Sunday, December 31, 2017

December 31--New Year's Eve

It's been a very interesting year, but it's not over yet.

Here are some cool websites that tell more about ringing in the New Year:

When Year 2018 Starts Around the World
New Year Traditions (around the world) History of New Years
New Years Eve Events Around the World

There's a lot to know about New Years, but most of all, may you have a safe and happy 2018!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

December 30--Chuck Wagon Cookie Recipe! YUM!

This is a throwback to simpler days—a recipe from my grandmother. 

Chuck Wagon Cookies:
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup butter

Cream together.

1 beaten egg
1 ½ cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 diced apple (peeled and chopped fine)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts.

Mix together and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until brown.

Friday, December 29, 2017

December 29--Mint recipes!

Here’s my grandmother’s recipe for butter mints.  They’re delicious and great for after-party mints:

Butter Mints:
3 tbsp. soft butter or margarine (easier to use)
¼ cup cream
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla flavoring
2 tsp. peppermint
1 lb powdered sugar

Blend all ingredients.  Knead.  Color and form into balls, or put into mint molds.  Press down.  Refrigerate.

My mother uses this recipe for mints:

Cream Cheese Mints:
1 pound powdered sugar
¼ pound margarine or butter
4 ounces (1/4 pound) cream cheese
A few drops of milk (to make it mix better—use more if needed)
1 tsp peppermint (or more or less to taste—I also like plain mint, as well, or other flavorings instead)
Mix together (use your hands), shape (or put into molds), and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

December 28--Yummy Candy!

Our middle child graduated from college last May, and brought home some yummy recipes from her roommates.  She was in a 'quad,' where there are four bedrooms, a living room, a bathroom, and a fully working kitchen.  They had to make their own meals, so they'd share recipes.

This is one from one of her roommates that's really simple.

Pretzel/Rolo/M&M candies

Holiday pretzels (they're round, like a wreath)
Rolo candies (caramel and chocolate)
Green and red M&Ms

Put aluminum foil on a baking sheet.
Place the pretzels flat on the sheet (as many as you want to eat).
Put one Rolo in the middle of the round pretzel.
Bake at 325 degrees for 2-4 minutes, or until the Rolos melt.
Take out of oven and put a red or a green M&M in the middle of the Rolo.  Let cool  Delicious!

Here are some pictures of the finished product:

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

December 27--Between the Holidays

The presents have all be unwrapped and the house returned back to normal.  Next up is New Year's Eve.  But what do you do in-between those holidays?

This is 'you' time.  You could plan for a New Year's party, but there are more important things to do.  I suggest finding a quiet place, open a book, and escape before New Years makes you weary.  It's a way to re-energize.  And, if you need any suggestions, you may want to go on over to and see what's there.  You won't be disappointed!

Have a great 'between' time.  I know I will.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

December 26--National Thank You Note Day

Today is National Thank You Note Day.  It's also National Whiner's Day, and I suspect there may be a correlation between the two.  We won't mention that it's also Candy Cane Day and Boxing Day, but instead, we'll focus on the Thank You Notes.

My kids (and I, actually) really don't like writing thank you notes.  They're not easy to write, to know what to say.

A few years ago, I found that I could search for how to write one, and they come out looking fantastic when done.  Now, my kids have graduated to writing their own, and really seem to enjoy making them funny.

If you, like me, are at a loss about how to write a cool thank you note, take a look at these ideas:

How To Write a Charming Thank You Note
Examples of Words for Thank You Notes
How to Write a Thank You Note A Template
Free Thank You Note Samples for Every Occasion
How to Write a Thank-You Note

Have a great day and get to writing those thank you notes.  Once you start, you'll be done before you know it!

Monday, December 25, 2017

December 25--MERRY CHRISTMAS (Get a free ebook!)

Merry Christmas!!!

Get a free Christmas book—'In the Twinkle of Christmas'! 

Go to and use code:  WG72H
You have to hurry to get this free ebook!!  It's only good until the end of this month!


3 magic wishes
2 lonely singles
1 matchmaking Santa …

Mix perfectly for a fun romance!

picture of snowflakes

Hope Twinkle, half of the child-acting duo of the Twinkle Twins, is running away, after her boyfriend proposes to her sister, and will be marrying on Christmas Eve. Hope ends up in Snowflake, Wyoming, where she meets Santa at Kringle's Coffee Shop. He knows exactly who she is, and gives her a magical penny. Santa disappears, but Hope has to find him.

She runs out of the shop and bowls over Dr. Daniel Graham, a psychiatrist. She tells him she's looking for Santa, and he thinks she's a homeless person who needs psychoanalyzing.

Needless to say, Christmas won't be quite the same this year, when Hope finds out the penny can grant wishes. 

Excerpt (


Chapter 1

Hope Twinkle sauntered into Kringle's Coffee Shop. She'd been driving for about seven hours, finally pulling off the road in Snowflake, Wyoming. It was a snap decision, but she needed the break.

She fell into a seat at the front bar inside the restaurant, putting her chin in her hand with her elbow on the bar. She was running away, plain and simple. Nothing had ever gone right for her since she'd been a teen.

"What'll it be?" she heard.

She lifted her weary eyes to an older man who sported silver wire-rimmed glasses and a white beard. If she'd been a kid, she'd have sworn this was Santa. "Um…" She looked up at the menu, written on a candy-cane clad chalkboard on the wall. "I'll have a hot chocolate."

The man turned and began making the drink. "It's a cold one out there. Is it snowing yet?"

"No, but it's thinking about it."

He chuckled a hearty belly laugh, almost sounding like ho-ho-ho. This guy was something else. He really got into the Christmas spirit, but Hope wasn't buying it. She hated Christmas, but this year, she hated it worse than ever.

"How can snow think of falling?" the Santa-wannabe asked.

"It just is."

He turned back toward her, carrying a perfect mug of hot chocolate sitting on a plate. Big marshmallows and a small dollop of whipped cream rested on top of the brown liquid with a candy cane hanging off the rim. Two small gingerbread cookies lay on the side of the plate, both decorated in the most adorable way while smiling up at her.

She studied the plate. "That's gorgeous. Mind if I take a picture before I eat it?"

"Go for it." He winked. "Are you doing okay?"

"Not really."

He leaned against the bar. "I'm all ears. Want to talk to me?"

She lifted her phone and took a picture of the drink, accidentally getting the guy in the picture as well. "You want me to talk to you?" She put her phone away. "You're not a bartender and you probably have a ton of customers to wait on." She glanced around, but no one else seemed to be waiting for a drink. The place had quite a few customers at the tables, all appearing happy and talking with others. She hated that she was alone, feeling oncoming sadness.

"Nope," the man said. "I'm bored." He smiled and she could've sworn she saw a twinkle in his eye. The guy just needed a red hat and coat to look like Santa Claus.

Hope shook her head. "Well, not much to talk about from this loser." She felt like such a failure.

"Loser?" He chuckled. "Hardly. I know who you are."

"You do?" She was surprised because she'd been out of the public eye for years…at least her face had.

"Yes." He patted her hand. "You're way out of town, though. Why is that?"

She glanced around, but no one was listening. Just in case, she leaned closer. "I'm running away. Don't you go telling anyone where I am."

"Not a problem. You had an interesting childhood, along with your twin sister."

"You know about her?" she whispered.

"Who doesn't? You and Joy were identical twins they used in a lot of movies when you were children. Then you had that other show during your teenage years."

She nodded. "The Twinkle Twins Take on Everything."

He chuckled. "I loved when they sent you out to a farm to pick oranges. Did you really not know they grew on trees?"

She chuckled. "We played to the camera a lot and some of that was scripted. However, considering we worked every day since we were about six months old, we didn't have time to learn much of anything. We had tutors, but it's different than having to live out in the real world." She sipped the hot chocolate. The perfect blend of chocolate, marshmallow, and whipped cream filled her mouth in an utterly delicious way.

He took a moment. "What happened after that show? You just dropped out of Hollywood."

"Sort of." She bit into a cookie. "Joy didn't. She was the prettier and the more personable of us two." Even the cookie was outstanding.

The Santa-wannabe seemed surprised. "But you're identical. How can she be prettier?"

"She was pretty where it counted--on the inside."

He leaned closer. "I doubt that. What have you been doing?"

"Well…" She was such a loser. "I was the face of Teddy Bear Chocolate Twists." She winced, hating her old job.

His white eyebrows lifted. "You were the teddy bear?"

What a legacy for her life. "I've been wearing that bear suit for four long years. That's a hot job and I'm talking in temperature only. At least it paid the bills, sort of." She shook her head. "I need a new agent but no one will touch me. Even my boyfriend dumped me." Tears teased her eyes. "That one hurt the most."

He leaned his elbow on the bar. "What happened, if you don't mind me asking?"

"My life's an open book." She didn't think the paparazzi would be out here. "But don't print anything."

"No problem." He chuckled. "I promise. I'm just curious."

"Well, I was dating the producer of our ads."

He nodded. "Adrian Romans."

Her eyebrows lifted. "You know him?"

"He was all over the news today." He lifted the day's paper and put it in front of her, showing the picture of the happy couple and the announcement of her sister's wedding at the bottom.

"Yeah. I guess you know about it, then." It was like a knife in her heart to see the headlines. "He and Joy are getting married on Christmas Eve. They want me to be the maid of honor. Adrian and I were dating, when one day, out of the blue, he proposed to Joy. She gets it all. She has her own variety show. She has money coming out her ears. She also bought that big house in Aspen, has cool cars, and friends everywhere. Adrian was the only good thing I had going for me and he ran off with Joy." Hope ate the rest of the cookie and wiped her eyes. "Life really isn't fair. I'm scraping by on my salary while Joy has it all. Can't I get a break?"

The Santa-wannabe put the paper away and thrust his hand into his pocket. "I want to give you something." He pulled out a copper penny, opened her hand, and placed it in her palm. "Keep that. It's magical and it'll help."

"A penny?" She glanced at it and then lifted her gaze to the man. "I guess it'll help pay my mortgage. Thanks."

He chuckled. "Trust me." He walked away, wiping down the counter as he went.

Hope wanted to drown her sorrows in her hot chocolate. Christmas was three days away and she dreaded the thought of watching everyone else be happy, except for her. After Christmas Eve, her sister would be married to Hope's ex-boyfriend and Hope would be alone, yet again.

As she sipped her drink, she studied the penny in her hand. It wasn't a normal penny. Although it was copper in color, on one side was a Christmas tree. She turned it over. The other side showed a winking Santa.

Hope looked up to find the man who'd given her the coin, but he was gone. In his place was an older woman, waiting on customers. "Excuse me," Hope said to the woman.

The woman held up one finger, ringing up the bill for a man. When she was done, she approached Hope. "Did someone wait on you already?" She pointed to the nearly empty cup in front of Hope.

"Yes. He was an older man with a white beard. I'd like to talk to him. He gave me this penny." She held out her hand for the woman to see.

The woman just stared at her. "We have no one working here like that. My sister and I own this place and are both working tonight. You must be mistaken and my sister waited on you."

"I doubt that, unless your sister has a white beard."

The woman shook her head. "No, she doesn't." She pointed toward the back of the coffee shop. "She's a brunette and I'm pretty sure she doesn't have a beard."

Hope turned to see a stunning middle-aged woman waiting on tables. "Where did the old guy go?"

"I have no idea." She put a bill beside Hope's plate. "We also don't give out cookies, but I'll let that slide." A flash of confusion covered her face. "We don't even have those types of cookies here. Are you sure you didn't bring it in yourself?"

"Nope." Weird. But she didn't want to argue with this lady, so she pulled out her purse and put some cash with the bill. "Keep the change." She stood up, ready to leave, because she had to find the man who'd given her the penny. Maybe it really was magical after all.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

December 24--Christmas Eve FREE eBOOK!!!

It’s time for a free Christmas book!  Enjoy a sci-fi YA book, that’s a fun read for everyone—‘Better Watch Out.’  

Find it here:  with coupon QY36W.  But you have to hurry!  The coupon expires at the end of this month!

Gemma Charles and her family are officially homeless. Will the alien ready to offer Gemma a job be able to follow through with cash, or will he just be like her dad and disappear or die when the going gets tough?

There's only one way to know, and Gemma is curious enough to find out.


Excerpt (


Chapter 1

The fire blazed as the three remaining members of the Charles family stood by. They were helpless and now, without their big home. To make it worse, it was two days before Christmas.

The firemen tried to put out the fire, but the place was down to only ashes in just a short time. What used to be their home was now nothing—not even good kindling wood.

One of the older firefighters approached Gemma's mom. "I hope you have insurance on that place."

She nodded but said nothing.

"However, I suspect someone started it. If so, the insurance won't pay."

Her mom covered her mouth and let out a sob. "We have nothing," she said. "No money, nothing."

"Sorry for your loss." The guy walked off, joking with his coworkers. Before long, they'd packed up and driven away, leaving the family in the dark, staring at what used to be in that spot. Neighbors watched from a distance, but none offered any condolences or assistance. It was that kind of neighborhood. People turned a blind eye to everyone else's problems.

Gemma had just gotten home from babysitting down the street to see the fire trucks and the firemen working. The blaze was huge, but her eight-year-old brother, Ray, her mom, Betsy, and their big mutt Barney, stood in front of the home and watched. Barney seemed more interested in the firemen, barking at them for a good ten minutes after Gemma had arrived. He finally settled down and went to sleep on the snowy ground.

"We can't just stand here," Gemma said. "There's nothing left. Now that the firemen have gone, can anyone tell me what happened?"

"Ray started it," Betsy said.

"No, I didn't." The kid crossed his arms. "I was playing in the family room. I wasn't near anything to start that fire."

Gemma didn't know what to believe.

At fourteen, she ran that house since her dad had died a year earlier. Her mom usually worked during the day at a department store, but with cutbacks, she'd lost her job a month earlier. Betsy had tried to get a good job, but other than a day of work here and a day there, she was jobless. The bank was almost ready to take the house anyway, so overall, they were bound to be homeless before long. Gemma had hoped they'd make it past Christmas, but that wasn't going to happen.

Gemma pointed toward the driveway. "Is the car working?" She adjusted her backpack on her back. At least she still had her books from school. She had a lot to do before the end of the break, and now, it seemed as if she had a lot of time to do that with no home to work in.

"Yeah." Betsy wiped her eyes. "I never should've gone into the garage. I never should've left him alone. I never—" She sobbed and held her mouth. "We have nothing left. We only have the clothes on our backs. Nothing more. This is it."

Betsy had been depressed since Gemma's dad had died, but his death was more than mysterious. However, Betsy never discussed it with the kids. One day he was there and the next, he was gone. No more was said after Betsy had told them at dinner that he'd died out west somewhere and the state would take care of the funeral. That was it. Very odd, but Betsy refused to discuss it.

Ray bounded toward the car. "I say we go to Grandma's and Grandpa's house." Barney took off after him, his long ears flopping as he ran. He was a white mutt, probably part sheep dog and part, well, mutt. But he was a good-natured dog and at least he hadn't died in the fire.

Betsy inched closer to the car but stopped suddenly. "No," she said. "We can't go there."

Gemma knew why. Betsy's parents were both dead, so the only Grandma and Grandpa they had were their dad's parents. Gemma had heard her mom fighting with them over the phone late one night, because they wanted Gemma and Ray to live with them at their house. But Betsy refused and slammed down the phone. If they went to their grandparents' house now, it would be like her mom admitting she couldn't care for her own children.

"We can't stay here," Gemma said. "Let's get in the car, at least, and figure out where to go."

Betsy sighed after a long moment. "You're right." They all got into the car and Betsy turned the ignition.

"Where are we going then?" Ray asked, from the back seat. "I'm hungry. Let's get take out. It stinks like smoke here and I don't like it."

"Well, we can't go to the Patterson's house," Gemma said. "They refused to pay me anything for babysitting, because they were out of money and heading to their extended family for the holidays. So there's no way we can go there. I'm not happy with not getting paid. I'll never go there again."

"We have nothing left," Betsy said in a low tone. She backed out of the driveway and headed down the street. "We'll have to find a place to live now, that doesn't cost anything."

That's when it hit Gemma. They were officially homeless.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

December 23--Great Traditional Christmas Movies

What are your favorite Christmas movies, that you can't miss every year?  They're the ones that get you in the Christmas spirit, no matter what else is going on.

Here are a few that might get you thinking:

A Christmas Story
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Polar Express
The Santa Clause
It's a Wonderful Life
Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Home Alone
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Miracle on 34th Street

What are your favorites?

Friday, December 22, 2017

December 22--Gingerbread Recipe!

In honor of a few of my Christmas books, here’s my grandmother’s recipe for gingerbread:


1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup baking molasses
2 eggs
2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup boiling water
2 level tsp. baking soda dissolved in the boiling water
2 1/2 cups bread flour

Mix all ingredients together and bake in prepared long pan, 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

December 21--Crossword Puzzle Day!

It’s the first day of winter and crossword puzzle day:

In honor of that day, can you do one of these puzzles?   I tried puzzle #1 but I'm not very good at them so I had 'help.'  LOL!


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

December 20--Word Search or Mazes

To get in the Christmas spirit, how about a word search puzzle?  Print them out and put them on the refrigerator, to get your guests thinking.

Try these:
Printable Christmas Word Search Puzzles - Christmas Decor Word Search Worksheet  (there are more at the bottom of this page)
Christmas Word Search
Big Activities: Christmas Word Search

You could also put a bunch of mazes on the refrigerator, as well.  Tell your guests not to write on it, but just see if they can figure it out.  When a few hours have passed, see who can do the maze right.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

December 19--Side Dishes

We've all been there, where you're invited to a Christmas party and have to bring something for the meal.

YIKES!  What do you bring?  Everyone will probably bring desserts, but who wants to fill up on those all night long?  If it were me, I'd have a sugar overload that'd probably put me in a diabetic coma.

Fear not.  Here are some healthy side dishes sure to make a hit:

Eating Well: Healthy Potluck Side Dish Recipes
All Recipes: Potluck Side Dish Recipes
Taste of Home: Potluck Side Dish Recipes
Healthy Potluck Recipes
Healthy Potluck Side-Dish Recipes

Or you can go with a side/dessert type of dish, that'll cover everything.  Here's one my mother-in-law gave me.  It's sweet, believe it or not.

5 Cup Salad

1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup drained mandarin oranges
1 cup drained crushed pineapple (make sure it's REALLY drained, almost dry)
1 cup mini marshmallows
1 cup sour cream

Add all ingredients together and chill until very cold or overnight.  If you're making a dish to feed a lot, double or triple this recipe.  Serves about 8 for single recipe.

Monday, December 18, 2017

December 18--Your Pets Need Gifts, too!

Fido and Fifi want something for Christmas, too.  But they're pets, right?  Remember this...if you keep them busy with their own gifts, they won't try to unwrap your presents.  They're also part of the family and really don't like being left out.

Besides the obvious (like PetSmart, Petco, etc.), here are some ideas for your pets for Christmas:

33 Perfect Christmas Presents for Pets Under $50
Fun Gifts for Dogs, Cats, and More Pets
The Company Store: for pets
Bed, Bath, and Beyond: Purr-fect gifts for pets and pet lovers
Gifts for Pet Lovers
18 Best Dog and Cat Gifts to Buy for the Holidays

Merry Christmas to your pets! 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

December 17--FREE eBOOK!!!

Free Book Coupon!  This one is fun and will get you into the Christmas spirit.

'Ginger, Spice, and everything Not Nice' at  Use coupon UF46X.  The coupon is good until the end of December, so hurry up!  Time's a wasting!

It's Christmas Eve, and like every other day of the year, Lyra McCabe is baking cookies. However, her idea of the universe is about ready to extend when Rick Shilling, Entity Exterminator, runs through the door, shooting at living gingerbread men.

Time to expand your world, Lyra, and it's way past due!

Rick Shilling to the Rescue Story 1 -- NOVELLA LENGTH 


Chapter 1

The door to the Cookie Fairy House flew open. The small bell flew off the doorjamb and a blast of cold air filled the hot building. A blue-eyed, brown-haired man wearing a tan Stetson hat, black leather gloves, and a black leather jacket entered the building. A tan satchel hung off his shoulder and neck. But it was odd, because he held onto a gigantic orange and bright lime green water gun. He proceeded to point that water gun at some unseen adversary out the still-open front door.

Lyra McCabe couldn't move, watching the scene unfold before her. The man shot some sort of liquid through the open door, seeming to laugh at the joke. But she didn't see the humor.

"Shut the door!" she yelled, and moved closer to the display cabinet filled with cookies. The temperature was around zero, since it was the day before Christmas in Colorado. Silly man.

He lifted his gun once more and shot the liquid from the water gun. "Duck!"

The guy must be an escapee from a mental institution. He was shooting at nothing, and everyone knew a water gun was no true weapon, especially in sub-freezing temperatures.

Lyra crossed her arms over her apron, still standing behind the display case. "If you don't leave right now, I'm calling the cops. Shut the door on your way out."

He ran around the four-foot display case and stood beside her. "I said, duck!" He kept shooting over the case and toward the floor near the door, but she didn't move or look at his target, disgusted with the guy. She had work to do, but until she got this annoying man out of her shop, she couldn't do anything.

Stetson-man grabbed some of the flour from the container on her worktable and threw it toward the floor near the door. She turned and stared over the display case. The flour covered small gingerbread men, holding bows and arrows aimed directly at her.

She should've looked before now, but didn't consider them a threat. They were, after all, only about six inches tall. What could they do with those weapons, anyway?

"What's that?" she asked and pointed. "Why are there small cookies shooting at you?"

"Not your issue, Toots." Stetson-man aimed and shot again. "Take that, you rotten cookies, you!"

"Cookies?" Even though she knew he was telling the truth, Lyra couldn't believe it. She glanced at Stetson-man and then darted her eyes downward over the case and to the showroom floor. In that instant, a tiny arrow sailed through the air and struck her left arm.

"You've been hit," Stetson-man said.

Lyra stared at the tiny army of gingerbread men, angrier than ever. Her head suddenly felt woozy and she staggered backward.

"Sit down," Stetson-man said. "I'm about out of ammo. Do you have any milk here?"

"Milk?" That was an odd request. He must be thirsty. But in battle? She fell into a chair at the table where she'd been working. "Why?" She felt so dizzy all of a sudden.

"That's my ammo. It makes them dissolve. Haven't you ever seen cookies in milk?"

"Uh-huh." Her life was filled with cookies, but right now, she didn't care. Instead, she watched the mysterious man shoot over the counter, and then duck. Before she could enjoy the show for more than a moment, everything swam in her eyesight. That's all she remembered.
pictures of a gingerbread man pictures of a gingerbread man pictures of a gingerbread man

"Lady," she heard. "Lady, wake up. I've treated your wound but need to know if you're diabetic."

"Diabetic?" She forced her eyes open and saw the ceiling. She must be lying on the shop floor. "Why?"

"They shot you with a quick-acting concentrated sugar compound. I need to give you an antidote."

She looked up at him, holding a syringe in his hand.

Lyra moved away as much as she could. "Who are you?"

"Name's Rick Shilling." He nodded as if he were the good guy in an old western movie. "I'm going to save your life. Now are you diabetic or not?"

"No. It doesn't run in my family, either."

"Good." He pushed up her short sleeve and shoved the needle into her skin. Pain filled the spot.

She grabbed her arm and tried to sit up. "Oww! You're an idiot. You have no right to shoot me up with whatever."

He pulled the needle out of her arm and pushed her back to the floor. "Stay there. The enemy's gone. I dissolved all of them, for now." He moved his gaze toward the display cabinet. "You might want to clean up a bit. There's gingerbread and flour everywhere over there. It's a confectionary mess."

She forced herself to sit up, but her head still swam a bit, so she lay back down.

"Told ya," the man said. "You really need to listen to me and lie down. I also shut the door, so it'll be warmer in here again. Sorry about that, but I needed to contain the Gingerbread Gang and lure them into some place they'd feel familiar."

"What was your name again? I want to know who to tell the cops to arrest."

He chuckled. "Rick Shilling, but they'll never find me."

"Why's that?"

"I'm not...from around here."

What a weird guy. Her initial assessment was correct. "So? They can find you anywhere."

He shook his head. "Nope. They won't find me."

She sighed. "You're in Nutmeg, Colorado, right now, which is close to the center of the state. Even though it's not very mountainous here, the town's surrounded by them. I doubt you can get out of the state before they find you."

He shot her a big smile, but she wasn't impressed. "I can do it," he said.

"You're an American, right?"


He had to be lying, but she needed to know. "No? You sound American. Canadian, then?"

He laughed. "Hunh-uh. I'm not from North America or any of the Americas."

Weird. "Europe?"

He shook his head. "Try again."

"Australia, Africa, Asia?"

He seemed pensive. "The three A's. Been there, but not from there."

"That leaves..." She had to think of a few mnemonic devices to remember all the continents. What was left? "Antarctica?"

He snorted. "Antarctica? That's just cold. Who lives there, anyway? Penguins, seals, albatross, a few birds, some whales, and that's about it. No people live there full time. They'd be people-sickles if they did." He seemed amused with himself. "People-sickles. The thought's hilarious."

The guy was a little too confident in himself, but Lyra had to keep going. "If you're not from any of the continents, then you're not from this earth."

He touched his nose with a grin. "Bingo!"

She backed away from him, sitting up fast. "You're an alien?" she whispered. She lowered her head slightly from lightheadedness, but recovered after a moment.

He nodded.

He never should've come to Earth and she had to warn him. "The authorities will want you in their labs."

He laughed again. "No, they won't. They already know about my kind and about me. We have an agreement involving cash. So it's all good."

"An agreement...with cash? What are you talking about?"

"Well, I'm an Entity Exterminator. I get called when anyone needs an entity eliminated. They pay me in silver and I move on."

But she didn't understand. "Entity."

He flipped open a small screen on his watch. The thing became bigger as soon as it completely flipped. "Here's the definition of Entity..."

She sighed. "I know what entity is. It's a being. I get that." She pointed at his watch. "I want one of those. Is it connected to Wi-Fi?"

He chuckled and shut the watch, returning it back to a standard wristwatch. "Earthlings. No, but it has your entire internet without any connection as you know it. You'll get it someday on this planet. But for now, it's highly confidential and you've never seen this." He tilted his head with a stern look. "Right?"

She wasn't about to argue with an alien. He might have super powers or something like mind control. "Yes, sir. So you hunt beings. You're like a ghost hunter?"

"Not just ghosts but anything. In this case, a Koala bear hired me to get the pesky Gingerbread Gang out of his territory. He paid me half my fee already, and now, I just have to make sure the rest of the gang is gone, and he'll pay me the rest. Easy money, too."

Unable to believe her ears, she just stared.

He waved his hand in front of her face. "Hey, Lady. Are you having a seizure? I have anti-seizure meds in my bag." He reached in, but she grabbed his arm.

"Wait." She shook her head. "Back up. A Koala?"

"Yep. His name's Harcourt."

"How...why..." She shook her head, not even sure how to word it. But she had to find out more. "How did you ever talk to a Koala?"

Rick sighed. "He opens his mouth and talks. Haven't you ever talked to one yourself?"

Lyra shook her head and pinched her arm. "I'm asleep. I'm dreaming, right?"

"No," he said in a slow fashion. "Are you on meds for craziness or something? Are you sure you're not diabetic? You're acting really crazy."

But he wasn't crazy? Unbelievable.

He just didn't get it. "I'm not on anything and I'm not diabetic. I'm a baker and part owner of this fine establishment." She waved her hand, indicating the Cookie Fairy House. "But you sound insane. No one talks to animals..." She glanced around them and leaned closer. "And no one gets a response back from them," she whispered.

"I do." He stood up and offered her his hand. "I'm going to help you clean this up. Harcourt will be really happy I found some of the gang."

With his help, she got to her feet and dusted herself off. "Well, good luck with all of it. Tell Harcourt..." She paused. "Where does Harcourt live?"

"Duh." He rolled his eyes. "Australia. Where do you think he lives? I got half the silver fee for this job, too."

"Why silver? I'd think you'd rather have gold."

"I need silver. It's in high demand on my world." He headed out of the work area and around the display case. "Wow. This is major carnage of the cookie kind." He turned his blue eyes back toward her. "Got a broom and maybe some dynamite?"
pictures of a gingerbread man pictures of a gingerbread man pictures of a gingerbread man

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


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!!


Get free stuff online!   How cool is this?  

If you’re looking for affordable (free) Christmas presents, check this out:  I had no idea there were things for free on Ebay, for example.


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:

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 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--"


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."


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: (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 ( here’s a recipe for you to make and enjoy.  YUMMO!!!


  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 (, 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  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.


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.

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):

How to make a sock monkey:

How to make a sock snowman (2 different links):

Go crazy with your socks today!