
Let the Summer Romance Bingo commence!
Happy Summer!! We might be at home, but I don’t mind. I have my garden, my patio and a head full of stories. I’m just fine with that. Go for a walk. Take a deep breath. Love those around you.
And . . .
Easy Kale Salad. This one is on replay every time I get enough kale in the garden to fill the salad bowl. This obsession began when I had this fabulous kale salad in New York in January, while having lunch with my agent. Wow, that seems like a world ago.
I loved that salad so much I went on a recipe hunt until I found one that hit every bite I remembered from that great lunch. I’ve made it with pistachios, pine nuts, whatever floats your boat or you have in the cupboard.
Come on, grow, little kale!!
Menus. Speaking of eating (which by the way, I adore, if you haven’t noticed) I love making out weekly menus. This is why: saves me time on a random Friday night because I know we’re having Chicken Shwarma tonight–you know, the one from last week. It also gives me my shopping list for the week and then I only have to go to the store once. (Thank goodness!)
I start by looking through the freezer and the garden and decide what to make based on what we have, and then fill in with the things we love. I write down the list of meals in my bullet journal (as you can see, my menu is nothing elaborate) but oh, does it help.
Also, as I cook during the week, I might do prep for the next night as well, saving even more time.
If you don’t already, sit down this weekend and sketch out your week. Then let me know what your favorites are–I’m always looking for new recipes–hence the garden full of kale. LOL.
MOD pizza. Okay, I do go out, and one that our family loves is MOD Pizza. I plug them everywhere and for one consistent reason: no matter where we go, every MOD we’ve ever been in, our son with autism has always been treated with grace and kindness. That goes a long way in our decision to eat there and our enthusiasm for their company.
Surrey International Writers Conference. This, IMHO, is the best writer’s conference on the planet. Inclusive, kind, generous, open, and a fabulous place to find your writing peeps. This year they are taking the entire conference online. Yes, anyone can go now. No matter where you are.
Best of all, they’ve put up a sliding scale because they know times are hard for a lot of people and they didn’t want anyone to miss out because, well, times are hard. That’s one of the many reasons why I love this conference. Registration is now open, but it won’t be for long. This will sell out.
I’ll miss being there in person, but so happy and proud to be part of this conference.
Again, My Lord. Time for some weekend reading!! This has to be my favorite book by the very talented Katharine Ashe. I love her books because they are smart, funny, and full of spirit.
This one is hilarious. A rift on Groundhog Day, the heroine has a chance to make things right with the man she loves and she fails over and over again. You just ache to have him realize how much he loves her.
If anything, read Again, My Lord, for the church bell scene. It never fails to crack me up. Literally.
If you haven’t read her, I know this story will make you laugh . . . and fall in love.
Until next Friday, have a glorious weekend, a beautiful week, and the sun shining upon you.
My roses. First, there are the peonies, and then the roses. And the roses are glorious this year. I’ve been cutting them and giving them away and they just keep blooming.
So remember–the more you give away, the more you bloom.
Next up: the day lilies. I can’t wait to see what they have to say this year.
We’ve been working our way through all kinds of movie series, but we’ve also been watching our fair share of documentaries of late. You can only watch Captain America so many times. (Just kidding, I can watch Chris Evans every day of the week). Here are two that we all watched intently: McMillions and 13th.
McMillions is a great who-done-it, looking into the McDonalds Monopoly game and how it was rigged and robbed in the 90s. Fascinating. Available on HBO.
13th is heart wrenching to watch but it gives you a very good understanding where a lot of the anger in the Black Lives Matter movement comes from. As a history major, it made me reexamine my own understanding of the Reconstruction period, the 13th Amendment and how laws have been put in place since then to feed a working prison system and how unevenly those laws have been applied. Available on Netflix.
If you have any documentaries you’d recommend, send them on to me.
#RomanceCoversAs. I know, I’m addicted to fun hashtags. But this one is as fun as it gets.
If you have a Twitter account, go follow @JackieBarbosa or just follow her weekly hashtag #RomanceCoversAs. It is absolutely stunning what she does: she takes a theme or a person and then finds romance covers to go with that picture or theme.
Here is the one that tipped me off. Recognize it? See why I love it?
Bellewether. Full disclosure, Susanna Kearsley is one of my dearest friends, and I absolutely love all her books, but this one has, in a funny way, had us thinking that we may be related in some distant way.
Recently I’ve been doing a lot of genealogy. My library unlocked a paywall during the pandemic and I’ve been going like gangbusters on my family history–only to discover that my ancestors were settled in the same region that Bellewether is set. We both come from lines of Royalists, who lived in the New York area and after the Revolutionary War, settled in New Brunswick. Incidentally, I’ve also found on the other side of my family tree, those who fought on the American side of things. Talk about conflicted.
If you haven’t already, do read Bellewether, it is a beautiful book of family and time.
Dinner! Of course we have to have something to try this weekend and can I recommend this Chicken Shwarma! They call for baking it, but we grilled it and it was amazing. I also made flatbread to go with it and we devoured it all. You can thank my food adventurous oldest child who loves to cook for a number of these recipes. He has no fear trying something new. We could all learn a lesson there.
As always, let me know if you have read a great book, cooked something amazing or seen something that rocked your world. Sharing it what this Friday newsletter is all about.
Have a great weekend!
Winner: The winner of the One Night of Passion audiobook giveaway was Lily C. Thank you to everyone who entered. And stay tuned–I’ll have another giveaway next week.