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Let Every Voice…

Winter holidays and music go together like potatoes and gravy or snow and boots.

Do you favor the happy, upbeat rhythm of popular music? Or the ballads from decades ago? Perhaps you prefer familiar, sacred melodies.

Each has a certain charm. Like many people, I can enjoy a variety of holiday tunes with soaring melodies, religious lyrics, and comedy tunes of reindeer.

This puzzles features many voices with many songs. I like to think the tunes are happy. However, I know some spread a word of warning to their loved ones. As we sing our winter holiday songs, let’s look forward to the spring chorus of our feathered friends.

Small town residents need to be flexible. Beth Cosgrove, known in the community as the breeder of German shepherds and accountant, is also called upon to sing a solo for a church service. Nervous – yes. (She prefers to sing in a group.) Astonished when an audience comes to rehearsal — double yes. Check out the sweet romance SEED OF DESIRE for the entire story. Kindle: https://amzn.to/2RDFgxH

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Retreat to the Lake

Has the pre-Holiday rush got you in a tangle?

Take a hint from this puzzle and retreat to the lake. (Literally or via other means.)

Close your eyes and draw a deep breath. Is that a hint of pine? Campfire? Do I hear water lapping against the dock?

I like to imagine a cozy evening by this lake cabin’s fireplace. Popcorn, hot beverage, and quiet conversation. Think of the adventures we could plot. Or reminisce about the escapades of previous years.?

Looking for a cabin retreat? Selected Missouri State Parks have cabins to rent short term. For a sweet romance set in the parks — pick up MORNING TRYST. A great gift to yourself or others. Kindle: https://amzn.to/35gH37S

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A Day in the Park

Shall we go for a ride?

Perhaps rent a canoe.

Or would you rather try your hands, and legs, at a bicycle?

The puzzle artist has accomplished his task well. A variety of features and activities woven together by the park path.

On this mid-December day this scene may warm you. Can you think back to a walk or park visit when the weather was similar to the puzzle picture? In this more modern era, I’ll opt for dressing in jeans and a T-shirt and sneakers on my feet. No parasol required — I’ll wear a cap and a dab of sunscreen. (If I remember.)

Serena Carter, the heroine in MORNING TRYST spends large portions of time in parks. However, they are of the more rugged variety. Forest, rivers, hiking trails, fishing streams, and historic homes and sites are more typical of Missouri State Parks. For more about this sweet romance, click here: https://amzn.to/35gH37S

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Desert in Bloom

December’s a little early. You’ll find more color in the desert in another month or two.

This pair, however, look right at home in this puzzle.

Unlike many puzzle artists, this series appears to blend photographs. I wonder how many they used. One for each bird? How many for the yellow blossoms? How many to get the cacti this straight and close together?

Have you visited the desert? Remember the sunscreen! And a hat! Check for critters before you sit on the ground. If you’re lucky, you may see a road runner darting between the clumps of vegetation.

The “Gusto Gang,” a group of women who became best friends in US Navy boot camp years ago, meet for a hiking adventure in National Parks. Sign up for my newsletter and get a free copy of the short DESERT ENCOUNTER. http://mailchi.mp/0e2c43fb8029/newsletter-plus-gift

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Time for Nostalgia?

December:

A month often filled with celebration and parties.

The final month of the calendar year. (In the West.)

An ideal time to assess the past and plan the future.

As I select and assemble jigsaw puzzles, I suspect the artists for these projects dive deep into nostalgia. How else to explain the prevalence of horses and horse-drawn vehicles. Often the emphasis is on rural or small-town life. In a cleaned-up idealized form.

Oh, I appreciate they have an assignment to follow. They need to put a lot of different elements into a small space. Most manage to keep it colorful and hide a few little items a person doesn’t notice when they pull the box off the shelf. Have you assembled a puzzle this year?

In COMFORT ZONE, a sweet romance set in St. Louis, the hero designs puzzles — but not the picture kind.

For more information or to buy for your Kindle, click here: https://amzn.to/2ZvL0Av

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Table-Top Travel

During the last three years — I actually started a little before the COVID lock-downs — I’ve assembled dozens of jigsaw puzzles. The idea at first was to minimize the snacking during evening TV. Has it worked?

Thanks to a gift of boxes of puzzles and the local library, my coffee table usually has a puzzle in some stage of assembly. Size limits the ones I dare attempt. And at the beginning, the pieces are often two deep.

This one, done in May, reminded me of European travel.

A riot of flowers in generous beds. Windowboxes. Red roof.

Can you imagine yourself as a guest with a second-floor room. The scent in the morning is a touch of heaven.

Travel without the airport hassle and long drive. Some assembly required.

Want to travel in a sweet romance? In MORNING TRYST you get an introduction to several Missouri State Parks. Kindle: https://amzn.to/35gH37S

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On Silent Wings

Seek a little silence. Escape from the hustle and bustle of the modern world. Unplug for a time.

All good advice to help a person regain some balance and perspective.

Does this seem impossible? Too many obligations to others? Lack of transportation or mobility?

Perhaps a picture will need to substitute.

This puzzle, assembled a little more than a year ago, gives a peaceful winter view. Can you imagine yourself following a trail along a creek after an early snowfall? Sounds are muffled. The snow sparkles as the sun sets. And then–the majestic snowy owl glides past on silent wings. No harm to you — he’s seeking much smaller creatures who have strayed from their cozy dens.

What’s one way you find calm in your life?

Starr Tree Farm — a winter story set in Wisconsin — includes the heroine seeking solace in a walk on the Christmas tree farm. Two collies, Taffy & Cocoa, hike along for security and humor. Find details here: https://amzn.to/2zqIQEw

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Farewell Autumn?

In the United States, Thanksgiving is past and thoughts have turned to the end-of-year holidays.

However, autumn is a colorful season where I live and let’s give it one more shout-out.

This puzzle, one of many assembled during 2022, features many harvest and autumn themes. The banner proclaims a Harvest Moon Festival. Orange pumpkins and bright, new straw give vibrant color. Trees wear their autumn best. The horses hold their heads as if enjoying cool air with a sent of delicious grain on the breeze. Let’s dance! One last party before the wind turns cold and brings snow with a different sort of beauty.

Looking for a sweet romance to go with the season? I suggest SEED OF DESIRE. Concentrated from August to November, this small-town contemporary features interesting people — and dogs. Always a winning combination. And advice from a wise old woman — You can tell a lot about a man by how he treats a dog.

Kindle: https://amzn.to/2RDFgxH

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Feast Day

Our alphabet is nearing an end on November 25. Did you feast yesterday? Did you eat at the home of friend or relative? (A friendly relative is best.)

Were these on the menu?

I’m trying a new recipe with YAMS this year. I hope it turns out delicious and pretty as the picture in the cookbook. (I won’t hold my breath for the second part of that statement.) (Writing this entry before the holiday — so still hopeful.)

In most places, these are available all year long. My favorite way to cook is to bake and eat hot with liberal amounts of butter. I often pair with a piece of chicken or a pork chop. Yum — a feast for anytime of year.

The clean & wholesome romance, HIDING PLACES, features a culinary student as the heroine. How many ways do you suppose she can prepare yams? For a romance with a dash of danger check it out here: https://amzn.to/2Jm26GQ

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Think Spring

For the date of November 22, we focus on the letter “V”. The blessing is violets.

Violet

Delicate. Beautiful. A sign of spring and warmer days to come. We can either look back to the violets that bloomed in spring past — or look forward to the fragile petals to come.

Either way — keep them in mind — I have a fine china tea cup decorated with violets in a place of honor. (It may need to yield to Christmas decorations). Do you have display items or clothing with violets?

HIDING PLACES, a sweet romance, is set in Wisconsin during the month of June. Violets are past, but recent enough to have a secure place in a person’s mind. For a peek at apple orchard activities, check it out. Kindle: https://amzn.to/2Jm26GQ