Saturday, December 16, 2017

December 16--Make your gifts this year!




Homemade gifts, to me, are the most precious, because the person took time to make them, just for me.  So I've collected a few website pages that tell how to make homemade gifts, just in time for Christmas.  I know some of these take time to make but they might be ideas you can create for next year.  Some are really quick and easy, so have fun!

100 Great Ideas for Inexpensive Homemade Gifts
70 Crafty Handmade Holiday Gift Ideas
Pinterest: Handmade Gifts
14 Simple, Beautiful Homemade Holiday Gifts


Enjoy!


Friday, December 15, 2017

December 15--Ugly Sweater Day!



What’s your favorite ugly sweater?

I think this one's cute, but it's the closest I could find to a Christmas sweater, at least:



If I had a grandchild, I'd totally get this sweater for them, and one to match for myself.  LOL!  Very cute!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

December 14--Ornaments for the tree

You're down to the wire for Christmas but can't find all the ornaments after your darling children reorganized your ENTIRE house (and yes, that happened to me AGAIN this year).  Now what?

Instead of running out and buying ornaments, why not make your own?  Here are some adorable ornaments that'll make people comment throughout the season.

The Ornament Girl: 25 Christmas Ornaments to Make
55 Easy Homemade Christmas Ornaments to DIY
DIY Christmas Ornament Projects
Christmas Ornaments
Easy Christmas Ornaments Kids Can Make
28 Homemade Christmas Ornaments to Make

Cool stuff here!  Enjoy!


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

December 13--Songs for Christmas

Dilemma:  you’ve been asked to go Christmas caroling, but you don’t remember the words to well-known carols.  Do you fake it, make up your own words, or something else?

Why not print off the words to your favorite carols before you go?

Here are some sites with lyrics to well-known carols.



Have fun and try to remember the melody!


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

December 12--FREE STUFF!!

I LIKE FREE STUFF, HOW ABOUT YOU?


Get free stuff online!   How cool is this?  

If you’re looking for affordable (free) Christmas presents, check this out: http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2012/03/05/5-places-to-get-great-free-stuff-online.html.  I had no idea there were things for free on Ebay, for example.



Enjoy!

Monday, December 11, 2017

December 11--The Joke's on Everyone!

Do you have a tough time dealing with family over the holidays?  You don't want to talk about those 'touchy' subjects, but what else is left after you talk about the weather?

Why not make up a few index cards with some jokes?  Here are some places where you can find a few--and I'm not endorsing any that aren't 'clean,' so proceed at your own risk.  😊

Christmas/holiday jokes:

http://www.jokes4us.com/holidayjokes/christmasjokes/christmasjokes.html
http://www.theholidayspot.com/christmas/jokes/
http://www.ahajokes.com/christmas_jokes.html
http://www.xmasfun.com/Jokes.aspx


When stuck in a conversation that you don't like, hit 'em with laughter.

I hope you enjoy the holidays!


Sunday, December 10, 2017

December 10--FREE eBOOK!



It’s free book day!  This one’s from Eryn Grace, a Christian author—‘A Guardian Angel’s Kiss.’  It’s a big seller for me, especially on Kobo. 


Get it free on Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/247408 and use coupon: DX34H 

This coupon (DX34H) is good until the end of December, so hurry and get your copy now!

Blurb: (Christian Romance, Christian morals)

When Gina Russell learns she's pregnant from a rape, she loses all hope and contemplates the worst sin of all -- suicide. God intervenes and sends her a guardian angel in the form of Dr. James Pierce, who gives her the strength to fight the rapist's threats and hope through the word of God. However, with all her baggage, she knows she's not the one for James. When the rapist is finally behind bars, she'll be an unwed mother, but without her guardian angel. 



~~~~~

Chapter 1


Gina Russell took a deep breath and sucked up her tears, dialing the number on the mysterious Christmas card. It rang twice and she hoped no one would answer.

What was she thinking, calling someone she didn't know?

As she moved the phone away from her ear to hang up, she heard a man's voice. "Hello?"

She couldn't be rude.

Gina cleared her throat and returned the phone to her ear. "Can you tell me who I'm calling?" She winced, knowing that was a stupid comment.

The man's laughter surprised her. "I think you dialed the number," he said. "Do you know what number you called?"

She rattled off the digits on the card. "Is this the right number?"

"Yes, that's my number. What's your name?"

"Gina." She knew better than to give her full name, living in the city. Chicago was nothing like Des Moines, Iowa, where she'd grown up.

"Well, Gina, how can I help you?"

She glanced around the room at all the packed items and sighed, thinking she just sounded stupid. "I'm not sure. What's your name?"

"James." He chuckled again, and for some reason, the sound seemed to give her peace in her heart. He sounded young and handsome, but she immediately put it out of her mind. No man ever gave her the time of day, because she'd been told often enough by her mother and her sister that she wasn't worthy of any man.

Maybe she was so lonely that anyone who connected with her would give her peace. That must be why his laughter calmed her heart.

"Well, James," she said. "I seemed to have gotten a Christmas card from you, even though it's only the beginning of December. It's a nice card, and you signed it that you had great news." She looked down at the envelope. "But it was sent to some administrative assistant and got in my mailbox by mistake." Tears burned behind her lids, but she forged on. "I'm no longer an…" She felt her throat constrict from her sadness, hardly able to speak. "Uh…I'm not an administrative assistant any longer." Sobs overtook her and she covered the phone until she collected herself, then moved her hand away. "I don't have a job, so you sent this beautiful card to the wrong person."

"Aren't you with Nativity Church?"

It was too difficult to force her lips into a smile, the tears instead making her frown. "No. They're down the street." She tried to suck up her tears, but it wasn't working. "I'm sorry."

"I'm not sorry. Why are you crying?"

As she wiped her tears, she walked to a chair in the living room and sat down. "Do you really want to know?"

"Yes, I do. What's the matter?"

She heard something clink in the background over the phone, figuring he was probably busy. "Well, I lost my job, and really have nothing to live for anymore, but it's not your problem. Bye, James. I hope you have a great life."

She moved the phone away from her ear, but heard him yelling. "Wait! Gina. Don't hang up yet."

Her eyes closed from the tears but she decided to keep talking to this man. She moved the phone back to her ear, not certain she wanted to tell him anything. "Why?"

"I want to talk to you in person. I have to…uh…straighten out this problem with my bookkeeping. Can you wait until I get there?"

She shrugged, even though it just delayed the inevitable of what she planned to do. "I guess so."

"Where do you live?" he asked.

It didn't matter if he knew. She probably wouldn't be around to answer the door and he could find the body.

A stranger, left to clean up her mess.

"Four doors down from the church in apartment 2C," she said.

"Wait for me. Don't do anything until I get there. As a matter of fact, can you do me a favor?"

She crossed one arm over her chest while holding the phone, hoping he didn't think of her as a 'favor' type of girl. "That depends. I'm not a call girl or anything, so you can forget that."

His laughter filled the phone lines. She liked hearing his laugh, so she decided then and there to hear him out.

"No, that's not what I'm asking," he said. "Can you watch television and tell me what the weather's going to be this week? I don't have time to check right now and I really want to know."

"Why don't you watch it for yourself?"

"I'm at work and can't do it. Please? I'll be there in about fifteen minutes. Just talk to me until I get there. Please?"

She looked over to the amber bottle of prescription pills on the counter. "I guess I can. But I have something to do, so I can't take long."

"Just give me fifteen minutes. It won't make a difference to wait that long, will it?"

She sighed, thinking about it. "No one cares. Why should I?" With the sadness choking her, she forced herself to breathe, the tears falling even harder.

"I care. Do it for me. You sound like a nice person and I have to meet you. You might be my soul mate. You might be my reason for being on earth. Please?"

What should she do? The guy was a stranger. What if he worked for her old boss?

No, he probably didn't work for the guy. She was just being paranoid.

"Gina, just stay on the phone with me," he said, bringing her out of her thoughts. "I have to make another call, but hang on, please?"

"Sure." The phone went dead, just like her goal for her life. She was alone once more, the pills calling her name.

But she'd promised James. She couldn't do anything just yet. He wanted to know about the weather, so she had to concentrate on that job for now.

Gina turned on the television and flipped it to see the weather, checking the local snow reports. It was a few weeks until Christmas and the snow was dumping on the Chicago area already. She hated snow and she hated the dark of winter.

The phone clicked to life. "Gina," James said on the phone. "Are you still there?"

She wiped her tears. "Yes. It's going to snow all week. I hate snow. I hate winter. I hate December and Christmas." She cried harder, letting her head fall to the back of the chair. "I hate myself and everything."

"Stay on the phone with me, will you?"

After lifting her head, she flipped the dial to see what was on, hitting only commercials. "Why?"

"Because I care. Like I said before, you might be my soul mate. Now, tell me what you ate today?"

"What I ate?" She felt confused. "Don't you mean what I drank?"

He paused for a moment. "Drank?"

"Yeah. I hate alcohol, but I figured it would go well with the bottle of pills."

"What pills?" he said in a very angry voice. "Gina, what pills did you take?"

She looked over at the bottle. "None yet. They're on the counter."

"Don't take the pills. Promise you'll wait for me." His voice sounded urgent, but she didn't know why.

Strangers didn't care. Even people she knew didn't care. What was up with this guy?

"Why should I wait?" she asked.

"Soul mates, remember? If you take the pills, I'll never know what you're really like and I want to know. Promise me."

She could hear a car engine in the background. "Don't come over here. I'm fine and you don't have to worry about me." Warm tears filled her eyes again, while the lump in her throat multiplied in size. "No one should worry about me." She almost choked out her response.

"Why do you think that?"

"Well, my boss fired me yesterday. When I told him about the baby--"

"Baby?"

She leaned her head back with a sigh, thinking about her horrible life. "Yeah. Baby. I never slept with any guy by my decision, but he had other plans that weren't very nice, a little over a month ago. He yelled at me yesterday and told me his wife wouldn't appreciate him getting me pregnant and his other girlfriends would be jealous. I had no idea he was even married or dated around. I certainly didn't want to date him."

"What happened next?"

"He fired me and told me to disappear from the earth, or he'd do it for me by the end of the week." She wiped her cheeks. "When he forced himself…" She gasped a breath, remembering what had happened. Don't fall apart now. She couldn't back down from what she wanted to do, or her old boss would do it for her. She had to collect herself. "It was horrible."

"That sounds evil. Let me help you. How old are you?"

"Twenty-six." She grunted her disgust. "How many virgins do you know at 26? I mean ex-virgins?" She sobbed again. "It wasn't my choice. It's not fair."

"No, it's not. How much did you drink today?"

"Just a small glass. It didn't taste as good as I thought it would." Sobs made her gasp. "I'm such a loser. I can't even drink well."

"No, you're not a loser. God doesn't make losers. Gina, turn the television to a movie for me. I want to know what you're watching, word for word. You're helping me."

She wiped her cheeks, trying not to cry. "A movie now?" She flipped through the dials. "What kind of movie?"

"All types of movies. What do you like to watch?"

A sudden thought made her smile. "Do you like chick flicks?" She knew she'd gotten to him, because he sounded very masculine.

"Well, sure, I guess." He paused. "What's a chick flick?"

She chuckled, throwing her head back. "You don't know?"

"No. I've been kind of busy with my life. What's a chick flick?"

James was an intriguing man. She didn't want to hang up on him, but wanted to know more. "How many women have you dated, anyway?"

"One, in high school, but that doesn't matter."

Only one woman? That seemed odd, because he sounded much older than high school. Maybe he'd married the woman. "Yes, it does matter. If you've ever dated a woman, you'd know what a chick flick is. It's a sappy movie made for women. It makes you cry, because it usually has a sugary sweet happy ending. The plot is mostly very weak, with few subplots. There's a lot of talking and secrets, and you can watch five minutes, take a twenty-minute break, then come back, not missing anything."

"Sounds like a soap opera."

The sound of his voice made her wonder what he was really like, deep down. He sounded so calm and seemed able to take any situation and make it better. As she glanced toward the kitchen counter, she rethought the pills. Maybe she'd wait until she met this guy.

"Sort of like a soap opera," she said. "They're not my favorite, because they're fluff. I like mysteries or thrillers. They're more fun because you have to use your brain."

"I agree with you. I like brains, too. You sound very bright."

She sighed again, realizing she wasn't for him. She had baggage no one needed, and really wasn't very bright. "Not really. I didn't finish college, because I ran out of money."

"What was your major?"

She looked down at her stomach, her problems filling her mind. "Elementary education. I would've made a terrible teacher." She wiped her cheeks, feeling sad again.

"Why do you say that?"

"I'm not good with kids. They hate me."

He chuckled, the sound warming her heart yet again. How could one man take a bad problem and turn it around like that, just with his laughter? She almost felt hope when she talked to him.

"That might be a problem if you don't think you're good with kids," he said. "I'm sure it's not as bad as you think and I doubt they hate you. What do you look like?"

She felt the tears again, wiping them away before they fell onto her cheeks. "I'm ugly, according to Daniel."

"Daniel?"

She thought back to his angry face from the day before. "The ex-boss. He said he only used me for something to do. I didn't even interest him."

"I'm really glad you're done with him. He sounds pretty evil to me, because I can tell you're something special."

She didn't believe him, so she stayed silent. While flipping the channels on the television, she found a good mystery and described what was going on. She even explained what was going on during a commercial.

"What do you look like?" he asked again, interrupting her rendition of the music on the commercial.

"I'm a redhead with medium length hair, blue eyes, and a round face. I look younger than I am, but that doesn't matter. Looks don't matter to me. So, what do you look like?"

James laughed again. "But looks don't matter?"

"Nope." She was hardly that superficial.

"Okay, let's see. I'm thirty-two, about six feet tall, brown hair, and green eyes."

"Are you dating or married?"

He was silent for a moment. She hoped she didn't hit a sore spot.

"No," he said. "I think I told you that already. Did you eat or drink anything other than the alcohol?"

"No, and you only told me you dated one girl in high school. You didn't tell me if you're still dating her or married her. Are you on drugs or something? Even I remembered that and I had something to drink."

His chuckle filled the phone lines, making her grin. "You're very funny. No, I'm not on drugs. I don't even drink because it affects my performance at work." He was silent for a moment. "I just pulled into your apartment building. I'm coming upstairs in a few minutes. Don't be afraid because it's just me."

It suddenly occurred to her that if he knew Daniel, he might be after her. It was a stretch, but if he had someone send her the card…she couldn't risk it. "Wait. Are you a masher or a serial killer? Strangers aren't to be trusted. I learned that the hard way. Don't come up here. I trust no one."

She could hear his laugh in stereo from the hallway and over the phone.

But wait. The card was a religious card, and Daniel would never have one of his minions send something like that. Maybe James really did come to rescue her. Or was he playing games? She doubted it, just from the card and the fact that she loved hearing his voice. It was as if he was sent to give her inner peace, and the Christmas card telling her he had great news was the real deal. If she hadn't called the number on the card…she couldn't think about it.

"No, I'm not a serial killer," he said. "I'm just a good guy who has a great job helping people. Where are you from?"

"Des Moines. What do you do for a living?"

He didn't answer. Instead, the doorbell rang. "Gina, it's James. Can you open the door, please?"

He didn't sound like he was shoving a knife attached to a note into her door like she'd found from Daniel that morning. She had to trust someone. She was tired of fighting and she needed help.

Gina moved the phone away from her ear. "Prove it. What do you look like?" She stood from the chair and walked to the door, trying to look out the peephole. However, she couldn't see anything.

He chuckled again. "Brown hair, green eyes, six feet. Can you open the door?"

"Answer the door already," old Mrs. Wilkins yelled from down the hall. "I'm trying to watch my game shows."

While unlocking the door, Gina wondered if she should care what she looked like, but decided it didn't matter. James wasn't a model, so she'd just kick him out after a few minutes. She had to pay those bills, and those pills were calling her name again.

She opened the door and felt her mouth drop to the floor. The most gorgeous brown-haired, green-eyed man stood in front of her, with major muscles and a masculine face. He was dressed in scrubs…and that's when it hit her. He was there to take her to the looney bin. It really wasn't her lucky day. 


Saturday, December 9, 2017

December 9--Puzzle!

Here’s a Christmas jigsaw puzzle for you:
http://www.jigzone.com/puzzles/7B055D5B7B47 (if you can't see the one below or solve it):


Click to Mix and Solve


It’s a cute teddy bear, but not easy to do.  Can you beat my time of 6:41?  Yeah.  I’m not the fastest person in the world at jigsaw puzzles.

Have a great day!
Markee/SweetTale Books

Friday, December 8, 2017

December 8--National Brownie Day

In honor of National Brownie Day (https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-brownie-day-december-8/) here’s a recipe for you to make and enjoy.  YUMMO!!!



Brownies:

Ingredients:
  2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  1/3 cup butter
  1 cup sugar
  2 eggs, beaten
  1/2 cup flour
  1/2 tsp baking powder
  1/2 tsp salt
  1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans are good)
  1 tsp. vanilla

  • Melt chocolate and shortening together over low heat (or in a double boiler).  Cool slightly.
  • Beat eggs and add sugar.  Mix well.
  • Combine egg and cooled chocolate mixture by tempering the eggs (add just a little bit at a time, mixing well so the egg doesn’t cook).
  • Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together.  Blend flour mixture into the wet ingredients.
  • Add chopped nuts and vanilla.
  • Spread dough into a greased 8-inch square pan.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until firm.  Makes 9 brownies.


Thursday, December 7, 2017

December 7 -- Pearl Harbor Day


Today, I remember all those who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, on December 7, 1941, 76 years ago today.   2403 American citizens lost their lives that day.


May you all rest in peace and may we all remember the ‘date that will live in infamy.’  (Declared by President Franklin D. Roosevelt).




Wednesday, December 6, 2017

December 6--St. Nicholas Day



Today is St. Nicholas day.  Not many people celebrate this, and to be honest, I never heard of it until we moved to Wisconsin.  According to the story (https://nationaldaycalendar.com/st-nicholas-day-december-6/), St. Nicholas could’ve been the basis for Santa Claus.  He left treats for good boys and girls and twigs and coal for bad children.  He was a third-century saint who sold everything and gave money to the poor.  December 6 is the date of his death, so that’s the day he’s celebrated.  Today, people celebrate by putting a small gift or note in someone’s shoe or giving them a treat.

When we first moved to Wisconsin, all the other children at my kids’ schools (they were different ages, so they went to different schools) talked about St. Nicholas day.  On that day, they’d brag about the gifts they got from St. Nicholas, but my kids didn’t get anything.  They were upset that St. Nicholas didn’t like them, when in reality, we’d never heard of the celebration for December 6.  We had to explain that the parents give out the gifts and since our kid’s parents were clueless, they had to wait until Christmas.  Needless to say, that wasn’t a good year.  LOL!

Here's more information:



Tuesday, December 5, 2017

December 5--Torte/Baumkuchen Tree Cake Day

It's Sacher Torte day at https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-sacher-torte-day-december-5/.  According to the website:

The Sacher Torte is created with apricot jam between layers of rich, chocolate sponge cake and topped with a layer of chocolate icing.

YUM!

I've never made a torte, but this recipe is close, and one my husband said he'd help me make.

It’s for Baumkuchen Tree Cake, a German layer ‘cake.’  I’ve seen it described as tasting like a big Kit Kat bar.


You basically put a thin layer of cake mix on the bottom of the pan, bake it (or grill it), let it cool, and repeat for quite a few layers (up to 20, I think).  The layers are thin and crunchy.  Then you cover the whole thing with chocolate.  Delicious!

Here are two links to the recipe, from different sites.

https://www.yummly.com/recipe/Baumkuchen-Tree-Cake-2227159?prm-v1

http://www.notquitenigella.com/2017/05/22/baumkuchen-tree-cake/?utm_campaign=yummly&utm_medium=yummly&utm_source=yummly


I'm now ready for Christmas, AFTER I eat this whole thing!  YUM!!!

Monday, December 4, 2017

December 4--National Sock Day




There are a lot of uses for socks, other than just wearing them.  Here are a few links:

How to make a rice sock (for heating or cooling painful parts of your body):  https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Rice-Sock


How to make a sock monkey:  https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Sock-Monkey

How to make a sock snowman (2 different links): 
http://www.handimania.com/diy/no-sew-sock-snowman-all-steps.html

Go crazy with your socks today!


Sunday, December 3, 2017

December 3--FREE eBOOK

Get your free book today!  



Using coupon EW47H get ‘Can Natalie Come Out to Play?’ free!

It's a funny first-person mystery by Andie Alexander.  

Get it here:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/105447  The coupon (EW47H) expires at the end of December.  So hurry now to get your free book!


Blurb:
*** Book 1 in the 'Natalie Mysteries' Series ***

When native New Yorker Natalie DeLeon finds a dead woman at her work as a hotel clerk in Wisconsin, she argues with the murderer about the mess, and he threatens her life if she tells anything. Even though she's not allowed to talk or she'll die, the Green Bay and De Pere police consider her their best witness, much to her dismay. Between sexy detective Peter Brown and his ghost-hunting buddies, she can never have what she really wants -- to be left alone to finish her college degree then get out of the close-knit town where she doesn't fit in. 

And here's the excerpt
~~~~~

Chapter 1


As the dark red blood spilled down her designer outfit, there was no doubt the brunette woman propped up at the foot of the bed in front of me was dead. I stared into the hotel room, unable to move from my spot. The dimly lit room had been trashed and a smashed television lay in glass strewn everywhere.

Since the woman was dead, I couldn't help but feel sorrow at the loss of a life. It was very creepy, staring at potentially the aftermath of someone's last breath. I wanted to scream and run away, but was stuck in my spot.

A blond, possibly graying man, dressed in all black and wearing gloves, came out of the bathroom and stared at me with angry dark brown eyes. "Who are you?"

As surprised and mortified as I was, I watched the man, determination filling my face. "I work here."

"Lady, you'd better leave and forget everything or I'll kill you, too. I'll be watching you." He leaned closer to me so I could see his nose hairs. "I have connections that'll let me know if you talked."

Setting my jaw firmly in place, I threw my hands on my hips and spouted out the first thing that came to my mind. "Are you going to clean up this mess?"

"Are you serious?" He pulled a knife from his pocket and pointed it toward me.

I spun around and ran back toward the front desk, noticing someone coming out of their room at the far end of the hallway. They were too far away to help, so I ran to my coworker. "Call 9-1-1!"

I turned my head to see if the evil one was following me, but he was gone. With a quick peek around the corner toward the room, the man was nowhere to be found. Furthermore, there was no indication that he'd ever been there. How weird. It was dark outside, too, so I knew I couldn't have seen the guy if he'd left the hotel.

My co-worker, Jerry, hung up from his phone call. "What's the matter with you? Didn't you see I was on the phone? She could be 'the one.'"

I yanked the guy out of his seat and coaxed Jerry toward the room with him in the lead, in case knife-man was still around. "Come with me," I said. "I want you to see something. No phone call is worth missing this."

He walked with me back to the room containing the dead woman and looked inside. With a moan, the guy's knees turned to jelly and he fell to the floor, passed out.

No one was in the hallway, so I reached down and slapped his cheek, hard. "Wake up! The murderer could still be here."

"Murderer?" He lifted his head an inch. "Where? What happened?"

"You passed out from seeing a dead woman. We can't stay here in case the guy comes back."

"Oh yeah." His head hit the floor again, but his eyes stayed open.

I pulled Jerry to his feet by his shirt. "Get up. I have to call the police." After moving my sleeve over my hand to protect the crime scene, I shut the door to the room. I was more than annoyed, but for some reason, seeing a dead body didn't upset me as much as I thought it would, even with all that blood involved.

I grabbed Jerry's arm and dragged him to the front desk. He sat down with a plop, his face as white as a sheet, while I sat down and dialed for help.

Someone picked up the other end of the call. "Emergency." The woman chomped on something that sounded like gum and didn't seem to be in much of a hurry for anything.

"My name is Natalie DeLeon, and I work at the front desk of the Liberty Tree Hotel in De Pere. I'd like to report a murder."

The crash over the receiver was loud.

"Doggone it!" the woman screamed on the other end of the line. "Did you say murder? Really? We haven't had a good murder around here in years. How exciting."

Was she nuts? Murders were horrible things.

"What was that noise?" I asked.

"It was my favorite red nail polish and now it's all over the place."

"Why did it make such a loud sound?"

"It was the super economy-sized bottle. I think it contained a gallon of the stuff. You can never be too careful when it comes to stocking up on nail polish."

It sounded like the 'good' stuff and would probably peel off within seconds. Sounded like a thrift shop special, for a 'real deal.'

The woman continued. "Now, tell me, is this hotel in De Pere?"

I sighed and rolled my eyes. I knew I'd already told the woman that. "Yes, the only Liberty Tree Hotel in the Green Bay area. You know, the one with the huge billboards all over the city that give explicit directions?"

"Oh yeah. Can you tell me how to get there?"

"You've got to be kidding," I mumbled and looked over at Jerry, hanging on my every word.

"Ma'am?" the woman asked.

I could hear her wiping the nail polish, and envisioned it drying on the tabletop, the equipment, and all over the room, considering the size of the crash I heard when it fell. It reminded me of the red blood in the murder room, snapping me back to reality.

"There's been a murder," I said. "And we need someone to come out here immediately. Just take route 41 on the west side of Green Bay to De Pere, then turn left off the exit for Highway F to the private road to the hotel. You definitely can't miss it, with the huge lights all around the property and all the signs and billboards indicating the way every few feet on Route 41. And, can you hurry? It's creeping me out with all this blood in the room behind me."

"Someone will be there right away." The woman hung up.

Jerry grabbed my collar and pulled me to his face. "What did they say? Tell me! Tell me!"

"Let go of me," I said, pushing him away.

An older couple, wearing Green Bay Packers' sweatshirts, walked into the lobby and scowled at the two of us behind the desk. Jerry let go of my shirt and we both pasted smiles on our faces, waiting until the couple was gone.

As soon as the lobby was empty, Jerry got right into my face. "What did they say?"

"Relax. They're on their way." I suddenly remembered the warning from the man in the room. "When the police get here, I didn't find the body, but you did. The murderer threatened me, so I don't want to be killed. I'm close to getting my college degree and I'm not messing with fate by reporting something. Got it?"

"You want me to lie to a cop? I didn't find the body, you did."

I hushed him just in time for a businessman to walk through the lobby. We smiled at the man and waited for the room to empty again.

I turned to the scrawny idiot who worked with me and sighed. "You have to do this for me. You don't know anything, so even if they give you a lie detector's test, you won't be able to tell them anything."

With a moan, he looked out into the empty lobby and dropped his chin into his hands, propped up by his elbows on the front desk. "Why didn't I turn in my two week notice three weeks ago?"

"Are you quitting?"

"No, but I wish I'd known what was going to happen tonight, so I could've at least prepared for it. Maybe I should've called in sick instead?" His head hit the front desk in frustration with a loud, empty-sounding thud. Yep. That was Jerry, all right. Empty headed.

I grabbed him by the shoulders and turned him toward me while sirens sounded in the distance. "This isn't the time to wimp out on me. When the cops come, you found the body, understand? You didn't see anyone else and were just checking up on a noise we heard a few minutes earlier. Got it?"

"Yeah, I got it. It just freaks me out that there's a dead body right behind us."

I let go of his shoulders. "I'm not dealing too well with it myself. I should've beaten up the murderer or something and held him until the cops got here."

"You?" He raked his eyes down over me. "You're tiny. I don't think you could do that, could you?"

"Probably not, but I feel like I should avenge that lady's death or something. It's not right to do that to someone, and he needs to pay." I must've been nuts, but something kicked in inside my head, that I had to take care of this problem, somehow. However, I had no idea what I could do. It had to be on the sly. I wasn't about to let the cops know who I was. "I still don't want him to think I talked. I don't want to be his next victim."

"I get it. Hey, should we call the owner?"

I thought about it for a moment. "Do you know him?"

He pushed the phone my way. "No. You call him."

"I don't know him either." I pushed the phone right back. "You call him."

Jerry's arms suddenly crossed in front of him. "If I'm going to be talking to the cops, you call Mr. Williams. I certainly don't want to deal with him."

"Why?" I heard the sirens scream closer and closer to the hotel. My time was limited to talk to Jerry any more.

"Because I hear he's not very nice and loves to fire people." Jerry leaned a little closer. "I think he enjoys it way too much—if you know what I mean." He rolled his eyes at me.

"No, I really don't, but that's beside the point. If he fires me, then I'll just blame you." I grinned and he turned away.

Jerry looked out the front door of the hotel. I stared with him, watching the snow falling, realizing the snow was starting right on time. It was early December, which meant four more months of daily continual 'flurries' amounting to feet of frozen ice under the freshest white snow. Ah, winter in Wisconsin. What a lovely sight.

Within seconds, red and blue lights from at least four De Pere Police cars lit the street in front of the hotel. At least six cops poured out of the cars, running inside through the snow starting to cover the sidewalk.

The first man approached the desk, but I didn't want to talk to any of them. Instead, I picked up the phone, took out our employee manual and dialed the number for Mr. Williams.

The cop faced Jerry. "Where's the dead body?" He seemed to be the oldest officer of the group and probably the one in charge.

"Come with me," Jerry said, leaving his post at the front desk.

The other police officers followed behind and I tried not to laugh, thinking they all looked like baby ducks following their mother. Realizing they were following Jerry and he was playing the role of their mother made me laugh on the inside even more.

"Hello," the man on the other end of the phone answered.

I collected my thoughts and cleared my throat. "Mr. Williams?"

"Who is this?"

"Sir, this is Natalie DeLeon. I work at your hotel in De Pere."

"Why are you calling me so late? Did you know it's after ten at night?" He seemed a bit testy, but I held my ground.

"Yes, sir, I know it's late. It seems there's been a murder at the hotel. We thought we should let you know."

"Oh." He lowered his voice. "That's different." I guess murders calmed him down or something.

I crouched down at the desk, and tried to keep it quiet. "Sir, the murderer threatened me if I talk. I'm having my coworker field questions from the police."

I looked up as a good-looking man with very blue eyes and short brown hair tapped on the front counter. I put my hand over the receiver and almost gawked at him. He was so gorgeous, looking like a model from a magazine, with high cheekbones, a very masculine jaw and soft-looking hair. "May I help you?" I asked, straightening to my full height.

"Who are you talking to?" Mr. Williams shouted.

I held the phone away from my ear and winced. "Just a minute," I said to the man at the desk, then turned my attention to the phone. "It's a guest. Give me a minute, sir."

"I'll be right there. Don't talk to anyone about this." He ended the call with a thud.

I stared at the dead phone for a moment, then hung up and turned my attention to the hunk on the other side of the desk with a grin. "Sorry about that. May I help you?"

The ambulance workers brought a gurney inside and almost ran into the man with the blue eyes and sexy grin standing in front of me. Guests and onlookers were crowded in the lobby to view the entertainment for the evening, considering it was more exciting than the re-runs on television.

A reporter ran to the front desk and shoved a microphone into my face, with a cameraman beside her, recording every moment. He was out of breath, trying to keep up with the dyed-blonde reporter with obvious breast augmentation.

But I ignored them. Instead, I focused on the handsome guest with the blue eyes and brown hair standing on the other side of the desk. He was smiling, amused with the situation at hand. He must've had no clue about the dead woman in the room behind me.

The reporter shoved the microphone into my face. "Can you tell us what happened here?"

I faced the boob-job. "I'm busy with a guest. I don't know anything, so if you'd leave me alone, I'd appreciate it."

"But you have to know something. You do work here, don't you?" She was evil, all right. If she was the best they had, the news industry was in trouble.

Dead silence filled the room while everyone listened for my answer. Not only that, the blue-eyed gorgeous man waited for me. His eyes spoke volumes, but I had no idea what they were saying. He was so charming, I really wanted to pull this guy into the back room, have a nice chat and do other things to him, but I had to remain professional.

I turned toward the blonde boob-job with the microphone, thrust my hands onto my hips. "Look, lady, I'm trying to take care of the guests here." Yeah, so I had a New York accent, and I had a tendency to talk with my hands, but this woman seemed appalled. "I have no comment for the press and especially not for you." I paused, to get the timing just right, eyeing her up and down. "You're rude and need some lessons in manners. You can print that, too, and I'd be willing to take it up with your management. Tell them to give me a call so I can tell them how unprofessional and nasty you are." I was tempted to give her a few 'special' hand signals, straight from the city, but it wasn't appropriate in the small town arena.

Everyone in the room clapped. The blonde woman huffed, stuck her nose into the air and turned away from me. Small conversations eventually broke out, but the tone was definitely quieter than it had been.

Mr. Blue Eyes tried to contain his amusement, while I turned on the charm and my smile. "Now, may I finally help you?"

"I guess you took care of her." His voice was smooth, making me really want to get to know him better.

"She deserved it. Are you a guest here?"

"Yes, I am. I'm in the room right there." He pointed across from the murder room. "My name is Peter Brown, and I need another pillow."

I grinned and considered winking, but realized that the television cameras were rolling their live shots for the breaking news feed. It must've been a slow night for news, because all the major television stations were already on the scene.

"I can certainly give you another pillow." I walked to a closet off the lobby and brought Mr. Blue Eyes a pillow. As I handed it to him, he grabbed my hand and pulled me close, moving his mouth up to my ear. He was a take-charge kind of guy. Just what I liked.

"I heard what you told the murderer," he whispered.

I closed my eyes and sighed. They fluttered opened again to watch him. "Please don't tell anyone," I whispered.

He leaned close to me again, making me take a deep breath of anticipation. I could smell his wonderful aftershave and minty-fresh breath, wishing I could get to know this man. "I won't tell a soul," he said. "I'd be frightened of that man, too, if he spoke to me like that. If you need me, I'll be in my room. I can help you."

Cavorting with the guests was forbidden, according to the rules. "Thanks, but I'll be fine." Images too explicit to describe suddenly popped into my head about this man in his room, and I felt my face heat up.

He winked as he trailed his hand over mine and then left the front desk. I grinned, and returned to my post to look over some of my notes for my class. However, my mind was elsewhere, with Mr. Blue Eyes and his soft pillow. I was so jealous of that pillow, it was pathetic.

I'd read the first page twice when someone interrupted me. "Miss DeLeon, may I speak to you?"

I looked up from the desk and saw an intensely brown-eyed, brown-haired man standing in front of me, flashing his badge. He was wearing a heavy coat over a nice suit, his eyes piercing through me and making me melt. Two hot men in one night? I must be dreaming.

Since he was a cop, I knew I had to be professional. "I'm working, sir, so you'll have to wait until my replacement comes." I lowered my head and kept reading my notes.

I saw the man out of the corner of my eye turn toward the ever-growing crowd. As soon as he whistled, the crowd grew silent. He motioned and snapped his fingers. "Jerry! Here. Now."

Such incredible power. I felt my mouth fall open, thinking of him as a someone who could handle any situation. I wondered what it would be like to date someone like that.

The man waited for my coworker to join him. Jerry lowered his head and walked toward the front desk. He was very pale and raised his eyes to mine while slightly shaking his head. That's when it hit me—Jerry didn't keep his word, and told the officer I'd seen the murderer. I sighed and rolled my eyes, then joined the officer in the suit and thick coat.

"I'm Detective John Van Laren with the De Pere Police Department." The dark-haired man put his hand on my elbow and led me toward a conference room off the lobby. "We'll talk in here."

As soon as we sat at the table, his huge brown eyes seemed to attack me. There was no way I'd be able to keep anything from him with that intense stare of his. But before I had a chance to open my mouth, the door to the room flew open and an older man appeared.

"Natalie, did you say anything yet?"

I looked toward the man with no idea who he was. "No. We just sat down."

The older man shook the snow from his parka, removed it and sat beside me. He was attractive for his age, with gray hair and lots of wrinkles. Dressed in a gray sweatshirt with blue sweatpants and snow-encrusted boots, the older man thrust his arm out to the detective. They shook hands while the detective seemed to study the man.

"Hello," the older man said.

"Who are you?" the detective asked.

"I'm Grover Williams. I'm surprised you don't know me."

"No, I don't know you. Why are you here?" Detective Van Laren asked, very annoyed.

"I own this hotel," Mr. Williams said, his hands suddenly on his hips. "Who are you, anyway?"

The detective stared Mr. Williams down while he pulled out his badge. "I'm Detective John Van Laren. Why are you here? This is just a routine questioning."

Mr. Williams put his hand on my back. "I'm here for Natalie." He leaned toward the detective. "She has no parents and she's all alone, so I'm here on her behalf." His voice was a mere whisper, like I couldn't hear him, even though I wasn't deaf.

I raised my eyebrows, turning toward him in amazement. I'd never even met him before, yet he knew my name and knew both of my parents were dead.

Mr. Williams patted me on the back and moved his face closer to mine. "It's okay, Natalie. I'm here to help you."

I bit my lips and turned toward the detective again.

"So, can we get started?" Van Laren asked.

"No, sir, we can't." Mr. Williams sat down. "I've called my lawyer on Natalie's behalf, and we need to wait until he gets here."

Mr. Williams intrigued me. Anyone who could use the word 'behalf' more than once in just a few minutes must've had dealings with the law before. He was even willing to call his personal lawyer for me, someone he didn't know.

Who was this person, really, other than the owner of the hotel? 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

December 2--Missouri Cookies!

Yummo!  Cookies!  Wish I could deliver these yummy bites to your home, but my cookie sleigh is on the fritz.  


Here’s the recipe, though.  Enjoy!

Missouri Cookies:

Sauce:
     Ingredients:
2 cups white sugar
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
¼ lb. butter
½ cup milk
Add ingredients to saucepan.  Cook 1 minute after it starts to boil.  Don’t stir.

Dough:
     Ingredients:
2 cups oatmeal
½ cup peanut butter
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup coconut (or 1 cup oatmeal)

Add to chocolate mixture (sauce).  Stir all together.  Drop in spoonfuls onto wax paper.  Let cool and eat.  YUM!


Friday, December 1, 2017

31 days of December fun! December 1--National Pie Day

Today is National Pie Day.  Yum.  


Pie is terrific and there’s nothing like pumpkin pie.  You can make my mother-in-law’s pie from the recipe here (http://www.sweettalebooks.com/pumpkin_pie.html) or you can try this one, from my grandmother’s recipes.  It has no crust but is delicious!


Impossible Pumpkin Pie

1 can (16 oz.) pumpkin
1 can (13 oz.) evaporated milk
2 tbsp. butter (melted)
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar (OR use 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tbsp. molasses)
1/2 cup Bisquick
2 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp. vanilla

Grease pie plate (10 x 1 ½ inches).  Beat all ingredients until smooth, 1 minute in blender on high or 2 minutes with hand beater.  Pour into pie plate.  Bake 50-55 minutes at 350 degrees.

~~~~~

Here's another one also looks incredible.  It’s a pumpkin ‘pie’ cannoli:  http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a56154/pumpkin-cannoli-recipe/  It even has a fantastic video for it!


Nothing like pumpkin to ring in December!


Monday, November 27, 2017

It's beginning to look a lot like December!

Did you survive the Thanksgiving week (at least it felt like a week)?  That means December (and Christmas) are right around the corner!  It's the time for gift-giving, card-sending, decorating, and LOTS and LOTS of food.  YUMMO!

This December, I'm going to blog every day (I know...that's a lot to do!) to celebrate the entire month of December.  There will be freebies, recipes, things to do and learn, and lots more!  Check out this blog every day, because you're not going to want to miss any of it.

Have a wonderful week and make sure you tune in on December 1, and throughout December!

Markee at SweetTale Books

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!




May you have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving!



Thank you for being my follower!

Markee/SweetTale Books

Monday, November 20, 2017

Thank you!

I know I don't say it enough, but thank you all for being followers and readers for my blogs and books.  I truly do appreciate it, and this week reminds me of all the good times over the years, including all the Internet friends and 'family' I have.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!
SweetTale Books

Monday, November 13, 2017

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

It's that time of year again, when all thoughts point toward Christmas.  Movies on television are related the season, the bookstores are stocking books about Christmas, and even lists are being made for Santa.

How many of you authors are putting out Christmas related books this year?  Are you writing one now, hoping to have it done before Christmas day?  My hand's raised...and it's not going quite as planned.

Christmas is a magical time of year, and to include that type of magic in a story is tough.  Thinking of all the things that relate to Christmas, like snow, fireplaces, and all the delicious food, helps.  Just the thought gives me more energy than expected.

How about you?  What gets you excited for the season?

Have a great week!
Markee/SweetTale Books

Monday, November 6, 2017

Writing Internal Thoughts

I've seen many ways to write internal thoughts, but find that it's actually least intrusive when just making it part of the story.

Here's an example:

He was going to die, Jane thought.  While watching the car careen out of control in front of her, she could only pray.
He was going to die.  While watching the car careen out of control in front of her, she could only pray.
He was going to die. While watching the car careen out of control in front of her, she could only pray.
Which one takes you out of the story the least?  I'd say the third one.

To back myself up, check out these links:

Dealing With A Character’s Internal Thoughts
How to write Thoughts of a Character

Personally, I don't like seeing 'he thought' in a sentence.  We're reading it from the character's point of view, so why put it in there. 

What do you think?

Have a great week!
Markee


Monday, October 30, 2017

Attention all writers! Cool new names site--names.org!

I received an email from someone who wanted me to add their link to my posting about 10 Strong Female Character Names as a reference.  I went to their site, and to be honest, I was blown away by how much information is on there.

The site is Names.org.  Let me show you an example.  I seem to love the name James when I write, and usually have to change the name before I publish.  I tend to forget that I've used it for various books in the past but just love that name.  I should've named our son that, but my husband had other ideas.

Anyway, if you enter the name James, you get this:

https://www.names.org/n/james/about

You get:

  • meanings
  • dictionary sources
  • other dictionary sources
  • Wiktionary 
  • notable people named James
  • notable persons with the last name of James
  • popularity of the name over time
  • where the name is popular in the U.S.
  • common last and first names for the word 'James'
  • ethnicity distribution
  • fun facts about the name
  • what James' have visited the site
  • a poster for the name

And even more links!  What a cool site!  Whoever made this site spent a great deal of time doing it, along with researching all of it.  Wow.  Great job!

So go visit Names.org and put in your name, or your character's name.  It'll help a lot with your character background.  YAY!  I love new resources!

Have a great week!
Markee

Monday, October 16, 2017

Is Your Website up to ADA Standards or Is it A Lawsuit Waiting to Happen?

Our daughter went to college to learn how to do web design and media development.  She's now working at a company doing that type of work.  She mentioned that they have to be careful about ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards for design.  Otherwise, they could be sued.

I said, 'what is that?' and 'what time dimension are you from?'  I NEVER heard of being sued because of a website's design.

As it turns out, it can happen.  If your website doesn't meet the Americans with Disabilities Act, it could potentially be the subject of a lawsuit.

So what does that mean?  Check out this article:  Looming ADA rules could affect millions of websites.

Here are also some more articles related to this topic:
Judges Handling ADA Lawsuits Over Websites Not Waiting On DOJ Regulations
Is Your Site ADA-Compliant ... or a Lawsuit-in-Waiting?  (this one tells even more)

If your website is difficult to read or if a blind person's reader can't figure out what a picture stands for or what's in a video, you could be sued.  It usually happens with large businesses, but it's possible for it to happen to any website.

You can check to see if your text is readable at this site:  https://webaim.org/resources/contrastchecker/. You enter the hex background and foreground colors, and see if they work or not.

I've been working on my websites, and it's frustrating, at least.  Needless to say, this is going to be a huge undertaking for any website owner.

I can see where this might include a slippery slope to social media.  My daughter said the original bill didn't include social media, but if it's on the Internet, I can see where someone could take it on.

To be honest, I've seen things on social media that could potentially give someone seizures (check the seizure part here, under part J: Section 508 Checklist.)  Gifs that flash a lot are just annoying.  According to that Section 508:

508 STANDARDPASSFAIL
(j) Pages shall be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz.No element on the page flashes at a rate of 2 to 55 cycles per second, thus reducing the risk of optically-induced seizures.One or more elements on the page flicker at a rate of 2 to 55 cycles per second, increasing the risk of optically-induced seizures.

Some of the memes really need to have the colors checked (see this page:  WebAIM: Color Contrast Checker).  For example, dark gray on black isn't good for anyone to try to read.  Putting text over a picture isn't good without a solid background color to make it more readable.

Protect yourself and see if you can fix some of these things.  Even if you work with a CMS (content management system) like WordPress, Wix, or Weebly, it's good to check to see if your website is compliant.

Good luck.
SweetTale Books