Friday, June 30, 2017

SUMMER FOOD FANTASTICKS BY CATHERINE LANIGAN

A girlfriend came over last night with dinner for me and my friend, Vicki, with whom I’m staying here in Houston on my vacation. In a beautiful woven basket was a springform pan filled with an unusual and very easy-to-make veggie tort. It was so spectacular I had to share this with all my Heartwarming sisters. So many of you share your favorite and delicious recipes with us, I could not let this one sit in my recipe file for “personal use only”.
Veggie tort 
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 4 medium zucchini or yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 portobello mushrooms, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, or more as needed
  • Salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • ½ cup bread crumbs, preferably fresh



PREPARATION
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put a grill pan over medium-high heat, or prepare a grill; the heat should be medium-high, and the rack about 4 inches from flame. Brush eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms lightly with half the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; if roasting, grease 2 baking sheets with oil. Roast or grill vegetables on both sides until soft.
  2. Coat bottom and sides of 8-inch springform pan with oil. Layer a third of the eggplant slices into bottom of the pan, then layer in half the zucchini, mushrooms, tomato, garlic and basil, sprinkling each layer with a bit of salt and pepper. Repeat layers until all vegetable are used. Press the top with a spatula or spoon to make the torte as compact as possible. Sprinkle top with Parmesan and bread crumbs, and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon oil.
  3. Bake torte in oven until hot throughout and browned on top, about 30 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before removing outer ring of pan, then let cool for another 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.
                         
We served this with grilled salmon and a piece of bread. Voila! Dinner.
I know that for 4th of July everyone has their family favorite hot dogs, corn on the cob and potato salad.

But for a twist I want to offer my sister, Nancy’s, Yogurt Potato Salad. This one is light, fresh and a crowd pleaser.
                   NANCY’S YOGURT POTATO SALAD

2# red skin potatoes cooked and sliced
½ cup chopped green onions
½ cup plain yogurt
½ cup Helmann’s mayonnaise
2T sugar
½ teaspoon dill
3 Tablespoons  Cider Vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon Pepper
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
Boil the potatoes with skins on and then slice. Cool. Add onion and parsley.   Mix the rest of the ingredients in another bowl and then add to the potatoes.  I usually double this recipe and use about 5 pounds of potatoes because it is gobbled up very quickly!


INSTEAD of plain hot dogs wrap them in bacon. Then roll them in a bit of granulated sugar. Grill. ENJOY!

For the CORN ON THE COB, take off the husks, clean the corn of the silk.  In a bowl, mix 3/4th cup of real mayonnaise and some Italian Herbs. I add a bit of Thyme and fine chop Basil.  BRUSH the corn with this mixture and then place directly on the grill. I spray with a bit of vegetable spray. Grill. (Turn the cobs every 3-5 minutes till brown...total of about 20 minutes.) The Corn will brown with the mayonnaise mixture which will give it a smoky, bacon taste, believe it or not. This has become a real favorite of ours for 4th of July.

For all of you living in the USA, I hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July and for my Canadian friends, have a wonderful weekend!
(And for all of you who think that I misspelled my title, I did not. That's the title of a musical play/song "The Fantasticks one of my husband, Jed's, favorites.)

And a bit of self promotion...while you're turning that corn every 3-5 minutes for a total of 20 minutes, and you want to read something...

And to all….happy reading!
Catherine   www.catherinelanigan.com; @cathlanigan on Twitter/ Facebook/Catherine Lanigan.




Thursday, June 29, 2017

JULY IS SPARKLING WITH HEARTWARMING by CATHERINE LANIGAN

                                       

I know, it’s still June, but I’m betting a great many of you are thinking about a jaunt to the beach or lake. Sand, surf, maybe a cabin at the lake or just that long weekend off for the 4th of July when you can rest and read a new Heartwarming story. Once my summer hits July, I can’t stop thinking about water. That’s why my new banner for my refreshed web site,  www.catherinelanigan.com has sparkling water.  And I thought that because my SHORES OF INDIAN LAKE series conjures thoughts of lake, water and the beach, I thought I’d get you all in the mood for summer right off the bat. Since I don’t live right on the lake, but on a golf course, I did this beach themed table arrangement. That’s my book. Isn’t that cover outstanding? I love it.



 My July release, FAMILY OF HIS OWN is already receiving some great reviews, so don’t take just my word for it. STILL MOMENTS MAGAZINE gave it 5 Stars.  Here’s a peak:
 A-don’t-want-to-put-it-down-story!  Scott is the man single women dream about. He’s perfect in every way. His first meeting with Bella and Michael, and learning their history, pumps the emotion to the max. Another highlight of the story is getting to visit the Shores of Indian Lake and revisiting some of my favourite characters from past books. The author pulls you in with heartwarming emotion, a captivating plot and an irresistible town! A must read! 5 Stars.
Isn’t that spectacular? I don’t know about other authors, but I did the “dance around the room” thing. Whooped. Hollered. Made a lot of noise. Turned the music up really loud and danced some more. I am so, so happy when people enjoy my books as much as I love writing them. Just about the only thing that makes me happier is to share a peak at the story. So, here’s an snapshot of Scott and Isabelle.
     “Isabelle.” Scott wrapped his arm around her waist. He’d walked up from behind, surprising her.
     “You look amazing,” he said as she turned toward him, his hands still on her waist.
      She shrugged, sending ripples through her iridescent silver crepe de chine gown. “I thought I’d blend in. Match the décor.”
     Scott’s lips quirked into a rascally grin. “You couldn’t blend in any more than fireworks in a midnight sky.” He pulled her closer. They were nose to nose. “You’re a knockout.”
     “I could say the same about you,” she said, glancing down at his blindingly white tuxedo shirt, black silk bow tie. He wore his immaculately cut tuxedo every New Year’s Eve.
     Scott in a tuxedo was nothing short of a woman’s dream. His wide shoulders were enhanced by the jacket, though she noticed that this year, his biceps seemed to be straining against the sleeves. But all that was eclipsed by his ease and manner when he wore his tux.
     That first New Year’s Eve when Scott had moved back to Indian Lake, she’d commented on the fact that he owned a tux. He told her then he’d bought it his first year at the Tribune and had intended to wear it when he won prizes for his journalism.
     She lingered on the gold flecks that sparkled in his eyes. Did he think about those days anymore?
     “I aim to please,” he said, holding her gaze.
      Isabelle didn’t know what was happening, but she could swear Scott wanted to kiss her. Not one of his friendly pecks on the cheek, but a real kiss. Suddenly she felt uneasy. Why was she noticing how handsome Scott was? He was just Scott. He would dance with her at midnight and she’d finish her chores like they always did on New Year’s Eve. Wouldn’t they? She looked around nervously and gave him a wide, friendly smile.
    “Scott, I have to get back to work. I was just checking the champagne glasses.”
     His eyes never left her lips. He lifted his hand to her neck and touched her tenderly. “Right. The glasses.”
     His thumb traced the line of her jaw. She was melting and she never melted. Everything about this night was orchestrated for romance, including a torchy love ballad being played by the Milo Orchestra in the background.
     “Glasses,” she repeated, trying to recover her composure and remember her job. What had she been doing before she’d slipped into this dreamy state?
     “Isabelle.”
     She’d never paid much attention to his voice before, but now, when he said her name, her stomach fluttered. Why was she reacting to him as if she had a crush on him? She didn’t need a mirror to know her cheeks were flushed.
     All she could feel was his hand on her waist. The sound of Scott saying her name echoed in her head.
     She swallowed hard. She had to snap out of this. It was this kind of romance that lured women into domesticity.
     She had to force herself to focus. “Yes, the glasses. Uh, for the midnight toast.”
     He brushed his lips against her cheek. “And I’ll find you for my kiss to ring in the New Year.”
    Isabelle hadn’t realized she’d shut her eyes, immersing herself in the moment with Scott.
     She felt a whoosh of air, the temperature dropped and she blinked, returning to the present. Scott had left her.

Then the only other thing left is a giveaway. Right? 
HOW’S THIS?  My new tote with a zipper, no less. I love the pretty pink color. Then copies of my previous SHORES OF INDIAN LAKE books: FEAR OF FALLING and SOPHIE’S PATH



If that isn’t enough to get you off to the beach,  my Prism Book Tour is going on right now. www.prismbooktours.blogspot.com .


Summertime always finds me lugging a lot of stuff to and fro. I collect totes like crazy and I always need just one more. Don’t you?   If you won my tote and books, what all would you like to take with you to the beach or lake?  Make a comment here and I’ll pick a winner of my tote and two books by July 1.  Then hop over to my Prism Book Tour and sign up for more goodies and gift card! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @cathlanigan and Facebook. Happy July!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Wild life

 
 
 
Wild life



We live so close to nature. Sparrows fight the swallows above our doors and windows and a raging battle commences every spring.

Behind the hill across from our house is a large badger set.

It intrigued me  so I bought a wild life camera and captured these few images to share with you. I would love to hear about the wild life that lives near you.

 
 
 
 
    

What's your critter story?

I think it’s time for another pet blog. I’ve been without a pet for over three months now, and the silence is making me a bit crazy. I need something to be responsible for. Otherwise life is just too dang boring IMO. I will probably get another dog once I’ve attended the RWA conference in July and made my way up to North Carolina afterwards. Dogs are the best for me, but this vacancy in my heart has made me think about all kinds of pets.
                        My adorable Sparky. Miss him so much.

                       My friend's dogs, so sweet.


I was never a cat person, but a lady came in my business years ago with this little black kitten in her arms. She said her la-de-da Persian had hooked up with a barn cat and these ne’re do well cats were the result. She had one left, and she was going to throw it in the canal behind our business. She was an older farm lady – that’s what she’d always done with unwanted critters. Ugh! Needless to say, that lady picked the right place that day, because I took that cat home and had him for 18 years, a quarter of my life span. I cried for days when he had to be put down.


A friend of mine dropped her kids at a school carnival, probably way back in the 80s. In those days, pets were often given as prizes on the midway – a stupid way of rewarding a kid for busting a bunch of balloons, but hey, it was the custom back then – a way to find homes for overpopulated goldfish. Anyway, her daughter came home with a furry little chick. Sadly, those delicate creatures usually died right away, a cruel “learning experience” for the child. This sturdy little chick didn’t die. Instead she lived in a large crate in my friend’s family room for twelve years! She played with the family, she gave eggs, she fluffed herself by the fire in the winter.



Wondering what is the most unusual pet you remember having. What’s your pet story? I don’t know many writers who don’t love dogs, so tell us a dog story, or a bird story, or maybe even a story about a super clever guppy. Let’s celebrate all of nature’s critters today.


Cynthia

And don't forget to read this month's Heartwarming books!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Time Travel my Way by Janice Carter

A little more than a year ago, I wrote my first post here and had just sold my first Harlequin Heartwarming ( For Love of a Dog - September  release).  My topic then was Garden Island, where we've rented the same cottage for 35 years, and where I've written most of my Harlequin novels.
      So taking a page from other posts (thank you all!) I thought I'd walk you down the one kilometre lane (5/8 of a mile??) and tell you something about the history I get to live with every summer.
      The island has been owned by the same family - the Calvins - since the mid 1800s when the family business - The Calvin Company Limited - built timber rafts and steamships to transport timber down the St.Lawrence River and throughout the Great Lakes. After World War I, the advent of diesel as well as a decline in the timber trade around the Great Lakes marked the end of the business. But at the height of production, a village of 750 people lived and worked on this 65 acre island. After the war, the family began to use many of the remaining buildings as rental cottages.
     Starting at the 'foot' of the island is the GI Post Office, once a real post office and general store where villagers traded their Garden Island currency for goods. Now the lower part is an island museum, looking much like it did in the 1800s. The upstairs is rented out.
    Further along is this pretty cottage - the Office - once the island's administrative headquarters of Calvin Company.  There was a two story safe inside it until the mid 60s.
Across from the office is the Big House, the summer residence of the last CEO of Calvin Company, Hiram Calvin. The rambling interior is filled with Victorian and Edwardian antiques and today is the summer residence of Calvin descendants.
Those 750 people in the mid 1800s had to live somewhere too and there are a few buildings still standing - called the Workers' cottages - used today as summer rentals.  By now you're getting the picture of how things here are named!
Further down the lane is the Schoolhouse, one of two originally on the island. There was a resident school teacher for the village and the schoolhouse was also used for church services. Today its interior has been renovated but the exterior is basically the same.
Most of the buildings from that village are long gone.  Many burned down and some simply fell into disrepair, vanishing into the ever-encroaching vegetation. But once there was a library, a dining hall, a blacksmith and a working farm.  The place we've been renting all these years was once a Calvin family summer residence.
My favorite room is the living room with its wood stove, big windows and view of the St. Lawrence.
Recently my niece (who also summers here) and I were discussing books, especially science fiction. I asked her if she could travel in time, would she pick the past or the future to visit. She immediately said the past and, in particular, Garden Island at its peak. I completely concurred.  A walk down the lane in the mid 1800s is exactly where my imagination takes me every summer.
   So if you could travel in time, would it be to the future or the past?  If the past, what era appeals the most?
September 2017

Twitter.com - JaniceGCarter
email - janicecarterbooks@gmail.com

Monday, June 26, 2017

How mad would YOU be? by Patricia Johns


I stumbled across this story about a couple who'd spent $80,000 on their dream wedding, only to have their best man hijack the day and propose to his girlfriend... mid-ceremony!

Apparently, the best man was also the officiant, and he went on to talk about his future with his new fiancee, instead of focusing on the couple actually getting married. He also requested a dance for himself and his own bride-to-be alone on the dance floor during the reception. That's a lot of gall, I have to say. The bride and groom were livid.
1815-regency-proposal-woodcut

But here's my question: on a scale of 1-10, how mad would you be?


Public_bathroom_toiletI think I'd be about a 2, and here's why--we had a really cheap wedding! I really think the money factors in. Mr. Johns and I decided to get married... and did. It was a tiny wedding, the goal of which was to get hitched. I don't remember the vows, or much of anything detail-wise. I was just excited to be married to my guy. In fact, my most vivid memory of the day was being locked in a public bathroom with my husband at the restaurant where we were having our reception, and us saying to each other, "We're married! Can you believe it?" A bathroom. So if one of our 8 guests had proposed during my wedding, I don't think it would have phased me a whole lot.

Now, if I'd put off my wedding for several years, planned the perfect wedding and spent $80 K on it, I might have been more annoyed. And while the best man was really lacking in social graces (and should be very embarrassed for his bad behavior), I'm of the opinion that a wedding is just one day. And you can't control it all! Things will go wrong. Things will go right. It's a success if you end up legally wed!

However, I may be alone in that opinion. What do you think? How mad would you be if your wedding was hijacked by a proposal?

****

Don't miss out on my June and July releases!

Damsel in distress…or veiled threat?  Bernadette Morgan left her cheating fiancé moments before they were supposed to marry in the society wedding of the year. Now she's stuck in Runt River, Ohio, with a broken-down car and a tattered wedding dress. All she wants is a place to hide. But what she finds are a handsome mechanic, a little boy and family secrets that could change everything. Because the toddler Liam Wilson's raising is actually her cousin's child. And she'll do anything to protect him from her politically ambitious family, even if that means rejecting the possibility of love with Liam…







*

Officer Bryce Camden never expected his two-week stint in Comfort Creek, Colorado, would mean diaper duty. But that's exactly what happens when he stays at the local bed-and-breakfast where Lily Ellison is fostering an abandoned baby girl. Bryce is drawn to the lovely B and B owner, but being a dad is not part of his plans. His troubled past has shown him that he's not the nurturing type. But he soon finds himself wishing he didn't have to leave. Because Lily and the baby have taken root in his heart and made him think that maybe he could be a family man after all…


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Sit Down Saturday with Virginia McCullough

Welcome to another Sit Down Saturday. We’re here today with Virginia McCullough who is a new Harlequin Heartwarming author. Her debut novel, Girl in the Spotlight, just released this month. Welcome, Virginia and readers!

What does the back cover say about Girl in the Spotlight, Book 1 of Virginia’s Two Moon Bay Series?

When Miles Jenkins sees the graceful young figure skater on TV, he can't believe how much she resembles Lark McGee, the girl he dated briefly in college. Could this aspiring star be the child Lark gave up for adoption eighteen years ago? He has to find out.

Locating Lark ignites conflicting emotions in Miles—including regrets for what might have been and romantic feelings that take the two single parents by surprise. As they prepare to meet their daughter, this deeper connection between the two just might be the chance at love they never got.


Where did you get the idea for the novel?

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to discover that a child relinquished for adoption grew up to be well known or somehow in the public eye. That formed the seed, but I’m also a fan of figure skating, so I combined the two themes. I also wanted to create a couple, who weren’t necessarily star-crossed as young people and torn apart by circumstances. Lark and Miles had a casual relationship as college students. They are surprised by what could happen to them as adults.

Do you have a favorite scene?

Hands down, my favorite is the first time Lark and Miles see their now 18-year-old daughter, Perrie Lynn, skate. They’re sitting high in an arena looking down on the ice, and it’s as if a painting comes to life. Lark is distressed that she can’t immediately single out Perrie Lynn in a group of skaters, and the reality that she knows so little about her daughter hits hard. But that gives way to a trancelike state watching Perrie Lynn perform. Lark feels every jump, extension, and spin in her own body (and so did I!). Lark is overwhelmed by sharing this intimate moment with Miles.


Tell us about Two Moon Bay.

Two Moon Bay has it all—it’s located on Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan shore. It has all the elements needed for a busy life in a small lakefront town—the Silver Moon Winery and the Half Moon Café to a yacht club that’s the perfect place for big gatherings. It has tour boats and waterfront paths and everyone enjoys coffee and at treat at the Bean Grinder. 

What’s next for you?

I’m pleased that book 2, Something to Treasure, is scheduled for release in January 2018. Dawn, a busy and lively PR consultant (and Lark’s best friend) is looking for a new challenge professionally and personally and finds both with Jerrod, a newcomer to Two Moon Bay. He runs shipwreck diving excursions and needs Dawn’s help to establish his business on the Lake Michigan shore. He’s yet to fully recover from the devastating loss of his wife and one of his daughters in a terrorist attack halfway around the world. Dawn herself has deep longings of her own and some healing to do.
Book 3 is underway, so I’m deep into Andi and Zeke’s story. Andi happens to be Miles’s ex-wife, and given their ability to team up to raise their daughter, Brooke, I thought Andi just had to have her own story. Zeke was in the right place at the right time. Putting their heads together to restore something old might give them a chance for something new.

Do you have themes that emerge again and again?

In my previous novels and Girl in the Spotlight and Books 2 & 3, the characters could be our family, friends, or neighbors. Like everyday people, they often struggle to hang on to hope, have wounds to heal, and are always grateful for second chances. 

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Download your copy of Girl in the Spotlight from your favorite online retailer. If you enjoy the story, please consider posting a review to help other readers discover Virginia’s books.

Harlequin: http://bit.ly/2nk6XM9
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2nPKTwK
B&N: http://bit.ly/2nnph80
iBooks: http://apple.co/2oCUhB0
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2olDjI7
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2nEg6lT
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2qJHWjO

Virginia loves to connect with readers. Choose your favorite way to learn more about Virginia and her books.

Virginia on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/virginia.mccullough.7
Virginia on Twitter: https://twitter.com/VEMcCullough
Virginia’s Newsletter: http://bit.ly/2tOwL6s
Virginia’s Website: https://virginiamccullough.com/

Friday, June 23, 2017

Big Weather Out Our Way. You?

Severe thunderstorms were predicted for my town and surrounding area on Tuesday evening. You know, the usual--wind, rain, lightning, possibly hail. The good news is that we only got the wind. The bad news is that boy, did we get wind!

Gusts of 110 km/h hit the town from the northwest, snapped mammoth trees at the base like toothpicks, scattered trampolines and garbage cans and left hundreds of homes without power. Nearby Red Deer was declared a local state of emergency because power outages were expected to last three days in some areas.

Everyone has their own story. My daughter and I saw the storm clouds but decided to take a quick walk, thinking that the approaching rain would keep us in for the rest of the evening. When the winds suddenly escalated we broke into a run three blocks from home, the wind spraying gravel at us and then buffeting us like a bully. We entered the backyard to sandbag our little apple tree. It was then that I noticed that our trampoline was missing.

Yes, that's it leaning against the neighbour's swing. Notice how bright and sunny it is during the windstorm. So bizarre. My 12-year-old son had been on it only minutes before but had jumped off when the wind turned cold.

My husband was at the lakeshore when the storm blasted in. He spotted a waterspout (a tornado on open water) on the lake and while driving away, the wind tore into a huge display at the nearby water sports place, so he was bombarded by inflated toy sharks and crocodiles and pink dragons.

Trees were the hardest hit.

This is me beside one in Red Deer which experienced the same storm. Many poplars were toppled. I don't know if it's because of a shallow root system or what that makes them more prone to high winds.

Here is a common sight at the lake today.
While it's sad to see such shade-giving, enormous living structures gone in seconds, it was only the trees that were destroyed. In more than one case, giant trees crashed into houses or cars.
All this tree mess has been a windfall (yes, pun fully intended) for tree services. This truck appropriately boasts, 'Specializing in Dangerous Tree Removal'.

Oddly enough, my story coming in February 2018 is set in July when a once-in-a-lifetime storm hits town, creating a windfall for the roofing company my hero owns. As well in the real-life storm, many houses lost shingles. Only one left our house--phew. But during the storm itself every house on the block had shingles lift and flap like hosts of bird wings. 

Two days later, the storm has long gone but the tidy-up continues and the stories grow as high as the log piles.

I know everyone has one of their own. Tell me yours!

Visit me at M. K. Stelmack or Facebook.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Art of Translation By Cari Lynn Webb

I’ve acquired a new skill recently: translator. I’ve become rather adept at translating teenage body language, single syllable replies and eye rolls. And I like to remind my daughter daily that yes, I do in fact have her number and she better step up her game if she wants to take me on. As luck would have it, my husband and I have also descended into the “inability to communicate effectively” phase. Perhaps it’s because we just moved last week and I told my husband he severely underestimated the amount of stuff we own and he argued that I have too much stuff (although he might’ve been more creative in his word choice for stuff). We’ve had more than a few conversations in the last week that’ve begun with: I heard you say, what I meant to say and I heard you, but sorry I wasn’t really listening, well, at all. And I have to admit, I laugh every time my husband admits he heard me talking, but didn’t listen to a word I said. It’s refreshing to know I’m not the only one guilty of that particular flaw.


Good communication takes practice. A lot of practice and even then, it still goes haywire between couples, families, and friends. In my July release, The Charm Offensive, my heroine, Sophie Callahan has stopped believing in empty words and has put her in faith in actions. For all too often, Sophie has been left to deal with the fall-out from her family’s broken promises.

Here’s a teaser from The Charm Offensive. Once again, Sophie’s sister has gone back on her promise to return home and Sophie is the one left to make everything better for her young niece. Unfortunately for Sophie, words aren’t enough to alleviate the pain and disappointment.

“Do you think Mother will like it?” Ella asked.
Sophie’s heart stalled as if clogged by those extra cotton balls. “She’ll love it.”
“After we add the clouds and I finish the rainbow, you’ll help me write ‘welcome home,’ right?” Ella ran her hands over the rainbow arc she’d formed with thin, flexible wax strips.
The joy in Ella’s tone stole Sophie’s heart, and her throat swelled, feeling stuffed by another bunch of cotton balls. “Whenever you’re ready.”
“She’ll be home in nineteen days,” Ella said. “So I need to be ready soon.”
“About that.” Sophie sat on the bed. “I talked to your mother today.”
Ella’s hands stilled on her picture. “Is she excited to come home?”
A guardedness tightened Ella’s voice as if to protect the joy. Sophie swallowed her scream of anger. Her niece didn’t deserve this amount of pain. “She’s excited to see you.” Sophie hugged Ella, wanting the contact to be more comfort than her empty words, but knew it’d never be enough. “But she needs to stay a little while longer.”
“Then she isn’t excited to see me.” Ella dismantled her rainbow and her joy.
“Oh, sweetie, she wants to see you,” Sophie said. “She wants to be home, but she needs to finish her therapy.”
“She could do her therapy here.” Ella twisted the wax strips in her fingers.
Sophie resented that small kernel of hope in Ella’s voice. Sophie had had that same hope bubble when she was Ella’s age. Her grandmother would pop it with the harsh truth. Over the years, Sophie’s hope bubbles had shrunk in size until they were small enough for Sophie to hide in places her grandmother couldn’t poke.
Ella rushed on. “They have yoga here. I heard Taylor’s mom talking to another mom about their afternoon yoga class over on Market.”
She hated that she’d stomp on Ella’s hope now. She’d never wanted that for this precious girl. “It isn’t the same.”
How Sophie wanted it to be the same. To be that simple.
“It’s better.” Ella smashed the purple modeling clay in her fist. “Her family is here. I’m here. You’re here. There’s yoga here.”
And there was nothing else Sophie could say. She couldn’t promise Ella that Tessa would be home soon. Tessa always found a reason to delay. She’d tell Ella that her mother loved her as usual, but Sophie was too mad at her sister to spend the time to convince Ella it was true. Mothers weren’t supposed to break their daughters’ hearts. Her chest ached and her stomach tightened into knots no Yogi master could release. She’d tried to soften the hurt every time, but the pain was always there. “I’ll go get those cotton balls.”
“There’s no rush.” Ella pushed her drawing across the bed and picked up her headphones. “I’m going to finish my book.”
Ella rolled over onto her side, away from Sophie. Sophie ached. Ella ached, too. Yet no tears dampened either of their faces. But Sophie always dried Ella’s tears and teased away the disappointment. The tissues she’d shoved into her pocket before talking to Ella remained untouched. When had they stopped caring? Ella could see the truth better than most people with twenty-twenty vision. She could see better than her own mother. Sophie’s ache spread like a poison vine, strangling every bone, every vein, consuming her.


Until next time, may all your conversations be easy and uncomplicated.

Happy Reading!
Cari


THE CHARM OFFENSIVE by Cari Lynn Webb will be out in July. Pre-Order today!
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0373368461
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/2sqFG0j

Visit me on Facebook and Twitter. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Foodie Book Gathering + A Recipe from Laurie Tomlinson

One of the best parts of releasing a novel with two foodie main characters is the excuse to go all out at book signings, launch parties, and other events. Last night, I attended the first book club meeting for With No Reservations, and it was so much fun!


I wish I could gather all of my friends and readers in one place for one giant, glorious party where the coffee is flowing and the calories don't count -- which is a good thing, because my characters use a lot of butter :) But since advancements haven't solved issues of time and distance, I thought I'd give you a glimpse!

My hero went to culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and is starting a French cafe, so the menu has a predominantly French theme. If you were at my launch party, you would be treated to:


Chantilly Cake - Lacy white cake with gooey berries
Tri-colored Macarons - Crispy cookies sandwiching a layer of heavenly frosting
Sloane's Cookies - Chocolate chip toffee pudding cookies from Chapter 1
Buttery Croissants - Chocolate, Strawberry, and a LOT of Butter
Truffles - Balls of chocolatey bliss
Chocolate Mousse - Poured chocolate cups filled with creamy chocolate-espresso mousse
Cheese Board - Cheddar, Gouda, Brie with seed and berry crackers and grapes
Mini Bundt Cakes - Personal servings of fluffy cake
Fresh Fruit & Cream - Sliced berries and cream whipped with a touch of sweetness


In the background, if the chatter died down for a moment, you could hear the faint sounds of our favorite Rat Pack members -- Sinatra, Dean Martin, and their contemporaries -- crooning their hit songs. But, as you know tends to be the case when we reader-types are gathered, that wouldn't be often as we agreed, debated, and interpreted 350 pages of story. 

Maybe someday we can celebrate in person, but for now, you can make the chocolate chip toffee cookies found on the very first page of With No Reservations.


Sloane's Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from www.chef-in-training.com

Ingredients

  • 2¼ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, softened at room temperature (Sloane uses Kerrygold Irish butter)
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 (3.4 oz) package instant vanilla pudding, dry
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (Sloane recommends mini semisweet chocolate chips)
  • ½ cup toffee bits 

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a bowl, combine flour and baking soda.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment (or a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer), cream butter and sugars together.
  • Mix in dry pudding, eggs, and vanilla until well combined.
  • Add flour mixture slowly, 2-3 parts at a time, until all is combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. 
  • Fold in chocolate chips and toffee bits.
  • Using a tablespoon or cookie scooper, roll dough into balls and place on greased baking sheet.
  • Sloane's (optional) tip: Press additional chocolate chips and toffee bits into the tops of the cookies to make them prettier :)
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-12 minutes.
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Laurie Tomlinson is an award-winning contemporary romance author and cheerleader for creatives. She believes that God’s love is unfailing, anything can be accomplished with a good to-do list, and that life should be celebrated with cupcakes and extra sprinkles. Her novella That’s When I Knew was featured in the Love at First Laugh collection, and her debut novel, With No Reservations, is now available from Harlequin Heartwarming

You can connect with Laurie on her websiteFacebook page, and Instagram.