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Food, glorious food!

WHO ATE ALL THE PIES?

Caroline James talks to award winning food journalist and writer Andrew Webb Author of The Men's Pie Manual           "Andrew Webb is a ...

Bookshelf Reviews

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The Bookshelf – Seasonal Reads!

The very latest Loveahappyending book news, author buzz and blogger reviews!    Our DECEMBER ...

People with a passion!

Ashgrove

The garden is simply an extension of your home …

  Beautiful, isn’t it? Idyllic to look at, but ... sometimes a garden needs taming. Lost in this mass of wonderful greenery are...

In Search of a Happy Ending

Bonnie

My Boyfriend Wants Kids, But I Don’t …

Q.  I’m 28 and have been seeing a special man for almost two years. Things have been great and we recently broached the subject of marriag...

Lifestyle contributor

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Recharge Your Holiday Spirit: Holiday Music For 2014!

  Christmas is right around the corner! If you haven't had a chance to get into the swing of things yet, there's no need to be a...

Recharge Your Holiday Spirit: Holiday Music For 2014!

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Christmas is right around the corner! If you haven’t had a chance to get into the swing of things yet, there’s no need to be a Scrooge. Check out a few of this year’s new releases to get you into the holiday spirit!

71E8IQM-pDL._SL1500_The Spirit of Christmas

Michael W. Smith and Friends

Genre: Christian | Holiday

Amy Grant, Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill are just a few of the big names on Smith’s latest holiday release. Check out this behind-the-scenes video clip!

Amazon

Behind the Scenes with Michael W. Smith and Friends from Travis Television on Vimeo.

81TE6TlXYFL._SL1500_Holiday Wishes

Idina Menzel

Genre: Pop | Holiday

We may all know her as the voice of Elsa from the hit Disney movie, Frozen or Rachel Berry’s mom from Glee. The truth is, Idina Menzel has a prestigious career in her own right. Her debut holiday album is sure to get you ready for the big day.

Amazon

61ZVyABOCWL._SL500_AA280_Holiday for Swing

Seth MacFarlane

Genre: Swing | Big Band | Holiday

I am a sucker for a Big Band holiday album done right. Check out this release from Seth MacFarlane, which features greats like Sara Bareilles and Norah Jones.

Amazon

61oMK5+HTpL._SL500_AA280_Christmas In New York

Renée Fleming

Genre: Jazz | Holiday

“The People’s Diva” releases her holiday album with fabulous line-up that includes Rufus Wainwright, Wynton Marsalis, Chris Botti, and more!

Amazon

61o0ZVSKGCL._SL500_AA280_That’s Christmas To Me

Pentatonix

Genre: Au Cappella | Holiday

If you’re into au cappella, check out this release from The Pentatonix.

Amazon

 

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Janice Horton’s Snap Gap Travel Guide to… Bahrain

Snap Gap Header to BahrainFollow LLm author Janice Horton’s adventures as she ‘snap gaps’ around the world in this unique and informative travel feature based on Janice’s own personal travel experiences.

Manama-nightview
Photo of Manama Bahrain at Night by Navin Shetty Brahmavar – Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I’m excited to tell you that I ‘snap-gapped’ to the Kingdom of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf recently. I travelled with my husband to catch up with a couple of dear ex-pat friends who live and work in Bahrain, so we were in fact, tourists by default. If Bahrain isn’t quite on your travel radar yet, maybe it will be once I’ve piqued your interest in visiting this fascinating, cosmopolitan and multicultural country that is as rich in heritage as it is in many other ways.

World Map Bahrain
We flew from Glasgow UK via Dubai to The Kingdom of Bahrain

Our lovely hosts took us out and about in Bahrain for the ten days we were there and what a privilege that was for us – as the country is vibrant and exciting, not to mention booming. Some days we ventured far into the hot white sands of the desert. On other days, we immersed ourselves in the Bahraini café culture and drank Arabian coffee and ate succulent dates (never in equal numbers – you can have one or three, for example, but never two or four). We (mostly) window shopped in many of the air conditioned shopping malls which have lots of familiar western outlets like Marks and Spencer. In the Souks, we browsed in and out of exotic perfume shops amongst rich fragrances with prices that made our eyes water. In the evenings, we either socialised with the ex-pat set at the Bahrain Football and Rugby Club or watched incredible sunsets while sipping cocktails on balmy terraces that overlooked the sea. It was fabulous. It felt exotic. It felt incredibly cosmopolitan.

How Did We Get There? We flew with Emirate Airlines from Glasgow UK to Dubai, a journey of seven and a half hours and then we took a one-hour connecting flight to Manama, Bahrain.

Grey skies over Glasgow

Grey November skies over Glasgow

On Arrival: Being UK passport holders, we were allowed to apply for our visa upon arrival. Unfortunately, this took a while, which wasn’t a big issue except that we knew that our dear friend and host would be waiting anxiously for us in the arrivals hall. After being granted our entry visas, we were reunited with our friend and whisked away from the airport by car. Travelling at night (early hours of the morning actually) meant the normally crazy busy roads were clear and I was particularly excited to see the twinkling lights of the Manama cityscape laid out before us on the dark horizon.

Travel Tip: Make sure you check the latest entry requirements for your nationality with the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain before you travel. It is also advisable to check for any government travel advice immediately before travelling to any other country. In the UK this is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Bahrainis drive on the right side of the road – but lots of drivers here can be erratic and unpredictable – so forewarned is forearmed. Fuel is unbelievably inexpensive. We filled an SUV for around 5BD (about £8 in Sterling!)

Where To Stay: We were fortunate to stay as guests at the home of our friends in Bahrain, but we did visit quite a few very nice hotels during our stay. Most of the nightspots and bars are in or attached to hotels as, by law, alcohol is only available through private licenses. So many of our sun-downer cocktails were sipped from some of the finest vantage points of the Sofitel Zallaq or the Ritz Carlton hotel terraces overlooking the sea. The Ritz Carlton, for example, is home to Trader Vic’s; a great bar, lounge and restaurant with stylish Polynesian themed décor, where we attended a mid-week ‘ladies night’ with free cocktails and sushi canapés. The Sofitel offers, amongst many of its fabulous social venues, a terrace overlooking the sea, where we sipped our cocktails in the balmy evening air, catching fruity whiffs of smoke from shisha pipes while we watched a magnificent sunset. There is something extraordinarily beautiful about sunsets in Bahrain.

Travel Tip: I recommend you check out the many hotel websites like Booking.com that offer information regarding accommodation in Bahrain.

Best Time To Go: The months of June through August can be very hot (up to 50 ºC) and humid. I asked our hosts this very question and they particularly recommend the month of May and also November to visit Bahrain, when temperatures are still in the low 30’s ºC in the daytime and cooler and less humid in the evenings.

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A Bahraini Sunset

What to Pack: Bahrain is a fairly relaxed host compared to other Arab nations regarding dress but it is important for visitors to demonstrate respect and courtesy in reference to their particular cultural practices and religion. Smart casual is advisable. Men should wear long trousers and women shouldn’t wear very short or a see-through dresses. A shawl, a scarf, light jacket or cardigan are handy items for a woman to carry around. However, in beach clubs and hotels, swimsuits, bikinis and shorts are okay to wear. As a side note: Bahrainis are extremely proud of their appearance. They will always want to appear to look their best and will take time to achieve this. The Western habit of dressing down is surprising to them. Women, even those who wear the traditional ‘abbaya’, show their individualism with their choice of cloth, jewellery, accessories, makeup, and in particular, perfume. It is a common practice for women to waft the smoke of (often expensive) incense under their robes before leaving the house in order to leave a continual and exotic waft of fragrance in their wake. Men often wear traditional ‘thobes’ and are always spotless; their individuality expressed by their choice of watch or cufflinks. So my advice is to dress up rather than to dress down: pack some cocktail dresses and think smart casual at the very least.

Money: The currency in Bahrain is the Bahraini dinar (BD), which is divided into 1000 fils. One dinar is worth nearly three US dollars and as the exchange rate is fixed, this makes it one of the world’s strongest currencies. If coming in from Saudi, there’s no reason to change your money, but do try to get rid of any excess dinars before you leave the country, as they’re hard to exchange elsewhere.

Top Things To Do In Bahrain

The Tree of Life. In the shimmering white sand of the Bahraini desert stands an isolated and very old mesquite tree. Its girth is broad and its branches are wide and dipped with the effort of holding up its green foliage. Some of the branches are now artificially supported to prevent them snapping. Local lore dates the tree in millenniums but a study was conducted in 1986 in conjunction with the Smithsonian Natural History Museum of Washington DC, USA, and it was then concluded that the tree had been planted  ca. 1583 AD during the Late Islamic Stage. But the really interesting thing about this tree is that to this day its source of water remains a mystery. Some believe the tree gets water from an underground spring but that doesn’t explain the complete lack of any other trees or green vegetation in the vicinity. This tree is a must see as far as I’m concerned. I loved the journey out into the desert, passing working oil rigs and desert settlements and I loved the sight of this lonely old tree on its unique hillside desert setting.

Tree of Life

Tree of Life

Amwaj – the floating city. The Amwaj Islands project is an artificial island development in Muharraq, Bahrain. The Floating City is still partly under construction but has a shopping mall, restaurants, hotels, waterfront villas and chalets and apartments – all intertwined with a series of canals, enabling residents to park their boats by their own back garden. There is also a white sand beach where you can paddle while also admiring the skyline of Manama in the distance. The island project is both ambitious and incredible. Well worth a visit. Another must see in my opinion.

Amwaj – the floating city

Bridging the International Gap. The King Fahad Causeway links Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and is one of the world’s longest bridges between two countries. Most visitors need a visa to enter Saudi Arabia but don’t let that stop you from driving to the midpoint on the causeway, and enjoying the glorious view across both countries.

Rediscover the Past: Bahrain has history dating back 5000 years, from the ancient Dilmun period through the Islamic era, and so offers an opportunity to visit ancient burial mounds, forts, craft markets and potteries, plus the three forts which have been meticulously restored and opened to the public.

Sailing and Scuba Diving: The warm waters of the Persian Gulf make water sports extremely popular with tourists and locals.

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Here I am at the Marina near Amwaj, Bahrain

Golf: Bahrain boasts an international 18-hole grass golf course, just 15 minutes outside the capital, Manama. The par 72 championship course features five lakes and is landscaped with hundreds of date palms and desert plains.

The Royal Golf Club

Bahrain Grand Prix: Tens of thousands of visitors descend on Bahrain each year at race time. The biggest yearly event is the F1 race held each April at the Bahrain International Circuit. Plan well in advance, as flights sell out and hotel prices triple.

At the Bahrain F1 International Circuit!

Visit The Royal Camel Farm: Enjoy a visit to the camel farm. Get your camera ready. I’m told they are usually very friendly!

Sakhir Race Course: Arabian horses are among the world’s most prized breeds and a day at the Sakhir race course explains why they’re so highly rated. Horses gallop off every Friday from October to March.

Shopping: Visit the many shopping malls and haggle for goods at the local souk markets. The certain freedom that exists here in Bahrain attracts many shoppers from neighbouring Gulf states. All the main shopping malls are air-conditioned and, as they remain open all day and evening, you can conveniently eat lunch and dinner at their splendid food courts and cafés.

M&S and Arabian Clothes at the shopping mall

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 Useful Facts of Bahrain:

Area: 710.9 sq km (274.5 sq miles).

Capital: Manama. Head of state: King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa.

Head of government: Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa.

Electricity: 220-240 volts AC, 50Hz (Awali, 110 volts AC, 60Hz). British-style three-pin plugs are used.

The Essence of Bahrain: Feel the warmth of the Arabian sun on your face. Smell the heady aroma of perfume on the evening air or a fruity waft from a shisha pipe. Hear the melodious ‘Call to Prayer’ several times a day from a nearby mosque. See the increbible Bahraini sunsets.

My Conclusion? I would compare the Kingdom of Bahrain to a lustrous pearl rather than to a sparkly gem. It is multi-layered rather than multi-faceted and it is a rare commodity rather than a popular conception. The people of Bahrain are friendly and at no time did I ever feel unsafe or unwelcome. I really enjoyed everything about my visit and I would recommend to you a ‘Snap Gap’ of seven to ten days in order to fully appreciate this unique travel destination.


Snapgap footer Author Website  :  Twitter @JaniceHortonFacebook Page

Hot Wish List for 2015 Gardens

Duchess of Dirt header

If you are in the nursery and garden supply business, it is always helpful to have your finger on what is expected to be hot in the garden for next season. Gardeners, too, are apt to greatly anticipate what will be new and exciting.

Petunia planter boxes

Petunia planter boxes

To this purpose, there are garden media sources, gardening gurus, associations and suppliers who conduct customer surveys, amass fashion information, and keep track of what gardeners buy. The data is sorted, categorized, and evaluated, and then the findings are disclosed as the upcoming “Gardening Trends.”

Now this may seem like a whole lot of hoopla to a few people, but in some cases, this information could possibly be the very lifeblood that keeps a garden business afloat at the end of the year. Sadly…and inexplicably, to my way of thinking…there has been a gradual downward trend in gardening as a hobby since the late 1980s.

Companion planting

Companion planting

Let’s face it. Since the recession hit a few years ago, all retail establishments need to keep their fingers on the pulse of what consumers are expected to spend their dollars on in the coming seasons. As a nursery owner, there is little sense in filling your display benches with rare plants…no matter how beautiful…if the customers will be looking to buy vegetable starts.

So…what have the surveys and garden gurus revealed for 2015?

New Customer Base. The Millenial generation, or Gen Y as it is often called…young adults aged 19 to 29…is now outstripping the Baby Boomers in the consumer department. Indeed, their numbers are growing. According to one particular survey, there are an estimated 1.7 billion Millenials worldwide. That was back in 2011. So why is this fact important? There are subtle differences in purchasing preferences between the Millenial, Gen X, and Baby Boomer generations. Millenials want instant gratification so their focus is largely towards what gives the fastest results. They also look for plants with a purpose. Therefore, annuals and food plants are generally among their preferred purchases.

Honeybee in Eryngium alpinum

Honeybee in Eryngium alpinum

Ecology Conscious. Apparently, the health of our planet is still a strong trend from all buyers. Good thing! Organic choices are gaining more ground over chemical…as is permaculture, companion planting, and soil stewardship. Edible landscaping is near the top of the list…and xeriscaping with native plants. Many gardeners are making conscientious selections while keeping water conservation in mind.

Growing Food. Increasing awareness surrounding issues about the security of our food supply is heightened. More and more gardeners are beginning to grow at least some of their own food…whether it be in a traditional vegetable garden or in containers on their balcony. Container gardening is becoming a huge hit with the advent of smaller-sized vegetable plants being bred….right down to tiny pumpkins and summer squashes that only take up a third of the space of regular varieties.

Front yard food garden

Front yard food garden

Rebel-hoods. Keeping the focus on the Millenial generation, it would appear more neighbourhoods are rebelling against city ordinances and campaigning for change. The push is to transform urban areas into agri-hoods where growing food on city boulevards and keeping a few chickens and a beehive are acceptable practice.

Container gardening

Container gardening

Portability. Container gardening still ranks high on the list. Many gardeners enjoy enlivening the front porch or corner nook with a colourful planter…whether it be filled with this year’s hot new annuals or a combination of tried and true plant species. And it is the prudent gardener who has a pot or two of foliage on hand to slip into the landscape after the bulbs have finished their display. But new in this portability trend is the need for the Millenials to take their mini-gardens with them. Their lack of homeownership and flexible lifestyle dictates mobility in higher percentages than from the two previous generations.

Garden-tainment. This is perhaps more focussed towards the declining Baby Boomer population and Generation X (ages 26 to 40) who are more likely to hold property with a yard for entertaining. Being outdoors during most of our “free time” in today’s hectic schedules still seems to resonate quite highly with us. We want our homes to spill out into garden rooms where we can share enjoyable, tranquil occasions with family and friends.

Secluded nook

Secluded nook

Landscape of pink flowers

Landscape of pink flowers

Colour. This item always factors in many trending lists…thanks to the fashion industry. I have heard pink, in all its varying shades, will be hot for the garden in 2015. Pastel colours too. However…another survey states “vintage to muted rustic to teal” are all acceptable in showcasing your personality outdoors.

Helleborus x ballardiae 'HGC Pink Frost'

Helleborus x ballardiae ‘HGC Pink Frost’

And there lies the clincher. Your garden will always be a reflection of your unique personality. No matter what the surveys or gardening gurus may claim is trending hot for the coming year…fill your New Year’s Wish List with all the horticultural delights which tickle your fancy. I am positive there will be many wonderful treasures displayed in the nurseries and gardening supply outlets next year to suit every whim. You may just have to search a little harder to find them…but then that is half the fun for gardeners.

Garden-tainment spot

Garden-tainment spot

  Website: www.duchessofdirt.ca

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Dialogue – He said/She said

Anneli header

Why do we use dialogue in novels when it could all be done with prose? The benefits of using dialogue:.

  • It brings an engaging immediacy to the scene. You feel you are right there with the characters, involved in their conversation.
  • The dialect, choice of vocabulary, and the tone can reveal a person’s characteristics in a more interesting way than a wordy description could.
  • Dialogue can be a tool for advancing the plot, especially if  inner conflict is woven into the spoken conversation.

Some tips about using dialogue:

  • Use short snappy dialogue when appropriate. It heightens the tension.
  • People don’t normally use long sentences in conversation. They more often speak in fragments and phrases.
  • Speakers don’t repeat what the other person just said.
  • Don’t use it as an all-too-obvious way to pass on information in a way that the person normally would not do. (E.g., “Don’t yell at Henry. He’s only two years old and he’s our only boy.” Painfully obvious information forced into the story.)

Dialogue tags:

  • These are the words that tell the reader who is speaking. They can be a distraction or even an annoyance if belaboured. The “he said/she said” part of the sentence should be like punctuation; it’s very important, but shouldn’t stand out or be noticed. Fancy dialogue tags like argued, insisted, responded, inquired, questioned, and replied are an unnecessary distraction. In most cases, said and asked are all you need.
  • Having said that, try to limit your use of dialogue tags. Often if you precede or follow the dialogue with an action by the speaker, we know who is speaking. (E.g., Sam pointed at the ball. “Go fetch.”)
  • If your speaker is grimacing or laughing, be sure that this is occurring in its own sentence, not as part of a dialogue tag.

Examples:

Wrong – “That’s so funny,” Sam laughed.

Right – “That’s so funny.” Sam laughed. The period, instead of the comma makes all the difference. In most cases, though, the action should come before the dialogue.

Combining actions with dialogue:

  • Be careful how you handle this one. I see this done very often. Here is the pattern: “How are you?’ she asked, gazing at his eyes. When I peruse a book that I’m considering reading, I look for use of gerunds behind dialogue tags. If I see more than the occasional one, I’m already turned off. This kind of pattern stands out in a novel and can become irritating when you know that each set of quotation marks will be followed by the gerund pattern.

Here are some examples: “Pleased to meet you,” George said, pumping my hand up and down. “I’ll be right back,” David said, running down the street. “Give those back,” he said, grabbing at the candies. “It already looks irritating to me,” Anneli said, going on to a different book.

Conclusion:

Dialogue can be an effective tool to make your novel more readable and engaging. It’s definitely a skill worth working on. Watch for examples of dialogue in novels. Do they work? What are the faults, if any, in the writing of the dialogue? Take some bad examples you find and see if you can make them more effective. When you know how to use dialogue to your advantage you’ll find that the quality of writing in your novel improves greatly.

 But best of all, writing dialogue can be fun, especially when your characters, saying what they would naturally say, steer the conversation in a direction you hadn’t intended it to go. So watch out for those characters with a mind of their own, but have fun chatting.

Anneli Purchase is a published author who works with writers to bring out their best. She is a freelance copy-editor providing services that include correcting spelling, punctuation, word usage, sentence structure and balance, and many other aspects of writing. To find out more about Anneli, go to her website at http://www.anneli-purchase.com/.

 

Find out more about Anneli:

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Choosing the printer that’s right for you

Melanie Robertson King header

Buying a printer can be a major investment. You want to make sure you get the right features and functionality to fit your needs.

Before you buy, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What brand do I want? (HP, Canon Brother, Samsung, Epson etc.)
  2. Functionality – what will I use it for? (colour or monochrome, photo quality, or auto duplex printing? All in one (print, copy, scan and fax)?
  3. Do I want Inkjet or Laser?
  4. How much do I want to pay?
  5. What are the pros and cons of inkjet vs. laser?

Talk to your friends and see what type of printer they have and if they’re happy with their choice. Even the IT department where you work can make recommendations. After all, they’re the ones behind the scenes buying and maintaining the computer equipment in the workplace.

Once you decide on the brand, then it’s time to move on to functionality. If you’re a writer, the auto duplex printing is a wonderful feature. And think of the paper you save! A 200 page manuscript will only use 100 sheets printed on both sides! This is something that is usually, but not always, only associated with higher-end printers.

CANON PIXMA MG3520 PHOTO ALL-IN-ONE INKJET PRINTER WITH BUILT-IN WI-FI photo from thesource.ca

We’ll start by looking at a couple of all-in-one printers. This Canon PIXMA is a photo quality, inkjet with built-in wi-fi. It retails for about $90.00 CDN but depending on where you buy and what offers are on, it can be bought for as low as $40.00 CDN. Pricing for the black ink cartridge can range from about $19.00 up to $38.00 depending on the yield. The higher the price, the higher the yield, although the actual number of pages per ink cartridge isn’t mentioned. The colour cartridge is about a mid-yield and retails for about $30.00. A combination package which includes the XL black and colour cartridges retails for about $50.00.

This printer also does auto-duplex printing.

Canon has an excellent reputation in the camera world and their printers are also of the same high quality and exacting standards.

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BROTHER MFC-L8850CDW COLOUR LASER ALL-IN-ONE PRINTER WITH WIRELESS NETWORKING & ADVANCED DUPLEX PRINTING picture from thesource.ca

A colour laser all-in-one printer can cost you as much as, if not more than, your computer system. The Brother MFC-L8850CDW costs about $700.00 CDN.

High-yield toner cartridges will last for about 4000 pages in black and 3500 pages in colour. A Black high-yield laser cartridge will cost about $96.00 which works out to about $.02/page. The colour cartridges have to be bought individually (cyan, magenta, yellow) and they cost about $154.00. This works out to about $.04/page/colour or about $.12/page total.

While the initial cost for a laser printer is higher, they come with a better warranty than a lower-end inkjet printer will. Should something go wrong, it’s worth having repaired.

Supplies are more expensive to buy initially, but aren’t required as frequently as with ink cartridges thus making them an inexpensive option. Another plus with laser printers is the paper trays can hold more paper so you don’t have to keep putting paper into it.

You already have a scanner? You have no reason to send faxes? There are plenty of printers on the market without the extra features.

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HP LaserJet Pro 400 color Printer M451dn picture from store.hp.com

The HP M451dn normally retails for about $500 CDN but it is a workhorse and well worth every penny. It’s easy to set up for a wired or wireless home or business network.

You can check the level of your toner easily which will let you know how many pages you can print (based on your printing history) in each of the colours. The printer will also tell you when it’s time to order supplies (consumables as they’re sometimes known) well in advance of running out.

A high-yield black toner cartridge will cost about $104.00 and will give you 4,000 pages or about $.025/page. Colour cartridges aren’t available in high-yield format. They cost about $120.00 each and print 2600 pages about $.045/page. A package containing a magenta, cyan, and yellow toner cartridge is about $324.00 which is a small saving. Each colour is individually packaged within the larger bundle so the toner and drum aren’t exposed to the light.

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So there you have three different printers – each with their own distinct personalities and capabilities. Melanie Robertson King footerThe bottom line is, do the research before you buy and choose the brand/features that are right for you.

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Available for purchase from 4RV Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and bricks ‘n mortar locations.

Book Launch – the “Once upon a NOW” series of modern-day fairy tales for children, by Emma Calin

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Just in time for Christmas and the holidays, Emma Calin announces a series of three illustrated children’s books in her brand-new ‘Once upon a NOW’ series of modern-day fairy stories:

‘Alf The Workshop Dog’

‘Isabella’s Pink Bicycle’

‘Kool Kid Kruncha and the High Trapeze’

Ideal as stocking fillers or birthday gifts, these ‘chapter-book’ style stories are aimed at emerging readers or for adults to read aloud to younger children.  All three books include pictures from talented anime/manga graphic artist Miko Abellera.

Three Once upon a now

Each book is available in digital, paperback and audio book formats from Amazon worldwide, audible and iTunes.

Amazon UK Links         Amazon USA links

Amazon Canada links            Amazon Australia links

Amazon France links            Amazon Germany links

Amazon Netherlands links            Amazon Spain links

 

Alf Kindle Cover

 Blurb

How could a scruffy dog in a bus depot and the call of crows, link back to another world of power and love?

A wicked king, a beautiful girl, a young prince and the struggle between right and wrong maintain the fable tradition. The ancient Kingdom of Zanubia and a stray dog looking for scraps in an inner-city repair garage, hold the secret.

Find ‘Alf The Workshop Dog’ on Amazon Worldwide 

 

 

 

Isabellas Pink Bike Kindle Cover

Blurb

There’s something strange in the woodshed…

A poor little girl in a faraway land dreams of riding a pink bicycle. When she meets a strange animal, her dreams come true. Her happiness turns to sadness when a tragedy occurs in the town and her father doesn’t come home.

Maybe her new magic friend can find him?

Find ‘Isabella’s Pink Bicycle on Amazon Worldwide 

 

 

Kool Kid Kindle Cover

Blurb

Charlie finds it tough when his parents divorce – but Auntie Kate helps him overcome his greatest fear.

When Charlie has to move from the country into the city, he needs new friends. With his small size and red hair, some people aren’t kind to him. He wonders if he can face another day at school.

A trip to the circus gives him the strength to see himself and others in a new way.

Find ‘Kool Kid Kruncha and The High Trapeze on Amazon Worldwide 

 

 

 

Emma has added fun bonus features to every book to bring the fairy tale right up to date and into the twenty-first century.  There are video, audio, and photo clips embedded in each story to give a richer experience.  The bonus material is reached via links for those reading on online devices (like iPads Kindle Fire, tablets or laptops) and in addition,   QR codes are printed in the paperback editions so they can share the fun too.

To view the material, just get a FREE QR scanning App for your smart device from your App store. Scan the code and you will find the bonus material.    The QR codes are sprinkled through the stories – they are small mosaic-style square like this:

QR code Meekow timelapse video

The QR code above takes you to a delightful video of the artist who created Emma’s illustrations doing a time-lapse drawing.

Find out more about Emma’s launch day celebration giveaway of a fantastic brand new Kindle Touchscreen OR $80/£50 Amazon Gift Card visit:

‘Once Upon a NOW’ Website

and

Facebook Page

 

 

Emma Calin was born in London in 1962. She currently lives part of the year in the UK and spends the rest in France.  She has been writing since childhood and has won numerous local, national, and international prizes for poetry and short stories.

Emma enjoys writing stories firmly rooted in social realism.  She blogs about the contrasts in life on both sides of the English Channel, which she likes to explore on her tandem whenever weather and fitness coincide. She is a Lifestyle Contributor on Loveahappyending Lifestyle.

She defines herself as woman eternally pedalling between Peckham and Pigalle, in search of passion and enduring romance.

Emmas books 2015 small 1MB

For books by Emma Calin: Amazon USA  Amazon UK
Emma Calin Blog: http://www.emmacalin.blogspot.com 
Emma Calin Website: http://www.emmacalin.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/emma.calin
Twitter:@Emma Calin
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/emmacalin/shannons-law-launch-reveal-on-pinterest/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4915751.Emma_Calin

The Bookshelf – Seasonal Reads!

Janice New Banner LLm 2015The very latest Loveahappyending book news, author buzz and blogger reviews!

 

 Our DECEMBER Bookshelf GUEST AUTHOR is Talli Roland…

 

talli photoTalli Roland writes bittersweet and witty contemporary women’s fiction. Born and raised in Canada, Talli now lives in London, where she savours the great cultural life (coffee and wine). Despite training as a journalist, Talli soon found she preferred making up her own stories – complete with happy endings. Talli’s novels have been short-listed as Best Romantic Reads at the UK’s Festival of Romance and chosen as top books of the year by industry review websites.

I caught up with Talli in London to ask what Christmas means to her and her family. Talli says: “Christmas is extra-special now that my son is here. It’s not just the pleasure of watching his face light up as he opens his toys, but the fact that his birthday falls on Christmas Eve. Even more reason to celebrate the festive season! Sure, it means extra shopping (which, I must admit, I loathe), but double the party fun. This year, we plan to stay in London. We’ll wake up early Christmas morning (we’ve little choice, given the screams that usually pierce the air), open our presents, then head out to the great outdoors. London is quiet Christmas Day, like a different city without the roaring buses and rattling tubes. After a stroll in the crisp air and a glass of mulled wine or three, we’ll head back home, deconstruct a turkey, and put the toddler to bed. Then, we’ll turn on the carols, pour some more wine, and let the Christmas spirit take us away.”

NEW from Talli Roland: Married by Midnight: A Christmas Story: Notting Hill Press. Married by Midnight - Talli Roland

Christmas is coming . . . and so is the biggest day of Kate’s life.
While choosing a vintage dress for her Christmas Eve wedding, Kate finds a cryptic note pinned to the inside of a 1930s gown. As doubts about her own ceremony loom, Kate is determined to track down the dress’s owner and determine what became of her – and the marriage. Will Kate find the answers she’s seeking to propel her down the aisle, or will her discovery prompt her to call off the wedding for good?

 

Find out more about Talli Roland

Webpage: Blog: Facebook: Twitter

 

 


 

LOVEAHAPPYENDING AUTHOR spotlightSPOTLIGHT

on ANNELI PURCHASE

Loveahappyending Author Anneli Purchase lives on Vancouver Island, Canada, where she works as an author and freelance copy-editor. She is the author of The Wind Weeps, Orion’s Gift, and Julia’s Violinist. Anneli’s articles on coastal life are published in Canadian magazines and her novels involve relationships that develop in unusual settings, on the wild and remote coast of British Columbia, in the primitive camping conditions of Mexico’s Baja peninsula, and most recently in post-war Europe and northern British Columbia.

Currently, she is alternating between writing the sequel to The Wind Weeps, and copy-editing the writing of other authors. She also works with authors to prepare e-books for uploading. These activities keep her busy, but she always seems to find time to help other writers. If you are a writer needing help, contact Anneli. She’ll do her best for you.

 Anneli7Find out more about author Anneli Purchase : Website And on her Bookshelf Page

 


NEW This Month!

Promises to Keep – Love in Provence

 

PTK_final_lg-187x300NEW in the Love In Provence Series. Book One is The Promise of Provence and now Book Two Promises To Keep has just been released by Loveahappyending author Patricia Sands!

Falling in love with the south of France was no surprise to Katherine. Choosing to walk away from her past and start over was completely unexpected. A new country, a new lover, and the promise of a bright future beginning in mid-life … who knew Now there were the exciting dreams of restoring the property on the Cap, beginning a new career, experiencing the traditions of Christmas in Provence, and falling even more deeply in love with the man who inspired these hopes. It was all so perfect, until it wasn’t. The anonymous note left on the windshield was just the beginning. Katherine had embraced new possibilities in life and given her heart only to discover something was being kept from her. Something terrible from her lover’s past. Something that could destroy everything. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, had become her mantra. Would it be enough?

Find out more about Patricia Sands : Website
And on her Bookshelf Page

 


 

This Month’s @LAHEBookshelf Twitter Snapshot

 

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 Click here to follow The Bookshelf on Twitter


 

Loveahappyending BOOK BLOGGER Reviews

Bringing you independent reviews from some of the Best Reviewers in the Book Blogging world!

 


SO LBH smallSweet Occasions

Shortlisted in the UK’s Festival of Romantic Fiction reader’s award ‘Best Author Published’ category.

Author: Linn B Halton. Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction

Katie’s relationship has had more than its fair share of problems. After a difficult few years things begin to pick up and Katie finally realises her dream of opening up a bakery. Sweet Occasions specialises in novelty and celebration cakes, plus the most inspiring range of cupcakes anyone could possibly ask for! Utilising her passion and skill helps to inject happiness back into her life, but it’s short-lived as things begin to fall apart. The reality is that you need to run a business with your heart AND your head. Help is at hand in the shape of her partner, Steve. He has the necessary experience, but does Katie want to tie herself to him financially, as well as personally? Then one rainy, wintry day a bedraggled customer steps inside the door to order a cake …

Reviewed by: Librarian Lavender

Lavender says: “Sweet Occasions is a sweet story. Adam is just as caring and loving as Katie. I liked that Linn B Halton told her story from both angles. It was great to find out more about their lives. Sweet Occasions is a fun read. What I liked best about it is that the story made me feel something. I wanted to shout and stand up for both of these amazing people from time to time and the story felt so real. I think most people would have acted like Adam and Katie did in this story in real life. Last, but not least, the tiny spark of magic made the story complete for me.”

READ Lavender’s entire review of Sweet Occasions at Librarian Lavender Blog

Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon

Find out more about Linn B Halton from her Website and Bookshelf page

 

A-Shadow-in-the-Past-by-Melanie-Robertson-King-194x300A Shadow in the Past

Author: Melanie Robertson King. Publisher: 4RV Publishing: Time-slip Women’s Fiction

Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself thrust back into the past. There she struggles to keep her real identity from a society that finds her comments and ideas strange and her speech and actions forward, unlike Victorian women. When Sarah verbally confronts confining social practices, including arranged marriages, powerful enemies commit her to a lunatic asylum. After falling in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, Robert Robertson, she must decide whether to find her way back to her own time or to remain in the past with him.

Reviewed by: Dayna Leigh Book Review

Dayna says: “A 19-year-old student in 2010, Sarah Shand, in northeast Scotland, is miserable. Her beau cheated on her with her best friend. Her sister has a date with a hunk, and her parents are in her face. She storms from the house, heading for the circle of stones, her refuge, to do the unthinkable. She’ll show them. She fails. Stumbling around in the dark, she’s struck by a car. Suddenly things change. It’s 1886 and she’s alone in this strange world. Robert, the young, handsome Laird, her host, is the only reason she’s even still alive. As her memories of her old life fade, she’s caught up in her new, and different life amidst changes in Robert’s life that affect her. A well-written, well-researched, time-travel romance, this is an excellent debut novel. Ms. Robertson-King and A Shadow in the Past receive a five-star rating. I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel!.”

READ the entire review at Dayna Leigh Book Review

Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon

Find out more about Melanie Robertson King from her Website and Bookshelf page

 

Bridge ClubThe Bridge Club

Author: Patricia Sands. Genre: Contemporary Fiction

How far would you go to help a close friend? Is there a place where you might draw the line and simply have to say no? Eight women. Four decades of friendship. One unimaginable request. Where can you find a story about friendship, laughter and the good things in life that also touches on alcoholism, infidelity, porn addiction, illness and grief? For many women, it’s often within their own circle of friends. Whether your BFFs are in their twenties or are seniors, everyone has a story.

Reviewed by Kate at Me My Books and I  top five border

Kate Says: “The author took me on an emotional rollercoaster right to the very end, which I found to be rather different with certain information being omitted. I personally thought it was an appropriate ending and with an epilogue that brought tears to my eyes, it just felt right to me! A story of life and everything it can throw at you, this was a well-rounded read with something for everyone.”

READ Kate’s entire review at Me My Books and I

Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon

Find out more about Patricia Sands Website and Bookshelf page

 


In December Look Out For…

warrant tour

Warrant-for-Love-coverLoveahappyending Author Sheryl Browne goes on tour in December with Warrant for Love.

Warrant for Love is not your typical rom-com where only one gal gets the guy – Sheryl Browne brings together three couples in a twisting story that resolves perfectly. With a focus on romance with police officers, Warrant for Love appeals to all readers who love our boys in blue. Complex yet everyday relationship problems makes this read appropriate for young adults and older teens.

You can follow the tour from Sheryl’s Tour Page and CandleLit Author Services between the 3rd and the 18th December.

 


Quint Ess Gem

Kindle Countdown Deal – 25th December to 1st January

What a Gift! The Quintessential Gemini by Linn B Halton is on Kindle countdown from Christmas Day to New Years Day priced at only 99p/99c. This is a fun, romantic story about Katherine Dale and the three men in her life! Katherine lives her life according to her daily horoscope … what could possibly go wrong?

Get the links from Linn’s Webpage or follow her Tweets!

 

 


Bookshelf 2015 footerAuthor Website  :  Twitter @JaniceHortonFacebook Page

My Boyfriend Wants Kids, But I Don’t …

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Q.  I’m 28 and have been seeing a special man for almost two years. Things have been great and we recently broached the subject of marriage. I think we are compatible in so many ways, but the one issue we have is that he wants to have kids, and I don’t. I know it is often the other way around. I have several girlfriends whose boyfriends don’t want families, or aren’t sure about it, but somehow I managed to find a man who is dead set on it. He sometimes tries to talk me into the idea, sharing his feelings about how wonderful it would be to have a family of our own, and that he’d love to see what a child of ours would look like. I feel guilty and try to let myself be swayed, but ultimately, I know it’s not what I really want. The thing is, I love him so much and don’t want to let him go. It’s so hard to find a great guy these days. What would you do?

 

A.  This is not an uncommon occurrence, but it is a heartbreaking one. The facts are the facts. When two people disagree about the most important decision a couple can make—having children—there is no good way to reconcile the problem. You love each other, but you want very different lifestyles. Having children is an enormous responsibility. So many people take the decision lightly and barely question it beforehand, probably because society expects it of us, especially of women. It’s not until the baby comes that people realize the immense undertaking they have chosen—and those are people who wanted kids. Therefore, know that you can never pretend to want something as all-encompassing as children no matter how hard you try, and don’t feel guilty about it either. Your decision is just as valid as his. Just remember, if your boyfriend allows himself to let go of his dream of a family by marrying you, he’ll most likely end up resenting you for his loss. That’s why I believe the only wise decision you can make is to part ways now, and give each other the freedom to find the life each of you truly wants. It’ll be tough in the short term, but in the long term you will both have a chance to follow your hearts and your dreams with partners who will support your choices along the way.

 

Read more advice from Bonnie HERE

If you would like Bonnie to offer some advice on your personal relationship issue, contact her at

loveahappyending.com@gmail.com

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Author page 
Author Website
Author Blog 
Author Facebook Page
Novel Facebook Page 
Twitter A/c @writebrainedny

 

 

 

WHO ATE ALL THE PIES?

Caroline James talks to award winning food journalist and writer Andrew Webb
Author of The Men’s Pie Manual

2012 British Pie Awards 371          Mens Pie Manual cover

“Andrew Webb is a man after my own heart and this book is packed
with proper pies; go on dig in!” Tom Kerridge, Chef.

Recently I asked a friend what he would like for his birthday and was surprised by his reply: “Make me one of your finest pork pies…”

Beef Wellington

What is it about pies and why do we like them so much? Is it a social, coming together round the table sort of thing? Or is it that feeling of anticipation as the knife cuts into a golden brown crust and the pastry flakes away to reveal a delicious filling oozing onto the plate.

Pies are the perfect food. They’re also a great way of using up leftovers and you can make a pie with just about anything whether savoury or sweet. In days gone by, pies were a staple for travelling and working people – a food on the move, complete in its very own case.

On the same day that my friend asked me to make him a pie, I received news of a new book – The Men’s Pie Manual. Intrigued, I tracked down the author, Andrew Webb and with great delight had a chat with him about pies.

The Men’s Pie Manual – what’s it all about, Andrew?

Pies should be celebrated…

Homemade_with_love

I love pies and this country does them so well.

Pies are regional

There are regional pies everywhere, from the Cornish pasty to pie and mash in London, Tatty pie in Cumbria and pork pies in Melton Mowbray. I think pies should be celebrated and I wanted to write a book that was more than just a cookery book, I wanted to create a book that included some history, something that you could read in bed. I was never going to write a book on dainty pastry work but the pie idea just snowballed.

Despite the title, is it a book that anyone could read?

Pies are for everyone…

Yes absolutely, it’s for everyone male or female and it also aimed at the guy who watches the Great British Bake Off – a gentleman’s enthusiast! Pies are easy to make, they’re quite forgiving but they take time, care and love. They will reward you however and hopefully the book will inspire everyone to have a go.

You were asked to talk to Heston Blumenthal for a TV programme about pies. What did he want to know?

Andrew and Heston

Andrew Webb talks to Heston Blumenthal

Heston wanted to know about Jeffery Hudson, a dwarf presented in a pie by the Duke of Buckingham to Charles I and his teenage bride Henrietta Maria. He went on to become one of the wonders of the age, fought for the Royalists during the civil war, fled to France, shot a man in a duel, was captured by pirates and spent 25 years as a slave in North Africa before eventually making his way back to England.

Jeffrey Hudson plaque

What’s your favourite pie?

Steak & Ale Pie…

It has to be a steak and ale pie. It’s an absolute classic and uses the ‘two meat technique’ beef (buy beef local to your area) with dark ale. The ale I add has a chocolate note which gives it a fortifying flavour.

beef and ale pie

And the easiest pie you’ve made?

Get your filling right…

Anything potato topped if you want to avoid making pastry. You could start with a cottage pie and work your way up. Bought pastry is fine if you don’t fancy making your own. I’m not fussy about pre-bought pastry – the main thing is to get your filling right and worry about making the pastry later.

Any good tips for pie making?

A pie makes a great gift – the gift of time…

Rolling_pin_pie apples raw

Do little bits over time; don’t start after a busy day at work! Do some careful planning when making your pie and don’t forget to use things up – you can put anything you like in a pie. A pie makes a great gift too – you’re giving the gift of time, your time especially if you add in a home-made chutney or sloe gin. If you can make a casserole you can make a pie. There is surprise and unknown in a pie – that’s the mystique!

When you’re not making pies, can you remember what got you into food writing?

Food and art are connected…

My dad was a chef in the 70s but he didn’t influence me. I grew up in Stockport then moved to London and went to art college at St Martins, after a stint at the BBC and working as a journalist, I started a food blog and realised that was where my interest lay. Food and art are connected. We all eat three meals a day and have powerful choices when we shop and I wanted to help people make better decisions about what they eat, it’s a very powerful thing.

Three In A Bed Pie

You write well.  What skills do you have that enabled you to write?

To write well you have to experience things…

I was a duffer at school and got a ‘C’ in English. I’m not very good at writing but that’s what sub-editors are for, it’s all about using words like Lego and clipping it all together to make great shapes. To write well you have to experience things – get out there. You write best about the things you experience first hand – the smell of a tea shop or the crunch of a loaf of bread. Everyone has a book in them but it may be difficult to get out, you learn a lot when you write a book. The joy of my job is to be able to meet producers and feel their passion, enthusiasm and knowledge then share that through my writing.

The book is very concise. How long did it take you to write?

You’re nothing without your knife…

It took a year. There is a lot of detail and the first part of the book is how to run your kitchen, which I think is very important. It’s like a manual, for example buying a good knife – you’re nothing without your knife. I worked hard on the recipes, to the point that my wife said, “I can’t eat any more pies!” A lot of the pies have detail about their history which took a while to research too.

Humble_pie

Are my eyes deceiving me? I see a recipe for a Snickers Pie!

snickers-bar

I told you that a pie can be made with anything! It’s delicious – the trick is not to overcook it. The pastry needs to be soft and make sure you don’t melt the bar.

Snickers Pie

Many of our readers like romantic fiction. Would you say you are a romantic?

Make someone a pie!

Homemade_with_love

I think I am a hopeless romantic but you’d have to ask my wife. I think romance is an everyday thing – little and often; tea in the morning or a hot water bottle when you are ill (without being asked). Romance is about having moments together – eating together, sitting at table and talking. And of course, making someone a pie! When’s it’s miserable outside and you get home tired and cold, the smell of a pie baking stimulates the senses, it’s evocative of so many things.

It’s all about the pies! This book will make a great gift and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone puzzling over a Christmas or birthday presant. Thanks for talking to me, Andrew, and for sharing your delicious recipe below.

The Men’s Pie Manual
The complete guide to making and baking a pie
by Andrew Webb

Author of Food Britannia, Andrew’s work appears frequently on radio including BBC and Channel 4, he has written for Waitrose Kitchen & Delicious Magazine and he hosts cookery theatres around the country.

Contact Andrew:
Twitter: @foodjournalist
www.foodjournalist.co.uk
www.lovefood.com (editor)

Photos courtesy of Haynes Publishing

RECIPE

Beef & Ale Pie by Andrew Webb

This is it, the big one. This recipe, more a technique really was given to me by my local butcher. It’s a long process, that’s for sure – we’re not in the world of the quick midweek supper here.It’s a two-stage, two-day process but believe me its well worth it!

Beef & Ale Pie

Ingredients:
500g skirt steak
1kg braising steak cubed
Beef shin bone
2 large onions
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 bottle porter, stout or dark ale
200mil water
3 tablespoons of seasoned flour
2 tsp cornflour
1 petal from a star anise
Salt & pepper

Method Stage One:
Chop half the onions; add to large pan with the bones, skirt & steak
Pour in beer and top up with water.
Cook on hob on low heat for 4 – 5 hours, checking on the hour.
After 5 hours, remove bones and any gristle. Turn up heat to reduce.

Method Stage Two:
Preheat oven to 120C.
Add carrots and remaining onion (diced) the sweat until tender
Flour the braising steak and add
Add meat, veg, star anise and enough of the gravy from stage one to cover
Season well and place in oven for 3 hours

pie about to go in oven raw

Make enough pastry to double-line your tin and roll out. Bottom should be thicker than lid. Add filling.
Brush lip of pie with egg wash and lay lid on top. Seal edges. Egg wash lid.
Place in pre-heated oven at 190C for 20 – 25 mins, turn down to 150C for final 10 minutes.
Leave to stand for 10 minutes and serve with mashed potatoes and red cabbage.

Find out more about Caroline:

Caroline James footer

Facebook: Caroline James Author on FacebookSYTYACC cover
Twitter Account: @CarolineJames12
Author Blogs: carolinejamesblogspot
Author’s Website: www.carolinejamesauthor.co.uk

 

 

The garden is simply an extension of your home …

Home by design

Gardening feature pg 1 Gardening feature pg 2

 

Beautiful, isn’t it? Idyllic to look at, but …

sometimes a garden needs taming.

Lost in this mass of wonderful greenery are some amazing little pathways. There are lovingly-cut, log-roll steps leading to overgrown parts of the garden that give very different perspectives from this hillside vantage point.

In my former career as an interior designer, a part of that brief was to create interesting gardens for newly-built homes. Something to entice the prospective purchasers inside. Designing the outside is very much like designing the inside. Create interest with colour, shape and texture.

Taking on this garden is a unique challenge for me because I’m no expert when it comes to plants, but I’ve always been a ‘home gardener’. I’ve owned everything from a courtyard garden to  half an acre of lawns and shrubbery. And now a hillside garden. So let me take you on a ramble around my latest project and I’ll share some simple tips that apply to any size of garden.

Gardening feature pg 3 a

Tip no. 1. 

Plants need space to grow. This planting is underneath an old fir tree and the space was dark and overgrown. Cutting back some of the branches overhead to thin it out, and taking out low-hanging boughs, allowed the light back in.

Work with what you already have in situ. Take out anything that is dead, and if a shrub has become too ‘leggy’, i.e. growth only at the tips and long, woody stems, chop it back severely. Most shrubs will survive and sprout new growth from the base.

Early spring or late autumn is the best time to do this.

Be ruthless with low-spreading planting, unless you want a giant carpet of one particular specimen. Leave attractive clumps, but dig out the rest (transplant them elsewhere if possible). Add a variety of new plants to give height, interest, and colour. Suddenly this formerly dank area has a woodland feel. On sunny days the dappled sunlight brings it alive and the plants are thriving. A scattering of bark helps with drainage and moisture retention, plus it gives an attractive finish.

Garden 7

 

Tip no. 2.

Think seasonal. This garden was overgrown in summer, but in winter it was very bare. Most of the plants and shrubs either die back to nothing, or shed their leaves.

My first task was to buy nearly a hundred evergreen plants. Early spring is the best time to find a bargain when buying in bulk. Garden centres can be expensive—but don’t rule them out. “Buy one, get one free” offers are a bargain, and try car boot sales/fêtes, etc.

When putting in your new plants think of each area of the garden as a small room. Mix shapes, colours, and heights, spacing them out so that spring planting already in the ground won’t obscure them.

Random planting is good, but experiment with a line, or large circle of one variety to ring the changes.

Your aim is to have something green to look at all year round.

Tip 1 2

Tip no. 3.

If you don’t have time to pore over gardening books when it comes to which plants to buy, then tip no. 3 is as easy as a, b, c.

  1. A) Only buy plants that look very healthy and where the soil is moist. If it’s so dry the pot falls over, the chances are that it’s been starved of water and any permanent damage to the plant won’t be obvious until after it’s in the ground.
  2. B) Evergreens give you colour all year round. I try to avoid falling in love with specimen plants and shrubs; they often require specific soil conditions and are usually very expensive. Once you are happy with the overall look of your garden, you can then think about buying something more unusual as a feature.
  3. C) Look around at what is already growing well in both your own garden and in the surrounding area. For a garden re-vamp you want plants that will grow quickly and fill your garden with colour.

Gardening feature pg 5

 

Website/blog: http://linnbhalton.co.uk/

Twitter: @LinnBHalton FB: Author Linn B Halton

Linn bookshelf final current FB med

Money Matters … whether it’s quick and easy, or party pleasers!

Money Matters new header 2015

Welcome back to Money Matters, where I bring you imaginative suggestions for living well on a budget. In these tough economic times, it’s important to learn how to downsize, and stretch your money, as well as find ways to recycle or upcycle items you might normally discard, into great home innovations. From corkboards and refrigerators to flat irons and tea bags, you’ll find lots of awesome ideas for repurposing common household items. You’ll also find some great tips to help you organize and beautify your surroundings. Remember, a little bit of ingenuity can go a long way to enhancing your life—even on a budget!

QUICK AND EASY FIXES

“I’m a seasoned traveler and I’m always in a rush. I found a great way to iron out the little wrinkles I get in my clothing in no-time flat—a flat iron, that is! Yes, flat irons aren’t just great for straightening and taming those frizzies, they also make neat little touch up irons for clothes (especially between buttons on my husband’s shirts that my regular iron has trouble accessing.) Flat irons are much lighter and a lot more mobile than regular irons, so traveling with one is a breeze.”—Joanna Feldman

Flat iron

“My daughters have lots of jewelry between them and their necklaces were always getting tangled together in their jewelry boxes. I figured out a way to organize their jewelry while keeping it tangle-free. I turned one of their corkboards into a jewelry board. Not only is the jewelry easy to access, but they love the way they can see what they have since some of their jewelry was almost forgotten about in the box. I love the fact that I don’t have to waste my time trying to pull out necklace knots which can be pretty tricky sometimes!”—Amy Rudolf

Corkboard 1

“This may sound strange, but toothpaste has many more uses besides cleaning teeth. I’ve found that it’s a very effective way of polishing my jewelry, my chrome fixtures, and even my shoes. My husband has used toothpaste as a temporary spackle, and (believe it or not) a way to clean the headlights on our cars. Toothpaste—it’s not just for teeth anymore!”—Karen Casterfield

IT’S IN THE BAG

“Tea bags can make great tea, but I’ve found they have a multitude of other really cool uses. Here are just some of them:

  • Cool sunburns with a few wet tea bags applied to the skin. They take the sting out of your burn. If you’re burnt all lover, add tea bags to a soothing bath. They also work for other types of minor burns including razor burn.
  • Stuff a few dry tea bags into the cardboard ring from a paper towel roll and you have an easy and pleasant way to kindle a fire.
  • Revitalize tired, puffy eyes by placing tea bags soaked in warm water over your eyes for 15 to 20 minutes. The tannins in the tea will work wonders.
  • Tea bags in a cup will help absorb refrigerator odors.
  • Condition your hair and add shine by using a quart of warm, unsweetened tea as a final rinse.
  • Drain a boil by covering it with a wet tea bag overnight and the boil should drain without pain by the time your alarm clock rings.
  • Tea bags are great for reducing gum pain after a tooth is pulled, and peppermint tea makes a soothing mouthwash, too.
  • Help to dry out a poison ivy rash by dipping cotton balls in some strongly brewed tea and applying it on the affected area.
  • Foot odor got you down? Try soaking your feet in a daily tea bath. Use strongly brewed tea and enjoy.
  • A pot of strong tea, once cooled, also makes a great mirror cleaner.
  • Use your favorite herbal teas (I love Earl Grey Lavender tea) in a small porous bag as a sachet for your underwear drawer.”—Carol Oppenheimer

PARTY PLEASERS

“When I entertain, particularly outdoors, I found ways of serving that repurpose common household items. I use cardboard six-pack bottle holders to store condiments and plastic ware at my barbecues. It’s a great way to keep the salt and pepper shakers, plastic forks, knives, spoons, straws, and even napkins organized and easy to find. Also, when my little drink refrigerator conked out on me, I found a great new use for it. I laid it on its back in my yard and repurposed it as an ice chest. Now, for my patio parties, I just load it up with ice, pile in the beer and soda, and close the top. My friends always remark what a great idea it is, and this stroke of brilliance also helped me avoid having to dispose of the darn thing!”—Allison Cassover

Six pack

“The best part about winter for me is entertaining on the holidays. I love creating a cozy ambience and one of the things I always do is build a fire in my living room fireplace. It’s a homey visual, but I found a way to make it even better. I use dried orange and lemon peels as kindle and this creates a pleasant fragrance that adds another delightful dimension to the holiday atmosphere. I also enjoy creative centerpieces that aren’t costly. This year I’m going to fill a vase with giant red and green twisty lollypops. This should create a very festive look on my holiday table.”—Tracy Killborne

GET ORGANIZED

“We take a lot of road trips in my family and our car used to show the results of them. The floor of my back seat was always littered with all kinds of junk from magazines to sun block to the kids’ games. Clutter drives me nuts, but no more! I decided to get organized and took an old plastic shoe organizer that used to hang from my closet door and cut it in two. I hung half on the back of the driver’s seat, and half on the back of the front passenger seat. Now I make sure that all thermoses, sippy cups, wipe canisters, toys, reading material, and pretty much anything else that fits are stored in the plastic pockets. Not only is my car a lot more tidy, but the kids can actually find whatever they are looking for without digging through a mess or crying to me for help. Needless to say, our road trips have become a lot more pleasant!”—Sandy Wagner

“I have a lot of ‘stuff’ in my closet, and never enough room. Even the built-in cubbies can only hold so much. However, I found a way to better utilize the space I do have: shower hooks. Before you laugh, try dangling them from your clothing bar and suddenly there is a good place to hang your evening bags, scarves, ties, and other accessories. They’ll be easy to find and will look a lot more aesthetic than shoving them into a messy pile.”—Alyssa McCrea

 TOP TIPS

 

  • Release those stubborn zippers by lightly rubbing a candle along the teeth on both sides. The wax will help smooth the way.
  • Turn a binder clip into a great makeshift money clip and key chain.
  • Use an old tissue box as a plastic bag dispenser.
  • Cupcake wrappers with a small hole in the middle for the stick will catch the melting ice cream from your popsicles.
  • Lifesaver candies make decorative and delicious birthday candle holders.
  • Use a freestanding toilet paper holder to hold your yarn while you knit or crochet.
  • Decorative waste paper baskets make great holders for legos and other toys with lots of pieces.
  • Hang extra chairs on a wall and use seats for extra storage.
  • If you are running out of surface space for your shower and bath items, hang a decorative metal pail on a hook and pile in your shampoo, shaving cream, toothpaste or anything else you commonly use.
  • Don’t throw out the drawers from the old furniture you are disposing of. Use them to store things under a bed such as shoes, kids’ toys, or other odds and ends.

 

Binder with money

 

Look out for more of Bonnie’s top tips

coming soon!

Website/blog:

http://www.bonnietrachtenberg.com/

Twitter: @Writebrainedny

FB: Bonnie Trachtenberg

Bonnie Footer 2

Ladies, celebrate the men in YOUR life and get them talking!

MoCoverFinal medDo YOU have a father, brother, husband,

son or grandson? Can you spare 99p/99c?

 

We love our men – life just wouldn’t be the same without them …

We’re sharing the news about an anthology of short stories, in aid of Movember – every November, a band of perfectly ordinary men take on the brave task of growing a moustache for charity in a bid to raise awareness about men’s health – prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health issues such as depression.

LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE BOYS is a collection of short stories offering romance, reflection and men that you can’t help but adore (moustachioed, bearded and unshaven alike). They are stories about love and the effect others have on us, for better or worse; about meeting strangers and letting them unleash something within us; about the sacrifices we make for those closest to our hearts; and about looking back on the lives we once had and recapturing a little of that vitality. Written for those of us who still believe there is something more than just ‘okay’.

You can download an ecopy for 99p/99c from Amazon or buy the paperback for £5.99 (special)

http://smarturl.it/LetsHearItForTheBoys

100% of the profits for the lifetime of this book go to Movember. Tweet #ImDoingItForHim and #IBoughtTheBook

LHIFTB partners sml

MB and CJ Movember promo low res

Left: One of the authors involved, Caroline James, with one of the most famous of walrus moustachioed celebrities! TV Chef, Martin Blunos, whose fabulous restaurant in Bath ‘Blunos’ is renowned, is known as the ‘moustachioed hob gob‘. Not only does he support the book and the charity, but he’s an inspiration for anyone growing a ‘tache.

Further details on Martin & Blunos Restaurant: www.blunosrestaurant.com

The FACTS:-

Prostate Cancer

  • In Britain alone, over 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer EVERY year.

Testicular Cancer

  • In 2011, 2,200 men were diagnosed with testicular cancer. It is the most common cancer diagnosed in men between the ages of 25-49.

Mental Health Problems

  • The five main mental health problems affecting men in the UK are: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, psychosis and schizophrenia and eating disorders.

What’s it like when someone you love is diagnosed with one of these awful diseases? Contributing author, Sheryl Browne says:

“Hearing the man in your life has prostate cancer can knock you for six. It’s emotionally overwhelming; obviously more so for him. My man is a ‘man’s man’. He almost, but not quite, because I wouldn’t let him, went to the appointment where he would hear the news alone. It would be fine, he was telling himself. I had an idea it just might not be – and there was no way he was going to hear that news on his own. It was just as well I did go, because often in these situations the shock factor means you don’t take things in properly. It was definitely a case of two sets of ears being better than one. Talking over a much-needed coffee afterwards, we were able to discuss the findings and, more importantly, his options. The relief he felt in having someone to immediately discuss things he’d been reluctant to talk to anyone about was palpable.
I won’t quote figures and facts. I’m not qualified to do so. However, I will say that, thanks to early diagnosis, my man’s prognosis is extremely good. What drove him to seek help, were those niggling problems that men sometimes find hard to discuss: prostate problems. Attending the well man clinic, regular PSA readings were taken (prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland). His PSA levels were found to be high. The prostate was growing, which was cause for concern. Benign hyperplasia can be a reason for growth. Cancer, which can mutate, could also be a reason. Both can be present, which can make diagnosis a little harder. In short, further tests were undertaken, along with a biopsy. My man is now regularly monitored and, with his condition diagnosed, is able to take medication to alleviate the symptoms which were causing the initial discomfort. Importantly, his PSA levels have dropped and, with careful ongoing monitoring, the future looks positive, particularly as he now feels better!
As mentioned, my man was reluctant to talk about his situation. It simply wasn’t manly in his mind. He’s now decided, in the interests of encouraging other men to seek help earlier, to share his continuing treatment with Prostate Cancer UK. If any man out there wants to know how all this leaves the woman in his life feeling, well, I for one, am super-proud of my man. Please don’t try to ignore the symptoms if you have them. It won’t go away without the right help – and that help is available.”

Thank  you Sheryl and to your man, for agreeing to this interview. It’s so important that men of all ages are aware of the signs and that self-checks are important. Testicular cancer, in particular, can strike at any age. Here’s an article that tugged at our heart-strings:

The Huffington Post: What Does Having Prostate Cancer Feel Like?

Let’s hope any problems are identified early -

don’t let your man bury his head in the sand …

#menshealthmatters!

 

 

I’ll Have What She’s Having

Film Fatales header

A modern romantic comedy 25 years later
The Film Fatales remember When Harry Met Sally

© Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

© Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

When Harry Met Sally.
1989. Rated R.
Starring Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal, Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby.
Written by Nora Ephron. Directed by Rob Reiner.  

“Will sex ruin a perfect relationship between a man and a woman? That’s what Harry (Crystal) and Sally (Ryan) debate during their travels from Chicago to New York. And eleven years and later, they’re still no closer to finding the answer. Will these two best friends ever accept that they’re meant for each other…or will they continue to deny the attraction that’s existed since the first moment When Harry Met Sally?” (Amazon)

© Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

© Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Nicole: 25 years. God, I feel old. Have I ever told you that When Harry Met Sally was playing in the same movie theater where I had my first “date”? Since both of us were too young to drive and the cinema too far to walk to, my mother chaperoned us to the movies. While we got water-logged watching The Abyss, my mom later told me that while waiting for us she’d seen one of the best movies ever made. Hindsight is always 20/20: We would have been better off seeing When Harry Met Sally. When I finally did see it years later, it quickly became my favorite movie…and remains so to this day.

elizabeth: How sweet. Your first “date” with mummy coming along. I don’t think I ever did that because I liked older boys – have car and you can date me. So while you were going on first dates, I was living in Manhattan and wondering if the man who just walked past me was “The One.” And if he was, why didn’t he stop?  I was and still feel like a city girl, so When Harry Met Sally nurtured all of my city neuroses. I wanted to have my own Harry, albeit a tad taller.

Nicole: All of that sounds much more exciting and glamorous than The Abyss. As you know, I worship at the altar of Nora Ephron (Heartburn, Sleepless in Seattle) who provides the blueprint on how to be a smart and funny woman. Nora knew how to tug at our heartstrings, point out our all-too-human flaws, and make us laugh. Her brand of wit was singular in its approach. It was relatable, engaging, and endearing. Together with the creative direction of Rob Reiner (The Princess Bride, This is Spinal Tap), Ephron’s script evolved into the RomCom to end all RomComs. Many have tried to imitate it; few have succeeded.

elizabeth: How come you don’t worship at my altar? Never mind, I don’t need to know. I think your answer would frighten our readers. I agree that the late Nora Ephron was just brilliant in her storytelling. She told the story about us women in the city who made stupid choices, made excuses for our choices, and then tried to push them off on someone else. People like Sally. I loved how Rob Reiner treated the city like an actor without any lines. He must have been related to Woody Allen in another life.

© Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

© Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Nicole: You’re right, there is something very Allen-esque about this movie. And that may be one of the many reasons why after 25 years it still resonates so strongly with movie buffs both new and old. The main reason, though, is it’s timeless. The debate over if men and women can really be friends without attraction getting in between still persists. But, it’s not just the philosophical question that intrigues viewers; it’s the perfect combination of casting, chemistry, writing, and direction…all set against the backdrop of 1980s Manhattan. It’s Meg Ryan’s “high maintenance” Sally juxtaposed against Billy Crystal’s frustratingly cynical Harry. It’s the ever-changing seasons over an 11-year “friendship” with its ups and downs. It’s the comic relief amidst moments of angst and tearful realizations. It’s the interstitial cuts to elderly couples sharing their “how we met” stories. It’s the soundtrack of old standards, including originals by Satchmo and reprises by the then obscure Harry Connick Jr. It’s the interplay between best friends Marie (Carrie Fisher) and Jess (Bruno Kirby), who if either had found Harry or Sally attractive it would have been a very different movie. It’s…well…everything. Everything about When Harry Met Sally is why to this day it remains required viewing.

elizabeth: Yes, When Harry Met Sally is eternal in Ephron’s story about falling in love and staying at that address for a while, maybe even years. But the big hair and dad jeans remind me that time has moved on and that Harry and Sally could be a middle-aged couple being interviewed if Reiner decides to do a remake: “When Harry Left Sally at the Mall.”

Nicole: LOL, I’d watch that movie.

 



THE FILM FATALES’ FAVORITE QUOTES
FROM WHEN HARRY MET SALLY

 

Harry Burns: There are two kinds of women: high maintenance and low maintenance.
Sally Albright: Which one am I?
Harry Burns: You’re the worst kind; you’re high maintenance but you think you’re low maintenance.

Sally Albright: I have just as much of a dark side as the next person.
Harry Burns: Oh, really? When I buy a new book, I read the last page first. That way, in case I die before I finish, I know how it ends. That, my friend, is a dark side.

Harry Burns: Yeah, that’s the point. I can say these things to her. And the great thing is, I don’t have to lie, because I am not always thinking about how to get her into bed. I can just be myself.
Jess: You made a woman meow?

Sally Albright: Well, if you must know, it was because he was very jealous, and I had these days of the week underpants.
Harry Burns: Ehhhh. I’m sorry. I need the judges ruling on this. “Days of the week underpants”?
Sally Albright: Yes. They had the days of the week on them, and I thought they were sort of funny. And then one day Sheldon says to me, “You never wear Sunday.” It was all suspicious. Where was Sunday? Where had I left Sunday? And I told him, and he didn’t believe me.
Harry Burns: What?
Sally Albright: They don’t make Sunday.
Harry Burns: Why not?
Sally Albright: Because of God.

SHARE YOUR FAVORITE
WHEN HARRY MET SALLY
QUOTES AND MEMORIES
IN THE COMMENTS SECTION

Brought to you by: Film Fatales

Website/blog: http://filmfatales.blogspot.com/

Twitter: @Film_Fatales

FB: Film Fatales

Murder at Restauranta Mendez – a whodunnit with Mandy Baggot

Mandy Baggot header pub 2 (1024x398)

Out and About with Mandy Baggot

Murder at Restauranta Mendez – a murder mystery night to remember!

The nights are drawing in, cash is being saved for Christmas and summer seems so long ago. Winter life is just all about staying in and watching Strictly isn’t it? Absolutely not… well not all the time!

A few weeks ago I had a brilliant evening taking part in a murder mystery night hosted by one of my lovely friends, Jane.

I was transformed from romantic novelist, Mandy Baggot, into The Perfect Daughter, Chloe Mendez.

IMG_0006A few weeks before the night, Jane came round and we picked a part to play. There were full instructions, character profiles, conversation starters and the secrets we had to keep. Plus we each had a confession if we were chosen as the murderer.

weapon_lead_pipe

Another fun thing we had to do in character was perform a secret task during the evening. Mine was to get every other character to sign up for a magazine called ‘Isn’t Life Wonderful’. My character was 17 and supposed to be crazy happy but believe me Chloe Mendez had secrets! Other characters had to get people to do press ups or karate moves – my husband kept winking at me, although I’m not sure that was anything to do with his character.

Mingling commenced and we all had notepads and pencils to jot down any information we thought might be relevant to the murder that was about to happen. We ate Greek dips and salad then interrogated, I mean chatted, some more before the murder took place.

Dead-Body-Outline

I don’t want to spoil the game by giving away who met their maker because I’m hoping, after you’ve read this article, you might like to give the night a try. However this particular pack had different people getting murdered and different killers so it could be used again.

The victim then became the lead investigator and it was his job to get our secrets out of us and determine who had done the deadly deed over stifado and kleftico.

The night ended with the killer being revealed and reading out their confession – a bit like the end of Murder, She Wrote.

Angela Lansbury

Top tips for making the most of a murder mystery night

Planning 

Give your parts out early so guests can learn their characters well. Give costume suggestions.

Setting

Create a murder mystery night theme. Restauranta Mendez turned Greek for Jane, as she had been there on holiday in the summer.

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Food and drink – Link this to your setting. We had traditional Greek food and beer!

Playlist - Choose songs to complement the setting or the era of your event. Use Spotify and let your guests add songs to the playlist.

Get in character - Really have fun and make the most of the night. Ad lib, add nuances to your character, personalize him or her, enjoy it!

 

 

 

Murder at Restauranta Mendez is available here! http://ow.ly/D6Xlu

Mandy Baggot footer revised (1024x972)

Visit Mandy’s website at http://www.mandybaggot.com/

Latest release: Made in Nashville – http://smarturl.it/buymadeinnashville

Twitter: http://twitter.com/mandybaggot

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mandybaggotauthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2968625.Mandy_Baggot

 

Use it or lose it ~ don’t let age stop you!

 

Patricia Sands header

If you are heading into the senior years, the golden age, the third stage, boomer territory, or whatever you choose to call it, I’m guessing you’ve thought about these words. Perhaps your physician has smiled sympathetically as he or she uttered them.

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I’ve written about tennis, golf, yoga, and Nordic pole walking in past articles, so you know I’m keen on staying active. As I write this article though, I observe my dear husband, aged 74, grimace with pain and I’m reminded that not all of us can manage that kind of activity due to one physical ailment or another.

In spite of his back and hip problems, one activity in which my husband can still participate is walking … even though it is slow and gentle strolling. The good news is that something as simple as this can be immensely helpful both physically and emotionally.

For those who require the use of a walker, don’t stop taking it out and exploring your canstockphoto20041474neighbourhood. Be glad to get out and get over the hang-up! See your walker as a helpful means to an end. If you are a younger friend/family member, use your best persuasive skills (bribes are accepted!) to entice your loved ones out walking. Keep them company.

After speaking with a number of people over seventy who make a regular habit of getting out every day, the consensus is that this regimen is equally as important for maintaining a sense of purpose. A foray at least once a day is as good for the mind as it is for the body. A slow shuffle is better than no shuffle at all!

It’s also good to note that it is never too late to begin.

Studies have shown the losses of endurance and strength that appear to be due to aging are often due to inactivity. Some statistics gathered indicate that one in three men and half of women are more sedentary than not by the time they reach 75 years of age.

Dr. Michael Pratt, is the acting chief for the Physical Activity and Health Branch in the Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta (CDC).

canstockphoto21038702He says, “One of the issues with older adults, particularly with women (Patricia’s comment: I beg to differ with that!) is that many have grown up thinking that exercise is not for them. They think if they’re not athletes, they shouldn’t be active. To this, I would like to say that it’s never too late to start. Most of the benefits of exercise that accrue for younger adults also apply to older adults, no matter when they begin exercising.”

How good is that?

I would like to introduce you to a great role model, who recently passed away at the age of 95. Olga Kotelko began competing in track and field at the age of seventy-seven.

She left a legacy that I feel will always inspire and motivate and (her obituary here in The Globe and Mail is well worth a read.

Ms. Kotelko advocated a life of moderation, exercise, and positive attitude. “I choose 51vTeCr6cwL._AA160_not to let the dark stuff have a negative effect on me,” she told Mr. Grierson, author of What Makes Olga Run? in an article in The Globe last January. I highly recommend the book. Here’s a short video about Olga and Mr. Grierson’s book. Please take two minutes to watch it. I’m  betting you will be glad you did. Click on the book for the Amazon link, if you are interested in reading it.

So now that Olga has convinced you, or perhaps tweaked your interest, here is some  helpful information around which you can build your new walking routine.

The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for Older Adults (65+) recommends accumulating at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week to achieve health benefits and improve functional abilities.

Stay safe while walking

  • Choose a familiar route that is flat and free of obstacles.
  • Consider the surface you’ll be walking on. A smooth, soft surface that’s free of debris will put less strain on your joints and feet.
  • Wear supportive footwear – wear low-heeled footwear with non-skid soles.
  • Avoid rushing – rushing increases your risk of falling. Take your time.
  • If using a walking aid (e.g. cane or walker) ensure that it is fitted for your height.
  • Check the Clean Air Peel website for the daily Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) and the Ultraviolet (UV) Index to plan outdoor activities accordingly and to protect your health or the health of seniors in your care.
  • Be extra careful in cold weather — sidewalks and paths can be slippery.
  • Cold weather can cause numbness and make it difficult for you to feel any pain or an injury. When it’s cold outside, consider walking in an indoor place, like a mall or community fitness centre.
  • Walk with friends or a walking club.
  • Carry a cell phone in case of emergencies.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather and drink plenty of water.

Stop or take a break if you feel any pain during your walk. Have some water. Look runningshoesaround and enjoy the scenery. Say hello to a passerby ~ they may smile right back and be glad you brightened their day. Consult a health care provider if pain continues after your walk.

Happy walking or strolling! Just do it! We’re always happy to hear stories of how you are keeping fit, so leave us a comment or two … after your walk …

 

Patricia Sands footer 2015 med

The Bookshelf – November news and reviews

Janice New Banner LLm 2015The very latest Loveahappyending book news, author buzz and blogger reviews!


 Our NOVEMBER Bookshelf GUEST AUTHOR is Milly Johnson…

Milly Johnson is a half-Yorkshire, half-Glaswegian Barnsley-based author of ten novels plus two novellas. She is a poet, after-dinner speaker, sometimes actress, professional joke writer, copywriter, newspaper columnist and winner of Come Dine With Me. She is the 2014 winner of the RoNA Romantic Comedy Award for her book ‘It’s Raining Men’. She likes birds of prey, the cinema, joke books, the theatre, red wine, and cruising on P & O ships. She does not like ironing or marzipan.

I asked Milly  about the cameo roles she often gives her characters from previous books – how and when did this start and why does she like to do it?

“I got the idea from a master – Stephen King. I used to be fascinated with the tiny nuggets from one book which crossed into another and which gave an extra dimension to his stories and, though I didn’t consciously intend to do the same myself, I obviously remembered what he used to do and it took root in my brain.

Characters are proper divas. You give them small roles and you can feel them wanting more limelight. Many times, I have written a character who is meant to be a mere part of a plot device or just for a moment of interest or amusement only for them to want more from me. Freya – for instance – who sold the wedding dresses, was never intended to be someone who returned, but the more I wrote about her, the more intriguing she became. When readers responded to seeing characters return, I was delighted. Doreen was a horrible old bat in Here Come The Girls, but I loved writing about her and the more she developed, the more I could see what had made her that way. And the more I felt sorry for her and liked her and wanted her to have her own happy ending.

Of course the more books I write, the more of a nightmare it becomes because you have to get their advancing ages right and not give too much information away to people who have not read previous books. It’s like visiting old friends sometimes and makes the world which my characters inhabit, just that little bit more real.”

teashop on the corner the PBB frontThe Tea Shop on the Corner: At her beloved husband’s funeral, Carla Pride discovers that Martin never divorced his first wife and has been living a double life with her. When Will Linton’s business goes bust he at least thinks that with the support of his trophy wife Nicole he will rise to the top again. Molly Jones is being bullied into going into a retirement home by her ‘concerned’ daughter-in-law Sherry and son Gram. Young Ryan O’Gowan comes from the roughest family in the area but unlike the rest of his clan, Ryan wants to make something of his life. Pavitar Singh is a lonely retired doctor with a great love of literature – and a thirst for like-minded company. All very different people in need of a little love and compassion which they find by chance in the stationery and teashop on the corner run by the ever-cheerful Leni. But is the world of Leni Merryman as full of rainbows and sparkles as everyone thinks? Or is her smile papering over many cracks in her heart?

 

 

Find out more about Milly Johnson

 Webpage: Blog Facebook: Twitter

 


LOVEAHAPPYENDING AUTHOR spotlightSPOTLIGHT

on CAROLINE JAMES

Loveahappyending Author Caroline James has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the catering industry from a pub to a hotel, restaurants and outside catering. Today, she lives in Cheshire and spends her time writing, climbing mountains, and running a hospitality business. Her debut novel, Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy & Me is set in Northwest England, in a country house hotel at the time of a famous gypsy horse fair. The book went straight to number three on Amazon and was Ebook of the Week in The Sun. Her second novel, So, You Think You’re A Celebrity…Chef? is set in London, Ireland and Barbados with much of the action taking place at an annual Gourmet Food Festival near Cork. The story takes a lighthearted and sometimes hilarious look at the world of celebrity chefs as they battle it out for fame and fortune led by media agent Hilary Hargreaves and her team. Caroline also writes short stories and contributes to many publications.

Find out more about Caroline James: Website
And on her Bookshelf Page


 NEW This Month!

 Let’s Hear It For The Boys

MoCoverFinalPR

A HitLitPro Anthology

Published: 1st November 2014. £0.99. Available in Kindle Format

This Movember it is time for the ladies to step up and grab the moustache baton. While we Mo Sistas may be follically challenged about the face, we do have the power of words at our fingertips. Let’s Hear It For The Boys is a tribute to the men of Movember. The HitLitPro authors have created these nine short stories to celebrate the men in our lives, the effect they have on our hearts, our minds (and our bodies) and the difference they can make to the world around them. All proceeds from the sales of the book will be donated to the Movember charities. So come on ladies, it’s time to do a little something for our boys!

Who are HitLitPro? HitLitPro is an organisation that promotes the work of independent, female fiction writers. This anthology includes the work of nine authors – some of whom are also associated authors with Loveahappyending (LLm): Caroline James, Emma Calin, Jenny Harper, Linn B Halton, Mandy Baggot, Nikki Mason, Rosie Dean, Sheryl Browne and Zara Stoneley.

 For more information on CandleLit Author Services visit: www.candlelitauthorservices.com For more information on Thornberry Publishing visit: www.thornberrypublishing.com For more information on Movember visit: www.movember.com


This Month’s @LAHEBookshelf Twitter Snapshot

Click here to follow The Bookshelf on Twitter

Loveahappyending BOOK BLOGGER Reviews

 

Bringing you independent reviews from some of the Best Reviewers in the Book Blogging world!


The Star Child

Author: Stephanie Keyes. Publisher: Inkspell Publishing. Genre: Young Adult

The world is about to be cloaked in darkness. Only one can stop the night. Kellen St. James has spent his entire life being overlooked as an unwanted, ordinary, slightly geeky kid. That is until a beautiful girl, one who has haunted his dreams for the past eleven years of his life, shows up spinning tales of a prophecy. Not just any old prophecy either, but one in which Kellen plays a key role. Suddenly, Kellen finds himself on the run through a Celtic underworld of faeries and demons, angels and gods, not to mention a really ticked off pack of hellhounds, all in order to save the world from darkness. But will they make it in time?

Reviewed by: Genesis at GenGens Book Blog

Genesis says: “The Star Child has everything a Fantasy/Paranormal story has: faeries, gods, goddess’, prophecies, evil guys, underworld, hellhounds…it’s packed! The description of the whole story comes to life before the reader’s eyes—it’s so vivid and wonderful to imagine everything so clearly. Kellen decides to help Calienta save her family and he stays brave throughout it all, he stays truthful to himself, never straying from the path of good. Something that caught my attention a lot was how willingly the gods are to give up immortal life—become mortal so they can be with the love of their life, who are mortal humans. It’s touching and beautiful.”

READ Gen’s entire review of The Star Child at GenGen’s Book Blog

Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon Find out more about Stephanie Keyes from her Website and Bookshelf page


So, You Think You’re a Celebrity… Chef?

Author: Caroline James. Publisher: Thornberry Publishing Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction

When media agent Hilary Hargreaves travels to Ireland to look at a campaign for a new cookery school, she meets a blast from her past – the romantic but feckless chef Mickey Lloyd, who is hell-bent on resurrecting his flagging career. Her tough demeanour is rocked as it becomes apparent Mickey’s intentions involve more than a stint behind a stove in his quest to pursue her. But as plans for the school gain momentum, she realises that she’s developing more than a passing interest in reformed alcoholic Long Tom Hendry, who owns the crumbling old mansion where the school will be homed. Hilary has many ingredients to juggle with her demanding client list – which looks set to boil over if she doesn’t keep control. From London’s bustling Soho, to Southern Ireland and the sunny shores of the Caribbean, has Hilary got too much on her plate and is she really prepared to risk it all for love?

Reviewed by: MostlyFood.co.uk

Mostly Food says: “You don’t need to be a culinary professional to get a kick out of this book. Caroline James, the author, does have that background but it’s her wry sense of humour that gives this book such wide appeal. So, You Think You’re A Celebrity …Chef? is a rollicking good read. Caroline James has a quick wit and amusing turn of phrase. There are laugh-out-loud moments, but dip into this light novel and you will be wearing a smile, and sometimes a smirk, from the first page.”

READ the entire review at MostlyFood.co.uk

Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon Find out more about Caroline James  from her Website and Bookshelf page


 The Fine Art of Delusional Thinking

Author: Bonnie Trachtenberg. Publisher: Amore Publishing. Genre: Humour/Advice

Have you always wished you had a glamorous career? A spouse who worships you? An awesome set of wheels? A fantabulous social life? With The Fine Art of Delusional Thinking, all these goals can be within your grasp. You’ll never again fret about your weight, your monthly bills, your love life, or your bank account. This witty and concise how-to book from best-selling author Bonnie Trachtenberg teaches you everything you’ll need to know to turn your humdrum existence into a lifestyle others will envy. So delude your way to a happy life—with help from an expert.

Reviewed by Rachelle at Rachelle’s Window

Rachelle Says: Advice columnist Bonnie Trachtenberg shows you how you too can have it all by following her quick and simple steps toward a delusional life of excess fame, fortune, and love. This fun little book is chock full of advice. Memorize the five principles any Delusional needs to master to ward off reality. Stay away from toxic people, ever ready to pop your Delusional bubble with their evil sharpened knitting needles. Ms. Trachtenberg provides roadmaps and famous Delusionals that you TOO can emulate from Cleopatra to Imelda Marcos, Sigmund Freud to Julius Caesar. She also gives you a list of careers ultimately suitable for the Delusional lifestyle. TV shows, movies, a 12-step program to drama royalty, and yep, sure-fire weight loss delusions are all available for your imaginary enjoyment!

 READ Rachelle’s entire review at Rachelle’s Window

 Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon Find out more about Bonnie Trachtenberg from her Website and Bookshelf page

 

In November Look Out For…

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 Alf final 1st Oct Amazon KindleNovember marks the reveal of ‘Alf the Workshop Dog’ - the first in Emma Calin’s modern-day fairy-tale collection under the ‘Once upon a NOW’ banner. This series of chapter-book stories is ideal for young readers or for adults to share aloud. Each book is beautifully illustrated by manga/anime artist Miko Abellera. Bonus materials including colouring pages, video, audio clips and photos are accessed from within the text via links and QR codes.

 

Give him a like on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OnceUponaNOW

 Available in e-book, print and audio book formats in November 2014.


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A Simple Walk in the Woods

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You may have read about my previous forays far afield, to places as varied as Japan, Exmoor, London, and Liguria and many more besides. For a change I am staying close to home – please come with me!

IMG_0621smallThe outdoor space on your doorstep, whether a park or canal towpath, should add to the quality of everyday life; it certainly does for us, here in Surrey. This is the Appley Green neck of the woods – the location for my three novels. We have access to vast tracts of woodland and heath where soldiers do training exercises and manoeuvres while the general public walk their dogs or go running and, I am pleased to say, we all co-exist peacefully.

Dog walkers are usually known as Jasper’s Mum, Pluto’s Daddy and so on. Years may roll by and still this may be the only sure identity of the adult in charge. We help each other if a dog goes walkabout or AWOL.  Word gets round and so a general lookout is set up for the missing hound before alerting the local dog warden. Our current dog is our third English Setter so I confess we have had a few puppy vanishing moments. We get a quick phone call, take a drive round to someone’s house, puppy and I are reunited; order is restored. However, the worst ever such incident meant me contacting every likely person in the area, including police, and actually going to bed minus one scatty, lovable young dog. At about 3 a.m. we heard the cat flap being rattled; one exhausted, wet, hungry dog made her own way home. I wept with relief, wondering where on earth she had been and what she had been up to for all those hours.

I should make the point that, by and large, our labelled, tagged dogs are with us and under control!

My husband and I usually take turns so our mutt gets two walks a day and we usually listen to the radio as we go. It can be quite a social event, though, and headphones are unplugged when we see someone we know, or indeed a stranger whom we then hail with some comment about the weather or dog-related matters. It can be the start of a long chat: years ago, I walked round with a pleasant enough man and his dog; we chatted about blackcurrant bushes and allotments. Afterwards I thought, Was that TV gardener Diarmuid Gavin? He said he was a landscape gardener. The resemblance was startling and he spoke with an Irish accent. I never saw him again, so who knows?

We have also been cat owners and one of our cats, Charlie, presumably thought he was an English Setter and would insist on trailing behind me, hell-bent on doing the full trek, despite my efforts to shoo him back home. On sight of a strange dog, he would shoot up a tree, the height of ascent commensurate with the number and/or size of dog(s). Getting him down was problematic, hence my futile attempts to discourage his companionship.

IMG_0786smallBeing observant can add colour to any walk, as any naturalist would agree. Sometimes camouflaged soldiers are right there, with arms at the ready, as you walk by a bush, but we studiously ignore each other. They become part of the scenery and it is probably wise not to break their concentration. It is magical to catch sight of a deer in the early morning mist, however; they always freeze and stare, you blink and they are somehow gone in a flash. Of course, there are rabbits, squirrels, foxes, unseen badgers … raucous crows are all too plentiful and once I gazed at a terrified (I presume) heron being murderously pursued overhead. Drama! At certain times of the year we may spot deeply focused, cep culinary collectors – fungi people who are sure of what they’re looking for. I wouldn’t dare risk it; I would probably end up with something fatally toxic or at best hallucinogenic. I stick to gathering sweet chestnuts or blackberries.

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There has been the odd bizarre spectacle, things you could not make up if you tried: the upturned portaloo cubicles, there for the soldiers’ convenience, spilling deep, bright blue disinfectant. The sight of dogs with blue hair was something else. I would willingly lend a hand to throttle the ‘mischief-makers’, the mindless vandals who used to do this – but that’s just by the way. A while back there was an abandoned car, a rusting, rotting corpse, for which nobody took responsibility, bedecked with branches. As an art installation, it would not have looked out of place in the Tate Modern. This was a one-off, as the army are meticulous is dealing with any suchlike nuisance and, indeed, it eventually disappeared.

A rare but stunning sight is the astonishing machine that not only fells tall pine trees in seconds, but also strips off the branches and chops the main trunk into logs with breathtaking speed. The first time I saw this at close range I stared in awe. Some may regret the supplanting of traditional skills, but I could only marvel at the man-hours saved, thus enabling any woodcutter to put his feet up and read a good book instead – or some other pastime of his (or her) choice.

I could ramble on with these rather random memories, but perhaps I should stop. I do draw on my local surroundings to help give a strong sense of place in my Appley Green novels, however. These few words just barely skim the surface.

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Miriam’s Ramblings

Twitter @MiriamWakerly

Facebook:  Miriam Wakerly

On the LoveaHappyEnding Bookshelf  

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Novels by Miriam Wakerly are all available as Paperback and Kindle, on Amazon 

Graveyards, Stolen Koalas, and Navajo Marines: Books For Middle Grade Readers

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As promised, I’m back with some more book recommendations! We started out with picture books, but this time, let’s take a look at some great Middle Grade books out there. In case you aren’t familiar with MG, that’s books for readers ages 9-11 and grades 3-6. Now, if you remember some of my picture book favorites, these aren’t necessarily books that were released this year, but books I’ve either enjoyed or feel have a powerful message. Here are some recommendations for facing fall with a book in hand.

Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two

CodeTalker_2p.inddby Joseph Bruchac

Throughout World War II, in the conflict fought against Japan, Navajo code talkers were a crucial part of the U.S. effort, sending messages back and forth in an unbreakable code that used their native language. They braved some of the heaviest fighting of the war, and with their code, they saved countless American lives. Yet their story remained classified for more than twenty years.

But now Joseph Bruchac brings their stories to life for young adults through the riveting fictional tale of Ned Begay, a sixteen-year-old Navajo boy who becomes a code talker. His grueling journey is eye-opening and inspiring. This deeply affecting novel honors all of those young men, like Ned, who dared to serve, and it honors the culture and language of the Navajo Indians.

Paperback, 240 pages
Published July 6th 2006 by Speak

Summary from Goodreads

Poached

17777989by Stuart Gibbs

Teddy Fitzroy’s back for another zoo mystery—this time it’s a koala caper—in this action-packed follow-up to Belly Up, which Kirkus Reviews called “great fun.”

School troublemaker Vance Jessup thinks Teddy Fitzroy’s home at FunJungle, a state-of-the-art zoo and theme park, is the perfect place for a cruel prank. Vance bullies Teddy into his scheme, but the plan goes terribly awry.

Teddy sneaks into the koala exhibit to hide out until the chaos dies down. But when the koala goes missing, Teddy is the only person caught on camera entering and exiting the exhibit.

Teddy didn’t commit the crime—but if he can’t find the real culprit, he’ll be sent to juvie as a convicted koala-napper.

Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Summary from Goodreads

Steering Toward Normal

18405502by Rebecca Petruck

Eighth grade is set to be a good year for Diggy Lawson: He’s chosen a great calf to compete at the Minnesota State Fair, he’ll see a lot of July, the girl he secretly likes at 4-H, and he and his dad Pop have big plans for April Fool’s Day. But everything changes when classmate Wayne Graf’s mother dies, which brings to light the secret that Pop is Wayne’s father, too.

Suddenly, Diggy has a half brother, who moves in and messes up his life. Wayne threatens Diggy’s chances at the State Fair, horns in on his girl, and rattles his easy relationship with Pop.
What started out great, quickly turns into the worst year ever, filled with jealousy, fighting, and several incidents involving cow poop.

But as the boys care for their steers, pull pranks, and watch too many B movies, they learn what it means to be brothers and change their concept of family as they slowly steer toward a new kind of normal.

Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 13th 2014 by Harry N. Abrams

Summary from Goodreads

The Night Gardener

18405537by Jonathan Auxier

This much-anticipated follow-up to Jonathan Auxier’s exceptional debut, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, is a Victorian ghost story with shades of Washington Irving and Henry James. More than just a spooky tale, it’s also a moral fable about human greed and the power of storytelling.

The Night Gardener follows two abandoned Irish siblings who travel to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house. But the house and its family are not quite what they seem. Soon the children are confronted by a mysterious spectre and an ancient curse that threatens their very lives. With Auxier’s exquisite command of language, The Night Gardener is a mesmerizing read and a classic in the making.

Hardcover, 350 pages
Published May 20th 2014 by Harry N. Abrams

Summary from Goodreads

 

The Graveyard Book

2213661by Neil Gaiman

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family.

Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.

Hardcover, 312 pages
Published September 30th 2008 by HarperCollins

Summary from Goodreads

Hopefully, that’s enough to get you started. Remember, reading to and with your kids increases their reading comprehension and fosters a sense of family. A few moments shared among the pages of a book can instill a life-long love of reading. These are just a few titles for middle grade, but hopefully you’ll keep reading and searching for more. Check out sites like Penguin, Scholastic, and Goodreads for great recommendations.

And most important? Never. Stop. Reading.

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Promises To Keep ~ NEW RELEASE!

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lt all began with THE PROMISE OF PROVENCE, published in 2013.

Fifty, suddenly divorced and alone,TPOP_med

can be an opportunity to begin something better than you ever dreamed …

see for yourself … 

Life often changes when we least expect it and that’s what this story is all about.

After a year of heartbreak, Katherine Price impulsively agrees to a home exchange in the south of France. Colorful locals, a yellow lab named Picasso, and the inspiring beauty of the countryside breathe new life into her days … and then there’s the handsome French dude who brings her exotic cheese instead of flowers.

Thanks to tremendous reader response asking for more of Katherine’s story, a six-book series, LOVE IN PROVENCE, was born!

And now … drum roll please … I’m delighted to announce the launch of PROMISES TO KEEP ~ LOVE IN PROVENCE, BOOK TWO.

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Falling in love with the south of France was no surprise to Katherine. Choosing to walk away from her past and start over was completely unexpected. A new country, a new lover, and the promise of a bright future beginning in mid-life … who knew?

 Now there were the exciting dreams of restoring the property on the Cap, beginning a new career,  experiencing the traditions of Christmas in Provence, and falling even more deeply in love with the man who inspired these hopes.

 It was all so perfect, until it wasn’t. The anonymous note left on the windshield was just the beginning.

Katherine had embraced new possibilities in life and given her heart only to discover something was being kept from her. Something terrible from her lover’s past. Something that could destroy everything.

 What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, had become her mantra. Would it be enough?

EXCERPT

“Minou! I have to make a quick trip to collect a special order. If you aren’t busy, come with me!” Philippe called as he burst into the apartment. “We haven’t explored a new village for a while and I promise you will love this one … but then, you love them all though, don’t you?”

Editing photos on her computer, Katherine looked up in surprise.

“Je suis pressé!” Philippe continued, rushing about, “I’ll tell you in the car … and we’ll need warm coats. It will be cooler up there.”

“I’m ready!” she said, picking up her camera, as Philippe took jackets for each of them from the closet.

He gave her a playful pat as they hurried down the stairs. “No time to wait for the ascenseur. Allez zou!”

Katherine laughed at the spontaneity.

In the walled courtyard where he had parked, Philippe held the car door open for her. It was a courtesy that seemed to be second nature to him, and Kat appreciated it every time. Then he went to unlock the gate. On his way back to the car, he paused and plucked a folded paper from behind the wiper on the driver’s side. His jaw tightened and he quickly looked around the courtyard. He scrunched the paper and shoved it into the pocket of his jeans before sliding heavily into his seat. Kat had never seen him angry before.

“What was that?” she asked.

“Rien du tout. Nothing, nothing at all,” he answered abruptly.

Putting her hand on his arm, Katherine repeated her question. “I saw the look on your face. It looked like it was something, not nothing.”

Philippe exhaled loudly before he covered her hand with his and lifted it to his lips. “Sorry, Minou. It’s nothing to worry about, and I’m sorry I spoke so sharply.”

“But –”

He squeezed her hand, but he looked pained and his voice had an unfamiliar edge to it. “Seriously, we don’t need to talk about it. It’s just some business from a long time ago that I thought was finished …”

A hush hung in the air. Then Philippe started the engine and they drove off.

Torn between wanting to know what was bothering him but not wanting to push, Katherine stayed quiet as Philippe navigated the town’s narrow streets and drove them into the countryside.

She had learned years earlier, after being scolded and humiliated by James, that she needed to stay out of some matters. Her throat tightened at the memory. His verbal attacks had felt physical, like a kick in the stomach, and completely foreign to her. She had not experienced or witnessed anything like it before she married him. It had crushed her.

Now she struggled to banish those painful memories. She looked straight ahead, taking some deep breaths but saying nothing, until she knew exactly what it was she wanted to say.

She turned to Philippe and touched his cheek lightly. “You know I’m here if you want to talk about it.”

He nodded, staring intently at the road. “Frankly, I hope we never have to talk about it. It’s something that should not be part of our life together. I’m sorry you saw this.”

After a moment, he glanced at her and tried to smile. “I will make it go away, I promise.”

To read more about Patricia Sands and her novels, click here to visit her website.

To purchase your copy of  Promises To Keep, click on one of these links below.

Not only does Patricia Sands love the south of France and love to write novels about that part of the world, now she also leads women’s tours based on her novels. Last summer she took two groups of women to visit some of the beautiful villages and towns in her stories. In 2015 the first tour will be from June 22 to July 4. Come and join us for a trip of a lifetime! Click here for more details.

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Following Floyd’s Footsteps by Caroline James

Floyd

“Food is Life, Life is Food” – Keith Floyd

Keith Floyd

I’ve always been a huge admirer of Keith Floyd – celebrity chef, TV presenter and restaurateur. In my early years in the hospitality industry, he was my inspiration and during the days behind the stove of my own restaurant, I was jokingly referred to as a female Keith Floyd because like Floyd, I enjoyed a slurp or two whilst cooking. Floyd’s Irish sojourn in Kinsale was the inspiration for my novel: So, You Think You’re A Celebrity…Chef?

Three years ago, I fulfilled an ambition and went to the famous Kinsale Annual Gourmet Food Festival. Located only sixteen miles south of Cork, on the south east coast of Ireland, Kinsale is a picturesque, popular and historic town. Hailed as the Gourmet Capital of Ireland it has a plethora of pubs and cafes to suit every taste and budget including ten fine dining restaurants that form the Kinsale Good Food Circle.

Kinsale – home of the Annual Gourmet Food Festival

A recent count found fifty nine establishments that cater to a population of approximately three thousand residents, whose numbers swell in summer. The festival, held every October, originated to extend the tourist season and such is the popularity that it sells out months in advance. This riotous event provides a weekend of gastronomic bliss for foodies and revellers from around the globe. It was an amazing time and I loved every moment.

Mad Hatters prepare for the food festival!

I wanted to return to the festival to discover why it had enchanted Floyd and why the residents of the town won his heart, resulting in a spontaneous property purchase. So I went back for the 38th festival and found that the locals were eager to talk to me about Floyd; everyone seemed to have a fond memory.

Members of Kinsale’s Good Food Circle

Keith Floyd

Martin Shanahan, chef proprietor of the famous Fishy Fishy Restaurant told me: “When he arrived I thought, oh my god – why is he here? But we appreciated him because he bought fish out of the stone ages and he loved what we had; we respected him as a normal guy, not a TV star. He came here to get away from the madness and had a great heart. We were lucky that he came to Kinsale.”

The story emerged that following the collapse of his Bristol restaurants, Floyd was broke. Despite the success of his TV programmes, his Devon pub was haemorrhaging money and, as fast as funds came in, they flowed straight back out to pay off a long list of creditors. Brymon Airways had recently launched a route to Cork and invited Floyd, together with dignitaries and journalists from both sides of the Irish Sea, to the Gourmet Food Festival in Kinsale.

Sunrise in Kinsale

He wanted to accept but couldn’t afford a hotel for four nights. After coming clean to the organisers, Cork Airport Authority stepped in and offered to cover all his expenses. In his autobiography, Floyd described the weekend as the most incredible four days he ever experienced and I have to say that I can fully understand what he meant. Where in the world would you find such uniqueness by way of events, combined with the highest quality food and a harmony between the restaurateurs, who all work seamlessly together and co-operate for the benefit of the town.

My recent return to the little Irish port, on the fifth anniversary of his death, followed Floyd’s footsteps and I wanted to know why the residents of Kinsale called Floyd, ‘their adopted son’ and why he is still celebrated for putting Kinsale on the gastronomic map. But first, let me tell you about this year’s festival…

Cornstore Cork – Chowder Winner!

It started with Friday’s Chef’s Chowder Cook-Off, followed by the opening night champagne reception and gala dinner.

On Saturday morning, the crazy, Mad Hatter’s Taste of Kinsale began where 500 participants don their “mad hats” and follow Alice, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Field Mouse on a raucous tour of Kinsale’s Good Food Circle and four different venues where tables groan with delicacies prepared by local chefs and glasses are kept constantly charged.

Follow your leader!

Food glorious food…

Flaming Fish

Surf ‘n’ Turf Tower

Crazy hats at the Mad Hatters Food Trailcheeseboard hat

It’s an hilarious day, where you meet old friends and make many new and by early evening, for those still standing, there’s dancing to a live band.

Host Derek Davis & Guest

Finally, if you still have the stamina, Sunday’s Fruits de Mer Luncheon takes place in Actons, the very hotel where Floyd stayed on his first and subsequent visits. This is a seafood extravaganza featuring lobster, crab, prawns, oysters and other delights from the local waters, with more dancing to live music.

Fruits de Mer Lunch

Host & TV Presenter – Derek Davis

Derek Davis, a well-known Irish TV and Radio personality, is the MC of the weekend’s event and hosts with some style. He has fond memories of Floyd and many hilarious anecdotes to tell of their escapades in Kinsale. He told me: “At ten o’clock in the morning you’d be walking down the street and would get a tap on the shoulder, ‘Let’s get rat-arsed dear boy,’ Floyd would say. He was hard to keep up with but he loved Kinsale and made a legion of friends here and what better tribute to give to the town that to move to it…”

Derek remembers how Floyd boosted the town’s reputation, both nationally and internationally, as a leading food destination. But what made Floyd decide to settle in Kinsale? Locals say that he fell in love with a property called Creek Lodge, owned by a farmer. It stood on the bank of an estuary and Floyd agreed to buy it on the spot.

Creek Lodge – former home of Keith Floyd

I’m told that it took him eleven months to complete the deal and on his final visit the farmer’s wife sat in the back of the gloomy room while the farmer sat silently in front of a peat fire. Eventually, the wife emerged with glasses, a bottle of whisky and the largest bible Floyd had ever seen. She poured and walked away. In a silent moment, the farmer motioned for Floyd to pick up his glass and the deal was done. I visited the property and could see why Floyd was so smitten.

Street in Kinsale

Floyd spent the next year completely renovating the house and soon found himself immersed in Irish life. I tried to image him living there surrounded by his ducks, chickens, pot-bellied pigs, vegetable gardens and house with hollyhocks around the door. The locals remember his shenanigans. His daily routine, within seconds of pouring the first pint of Murphy’s, might be a trip up the river on his vintage motor boat, groaning with drink, food and friends, or a train ride to Dublin to follow in the drinking and literary footsteps of the famous Irish writers, euphemistically known as the Literary Pub Tour – getting smashed in all the places they used to drink in, or perhaps a day at the races, or the local point-to-point and hurling finals, or an oyster festival.

Floyd was a huge supporter of Kinsale Rugby Club and a friend told me how he watched Floyd walk into a dinner at the club one night with a bottle of port in one hand and a glass in the other, then proceeded to entertain the large audience for twenty minutes with riotous tales, at the end of which the port bottle was empty.

View from Charles Fort, Kinsale

Floyd described his time in Ireland in the 1990s as one of the happiest times of his life. As I prepared to leave Kinsale, I walked to Charles Fort, high on a hill overlooking Kinsale and looked down on the magnificent coast line and pretty town. As I reflected on Floyd’s experience and the legendary hospitality that was shown to the chef, it was easy to understand why he fell in love with Kinsale and why the residents took the enigmatic, colourful and, five years on, never-to-be-forgotten, Keith Floyd to their hearts.

I hope you enjoyed the start of this story.

To be continued.

Thanks to the lovely Maria at Kinsale Good Food Circle and all the wonderful people in Kinsale.

“Food is Life, Life is Food” – Keith Floyd

Kieth Floyd Memorial Plaque

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Following Floyd’s Footsteps ©carolinejames

RECIPE

Everywhere I go in southern Ireland there is one dish that is a must for me most days and that is chowder. I’ve never had a bad one and the best was at Toddies, at The Bulman in Kinsale. Here is my recipe for this easy to prepare dish which is filling and wholesome and absolutely great with soda bread, which is also a snip to prepare and I’ve included my recipe below.
Enjoy!

Seafood Chowder, Soda Bread & Whisky Sour

Seafood Chowder
A delicious meal by itself and nice and easy to make

Ingredients:
320g fish pie mix – salmon, smoked haddock, cod
1 tbsp oil
1 large onion finely chopped
1 tbsp plain flour
225gm potatoes – peeled and chopped into cubes
300ml milk
6 tbsp double cream
600ml stock (make with fish or vegetable stock cube)
100gm smoky bacon, chopped
Chopped chives to garnish
Seasoning to taste
Method:
• Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat then add the onion and bacon and sauté gently for 10 mins
• Stir in the flour and cook for 2 mins
• Slowly add the stock and bring gently to the boil. Add the potatoes then cover the pan and simmer for 10 – 12 mins until the potatoes are cooked.
• Stir in the milk and add the fish mix, simmer for 2 mins.
• Add the cream then ladle into bowls, Garnish with chopped chives.

Delicious with soda bread, creamy Irish butter and a whisky sour!

Soda Bread
There is no yeast in the recipe and it is ready in no time

Ingredients:
170 gm plain flour
170gm self raising wholemeal flour
250ml butter milk (you can use any milk)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
Method:
• Preheat the oven to 400f/200C/gas 6
• In a large bowl or food processor, combine flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda
• Add the buttermilk and blend to form a soft dough
• Turn onto a floured surface, knead briefly and form a round then place on a non-stick baking sheet.
• Slash the top of the loaf with a sharp knife and bake for 30 mins until the loaf sounds hollow when you turn out and tap
• Cool on a wire rack

 

 

Caroline James

Find out more about Caroline:

 

Facebook: Caroline James Author on Facebook
Twitter Account: @CarolineJames12
Author Blogs: carolinejamesblogspot
Author’s Website: www.carolinejamesauthor.co.uk

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