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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

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Nov 4, The Letter D

Thankful for an item beginning with the letter D.

What’s the first thing that pops into your mind?

For me, it was DOGS.

From the time we moved to the farm when I was aged eight — we had a dog. And I liked when we visited friends with dogs before then.

Not all our dogs were the same.

Kev — a German shepherd knew he was Mother’s dog. He tolerated my father and other men mother approved of, killed cats or chickens that wandered into the house yard, and furnished protection from strangers asking directions or wanting to use the phone.

Strupe — belonged to my oldest brother as much as a hound belongs to anyone. Easy-going and willing to eat anything, anytime, anywhere. He turned vocal on occasion and when we counted chickens one fall we learned all his howling in the middle of the night kept the foxes away and saved poultry lives.

Scamp — Dad had trouble believing he actually spent money for this “cattle dog”. I don’t recall him ever herding animals. I do remember him going out of his way to get into puddles and the open sewer from the milk house. Fortunately, my rather high-strung father wised up and gave him away to a much more laid-back friend.

Tuesday — part of an abandoned litter, his life was saved when Dad mused “He looks like a cattle dog.” Oh, my father was mistaken in that regard. Tuesday didn’t want to chase his friends. But he grew to be a good companion, house-trained himself, and was known to share his food dish with the cats.

Don’t let the smile fool you. Kev knew who belonged near the house!

German shepherds, many generations removed, feature in the clean & wholesome, small-town romance SEED OF DESIRE. Check out the Kindle edition here: https://amzn.to/2RDFgxH

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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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Farewell, My Friend

All good things must come to an end. Sometimes we mark them with a celebration such as a graduation ceremony, or a wedding reception (both an ending and a beginning) or an after-funeral lunch.

Other events slip past with less notice.

Three years ago (oh, my, time passes fast these days) I bid farewell to the large oak tree which had stood on the property likely longer than the buildings. I enjoyed the summer shade and year-round antics of the squirrels and birds which it hosted for twenty of those years.

But — all good things must come to an end. So…three or four years into the arborist’s diagnosis of a fatal disease (he gave it five years at most), when the crown browned almost as soon as the leaves were full size, the crew came.

I can imagine my father now — How many nice corner fence posts can we get from one tree?

Do you have a shade tree? Do you take advantage? Have you planted one for the next generation?

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Summer Meeting Place

Forget the details of the song. Once upon it a time, the fair may have been the place to meet people in St. Louis. But the fair is gone, kept alive in the memory of St. Louis with artifacts in homes and museums. And traces in Forest Park.

Want to set a meeting place in St. Louis this summer?

Baseball’s the name of the game. Select a Hall of Fame player and gather your group pre-game. Swing. Throw. Leap. Slide. Take your pick of these heroic action figures to get your hometown spirit flowing.

Arrive early? No problem. Favorite activities while waiting include people watching, note taking (some things you don’t want to forget), or reading. Didn’t bring a book? Shame on you — what do you plan to do during a rain delay? Suggested topics — well, baseball player biographies come to mind. Or perhaps enter a fantasy world and read a baseball themed romance. Don’t have one at hand? How about a St. Louis themed book — a sweet romance with a dash of suspense.

Oh, look, I see one now.

Kindle edition available here: http://amzn.to/1LXiTwP

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Ready and Waiting

Summer is in full swing in the Northern Hemisphere. In St. Louis, the season brings hot days, some rather warm nights, and thunderstorms.

A very popular way to deal with some of those hot days involves water. More than water to drink – although I encourage you to stay hydrated. Your flowerbeds and potted plants appreciate a drink in the coolest part of the day also.

Splashing and swimming. Relax on a lounge for a sun tan (or burn). Another dip to cool off.

When you don’t have access to ocean or lake — a pool is the place.

Be sure to bring a book — I recommend a romance — to fill the time when you are not actually in the water. Call it a “pool read” instead of a “beach read”

Two titles if you like your romance sweet:

Comfort Zone: https://amzn.to/2ZvL0Av

Morning Tryst: https://amzn.to/35gH37S

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Welcome May

Did you celebrate May Day?

When I was a child, the tradition was to make a paper cone basket, add some early flowers, take the gift to a neighbor, and run away before they answered the door.

Or did you have a party? Special food? Dancing? Is a May Pole part of your tradition?

The month of May includes lots of good things. Warmer weather to plant gardens. Grass, nurtured by spring rain, races toward the sun. Mother’s Day is celebrated in the United States. My high school and college graduations had May dates — as did those for my children. Memorial Day — to remember those fallen in war — ends the month. (And begins the summer weekend traditions.)

The delicate blossoms of lily-of-the-valley greet people from shady spots in flower beds. This official flower of the month is one of my favorites. Breath deep — can you imagine the scent?

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Forget the Date…

The calendar claimed spring arrived on March 20.

I’m not sure about where you live, but this year, signs of spring were sparse on that date in my neighborhood. For one thing — my azalea showed only a hint of bud on that date. No fool — my plants waited for warmer days to open blossoms.

A better sign of spring that a date on a calendar?

The photo is from several years ago — but when the forsythia blooms on the berm — spring is in the air!

The cheerful, yellow flowers of early spring lift a person’s spirts and give promise of life after the gloom and gray of winter.

Do you have favorite early spring flower?