Kiss Me, Thrill Me: Free for Kindle Unlimited

Today is World Book Day! That makes it a great day to celebrate Kiss Me, Thrill Me, a collection of romance novels designed to thrill the hopeful romantic, now in Kindle Unlimited.

If you're a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you know this means you can read "for free" every delicious romance in the collection.

If you're not a subscriber, never fear. For a short time, the collection of 7 full-length romance novels, is priced at only 99 cents. Be sure and get it today before the price increases.

Kiss Me, Thrill Me: As Only You Can

Kiss me. Thrill me. These words sighed softly in a lover’s embrace were the inspiration for this collection of 7 contemporary romance novels by New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors.

Whether you’re looking for the humor of romantic comedy, the sassiness of chick lit, the adventure of fantasy romance, the thrilling locales of international romance, the poignance of a second chance at love, or the ever-popular forced marriage romance and medical romance, Kiss Me, Thrill Me has it.

Some of these novels are heartwarming, and some are heart-throbbing. Some are set in exotic locales like France and the Greek Isles, and some are homegrown in the United States. Some will make you laugh, and some will make you blink back tears.

All of these emotion-drenched love stories will touch the hopeful romantic in you and make you believe in the magic of love.

The Authors and Their Books

Joan Reeves,NY Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, Cinderella Blue.
In this funny, sexy cop romance, Andrea–call me Andie–and Benton are two commitment-phobic cops with nothing in common—except the desire sizzling between them.

Mimi Barbour, NY Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, The Surrogate’s Secret.
An international love story to delight the romantic. Miguel forces his dead brother’s surrogate to marry him so he can take her and her twin babies to Chile to save his beloved, sickly mother whose only cure is to see her grandchildren.

Dani Haviland, USA Today Bestselling Author, Aye, I Am a Fairy.
This time-travel romance is an adventure with assaults, arson, a 230-year old video on a solar-powered smartphone, and two very different women awaiting the sharp British lord with a great secret. What will lovely Leah, the sassy heroine, do when she learns the truth?

Alicia Street, USA Today Bestselling Author, Touch Me and Tango.
A lost love returns for one more dance–and a second chance at love. They fell for each other long ago, but reality intruded and broke them apart. When they meet again, the same passion flares between them. Can love prevail this time?

Patrice Wilton, NY Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, For the Love of Candy.
Fun, flirty, a little sexy, and a lot of humor–that’s chick lit romantic comedy at its best. Harrison Wolfe doesn't want his twenty-year-old daughter to marry Candy's son. Candy hasn't met her yet, but knows they are too young. How can the parents keep them apart without their own attraction getting in the way?

Mona Risk, NY Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, Right Name, Wrong Man.
What's a girl to do when she whispers another man's name while in her fiancé's arms? In this international medical romance, forbidden dreams about the sexy French surgeon, Dr. Yves Malroux, assail Mary-Beth at every turn. Torn between two lovers and not ready to pledge love and commitment to her fiancé, she flies to France to confront her past and the lover she left behind.

BONUS: Her Greek Tycoon by Mona Risk, NY Times and USA Today Bestselling Author.
For another international romance, attraction sizzles between American attorney Ashley and Greek tycoon Stefano when they meet incognito on Mykonos Island.

Later, when they meet in court, they’re ready to tear each other apart to protect their grandparents’ opposite interests. Will the heavens align for the grandchildren of thwarted lovers?

Takeaway Truth

Many romance novels are written, but these are some you'll remember. Add Kiss Me, Thrill Me to your Romance Library today, and have a Happy World Book Day!

Saturday Share: Dorito Drumsticks

I have a food confession. I love Nacho Cheese Doritos®. I seldom buy them because they're way too high in calories for this diet-conscious writer.

When I was a kid, there was a Frito-Lay commercial about Lay's Potato Chips®. The tagline was, "Bet you can't eat just one."

Well, that's anything by the Frito-Lay Corporation. I can't eat just one of their potato chips or of Doritos®.

However, I can justify buying a bag of Doritos® if I'm going to use them as the crumb coating for baked chicken. If I happen to munch a few of the trips while I'm putting the dish together, well, that's allowed. Chefs do that. Right.

So if you like the spicy taste of Doritos®, try this baked chicken. You'll love it!

Doritos® Drumsticks
  • 1 6-ounce bag of Doritos® (6 ounce bag is used, but if you get a larger size,you'll have some left. *g*)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 12 drumsticks (just the legs, not legs with thigh attached)
Instructions
  • Prepare a 9" x 13" baking pan by lightly greasing or spraying with Pam or a similar product.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Crush the chips finely and place in a plastic bag.
  • Mix the egg and milk in a shallow bowl.
  • Rinse the chicken and pat dry.
  • Dip the chicken into the egg mixture.
  • Next place the egg-dipped chicken into the plastic bag and shake to coat with chips.
  • Place in a layer in the baking pan.
  • Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes.
  • Carefully remove to a serving platter.
If you want to prepare this for baking later in the day, just cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate until time to bake. Add an extra 5-10 minutes baking time if going from fridge to oven.

Takeaway Truth

The spicy Doritos® perfectly seasons the chicken. I think you'll like this as much as I do.

Happy Birthday, SlingWords + Giveaway

On April 12, 2005, I published the first post in SlingWords. Since then, I've published 2,782 posts.

I've hosted hundreds of authors over the years and have chronicled my path from traditional publishing to indie publishing to producing audio books and learning how to make video book trailers.

I've shared just about everything I've learned over the years with the hope that it helped make your journey easier.

I didn't use much art the first two years. As I blogged more and learned how to legally obtain graphic images, my posts grew more illustrated.

I became quite adept at blogging and have had a book on blogging as a work in progress for a couple of years. I hope to finally publish Blog Ops, designed to make blogging easier and fun for you, in a couple of weeks.

Unlike many who feel blogging is a burden, I enjoy it. I want to show others how to enjoy it too.

First Post

The first post on SlingWords was a Japanese Proverb that I've followed most of my life. I guess it's my declaration that I may fall, but ultimately I will keep going. I will win. Here's that post in its entirety.

Fall down 7 times; stand up 8. ~ Japanese Proverb

Short But Profound

There you have it, my first succinct post about how to succeed. I still believe the wisdom in those 7 words. Winners are those who try one more time. If you quit, you lose. If you keep going, you win.

Yes, sometimes the number of times you fall seems to be multiplied by thousands. I've fallen frequently in life, but I've always managed to pick myself up and stand--and try--again.

The will to prevail--to stand again when you've fallen--is the will to succeed.

About Takeaway Truth

In 2007, I used the phrase "Takeaway Truth" for the first time. I didn't start doing it with every post until July 2008.

I had started adding a summary sentence or two at the end of each post because I'd learned how Internet readers actually read content.

Internet readers read vertically, looking for sub-headings, bullet points, etc. that help them grasp the content immediately. I thought adding a summary sentence of the post made sense. I still do that, and blog readers look for it.

Blog Themes and Pages

I changed blog themes a few years ago, and I may change again. I think blogs need a facelift every now and then so they don't get stale.

I've also added extra pages to the blog because I used it more as a website than my actual website. (My life seems to be busier and more complicated than ever so time has become a scarce commodity for me. I can't seem to find time to update my website which is something I plan to change this year.)

Giveaway to Celebrate the 12th Birthday

Even though I missed posting this on the blog's actual birthday which was April 12, I don't want to wait another day before celebrating the 12th Birthday of my beloved little blog.

I'm giving away 12 copies of my first indie published title, Jane (I'm Still Single) Jones. (The embedded link is for Amazon in case you don't score a freebie.)

A billionaire, a secret crush, a betrayal. Just your typical high school reunion is the background for this sexy romantic comedy!

To claim your free copy, click here to visit the Smashwords page for Jane (I'm Still single) Jones.

Takeaway Truth

Thank you for reading and supporting my little blog. I love receiving your emails and your blog comments. I deeply appreciate those of you who subscribe to SlingWords through the Kindle store (only 99cents a month).

Post Script

I'm always open to "guest stars" who have something valuable to say to those who read SlingWords, and I'm open to readers as well as authors who want to be on the blog.

Use the Contact Page to email me if you'd like to appear on SlingWords.

Review: A Baby for Easter

I think I've read all of the romance novels by Susan R. Hughes. I love the deep emotion with which she imbues her characters.

I would describe her books more as Women's Fiction with strong romance elements.

About A Baby for Easter

Helen Ellis rarely talks about how she met her late husband, Blake. When her granddaughter Julie begs her to tell the story, Helen finally delves into bittersweet memories from the summer of 1978, when a young bartender’s dreamy good looks caught her eye and his kind soul captured her heart.

Having run from her strict religious home at eighteen, and then broken away from her cheating boyfriend, Helen wasn’t ready to give up her newfound freedom. With Blake set to leave for relief work overseas, a temporary romance seemed inevitable—until an unplanned pregnancy turned their plans upside down.

My Review

Like I said above, I love the books Susan R. Hughes writes, but I was a little concerned about this one after reading the book description. I'm happy to say my concern was unwarranted.

In the talented hands of this author, the romance that Helen Ellis relates to her granddaughter about Blake, the love of Helen's life, becomes something timeless rather than nostalgic.

The emotion and love Helen has for her late husband is palpable. This story is the stuff of great romance--books and movies. Like all of the authors' heroines, Helen is someone who has learned life's lessons the hard way. Somehow, she has endured and grown wiser and stronger from those hard lessons.

 
It's a Keeper!

This is one you'll probably add to your Keeper Shelf.

Takeaway Truth

This is a wonderful story! Hurry, and get A Baby for Easter.


You can find it for only 99 cents at Amazon Kindle. If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, you can get it for free.

Saturday Recipe Share: BBQ Polish Sausage and Beans

This April day is gorgeous. I'm headed outside to garden.

I have 2 giant terracotta pots to plant with zinnias, trailing ivy, and asparagus fern.

I know I'll be too tired to cook dinner so I just put the slow cooker on. The type I have is Crock Pot.

I'm making a dinner that's delicious comfort food. If you don't have these ingredients, pick them up from the supermarket today for an easy, savory and deliciious dinner tomorrow.

This recipe will be included in my upcoming recipe book: 99 Problems But Dinner Ain't One. (It took me a long while to accept the Ain't in the title. *LOL*) I hope to have this book published by the end of April. Enjoy this sneak peek recipe this weekend.

Slow-Cooker Barbecued Polish Sausage and Beans

Ingredients

2 (15.5 ounce) cans of Navy beans or Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
2 (15 ounce) cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup chopped onion (can be coarse chopped or fine chopped--your choice)
1 cup barbecue sauce (I use Austin's, but I don't know if this is available outside of Texas)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon of ground mustard
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 to 1 1/4 pounds fully cooked smoked Polish sausage cut in 3 inch slices (I include this recipe in the Beef section of my cookbook, but you can certainly use Pork or a mixture of Beef/Pork. Turkey sausage can be used, but it doesn't hold up as well during the long, slow cooker process.)

Directions
  • Spray a 3 to 4 quart slow cooker with cooking spray or use one of those liners.
  • Mix all ingredients together in the slow cooker.
  • Cover and cook on Low for 5 to 6 hours. If you're short of time, cook on High for 2 to 3 hours. (With most slow cookers, you can raise the temp to High and cut the time in half.
  • Serve with garlic bread to rave reviews.
Takeaway Truth

Weekends are easier to enjoy when you know dinner isn't a problem.

Canva: Free Online Digital Illustration

I had a really nice email from Adelbert Bola,
Community Outreach Specialist at Canva.

He had read my post about FotoJet and wanted to remind me of the usefulness of Canva, a digital illustration app that many authors--including me--use.

Since I like Canva and agree with Adelbert that it's very useful, I asked for a guest post.

I'm happy to present the information and great graphics I received.

About Canva

Canva is a simple drag and drop, design software, which is fully online and free. Canva has been around for just over 27 months and already has 17 million users.

The designer tools in Canva make it easy to create stunning layouts. They have more than 1 million shared photos, fonts, and elements.

Add the contents of the top stock photographers and graphic artists to that and you get endless design possibilities.

Need a brochure? Canva allows you to easily create the perfect marketing materials that people want to read.

Present your information clearly and beautifully using their professionally designed templates.

Just (1)drag and drop your favorite images, (2) customize the fonts and colors, and (3) edit text.

How Canva Works

As I said, it's a simple type of drag-and-drop software. If you can click and move the computer mouse, you can create some great projects.

Popular Types of Designs
At the right, you can see a graphic that shows the many popular design types you can create. There's just about everything you need for online promotion. 

Design Feature Choices

There are a large number of design features from which to choose:
• Text
• Background
• Grids
• Framework
• shape
• lines
• Illustration Free stock photos

Create A Design
On the left you can see the Create Design page that gets you started.

Remember, Canva is free, but you do need to register an account to get the most benefit.

Takeaway Truth

If you don't use Canva yet, give it a try. I think you'll like it.

Review: My New Kindle Voyage

My Kindle Voyage arrived on a day when Houston had 4 tornadoes touchdown. Unlike the Dallas area, this is not common occurrence here. Tons of rain, wind, and, of course, a power outage that lasted from before noon Wednesday to the wee hours of Thursday morning. As my daughter says, "Good times."

I picked it up from the package locker and forgot about it since I left home early Thursday morning. Finally home again, I plugged it in and charged it.

My Thoughts

I'm so used to the Kindle 3G keyboard that I've had since early 2010, that it took a while to get used to it. With my old Kindle, I could open the Kindle Store at any time, anywhere, and download books.

With the Voyage, since I opted for the WiFi version only, I have to remember to have books downloaded to the device before I leave home. (I try to avoid pubic WiFi since there are so many ways hackers can mess up your devices. Don't know if they can infect a Kindle--probably not at this point--but I try to practice safe WiFi and just avoid the public ones.)

The reading screen on the Voyage is almost the same size as my old Kindle. What's missing is the keyboard and the slightly larger frame surrounding the screen. Personally, I like the larger frame because I can easily hold the older Kindles.

With the Voyage, you have about a half inch spaced around the screen with which to hold it. That actually ends up making my hand tired because I used to read in bed and just prop the Kindle on a pillow so I didn't have to hold it.

Also with the older Kindle your library was displayed and all your books were in it either listed individually or in Collections you set up. If you deleted a book from your device, you could just go to Archived Items and quickly download it again.

With Voyage, everything is in the Cloud. If you suddenly want to check something in another book or just switch books, you have to take time to download the new one from the Cloud. How fast it downloads depends on the WiFi speed.

Another thing about the Voyage is that the display is "busy." I actually just like a list of my books. I don't want to see covers of other books that they're pushing. Again, I wasn't thinking. I believe I ended up with the Voyage with special offers so be careful what you order. I also don't like being prompted continuously to post a review, go to Goodreads, tell my friends about, Like it on FB, etc. I do all that anyway, but I don't want the Kindle proclaiming it at every opportunity. You can turn most of that off in Settings but not all of it. I just find it intrusive and annoying.

 The battery life is supposedly much longer than on the Kindle, but the caveat is that you must turn the WiFi off or the battery drains as fast as any device connected to WiFi. I finally remembered to put it in Airplane Mode.

Oh, and I decided to get the Voyage because it has PagePress, buttons to navigate through the book. I read fast and get tired of swiping. Plus, I hate touchscreens. I think I'm just not touchscreen coordinated. I didn't realize that everything else about the Voyage is accessed via touchscreen. I guess I thought there would be a navigation button to scroll up and down lists of books. There isn't so beware of possibly buying something you didn't intend if your finger strays.

In Summation: Pros

1. Smaller so will fit easily into all purses, maybe the back pocket of jeans, etc.
2. Built-in light.
3. Longer battery charge if you turn the WiFi off.
4. PagePress buttons to navigate through a book.

I wish I could think of some other pros toward this purchase, but at this time, I simply can't.

In Summation: Cons

1. Harder to hold without getting your fingers on the screen.
2. Display is busy with too many things on the screen.
3. No navigation button for selecting books. Touchscreen only for all other functions.
4. Intrusive announcements and exhortations from Amazon.
5. Must remember to download when you have secure WiFi.
6. Much more expensive.

Takeaway Truth

I guess the bottom line is I wish I'd bought a Kindle Paperwhite with 3G which has the built in light. I think I would have liked it better and could have saved myself a lot of money.

What Was Missing From John Wick 2

I intended to post something about John Wick Chapter 2, which Darling Hubby and I saw on its opening day, but time got away from me.

Plot

Unlike the first movie, this one did not have a deeply emotional hook. John Wick 2 opened with the nonstop action of Wick retaking his car that was stolen in the first movie. The plot was based on dealing with the fallout of Wick's actions in the first movie. Based on the character, this was a believable premise.

What Was Missing

Although this movie had all of the elements of the previous one--except the strong emotional hook--the one thing that would have lifted it above the genre would have been a soundtrack like the one in the first movie.

There was some techno music during some of the scenes, but they should have gone back to Marilyn Manson for another signature piece like Killing Strangers at the very least. (I've named that genre Ballistic Music.)

Even if you don't like the language of the lyrics, you find yourself humming along. The first John Wick soundtrack enhanced each scene and lifted the movie above the genre.

Takeaway Truth

Despite not having an emotional hook and the Ballistic Music, John Wick 2 is worth seeing if you're into action flicks or Keanu Reeves--ladies, he just gets better with age.

Kindle Sale

After 7 years of rigorous use, my Kindle died! I had the one with the keyboard and the free 3G plus the buttons on the side for menu, page forward, page back, etc.

I've read hundreds of books over the years. Maybe thousands. I carried it everywhere and never was without something good to read. I've read in airports, hospitals, doctors' reception rooms, post offices, banks, grocery stores, and department stores. You name it, and my trusty Kindle was there with me, keeping me entertained.

Playing Taps

When I saw the gray bars begin creeping down from the top of the screen, my heart clenched in panic. No! What was I going to do without it?

I knew it was going to die completely. The gray lines grew until the pixelated mess obscured the first 2 inches of the display.

I spent a lot of time online trying to find an easy solution for the display degradation. No help anywhere. Then I began a search for Kindle Repair. Same result.

Today, I made the sad decision to--sniff, sniff--buy a new Kindle. That required more time online to figure out the one that met all my needs. Fortunately, Amazon had a device sale today for Prime Members.

Online Research

After I analyzed and compared, I chose the Kindle Voyage, which has its own light source and the PagePress button for turning pages. I hate all that swiping to turn pages. I read pretty fast and constant swiping gets tiring.

I saved some bucks by getting the WiFi version rather than the WiFi/3G version that I wanted. I can rough it I suppose and download via WiFi. *grumble, grumble*

If you've wanted a Kindle, and you're a prime member, click here to check out the Kindles on sale.

Takeaway Truth

I should get it by Wednesday and be happily reading again.

Need to Improve Focus?

Focus Booster may be what you need. This app uses the Pomodoro Technique** to "overcome distractions, maintain focus, stay fresh and still finish work on time."

**The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The time intervals were named pomodoros, the plural in English of the Italian word pomodoro (meaning tomato), after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that he used as a university student.

 There is a free level that offers 20 Pomodoro intervals a month. Try Focus Booster to see if keeping a timesheet improves your ability to focus.

Takeaway Truth

There are many free apps available that may help you. Just do a Google Search with the string, "time management apps."

Tex Mex Green Chile Corn Casserole

I hope you don't mind if I give another casserole recipe for today's Saturday Recipe Share, but, face it, a casserole is the easiest and tastiest way to have dinner on the table in a flash.

Even on weekends, I want to spend as little time as possible in the kitchen because there's always work to catch up on.

If I blow that off, then there are books I want to read--and my garden calling me. Working in my garden is not only pleasure but also stress relief.

So casseroles are always my go-to recipes to feed the family. Today I'm sharing Tex Mex Green Chile Corn, another family recipe.

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove minced garlic, use 2 if you like a strong garlic flavor
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 11-ounce cans Mexi-Corn, drained
  • 1 16-ounce cream corn
  • 12 ounces canned diced green chiles, liquid too
  • 1 cup grated cheddar or mixed cheddar and Jack cheese
  • 1 cup grated cheddar or mixed cheeses, saved to top the baked dish
  • 9 ounces of Aunt Jemima Cornmeal Mix
Directions
  • Melt butter, add onion, and cook until soft and translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook 2-3 more minutes. Do not let it brown because that makes the garlic taste bitter.
  • Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  • Now, preheat oven to 350 and prepare a 2 1/2 quart baking dish.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine: cooked onion mixture, sour cream, the egg, the drained corn and creamed corn, green chiles, and 1 cup of the grated cheese. Mix together.
  • Add the cornmeal mix and stir until moistened.
  • Pour into prepared baking dish.
  • Bake for 45 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and top with the remaining 1 cup of cheese.
  • Return to oven for another 15 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
This is delicious as is or served with your favorite salsa. Ours is Pace Picante.

Bonus Recipe: A Planned Over

Planned Over is what I call using leftovers to create a new dish. If there is any of the casserole left, here's how to use it to create a new dish with the same flavor profile.

Brown a pound of ground beef. Add 1 package of Taco Seasoning Mix and follow the instructions on the packet. Blend well.

If you don't happen to have a packet of that seasoning, just make your own using ingredients from your spice cabinet.

Use 2 tablespoons of the homemade mixture and 1/3 cup of water.

(The packet instructions call for more water because the packet has corn flour in it which needs the additional water to thicken up.)

Homemade Taco Seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons Chili Powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper flakes, omit if you don't like heat
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
Place either a square or scoop (depends on what kind of dish you baked in) of the Green Chile Corn Casserole in a bowl and microwave till heated through.

Ladle the meat mixture over the bread. Top with whatever taco additions you like, i.e., sour cream, picante, avocado, etc.

Takeaway Truth

There you have it. A way to have 2 entrees from 1 dish. Bon appetit!

Little Free Library

Photo Courtesy of LittleFreeLibrary.org
Do you have a Little Free Library near you? If you do, then you know what they are. If you don't, maybe it's time you had one installed in your own local community.

As it says on their website, Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.

Through Little Free Libraries, millions of books are exchanged each year, profoundly increasing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds.

Little Free Library Shares Love of Reading

There are a couple of Little Free Library installations at our country community. I leave books there and always look for something I haven't read. I left my RITA books there after I finished reading them.

I'm going to see if I can get approval where I live in Houston for a Little Free Library to be placed at one of the public areas. The nice thing is the organization offers kits to put together or you can build your own.

Plans and videos and tips abound for building a cute little library for your community. A novice woodworker can do it. They want you to register your little library however you create it so they can authenticate it. The Registration Fee is $40.00.

Takeaway Truth

This is a great way to share books. Readers will embrace it.

Mother’s Day 2017 Essay Contest: $200 Prize

I found a notice about the Mother’s Day 2017 Essay Contest, sponsored by Shame Kills and Swift River Rehab, in an email this week from Erika Lawson of Shame Kills.

Disclaimer: I have not researched either of these organizations other than visiting their respective websites and reading the information about the writing contest nor am I endorsing either of these websites or businesses.

About Shame Kills

This organization is dedicated to reducing the stigma associated with addiction in communities nationwide.

Values Statement

Shame Kills loves the addict but hates the disease. The more we talk about addiction and bring it out of the shadows, the better chance we have of saving those who suffer.

This is just a quick reminder that Shame Kills and Swift River are sponsoring a spring essay contest titled, “My Mother, My Hero.”

The Mother’s Day 2017 Essay Contest

There is no entry fee for this spring essay contest: My Mother, My Hero. The winning essay receives a $200.00 cash prize.

Just click here to get all the details. Always read all the details of a contest.

Takeaway Truth

Writing contests can be a good way to try something new. They can also be lucrative because someone will win. It might be you.

Review: The Great Gilly Hopkins

Recently, I watched The Great Gilly Hopkins, a movie on Netflix that could only be called "family fare" which is not to say it was overly-sentimental and bland as so many movies of that type are.

The movie, based on the book of the same name by Katherine Paterson--billed as a realistic children's novel--is about a child stuck in the foster care system.

What's It All About, Alfie?

Gilly Hopkins, a 12-year-old wisecracking girl with an attitude, finds herself shuffled from foster home to foster home.

That changes when she meets her match in Maime Trotter, a woman who won't take no for an answer when she offers unconditional love and support.

This movie is also available to rent or buy from Amazon Video.

Stellar Cast

To be honest, I clicked play on the movie because of the cast. With a cast like these pros, how could I not watch this children's movie?
ALL-STAR CAST

You've got Kathy Bates as foster mom Maime Trotter, Bill Cobbs as blind neighbor Mr. Randolph, Glenn Close as Gilly's grandmother who didn't even know a granddaughter existed, Octavia Spencer as Gilly's teacher, Julia Stiles as Gilly's long-absent mother, and Billy Magnussen as Gilly's social worker.

Teary-Eyed Finish

Yes, the story is predictable. We know from the get-go that Gilly will be transformed by love and stability, but that doesn't stop you from watching to the very end. The characters are beautifully brought to life by the superb cast.

Gilly learns some hard truths of life: bearing a child doesn't necessarily make a woman a mother and  no matter how hard one wants to believe something, reality has a way of revealing truth. She also learns that love carries with it responsibility.

The viewer is left teary-eyed yet satisfied because those truths resonate with the audience too.

Takeaway Truth

If you're looking for a family-friendly movie with a good message delivered without sanctimony, watch The Great Gilly Hopkins.

Bet You Didn't Know...Nachos

Photo by Jennifer Feuchter, CC
Ignacio "Nacho" Anaya is credited with inventing Nachos, those delicious melted cheese and jalapeno concoctions.

In 1943, Mr. Anaya was working at a restaurant in Piedras Negras, Mexico, when a bunch of hungry army wives arrived. He threw ingredients together and called it the same as his nickname--Nacho.

Photo Credit: By Jennifer Feuchter from Surrey, British Columbia, Canada (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Nachos Conquer Stadiums

Then in 1976, Frank Liberto introduced nachos to hungry fans at Arlington Stadium. Of course, by this time, everyone in Texas was familiar with nachos. Liberto concocted a cheese sauce that didn't need refrigeration. It was liquidy and could be pumped or spooned over the corn chips. So nachos was a quick dish to throw together in the concession stands.

The first season Nachos were sold at Arlington Stadium, they grossed over $800,000 in sales, beating the previous high seller, popcorn, by a huge margin.

How To Make

All you need are 3 things for simple nachos: tortilla or corn chips, cheese of some kind, and sliced jalapeno peppers. Easiest? Melt Velveeta processed cheese and pour over corn chips then top with sliced peppers.

Better? Lowest salt chips you can get. Sprinkled with grated cheddar cheese, top with sliced jalapeno peppers, and run it under a broiler until cheese bubbles. Fantastic.

Want something extra special? Just load them up with charro beans, sour cream, taco meat, and picante. Scrumptious.

Takeaway Truth

Nachos may not meet gourmet standards, but that doesn't stop everyone from loving them.

Time for Spring Cleaning? Nope!

Ah, spring. Today is the first day of that glorious season. In Texas, it really is glorious. Wildflowers, fresh air, sunny days. Robin's egg blue skies. That's what spring is.

However, when I was a kid, I rarely noticed those things because I was busy, helping my mom with the annual rite of spring cleaning.

Anyone Remember Spring Cleaning?

My mom used to go into serious domestic overdrive when spring arrived. She gave new meaning to the phrase spring cleaning.

Curtains would be taken down and washed. Wax would be stripped from floors. Walls would be washed. Oh, my. The list of cleaning tasks that she thought necessary just because the season changed was formidable.

Me? I'm the opposite. When spring comes, I want to work in the garden, pick flowers, and stare up at the blue sky and fluffy clouds from the comfort of a lounge chair on my back deck.

Spring Break & Other Spring Anomalies

I think spring break must have been invented for people like me. Spring is my favorite season even though the fragrant flowers and budding trees mean everything is covered in a yellow haze. Ahchoo! Good thing someone invented allergy pills and Flonase.®

Spring cleaning, spring allergies, spring break, and spring fever. Spring fever has become the namesake for many things including college festivals, triathlons, mixed drinks, perfume, several movies, poems, and books. The spring equinox has figured in human history for thousands of years from pagan rituals to college pagan rituals known as spring break.

Sap Rises

When days grow longer and warmer, primitive people obviously felt a need to celebrate surviving another winter. The sap rose, in more ways than horticultural, if you get my drift.

Human instinct doesn't seem to have changed much since primitive man hunted mastodons. Even today, we look forward to similar pursuits that involve shedding winter woolens and slipping on tee shirts, shorts, and sandals.

Takeaway Truth

Step outside and revel in the glory that is spring.

What Is A Soul?

Today's quote is attributed to the late, great Ray Charles.

What is a soul?

It's like electricity--we don't really know what it is, but it's a force that can light a room."

Takeaway Truth

Nourish your soul. Speak appreciation and spread love today.

Saturday Share: Cheesy Chicken Bake

I like to be lazy on the weekends so I often depend on a good casserole recipe for easy, delicious dinners.

When you think casserole, think family pleasing comfort food because that's what they are.

Today's recipe is one that fits both my laziness requirements: easy to make and delicious to eat.

I mean, who wants to slave away in the kitchen when the outdoors beckons with spring flowers and blue skies?

You can even put this casserole together at night and bake and serve the next day. That's convenience food that's delicious.

Cheesy Chicken Bake

8 ounces noodles (that's a small package)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup milk
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 4-ounce can of sliced mushrooms, drained
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Prepare a 2 quart casserole dish by spraying with Pam or a similar product.
  • Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • While noodles cook, chop celery, onion, and chicken.
  • In a saucepan, melt butter and saute celery and onion until soft but not brown.
  • Stir the sour cream, milk, chicken, mushrooms, peas, and noodles into the saucepan. Mix well.
  • Pour into the casserole dish and sprinkle the Parmesan over the top.
  • Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly.
  • Serves 6 to 8.
Add a salad and perhaps some hot French bread or cornbread, and you've got a meal that will please.

If you want a dessert, try one of the quick and easy recipes in Friday Is Cake Day, a collection of my family's cake recipes from 3 generations. The Cherry Pineapple Dump Cake is easy and delicious!

Friday Is Cake Day is only 99cents at Amazon and other ebook sellers.

Takeaway Truth

No rubber chicken complaints with this entree. Your family will love it. Enjoy your weekend.