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Rainy Day Seating

How’s your weather? Have you experienced any rainy, fall days? You know the sort — cloudy, cool, and rain heavy enough to make a person think of fireplaces, hot drinks, and books.

A little cool, wet weather doesn’t mean you need to hibernate. (As lovely as it may sound.) Cities and towns have many interesting attractions which are entirely, or primarily, indoors. Have you been to a museum lately?

One of the gems in St. Louis is the history museum. Located within the jewel of the city named Forest Park, the museum features both permanent and rotating exhibits.

The History Museum features a rather modern, and soft, resting spot. You may be drawn to this definitely indoor seating between touring the exhibit rooms. A good place to gather with your group and decide on the next activity — another room? Lunch? Gift shop?

Perhaps the couple in the sweet romance, COMFORT ZONE, spend a pleasant afternoon refreshing their knowledge of St. Louis history within these walls. For more information on the book – click here: https://amzn.to/2ZvL0Av

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Visiting the Farm

Shall we drive to the farm? A good question, and proposal for an afternoon, for an urban or suburban family.

Don’t have relatives or family friends that are farmers?

No problem — at least if you live in St. Louis.

I may be best to check the website and find out if anything special is happening. Then, off you go for a relatively short drive to the southwest.

Your bench awaits your arrival outside the Event Center. Are you here to watch dogs? The large, modern building behind this view is where our canine friends are often judged for obedience, agility, and conformation.

Interested in a more traditional farm?

Walk down the hill to a complex of barns and visit the horse, cows, pigs, and sheep.

Love cats? They have their own quarters, complete with clever places to hide.

Yes, children of all ages — including those of us old enough to be as interested in the benches for resting as the walking and looking — can find enjoyment at Purina Farms.

Think for a moment. A pair of young professionals sitting and talking at the above bench. What’s the topic? If it’s the detective and the surgeon from STARE DOWN I’m thinking dogs are under discussion. Perhaps they are comparing the aspects and personalities of different breeds — before they get serious about a pet.

For more information or to purchase STARE DOWN on Kindle, click here: http://amzn.to/1LXiTwP

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Traveler’s Rest

Everyone’s seen them. Blue-and-white signs announce them on the interstate highway system. Other roads use brown-and-white or other methods to notify drivers of a spot ahead to pull off the road and take a break.

Almost all offer a safe place to stop, open your car doors, change drivers, stretch your legs, and dispose of trash. Many include one or more picnic tables. The ones on the interstate include a building with flush toilets and drinking fountain. Some have vending machines and tourist information. A few have playgrounds so children can burn off some energy. Be sure to take Fido for a walk in the pet area but keep the horse in the trailer.

This inviting bench offers a place to sit, tie your shoe, or do a stretch or two outside the restrooms.

When Serena Carter is driving to her new job in the sweet romance, MORNING TRYST, she pulled her motorhome into areas like this to take a break. Perhaps she made a phone call to her family — or received one from Zack.

Kindle: https://amzn.to/35gH37S

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Mind your Posture

Sit up straight. No slouching.

This advice, mostly given when I was a child, plays in my mind most often when I’m sprawled – or slouched – while watching TV.

Some seats encourage better posture than others. My nice, soft, worn sofa invites me to lean back, prop up my legs, and ignore correct posture. Other chairs in my house entice me to keep my feet on the floor and back upright.

Whether it’s the material or the crisp angles, this bench at the St Louis Zoo brings to mind all those admonitions to sit up straight and mind your manners. Actually, I tested this bench, and it’s really rather comfortable — at least for the first few minutes.

Seating in public spaces is often designed into the building, park, or attraction from the very beginning. A bench like the one above, can serve as a meeting place as well as a resting spot for elderly bodies getting exercise. No worry about tipping this one over. And employees can clean off the spilled ice cream with a hose.

In the sweet romance, COMFORT ZONE, one of the couple’s first “dates” is at the zoo. Do you think they tested this bench?

Kindle: https://amzn.to/2ZvL0Av

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Back to Back to Back?

The triplets sat back-to-back-to-back on the bench.

Wait! How? It’s a bench. Wouldn’t they be side-by-side?

I think it depends on the bench. On this circular model, you can sit with your back to others on the bench and all enjoy the tree’s shade. (Okay, considering the size of the trunk, the tree may not produce a lot of shade — yet. Return in five years.)

You can choose your view. Small lake with ducks and fishermen? Walkers starting or ending a circuit of the lake? Parking lot to catalog new arrivals?

Located in suburban St. Louis, this would be a great place for the characters in COMFORT ZONE to enjoy a walk and casual conversation. Kindle: https://amzn.to/2ZvL0Av

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Big Trees & Many Birds

In the Southeast corner of Missouri, along the Mississippi River, the land lies low and fertile. At times called “Swampeast” a swatch of forest rises over the flat fields of corn and soybeans.

Preserved as a state park, the area is known for large trees — champion sized oak and large cypress — and birdwatching. More than 150 bird species have been observed in this lowland.

So when planning a trip to Big Oak Tree State Park, check two things — flood conditions and bird guide.

Keep your feet mud free by confining your hike — and bench time — to the elevated metal boardwalk. Behind this inviting bench stands a large, screened structure for an excellent view of birds at the edge of the forest.

MORNING TRYST, a sweet romance, features a photographer who would have visited this park in each season. Kindle: https://amzn.to/35gH37S

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Power of Three

Ready. Set. Go!

Begin on the count of three.

Listen to the trio.

Draw the triangle.

Dozens of good things come in threes. Snacks — three cookies — or scoops of ice cream. Artful arrangements of flowers, candles, or pictures often feature a trio. Three beats per measure when playing a waltz.

Authors — and readers — often favor trilogies.

Pick one, two, or three of the Crystal Springs Romances. Starr Tree Farm takes place in winter. Hiding Places showcases the month of June. Seed of Desire begins in late summer. Location and consistent appearances by secondary characters tie them together in a small-town, sweet romance bouquet.

Links to Kindle editions: Starr Tree Farm https://amzn.to/2zqIQEw

Hiding Places https://amzn.to/2Jm26GQ

Seed of Desire https://amzn.to/2RDFgxH

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A Basket of Treats

Autumn. Harvest time. The orchard trees bend heavy with fruit.

What do you like to do with a bowl (or basket) of apples?

Is pie your favorite? Or Cobbler? Or Applesauce? Fresh and crunchy? Baked?

One of the favorites when I was a child was a cake. Mother only made it in the fall. And when I was an adult and asked for the recipe… the reply was — their never was a recipe for that cake.

But like the good person she was, my mother gave it her best attempt. So I ask for pardon in advance — all measurements are approximate.

1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1 cup cream (heavy whipping cream), scant teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 cups flour. Mix by hand, adding dry ingredients to sugar and eggs, then add cream. Batter is thicker than cake mix cake. Pour into greased/floured 9×13″ pan. Top with rows of peeled apple slices — place slices touching but not overlapping. Top with generous amount of cinnamon sugar. Bake at 350 until toothpick in center comes out clean — 40-60 minutes.

For a modern story of a culinary student who finds more than expected in an apple orchard owner — try the sweet romance HIDING PLACES.

Kindle: https://amzn.to/2Jm26GQ

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Ready for Harvest

Fall. Autumn. Sunrise comes later and sunset earlier than the previous week.

Crops in fields, gardens, and forests are maturing. Farmers are busy at work bringing in the various types of grains, fruits, and vegetables planted in the spring.

City dwellers plan a day in the country. Perhaps they will visit an orchard and return with bags and baskets of apples or pears. Will they roam an area of woods (with permission of the owner) and gather walnuts, hickory nuts, or butternuts? Children enjoy a visit to a pumpkin patch to find the perfect Halloween decoration.

An elderly apple tree continues to bear fruit under the protection of a state park. Don’t expect to see this size of tree in a modern orchard. Current producers have planted either semi-dwarf or dwarf varieties. Can you name forest animals which enjoy apples?

Establishing a modern apple orchard fills the background in the sweet romance, HIDING PLACES. This book, and the other Crystal Springs Romances, are available at your favorite on-line retailer. Kindle: https://amzn.to/2Jm26GQ

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Crops in Rows

Corn. Soybeans. Wheat- yes, it’s planted in rows very close together. Cotton. Potatoes. Tomatoes and lettuce. Rows and rows of crops fill large portions of our land.

But today I’d like to talk about another crop in rows — one which takes more than a season to mature and prepare for market.

Northern Christmas Trees – field of Fraizer Fir

Hundreds, thousands, of future Christmas trees grow in rows stretching into the distance. Planted as seedlings, the trees pictured here have been growing a few seasons. And they have a few more to go. The men guiding the author and her friends around the fields spoke of a “ten year crop”. Yes, you read that correctly — ten years from planting to harvest.

A lot can happen in ten years. One year might be wet and soggy and cool. Another might be hot and dry. Flood? Tornado? Hail? Disease? Wildlife damage? You need to be a bit of a gambler to be a farmer. You also need to look long-term when growing a crop spanning multiple years.

Fields which mature in different years. A sorter-term supplemental crop. A side-job for one family member. Different strategies work for different situations.

For a sweet romance set on a Christmas tree farm during January, try STARR TREE FARM. Available at your favorite on-line store. Kindle: https://amzn.to/2zqIQEw