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.
Friday came up too fast and I’m catching up this morning. But let’s see what I’ve got:
Celebrations. Life continues. But in the middle of this pandemic, I saw a woman coming out of the grocery store with this HUGE bouquet of balloons for a sex reveal and at first, I had this momentary panic over the risks, but then I stopped myself. Because we should be celebrate every day. In the past few months, in our own family–and probably yours–we’ve had birthdays, anniversaries, a graduation, an engagement, and babies born.
Here is my husband who, at a certain, ahem, age, decided to go back to college and get an EMBA degree. I couldn’t be prouder. And this week he graduated–via an online ceremony, but we cheered just as loud.
The photo is by my cousin, Robin L. Green–she’s a fabulous photographer, isn’t she?!
Don’t forget to celebrate however you can.
Giveaway. A handful of my books are coming out in audiobooks in the next few months, and Tantor was nice enough to give me an audiobook of One Night of Passion to give to one of you.
Note: You will need an account with Audiobooks.com to access your prize.
Books. The best part of sharing books with all of you is that you all turn around and share the books you are reading and here is one Susan G. sent me (clearly she knows me!) Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson.
A romance about a yarn shop, knitting and men?? Count me in.
I started it last night and love it. Thanks for the recommendation and keep them coming.
Pets. Also on the celebration front, this week marks a year since we got our rescue pop, Jack. You’ll see lots of pictures of him over on my Instagram page and on Facebook, because I love this goofy dog so much. Here is my favorite picture of Jack and Pi sharing their true feelings for each other.
I have to thank the Texas based rescue, Big Dog Rescue Project, who brings unwanted or dumped puppies to the Pacific Northwest and up to New Jersey, and also has adoption and foster services in Texas. Check them out and see all the good work they do.
Can I get up on my soapbox and just say, #adoptdontshop?! Pi and Jack endorse this hashtag…when they aren’t having a moment.
Food. Or, what’s for dinner. Well, let me help with that. Here is one of my favorite, quick and easy meals–Easy One Pot Lasagna. I tend to write notes all over my recipies, and for this one, I add an extra half a cup of water to the recipe after you add the pasta–but I am also very generous with my pasta measuring. We had this just the other day, and again, no pics because, well, we ate it all. Enjoy.
See you next week! Make sure to enter to win the audiobook of One Night of Passion. Click on the link to read an excerpt.
And keep those book recs coming!
Thank you to all of you have written to me, sharing your books, recipes, ideas and what you’ve tried and liked here. Your notes and encouragement and friendly ‘howdies’ make my Fridays bright. And this week, wow! Couldn’t we all use just a little bit of bright and hope for the future?! I know we can get there if we work together.
I have one thing I really, really, beg you to do, and the other four are just for fun.
Vote. I don’t care who you vote for, (okay I do, but that isn’t up to me to decide, because, yes, we live in a democracy) but please VOTE in the upcoming elections. If you aren’t registered to vote, it is very easy to find out how at vote.gov. Just click and do it. And if your state allows vote by mail, sign up for that. We’ve had it here in Washington state for several years and it is easy and safe.
Heck, if the government trusts the US Mail to collect my taxes, they can trust the post office to deliver my vote. LOL.
Bullet Journaling. We are living through historic times, and as someone who spends a lot of time reading old diaries and letters in archives, do know that your thoughts and comments on today’s events will be treasured by your family or some author digging through the archives decades from now.
I’ve been keeping my bullet journal for the last four years and love tucking in bits from my daily life (movie stubs, clippings from the paper, and pictures) along with the things that make the day memorable–the news, pandemic life, and even the mundane–like how many times I’ve had to replant my zucchinis.
If you’ve never tried Bullet Journaling I have a board on Pinterest dedicated to journaling. I am no artist and my book is a mess by most standards, but I adore it. Of course, once you’re hooked, you’ll need a journal and pens . . . and more pens.
Little Free Libraries/Pantries. I love my library. Like LOVE my library–it just got voted Library System of the Year. But with KCLS closed, I’ve missed having shelves to go peruse. Thank goodness my neighborhood has a lot of Little Free Libraries–where neighbors can share and exchange books. You can find your nearest registered library here.
Then folks took it one step further, because with all the need for food and household supplies, a number of our local Little Free Libraries have been converted to Pantries. If you need food, help yourself. If you have extra, do you mind sharing. Do you have one? Throw in a few cans of food and see how it goes.
In the meantime, when I take my daily walk, I try to take a book or a can of food with me to share along the way.
Speaking of books, Mary H., wrote me about a lovely book she’d read, Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn, and I’m enjoying it as well. Best of all, you Bullet Journal junkies, the heroine is a calligrapher! So there’s lots of lettering love to be had.
What I find fun is the heroine’s joy in finding old lettering on buildings, which is something I’ve always been a big geek about. Here is a wonderful set of old advertisements/lettering from an old building in Evanston, WY.
By the way, one of these days I am going to do a Five Things I LOVE about Wyoming.
You. Are. Warned. Because it will end up being like 20-50.
Dinner. Well I haven’t forgotten that! Here is another of the kid’s recipes that we end up devouring–Al’s Salty Chicken. Yum. This recipe is everything you want a roast chicken to be. Flavorful. Moist. And added bonus–roasted onions, which BTW are the best thing ever. And if there is anything left, or if it is only the carcass, throw it all in a pot the next day and you are on your way to making soup.
As always, if you have suggestions or ideas, post them or drop me a note! Until next Friday, go forth, wear your mask, find your voice, raise it high and share a good book.
Once again it is Friday–funny how that happens every week–and I am back with Five Things. Just five. Nothing unmanageable, and hopefully something that brightens your day, weekend, week. At least until next Friday. *snort*
Bloom. Let’s just get straight to the thing I love most as May creeps along into June–my peonies start blooming.
A number of these plants got started in my grandmother’s yard, who got them from her mother’s yard–do you see where this is going? My garden is my connection to my family in so many ways.
I especially love the peony plant I got from my aunt’s yard. I miss her terribly, but every year I feel her close at hand when her peony begins to bloom. It also reminds me that whatever happens, come late spring those flowers will bloom–a sign of hope and certainty for the future.
What is in your garden that you hold dear?
Dinner. You know there has to be food here. Of course there is. The advantage of having all the guys home (have I mentioned I am quarantined in a house full of men?!) is that my oldest likes to cook. He’s a chip off the block and he brought home this recipe for Chicken Street Tacos. I can’t even tell you how much this has become our go to meal.
Best Tip: don’t neglect to make the sauce, because it now goes on everything around here.
Sorry no pictures. They never last long enough to photograph. But Chelsea’s site has some great photos of your next dinner.
#stepbacksaturday. What? A hashtag? This might not seem like much of a thing, but it is. I love scrolling through all the posts on Saturdays. Yes, I know it is not a ‘Friday’ thing, but you can catch up today and then tomorrow will be full of new posts. Ha!
So hop over to Instagram, where a group of bloggers including one of my faves, @kristyb_readsromance, (not following her? You should.) post stepbacks from their favorite romance novels on, well, you guessed it, Saturdays, and then ask you to figure out which book the stepback belongs to.
Recognize this one?
If anything, I love seeing all the pretty stepbacks and realized that despite how wonderful it is to download a book in an instant, we lose the beauty of a wonderfully romantic stepback!
His Majesty’s Dragon. Yes, dragons. In case you haven’t had your daily requirements lately, here is a fun series by Naomi Novik that follows the adventures of Temeraire and his human companion, Captain Will Laurence, as they fight in the Napoleonic wars.
Now you see why I loved it–the Regency with dragons. With dragons. It truly needed to be said twice.
And it’s a series. So more dragons. And all things Regency. And Captain Will Laurence. You see where I am going here…
Facemask. I spent a Saturday sewing these for my family and friends. (Including Nicole from last week!) This is an easy pattern and makes a good fitting mask for all the sizes in your family. When I ran out of fabric, I made more from an old shirt that I no longer wore, and if you can’t get elastic, you can make Tarn–which is yarn from an old t-shirt.
And if you are wondering–the bit of bias tape (the black thing at the top) is a sleeve where I put a twist tie from the grocery store to make the mask bendy so it would better fit to my nose.
Nothing says love like a gift that says “I want you around forever.” And BTW, you are all essential to me.
Have a great weekend and week and see you–you guessed it–next Friday.
Thank you for all your notes, suggestions and glad tidings. I’m glad my suggestions from last week helped out or led you to something new. So here we go again, Five Things for Friday that you might enjoy, binge or share. Because who doesn’t love something shiny and new to brighten their day?
And if you love something here please share it around, or if you have something to suggest, please send me a note, add a comment, help me find the lovelies in your life and I’ll add them to the list.
Liza Palmer’s Monday Newsletter. I can’t say enough how much I have come to love Monday mornings because it brings me Liza’s ray of sunshine and pithy bits of wisdom that sustain me all week. Last week’s theme of a Lost Year resonated and so did her realization about what it can mean for each of us. She wrote:
I read somewhere 2020 referred to as The Lost Year and I’ve been…thinking about that a lot. Mostly, what about it is hooking me. Time is so precious. And I know too many people who would give anything for just one more year… even this one. What finally got me to understand what was bumping me about the whole Lost Year thing, was a connection I made to a phenomenon I’ve experienced in writing. (Read the rest here)
I highly recommend subscribing. Best part… there is always something hilarious buried in there. And on Monday mornings, who doesn’t need a good chuckle?!
Zoe’s Amazing Playlist. I was curious to watch this show–the concept a bit out there about a young woman, who after a mishap in an MRI machine, can hear the songs people sing from their hearts. After the first show–(and don’t cheat yourself, please watch to the end)–I was so hooked.
Part Glee, part all those things that we long to say, this show is wonderful. Watch.
Lorraine Heath. Anything by her. If you are looking for a new to you author, here is the writer you’ve been longing to find. Lately I did some catch up reading and read, Beyond Scandal and Desire, which I devoured. Perfect to queue up this weekend if you just need to fall in love.
Also, this is Book 1 in a series. There are 5 more books after this one just waiting for you.
Pen Pals. Lately I’ve taken to writing and mailing notes to friend. It started with a friend’s father who had a heart attack and needed some cheering up. I’ve never met him so I wrote him and thanked him for having such a lovely daughter.
Recently I got this note from a friend of my son’s–Nicole. She has Downs Syndrome and she is one of my favorite people.
And apparently she missed me as much as I’ve missed seeing her at swimming and baseball. I can’t even begin to tell you how much her time and effort meant to me. I wrote her back immediately.
So who are you missing right no? Dig out a pretty card that you’ve been saving for something special. Today’s special, right? Now send a note to someone and tell them how much you miss them. I bet they write you back.
Grow something. It’s that time of year when I’m putting in my garden. Tomatoes. Zuchinni. Kale. Lettuce. Beans. But this year I am having the battle of the snails. I plant. They eat. I plant again. Sigh.
So my youngest and I decided to go big. We are growing an avocado. So far it is just sitting on the counter, but we have high hopes.
But isn’t that what planting a garden is? High hopes of seeing what today’s efforts yields tomorrow? I’ll keep you updated.
May your Friday be filled with hopes and dreams.
PS. And remember what Nicole says: Wash your hands and be safe. And if you don’t want to miss a single Friday list, subscribe to my newsletter–right up at the top right hand corner. See, there it is, easy, peasy.
5 Things For Friday
Hey there! With everything going on, I thought I would start blogging about the fun things I’ve found, read or watched over the week that I am busting to share with someone. Who doesn’t want to find new reads or something to do other than watch their sourdough starter grow? Hahaha.
So without any further ado, here is this week’s list:
The Hamburger Bun recipe I’ve made these three times now and they are easy peasy, even if you aren’t a baker. The family stands in the kitchen and tries to convince me they would be great just straight out of the oven without any of the fixings. Yes, this is the hamburger you eat for the bun, not all the good stuff inside.
Psst: If you’ve run out of yeast–like I did recently–I actually found Saf Instant Yeast on Amazon and at a reasonable price, not one gouged into next week. And yes, it is a 1 pound package, but it will last a long time in the freezer, and once you make these your family will be asking for them all the time.
Belgravia – This Downtown Abbey-esque creation of Julian Fellowes begins at the infamous ball before the battle of Waterloo and then moves forward 30 years, is frothy fun. But the real reason to watch it is the amazing sets and costumes. It is available on Epix.
3. Crush The King (Book 3 in the “Crown of Shards” series) by Jennifer Estep is finally out. I’ve read them all (start with Kill the Queen, if you are new to this series and then read Protect the Prince). Can I just say again that I loved each book? Okay, I loved them.
Honestly, what’s not to like about a series that only gets better with each book, right?
Writing – if you are an aspiring writer or a well seasoned vet, I thought is was a fabulous piece on characters, Who Makes It Happen: Giving Your Characters Agency by Tiffany Yates Martin.
This might count as an extra, call it 4.5, but I found this bit of wisdom via Jane Friedman, writing business guru, whose various and informative newsletters are a writer’s best friend. I love the Weekly digest version–as I always find some gem there. Visit her site. Frequently.
Three Hours in Paris – On a whim, I bought this book last weekend and couldn’t stop reading it. Like an episode of 24 or Jack Ryan, the action doesn’t stop. The story features an American woman tasked with assassinating Adolph Hitler during a three hour visit he made to Paris. And when the entire mission goes sideways, she scrambles to stay alive and one step away from a detective who will do anything to catch her.
Settle in, get comfortable and read this.
Hope you enjoyed my list. If you don’t want to miss next week’s list, subscribe to my newsletter in the upper right hand of this site. Yes, right up there.
Have a fabulous week! And if you’ve found something great you want to share–comment below. We are all in this together.
Wow!! Thanks to everyone who entered the Cover Flat contest. We got a lot of entries. A LOT.
So I know all my coverflats are going to enthusiastic and good homes. LOL.
The winning packets were mailed out this week, so watch your mailbox.
And always, thank you for being part of my reading community. You folks are the best!!
Hugs to everyone. Remember Social Distancing Saves Lives. And we are all in this together.
I know that everyone has challenges right now, and when a friend asked me to send a card to her dad who had just gotten out the hospital (her dad LOVES getting mail) I wondered if anyone else would love a surprise in the mail.
So I asked on Twitter and FB what you thought. And you overwhelming told me a huge and unqualified, YES. Okey dokey. So I got out every coverflat I had tucked away in a closet.
Coverflats from 24 books. (Here is just a sampling.) I got out bookmarks and postcards. Then I asked some friends to send along some–because that adds a bit of surprise, don’t you think? And then I put them all together in packets and ended up with a little over 100 of them.
And now it is your turn. Go here and sign up for the drawing (before April 5th) and then after that start watching your mail for a blast from my past.
In the meantime, a big hug to all of you, my very dear readers. Stay healthy and safe. Please.
I’ve been–for a bit–on a Fantasy reading binge. But oh, there are some great stories out there that I would be remiss in not sharing. They have everything we all love about romance, but also that wonderful reach into another world and acres of adventure. So I offer up these books as something to try if you are looking for new reads:
Crush the King
The 3rd entry in Jennifer Estep’s A Crown of Shards series, I have to admit, I loved Crush the King, the most. (But don’t get me wrong, I raved about the 2nd book, Protect the Prince here).
The series just got better and better. Loads of intrigue and adventure, magic and mischief. Queen Everleigh Blair of Bellona is a smart, strong and savvy heroine who survives on her wits and daring. You’ll adore her. I was lucky enough to get to read an ARC, and I’ve been busting to tell everyone I know to GO READ THIS SERIES.
Well, they are now all out, so what are you waiting for??
The Curse of Chalion
Paladin of Souls
I have a group of authors I spend my Wednesday lunch with and like most weeks, we end up talking about, you guessed it, books we are reading or books we love or just books. And a month or so back, one of them mentioned Lois McMaster Bujold–who I had to admit I had never read–and one of the authors waxing on, gushing really, over Paladin of Souls. But, she cautioned, you would most likely want to read The Curse of Chalion first.
Such a hardship. Do note the air of sarcasm to that statement.
These books are, as the kids say, the GOAT. I was in awe of the character development, so perfectly nuanced and elegant. Dive in and read both books. I just couldn’t put them down. And the best part–is the softly brewing romance in each. Sigh.
The Brazen Trilogy
Just a reminder that the Brazen books are available on KU, and for the time being, are on sale for $1.99. This boxed set includes, Brazen Angel, Brazen Heiress, and Brazen Temptress.
If you’ve read them, why not surprise a friend and buy them a copy?! We all know folks right now who might need something fun to brighten their day, or in this case, their entire weekend. LOL
Oh, who doesn’t? Sometimes you want a wonderful book that let’s you escape, have all the feels, and just leaves you ever so hopeful. Then I recommend you give Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce a try.
Hope is what this book is all about.
This debut novel is a delightful story of WWII and the young and often inexperienced women left behind to cope in war torn London. The story, despite the grim setting, sparkles with hope and grit in the face of bombings, fires, and personal tragedies. If you are looking for something earnest and sweet, this is your book.