7 Be Happy Tips

On one of my New Year's posts, I stated that I had only 1 New Year's Resolution aka Goal aka Challenge.

Every day I just want to be happy to be here.

Almost 3 months have passed so I thought I'd share some thoughts on my be happy to be here goal.

To be candid, I chose that goal because of the passing of my sister-in-law Judy. I still can't think about that without crying.

Like I said in that January post, "Your life is passing with every day you worry and fret. Consciously remember to be happy today. Not tomorrow. Today."

Many people don't seem to know how what constitutes happiness. It's defined as a state of well-being or joy. I define it as feeling calm and at peace with yourself and your world. 


1. Learn how to work more effectively rather than work harder.

2. Enjoy yourself more whether at work or leisure—unless you're already spending way too much time in the pursuit of pleasure.

You must have a good balance between hard effective work and play.

3. Never let your work monopolize all your time.

No one on a death bed ever said they regretted not working harder.

4. At the same time, change your attitude about work.

Most people link work to something unpleasant. Reframe the way you think about how you earn your income. If you truly hate what you're doing, find a better way to make a living.

5. Learn to choose optimism rather than negativity.

Thinking negatively is like fertilizing weeds in the garden.

6. Realize and accept that the way you think about yourself determines your future.

If you always think of yourself as loser (choose your own negative label), you'll be that because you'll constantly sabotage yourself and your efforts. 

7. Learn to ignore negative comments from others.

Remember the old rhyme? "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." The truth is that words can hurt, and some people like to hurt others. These people are all over the internet. You may have run into some of them.

Sadly, they're also found among friends and family, and they may not even know how hateful their comments are. If you can't remove these people from your world, you must learn to ignore what they say if you're going to spend time with them.


Choose Joy, not sadness. Choose optimism, not pessimism. Choose serenity, not frustration. Enjoy every day of your life. You deserve that.


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8 Writing Tips from Famous Authors

Famous Authors are often quoted—especially the quotes I'm sharing today.

When I started writing, about the time Conestoga wagons rolled across the mountains, I found the following bits of advice inspiring, useful, and witty.

Robert Heinlein Said

You must write. You must finish what you write. You must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order. You must put it on the market until sold.

Joan: This was true in 1949 when he said it, but it wasn't true for the latter part of the 20th century when many a good book wasn't accepted by the "gate keepers." But now, it's true again because of the creation of the ebook and the Kindle which really propelled self-publishing into the mainstream.

Elmore Leonard Said

I try to leave out the parts that people skip.

Raymond Chandler Said

When in doubt, have two guys come through the door with guns. 

Joan: I'm going to try this with my next romantic comedy. *G*

Mark Twain Said

The difference between using the right word and the one that is almost right is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.

Joan: Absolutely still true, and I hope it remains true forever.

Ernest Hemingway Said

Never mistake emotion for action. 

Stephen King Said

Never look at a reference book while doing a first draft.

Joan: Oh, my yes. Research and fact checking are great ways to bog yourself down.

William Faulkner Said

Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window.

Joan: In today's world, recycle that paper by printing on the reverse side and/or shredding it and tossing it into a recycle bin.

Larry Brown Said

There’s no such thing as a born writer. It’s a skill you’ve got to learn, just like learning how to be a bricklayer or a carpenter. You’ve got to write X number of words before you can write anything that can be published, but nobody is able to tell you how many words that is. You will know when you get there, but you don’t know how long it will take.

Joan: OMG. So true.

If you like quotations about writers, writing, books, and the literary life, you'd probably enjoy Stephanie Gunning's The Writer's Book of Inspiration. It's available on Amazon in Kindle and print.

(I've collected so many quotations over the years about books, reading, authors, publishing, and the writing life that I should publish my own book of quotations.)


Go forth and write.

Joan participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a way for websites to earn advertising fees by linking to products on Amazon.


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New Mystery: Easter at Oakley Ranch by James Moushon

My friend James Moushon just published a New Oakley Ranch Cozy Mystery Short Story. 

EASTER AT OAKLEY RANCH is available on Amazon for only 99¢. It's also a Kindle Unlimited selection if you're a subscriber.

Welcome to Oakley Ranch: An Active Adult Community just outside of Phoenix, Arizona.

Easter is another fun time at Oakley Ranch. We reach out to the kids in the area and have an egg hunt at the dog park and various games. Just lots of fun.

As everyone started preparing for the weekend festivities an old panel truck stalls in the Sandtrap Bar’s parking lot. An apparent truck problem turns into something much more when drugs are found in the rear of the van.

At the egg hunt, things turned rotten. A body of a prominent resident is found dead in the dog park. Murdered. Detective Ferguson and Officer Rizzo were already at the Ranch for the drug incident. Now they were off to the dog park.

Visit James at his Website and his blogs: HBS Author's Spotlight and Indie Author Corner


James is the author of the popular Jonathon Stone Mysteries and several stories in his new Oakley Ranch series. All of his mystery short stories are in Kindle Unlimited. Grab a copy of Easter at Oakley Ranch today.

Joan Reeves participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a way for websites to earn advertising fees by linking to products on Amazon.


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Pro Writer Secret: Getting Words Written

Today's post is Short and Sweet.


There is a secret that separates professional writers from wannabes. Here it is.

Real writers don't wait for The Muse to pay them a visit.

They write because they know that The Muse is a fictional concept, and real writers must write and work in the real world.

Many aspiring writers think they must wait for a creative spirit to possess them before they can write. Those people don’t know what professional writers have learned.

Inspiration comes to those who work consistently, every day, on the creative project.


Rita Dove, former Poet Laureate of the United States, said: “If you wait for inspiration, inspiration’s going to go away and look for more fertile ground to work with.”


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New Release: Ghosts of New England: Last Light Point

Looking for a captivating book bundle?

Want stories with a paranormal bent?

Want adventurous tales of sailing ships and light houses?

Four bestselling and award-winning authors—Lisa A. Olech, Kathryn Hills, Nancy Fraser, and Peggy Jaeger have an anthology you're going to love!


This Multi-Century Romance Anthology poses the question: "Can true love conquer a deadly curse?"

Don’t look at the gibbet… Legend has it that disaster will strike all those who do. The townspeople of Last Light Point have come to respect the centuries-old advice. Those that didn’t, paid the price.

4 stories – 4 time periods – 1 very haunted tavern in New England!

A new romance anthology unlike any other from 4 best-selling and award-winning authors.

The Pirate’s Promise by Lisa A. Olech (Autumn 1728)

Smoke and Mirrors by Kathryn Hills (Autumn 1867)

For the Love of Grace by Nancy Fraser (Fall 1941)

A Promise Fulfilled by Peggy Jaeger (Late October, Present Day)

The Pirate’s Promise by Lisa A. Olech

Autumn 1728

The Crowe’s Nest Tavern was located in a fortuitous place. If you were condemned to hang in Execution Square, they were your last stop.

Everly Crowe along with her father and two sisters ran The Crowe’s Nest that was rumored to be slightly haunted, although Everly never believed in such foolishness….until she did.

John Beckett was a pirate, or not. Forced upon the account, he’d lost his belief in many things before he caught the eye of a bonny serving lass who was fierce enough to go toe to boot with his captor and captain, Bartholomew Jacques.

Jacques held a note on the tavern and tormented Everly and her family as he terrorized all the small towns up and down the coast. But even his threats couldn’t keep Everly and John from promising themselves to each other, “‘till death do us part.” After Jacques and his crew are captured and sent to the gallows, Everly learns those fateful words have little meaning when love is forever.

Learn more about Lisa A. Olech and her books! https://lisaolech.com/

Smoke and Mirrors by Kathryn Hills

Autumn 1867

Sometimes when you knock on heaven’s door. . .the dead answer back.

Willow Pinch lives life on a razor’s edge in world of deception and disguise. By day she hides in plain sight as Will, a servant boy. Nights are spent as a table knocker, aiding so-called spiritualists in duping townsfolk into believing loved ones speak from the grave.

That is until the ghosts of Last Light Point unmask her before the only man she’s ever cared for. Dare she trust Morgan Blackwell with her secrets?

Morgan invests every hard-earned penny in The Crowe’s Nest. He doesn’t trust strangers. Yet the last thing he expects are charlatans hell-bent on destroying his reputation with so-called séances. Not to mention there are ghosts in his tavern now! Be damned, must he turn his back on the infuriating woman he longs to protect?

Will the dead of Last Light Point guide Willow and Morgan to lasting love? Or will the dark forces they’ve unleashed lead to ruin?

Learn more about Kathryn Hills and her books! https://www.kathrynhills.com/

For the Love of Grace by Nancy Fraser

Fall 1941

Grace O’Hearn has lived in Last Light Point since long before the ’29 stock market crash took so much from so many. Ten years later, things are looking up. When Grace’s father is murdered, Grace becomes the sole owner of the Crowe's Nest Tavern--an establishment that dates back centuries and comes with its own resident ghosts.

FBI agent, Max Stewart, is sent to Last Light Point to investigate racketeering and police corruption. Could it be connected to man’s murder? When he first meets Grace, he’s convinced she’s hiding something. Yet, her keen insight about the town, and everyone in it, may be the best lead he has.

Can they work together to bring down the guilty? Or, will an attraction neither of them wants keep getting in the way?

Learn more about Nancy Fraser and her books! https://www.amazon.com/stores/Nancy-Fraser/author/B004AOL61Y

A Promise Fulfilled by Peggy Jaeger

Late October, Present Day

After winning millions in a national lottery, local librarian Daisy Morgan sets out to revitalize the infamous Crowe’s Nest Tavern. After saving the historic inn from the auction block, Daisy begins a major renovation only to discover some hidden secrets – and a few unearthly spirits – tied to the tavern’s history.

Writer Keegan Warren arrives to do a story on the tavern weeks before the grand re-opening. Keegan’s got a few secrets of his own about why he wanted the assignment – secrets that unfold no matter how diligently he tries to keep them hidden. With Daisy’s help, he unearths a centuries old murder tied to his family’s past.

As they investigate, their mutual attraction grows. But will their budding relationship suffer when the truth is discovered?

Learn more about Peggy Jaeger and her books! https://peggyjaeger.com/


Ahh! Pirates, sailing ships, adventures, ghosts, and romance. What's not to like about Ghosts of New England: Last Light Point? Join the adventure. Read this anthology!


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Confession: Writing Is Hard Work


Yesterday as I worked in the backyard on my garden, my mind was busy thinking about my 3 works-in-progress: Stone Angel, a Kindle Vella; Small Sins, also a Kindle Vella; and Good Girl Conspiracy, a contemporary romance.

I have to admit I was also thinking about a story I want to write as soon as I can get the above projects and a few others completed.

I don't have a title for it or any writing done—just a lot of ideas swimming around in my head.

A difficulty most authors confront is the desire to begin a new story before the others are finished.

It's hard to resist the siren call of a new story when ideas are dancing around in your brain.


Writing is hard work. When one is immersed in the writing, it literally occupies you 24/7 and often follows you into your dreams.

Writing can be all-consuming. It's often difficult to separate the writing from the rest of your life so that you actually have a life.


If writing books is so hard and so all-consuming, why do I—and so many others—do it? That's a good question. Some very famous authors are often quoted as saying that writers write fiction to understand themselves. 

I think that's probably true. It's not enough that many of us constantly explore our thoughts, memories, regrets, and experiences. We also take that and use it as filters for the story ideas we have.

Perhaps we authors write because we possess the DNA of generations of storytellers. That's as good an explanation as any. 

Each author has a worldview he or she puts forth in every book. Mine is expressed by what Michael Murpurgo said which is shown in the graphic above.

"Wherever my story takes me, however dark and difficult the theme, there is always hope and redemption, not because readers like happy endings, but because I am an optimist at heart."


Yes, at heart, I am an optimist because it's so much better than being a pessimist.

I don't believe anyone is born an optimist or a pessimist. One may be born with a basic personality blueprint, but personality is determined, I believe, by what happens as one grows from babyhood to adulthood.

Yes, it's the old "nature versus nurture" conundrum. If you didn't get the right kind of nurturing growing up, then you must learn how to nurture yourself. You can do it.

It's not too late to change. I believe as long as one breathes, change is possible through education, re-education, and self-nurture. Books can be a vehicle for change.

Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Martin E. P. Seligman is a book you should read.


Yes, at heart I'm an optimist, but I also like happy endings.

Joan participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a way for websites to earn advertising fees by linking to products on Amazon.


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Spring Gardening with Blooms and Lights

I'm so excited. Today, at our house in town, the first bloom on a border of day lilies that we transplanted from our house in the country opened.

A couple of months ago, we dug up a dozen clumps of day lilies, divided them, and planted them in a border in our front yard in town.

They've exploded in growth. This first bloom is on the smallest clump.

The fig tree cutting we took from my brother's farm is now growing by leaps and bounds. I'll post a photo of it next time.

We've had strange weather this spring, but the weather seems to be moderating now.

I've transplanted some herbs—sage and basil—and have some vegetable seeds to plant. We've decided on the perfect spot to move our vegetable garden so we're going to try to get that finalized next week.

I've laid out an outline for my rose garden. Now I'm thinking of buying some outdoor lights I saw on Amazon.

I couldn't resist scrolling through garden items and found these lights even though I knew I should be doing something more productive.

I think these "fairy lights" would look magical in the day lily border.

They're called Tonulax Solar Garden Lights and they're sold in 2 to a set for $19.98.

They're Prime so I can return them if they don't look as charming as the picture shows.

That covers my outdoor plans from now to the middle of April.


Do you have any gardening plans or goals?

Joan Reeves participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a way for websites to earn advertising fees by linking to products on Amazon.


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Captivated By His Countess, New Regency by Kathy L Wheeler

Do you love Regency Romance as much as I do?

If so, you're going to want to grab a copy of Captivated By His Countess by Kathy L Wheeler.

It's my favorite kind of Regency, one with intrigue, great dialogue, and part of a series. In this case, the series is Rebel Lords of London, and this is Book 7 that published a couple of weeks ago.

His work as a dangerous spy was nothing compared to the antics of his bride...

The Countess of Huntley, Gabriella, aspires to help less fortunate women gain independence from unfortunate circumstances. But her impulsive nature triggers one scandal after another.

The Earl of Huntley's new wife is as unpredictable as she is lovely. And when a woman of questionable character disappears, and a man of the peerage ends up on the wrong end of a blade, the trail leads directly to his wife.

Huntley will do all in his power to protect Gabriella from the blackguard who is not thrilled with her good works. Difficult, when she doesn't show the slightest care for her own ruin or... safety.

Captivated By His Countess is available at these ebook retailers:

Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/captivated-by-his-countess/id1617472839

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/captivated-by-his-countess-kathy-l-wheeler/1141317169

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/product/B09WZ8Q94W

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/captivated-by-his-countess

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/captivated-by-his-countess-rebel-lords-of-london-by-kathy-l-wheeler

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60852988


For a good time, read Captivated By His Countess, available in ebook and print.

Joan Reeves participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a way for websites to earn advertising fees by linking to products on Amazon.


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Sunday Thoughts About Spring

Tomorrow is one of my favorite days of the year—the first day of Spring, my favorite season.

Celebrate this season of wildflowers—bluebonnets are already blooming on Texas roadsides—warm weather, and sunny blue skies.


I love these quotes about Spring. Copy a few and keep them in your collection.

"Blossom by blossom the spring begins." —Algernon Charles Swinburne

"If people did not love one another, I really don't see what use there would be in having any spring." —Victor Hugo

"Spring drew on...and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps." —Charlotte Brontë

"I suppose the best kind of spring morning is the best weather God has to offer." —Dodie Smith

"An optimist is the human personification of spring." —Susan J. Bissonette

"Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world." —Virgil A. Kraft

If you want to see what my home state is like in the spring, take a look at Wildflowers of Texas by Michael Eason.


I've saved this quotation for last because it's my heartfelt sentiment about Texas Wildflowers.

Lady Bird Johnson, the First Lady when her husband Lyndon Johnson was President, once said, "Where flowers bloom so does hope." 

The late Mrs. Johnson was responsible for the wildflowers that beautify Texas in spring.

From Bluebonnets, the Texas State Flower, to a multitude of other wildflowers, Texas is a rainbow of color each spring thanks to Claudia (Lady Bird) Johnson. 

Remember here when you drive the Texas highways and see the beautiful wildflowers.

Joan Reeves participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a way for websites to earn advertising fees by linking to products on Amazon.


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Saturday Share Recipe: Tex-Mex Rice

In Texas, what most people call Mexican food is what we call Tex-Mex because it's not traditional Mexican fare. It's the best of both worlds, and it's what we eat quite often.

When we go Don Ramon or Papasito, I like the rice best of all.

It has a wonderful aroma and subtle spicy flavor, It's  good by itself or mixed with fajita meat or charro beans.

Even better, combine fajita meat, charro beans, and rice in a tortilla. Roll it up and you'll have a quick meal that will excite your taste buds.

If you have any leftover rice, make a casserole with ground beef, Rotel tomatoes, sour cream, and shredded cheddar cheese. (If you want that recipe, leave a comment and I'll publish it next Saturday.)



1/4 cup olive oil

2 cups long grain rice

1 small to medium onion, diced

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

1 medium to large tomato, diced

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

1/2 teaspooon cumin

1/2 teaspoon chile powder

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce

1 teaspoon salt

5 cups chicken broth


1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. (Use a pan with a lid because you'll cover it later.)

2. Add rice and stir until the kernels are golden brown.

3. Add onion, bell pepper, and tomato. Saute until onion looks clear.

4. Stir in tomato sauce, broth, garlic powder, cumin, chile powder, and salt. Mix well.

5. Bring to a full boil, reduce heat to low, and cover with lid.

6. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. (Every stove has a different simmer heat level so it may take less time or more time for the liquid to be absorbed and the rice to be done and fluffy, but not gummy.)


I hope you'll love this recipe as much as I do. Let me know if you want the recipe for Enchilada Pie using leftover Tex-Mex Rice.


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5 Tips to Care for Books

Books, books everywhere yet how many of us know the proper way to care for the physical book?

Here are 5 Tips to Guide You in Caring For Books.

1. Store books standing upright.
Storing them standing up prevents warping.

2. If storing on a book shelf, it's best to completely fill the shelf. If you don't have enough books to do this, use bookends to keep them upright..

3. A book's worst enemies are insects, heat, and humidity. Keep food and beverages away from books because crumbs attract insects such as cockroaches, silverfish, and carpet beetle larvae. If you spill something on a book, wipe it clean.

By the way, there really is a bookworm, and it's the carpet beetle larvae. 

4. Use bookmarks to hold your place in a book. Don't "dog ear" the page or lay the opened book flat. That can damage  the spine of the book.

5. Books aren't double-jointed. Never "break" a book, that is, force it open past its own natural angle.

6. The purpose of the dust jacket, the paper cover that comes on hardbacks, is to keep the book from becoming soiled and to protect it from wear and tear. So use it.

7. If you think a book might become a collectible, never dispose of the dust jacket. That makes a book instantly lose value.


Take good care of your books and teach your kids how to do that too. They'll treasure the children's books you read to them and the book will survive to be read by your children's children.


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Everything Old Is New Again

I have a confession to make. I'm someone who still likes to write with pencils. 

I've always wanted one of those old-fashioned manual pencil sharpeners like we had in elementary school.

Admittedly, that was a long time ago, but I've never grown out of the habit of using pencils.

I've tried automatic pencils, but I press down too hard and am always breaking the lead.

I had a power sharpener, but it died last year. Those little plastic sharpeners just don't do a good job.

I thought maybe those old school pencil sharpeners weren't made any longer, but I thought I'd look on Amazon because they seem to carry everything in the world.

To my surprise, I found several brands of manual pencil sharpeners. The one shown averaged 4.6 of 5 stars with 25,922 ratings. Wow. Wish I had that many ratings on my books. Surely that many can't be wrong about the X-ACTO Ranger Wall Mount Manual Pencil Sharpener. This sharpener was on sale for $15.48.


Add some Yellow Ticonderoga #2 pencils—that brings back memories—and I have a walk down memory lane that costs only $6.29 (for 30 pencils).

Get this, they have 65,557 ratings averaging 4.8 of 5 stars. I was a little disappointed that they're pre-sharpened, but that's okay.

I'm going to ask Darling Hubby to mount the sharpener on his work bench in the garage.


If you don't write with pencils, you probably don't understand the allure of a freshly sharpened pencil point, the smell of the wood shavings when you sharpen it, and the pleasure of the pencil gliding smoothly across white paper. Maybe it's a Zen thing. Yes, I believe it is. 

Joan Reeves participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a way for websites to earn advertising fees by linking to products on Amazon.


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3 Myths About Blogging That Hold You Back

Feeling conflicted about blogging? Not sure it gives any kind of positive results?

Aha! That's what this post is about.


1. Blogging is dead.

It's not. A good blog can be as successful as a free subscription newsletter and help you build an audience that loves you and your product whether that's a book or gizmo of some sort.

2. No one will read my blog.

There's an audience for every subject you can think of. You just need to guide/lead them to your content. You do this by providing good content, intriguing Post Titles, getting your blog known to Google, promoting your blog URL on social media, and inviting guests to appear on your blog for which they will promote the post about them.

3. Blogging is too much work.

It's only difficult if you don't plan ahead. The smart way to blog is to plan what you'll write about each day.

 Brainstorm a generic list of ideas which you want to talk about. Then list a half dozen specifics under each subject.

If you write a post for today then also write one for a week from today. That's the basics of working with an editorial calendar and scheduling posts you write ahead of publication date.


I wrote the book on blogging. Literally. If you want to know how to make blogging easy and fun, pick up a copy of  Blog Ops: Search and Destroy Bad Blog Elements, Rescue Hostage Blogs, Be a Better Blogger. It's only 99¢ on Amazon, but what you'll learn from it is priceless

Joan Reeves participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a way for websites to earn advertising fees by linking to products on Amazon.


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99 Cents Sale on Every Little Lie

EVERY LITTLE LIE is on sale for 99¢ this month.

Sometimes you win—sometimes you learned a lesson.

Elizabeth survived childhood abuse and knew the lesson in store for her now was all about closure. 

She knew with every brain cell she possessed that the lesson was going to be another hard one, but she still returns to Houston to carry out her legal responsibilities as the executrix of her mother’s estate.

She'd been gone nearly 10 years. In all those years, she’d not visited or called her mother, and her mother had reciprocated—as if they had a silent mutual understanding to leave each other in peace.

Peace? She’d found none. Why had her mother…lured her back? That’s what naming her as executrix was. A lure. Bait for the trap. Her mother had known she wouldn’t ignore a legal responsibility since Elizabeth was an attorney.

Had her mother mellowed as she’d grown older? Did she seek closure from the grave? No. Closure was a myth woven from hope and longing. There would be no closure, but maybe she’d be able to solve the biggest mystery of her life—why her mother had hated her.

Despite her resolve, staying at her mother’s house brings back all the memories she’d worked so hard to smother.

In a moment of weakness, she allows herself to be swept away by her mother’s captivating new neighbor. 

She wants the mindlessness of passion to banish the pain—at least for a little while. The only problem with that kind of temporary solution is that a woman can become ensnared if she’s not careful.


Grab a copy of this emotional, compelling novel that has the Passion of Romance and the Drama of Women's Fiction. Only 99¢ on Amazon while the offer lasts.

Joan Reeves participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a way for websites to earn advertising fees by linking to products on Amazon.


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Sunday Thoughts About Spring Flowers

Our brief glimpse of spring was ended when the cold front came through Friday, but the weather is warming again today.

When it's mild and sunny outside, my thoughts turn to spring flowers.

Many of you in colder parts of the world have expertise in tulips and other bulb plants that require cold dormancy in order to bloom.

Some gardeners here in Houston dig up bulbs and store them in refrigerators for months to achieve that same cold result.

When February arrives, these energetic gardeners rush to put their bulbs back in the ground.

Here in Texas, lazy gardeners like me celebrate the nearly year-round growing season by planting trees, shrubs, and plants that automatically burst into bloom beginning in late February. It's simply spectacular.


I don't know your plant nursery situation so I'll give Amazon links to some of the most beautiful spring blooms for a garden.

Check your growing climate to see if the ones I mention will work in your area.

Dutch Iris (A start of these came from my mother-in-law's garden many years ago. Any time I've moved, I've taken a starter of them for my new home. 

I don't know the varietal name of the ones I have, but this picture looks like the ones I have, Dutch Iris Miss Saigon (16 bulbs) 

They're $9.45 for 16 bulbs, and they ship from Pennsylvania. They're in stock now.

These beautiful perennials give such vibrant color to the garden. If you don't like purple, you can actually get Dutch Iris in other colors too.

Day Lilies (A start of these came from a dear neighbor about thirty years ago. Thanks again, Carol!)

There is nothing that shouts "Summer" like a yellow day lily.

The variety I have looks much like Stella D'oro Yellow Daylilies which are sold usually as bare roots—most day lilies are sold this way. That means you need to pop them in the ground or a flower pot as soon as you receive them.

I have day lily borders in the yards at both of my houses, and they're stunning. Even though the bloom lasts only a day, each flower stalk may have as many as 4 blooms. Where I live, they'll be blooming this month. In colder climates, check a planting schedule. I imagine you'd put them in the ground fairly soon and expect blooms in early summer.


If you want your yard to look like a garden in Paradise, plant azaleas. These acid-loving shrubs come in every color and hundreds of varieties.

They're in bloom now all over Houston, and they're jaw-droppingly beautiful. They thrive under and near pine trees. They love pine needle mulch.

The variety we have is an old one called Purple Formosa. Amazon offers Formosa in a live shrub in a pot except for some states as listed in the description.

We wanted to see if a long-established azalea could be transplanted and live so we did one last year after the blooms were gone. (You never want to prune or transplant until the blooms fade. Then do it immediately or you may end up cutting off blooms setting for next year.)

The result is an azalea that's a deep pink rather than vibrant purple. I think it needs some amendments added to the soil. 

Flowering Trees

These are a more expensive addition to a garden, but they're worth it if you've got the bucks.

RedbudTrees are the first colors to pierce the gloomy gray of winter. 

Here they begin blooming in February. I love driving down the boulevard and seeing the striking hot pink color of the redbuds next to the white flowers of the dogwood.

Amazon offers several price points of redbuds from a growing tree for $80.00 to bareroot trees for less than $30.00 and even seeds for a bargain if you've got plenty of time to nurture a tree to maturity. Check out the Eastern Redbud Tree that arrives as a dormant bare-root ready to plant.

White Dogwood Tree

Many people haven't heard of the dogwood tree, but they're stunning. They come in red and white flower.

I like the white. They're amazingly beautiful. I couldn't find a good source on Amazon at an affordable price for an actual tree.

The White Dogwood shown at right illustrated a tree that is available for delivery at $83.49, but there was a 1 star review for the product. I'd say check all the Amazon listings. There are seedlings offered, and you might find a 1-gallon pot.

Based on the fact that they grow native here in Texas, it may be that they're relatively rare in other parts of the country. Plant a white dogwood between 2 redbuds, and you have a display that will make you proud.


I once read that your front yard is your gift to the world, and your backyard is your gift to yourself. Plant something that creates beautiy, and you'll enjoy it whether it's in the front or the back.

Joan Reeves participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a way for websites to earn advertising fees by linking to products on Amazon.


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Cooking For 1-Armed Home Chefs

This post is for anyone who has the use of only one hand/arm so if you know someone like that, please share this post with them.

Life is full of challenges. When you're able-bodied—having the use of 2 arms and hands and 2 legs—you can tackle all kinds of things and be successful.

When you have lost the use of a hand and arm or a leg, then everyday life and tasks become as challenging as climbing a mountain.

As my older brother has aged, he's developed that kind of challenge. Basically, he has the use of only his left arm and hand.

Fixing a simple meal for himself is a big challenge. I want him to feel independent so I did some research to find kitchen tools and utensils that would help him accomplish the task of food preparation.

Yesterday when we talked, I was thrilled when he told me he had made chicken salad for lunch using the special cutting board, produce pealer, knife, and food chopper I'd sent him.

I know there are millions of people in the same situation as my brother whether from arthritis,  accidents, war injuries, strokes, or illnesses. I'm going to list what I sent my brother along with a photo of the item and a buy link that goes to Amazon.

If you know of other resources, leave a comment on this post.

Sammons Preston Hi-D Paring Board

Most people who have the use of only 1 hand find it impossible to cut vegetables, spread jelly on a piece of toast, or even cut a sandwich in half.

This cutting board makes all that much easier. It has suction cups that stick it to a countertop so it doesn't slide around.

The 2 upright prongs are to hold an  onion, potato, apple, or other fruit or vegetable onto it. You just push it onto the prongs, and it stays put while you peel it (using the next tool I'll show) and cut it up. The corner of the cutting board holds toast or a sandwich in place so it can be cut in half.

The price for this is $49.99 for this Sammons Preston Hi-D Paring Board. (I think I paid more when I ordered it. It's not Prime shipping, but shipping is free.)

OXO Good Grips Prep Y-Peeler

This peeler is good for anyone, but for someone with the use of only one hand, it makes peeling possible because it's easy to grip and maneuver. 

The "loop" thing at the end of the blade is for removing potato "eyes" and is for right or left-handed use. 

The blade is very sharp and it has a non-slip ergonomic handle. It's also dishwasher safe.

My brother told me he had shoved an apple on the cutting board prongs and used this to completely peel it.

The OXO Good Grips Prep Y-Peeler is only $9.95, and it is Prime shipping.

Amco Stainless Steel Mezzaluna with Silicone Handle, 1-Pack, Black

This curved knife is perfect for a one-handed grip. Rocking it back and forth, a cook can cut up just about anything for a steak to turning a potato into French fry cuts.

This is very sharp also. When used with a wooden bowl, salad greens can be cut easily.

This item has also been reduced in price since I bought it. The price is now $10.85.

This next knife goes by several names, and they're all listed in the description.

DMI Steak Knife, Rocker Knife, Curved Knife, Verti Grip Kitchen and Dinner Steak Knife

If you have limited hand strength, this super sharp knife is a great kitchen utensil that makes slicing and chopping easier.

Both this knife and the previous are really sharp so great care should be used not to get cut.

It has a Stainless Steel Blade, and it's Dishwasher Safe. The price is currently reduced to $16.07, which is quite a bargain considering what I paid. This item is also Prime shipping.

Meat Chopper, Premium Heat Resistant Masher and Smasher for Hamburger Meat, Ground Beef, Ground Turkey and More.

I have one of these, and it's the most useful kitchen utensil I've bought in recent years.

This is sturdy plastic—actually nylon according to the description—and it's perfect for cutting up cooked boneless chicken breasts, cooked pork for pullled pork sandwiches, or breaking up ground beef as it browns.

It's Non-Stick and dishwasher safe and is on sale for $7.99.

That's the gift box I put together for my brother, and I was thrilled that he's found all of it useful.


If you know someone who is challenged in the kitchen or in other aspects of daily life, research the many different items available to help someone according to the kind of assistance needed.

Joan Reeves participates in Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a way for websites to earn advertising fees by linking to products (such as books) on Amazon.


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