Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Food for Thought—Are There Flowers in My Salad?

This month I’ve been talking about things to make with edible flowers. Since salads are one of my favorite things, I decided to wrap up the month with a recipe that is quick, easy, nutritious and delicious.

To keep things simple, I buy baby salad greens that are pre-washed and ready to eat, and I support local growers whenever I can. Which usually means they’re organic, so that’s an added bonus. One of my family’s favorites is a “gourmet” blend of baby greens that includes nasturtiums and other flower petals. Very pretty.

To prepare the salad, put a generous handful of greens on each salad plate, drizzle on the dressing, and serve. What could be simpler?

I prefer a nice, light dressing that enhances rather than masks the delicate flavors of the flowers and the baby greens. This one is yummy, and only takes a couple of minutes to prepare.

Honey-Yogurt Dressing

1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste (optional)

Put the ingredients in a bowl, whisk them together, and you’re good to go.

To jazz things up a little, add thin slices of apple or pear, a few craisins, some chopped pecans, cubes of mild cheese, or anything else your heart desires.

On a somewhat related note, have you ever tried to identify the various types of baby greens in a salad mix? Earthbound Farm has a fabulous ID chart. Check it out!

Until next time,

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Castle—a new-this-season TV show—went into reruns this week. I didn’t have time to watch it when it first aired but have heard lots of raves about it, so decided to give it a try.

Wow! I love, love, love it!

The pairing of an uptight, by-the-book detective (heroine) and a laid-back, smooth-talking mystery writer (hero) is one of my favorites. Reminds me of The Big Easy.

I haven’t seen enough of Castle to pin down the character archetypes, but I’d say they’re perfectly layered. From what I’ve seen so far, Detective Kate Beckett is a Crusader-Librarian and mystery writer Richard Castle is a Bad Boy-Charmer.

Their banter is witty and fast-paced, the first two episodes had lots of laugh-out-loud moments, and early on we see meaningful glimpses into their personal lives. In other words, brilliantly written!

Since summertime is notorious for poor TV-viewing options, I’m so glad I saved Castle for reruns. Now I have something to look forward to every week.

Until next time,

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuesday News—Writing and Gardening

For the past couple of days I’ve been clattering at the computer and puttering in the garden.

My “garden” consists of things growing in containers. They’re easy to plant, easy to maintain, and super easy on the eye. This weekend I planted six hanging baskets—four to go in the bench arbor my husband built last summer, one for the front porch, and one for the folly.

This photo of the arbor was taken last summer.

I also filled a large terra cotta pot with three varieties of ornamental grass. I love the look and texture of them.

I’m also happy to report that my sunflowers—two different varieties that grow to about two feet—have sprouted! Before long thet'll be a feast for the eyes, and for the birds.

Once of these days I'll post some photos.

Story ideas also flourished this weekend. I’m working on finishing my next book, and I’ve been bothered by the idea that something was missing. The problem was...what? This weekend I finally figured out that the final chapter was missing.

I know what you're thinking. How can there not be a last chapter?

Actually, I thought I had one, but it turns out that what I thought was the last chapter moves into second-to-last place, and I’m really loving the new ending. Which might even be considered an epilogue. We’ll see.

I'm also brainstorming a new title. My working title is Halway to the Stars, which fits the San Franciso setting but not the story. So I came up with a list of new ones and have narrowed it to three. Before I submit the manuscript, I'll set up a poll and let you help me decide which one to use.

That’s all the news for this week. Until next time,


Monday, May 25, 2009

Contest Winners, and This Week with the Wet Noodle Posse

Congratulations to Sheryl and JOYE! You have both won an eBook copy of With This Ring. Please email me via my website (the link is in the sidebar) and I will send them along.

This is the Wet Noodle Posse’s last week of blog posts on sisterhood, and here's what we have planned:

Monday: Delle Jacobs talks about “Substitute Sisters”

Tuesay: Theresa Ragan’s topic is TBA

Wednesday: Merrillee Whren, also TBA

Thursday: Maureen Hardegree shares some “Favorite Sistertime

Friday: Q&A Day
Until next time,

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Will the Real Lee McKenzie Please Stand Up?

That’s also the title of my post on the Harlequin American Romance Authors blog today. I hope you’ll drop by!

Today I’m also giving away an eBook copy of With This Ring (cover in the sidebar). For a chance to win, simply post a comment here and/or on the Harlequin American Romance Authors blog. For each comment you post, your name will be entered in the draw.

Winners will be announced tomorrow here on The Writer Side.

Until next time,

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Food for Thought—More on Edible Flowers

At last Sunday’s family dinner I served a Lavender-flavored Fruit Crisp for dessert—the recipe posted last Friday. I used frozen blueberries and cranberries because fresh blueberries were crazy expensive and I already had a bag of cranberries in the freezer. I added a full teaspoon of lavender, made the topping with chopped pecans, and served it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

When we were finished eating, my daughter asked, “Is there lavender in this?” My mother-in-law was surprised and sounded a little concerned as she asked, “Can you eat lavender?”

Yes, lavender is deliciously edible!

The only thing I would change about this recipe is the amount of sugar. Three-quarters of a cup of granulated sugar mixed with the fruit made it a bit too sweet. Next time I’ll cut that back by one-eighth and see if that makes a difference. My husband thinks it was too flowery and that I should cut back on the lavender, too. I thought that suggestion lacked conviction because he all but licked his dessert plate clean.

My research on gourmet flowers led me to, which has a fabulous glossary of edible petals and their uses. also has some great suggestions for serving edible flowers.

I still haven’t potted any pansies, but that’s on this weekend’s ToDo List. They’ll be great in salads. Pansies also remind me of my grandmother because they were one of her favorite flowers. When I was very young, she showed me the “kitten’s face” on the pansies in her garden. I still think of her when I see—or eat!—a pansy.

Until next time,

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tuesday News

Several items to note. Here’s what the Harlequin American Romance Authors are blogging about this week:

Friday, May 22—Writing Advice

Sunday, May 24—My blog day

Monday, May 25—News Day
I hope you’ll drop by for these, and for the regular posts by other American Romance authors.

Until next time,

Monday, May 18, 2009

This Week with the Wet Noodle Posse

Join The Posse for more great discussions about sisterhood.

Monday: Diane Gaston talks about “My Sisters”

Tuesday: Check out Theresa Ragan’s post on “Writing Friends”

Wednesday: Diane Gaston is back with “Sisters of the Moon—My Critique Group”

Thursday: Debra Holland’s post is TBA

Friday, May 22nd: Q&A
Have a wonderful week!

Until next time,

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Fun—Pink Depression Glass

Thirty years ago my grandmother gave me a pink depression glass sugar bowl. It may or may not have had a lid, and I assume the creamer (if she even had one) had been broken years earlier.

I love the look of old depression glass and it goes nicely with my old-fashioned “Blossom Time” china. The pattern of this depression glass is sometimes called “Sharon,” but it’s also known as “Cabbage Rose.” I like the latter name best.

I don’t remember my grandmother ever using the sugar bowl as a sugar bowl, probably because there was no creamer to go with it, but I remember her using it to serve the cranberry sauce at turkey dinners. After she gave it to me, the cranberry tradition has lived on.

Although it does a splendid job of serving up cranberry sauce, I’ve always kept an eye out for a creamer to match. This week I found one!

My grandmother’s sugar-bowl-slash-cranberry-server now has a companion, and I’m thinking a tea party would be a great way to celebrate. Anyone for a cuppa?

Until next time,

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Food for Thought—Lavender-Flavored Fruit Crisp

Here’s the first of this month’s recipes for dishes that use edible flowers. Since lavender is one of my favorites, and since I believe that every now and then we need to have dessert first, here’s a recipe for a luscious fruit crisp.

Lavender-Flavored Fruit Crisp

3 cups blueberries
1 cup cranberries
1/2 to 1 teaspoon lavender
3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup nuts (chopped pecans, chopped cashews, sliced almonds, etc.)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Stir together the blueberries, cranberries, lavender and sugar, and pour the mixture into a lightly buttered 8-inch-square ovenproof pan.

To make the topping, combine the oatmeal, flour, brown sugar and nuts. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the oatmeal-flour mixture.

Sprinkle the topping in an even layer over the fruit.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until filling is bubbly. Cool slightly and serve warm.

The blueberries and cranberries are chockablock with antioxidants, but I think any combination of fruit—apples and raspberries, blackberries and strawberries—will be delicious.


Until next time,

PS: The fresher the lavender, the more potent the flavor. If you buy lavender instead of growing your own, be sure it’s food grade.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rubber Duckie

I’m awfully fond of you—you might even be “the one”—but I am NOT having a bath.

Until next time,
Lee and Lucy

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tuesday News—Books and Chickens

On Saturday I attended a wonderful workshop—"One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Writing Category and Single Title Romance"—presented by YA author Shelley Adina.

After the workshop Shelley told me about her chickens. Yes, you heard me...chickens. Ten real live, egg-laying hens. She also has a large collection of chicken bric-a-brac. Which reminded me of fellow Harlequin American Romance author, Marin Thomas, who collects roosters. The bric-a-brac variety. As far as I know, she doesn't have a real one. To admire those roosters, go to Marin's website and click on "Marin's Attic."

I'm also sending congratulations to Marin. Her November ‘08 Harlequin American Romance, The Cowboy and the Angel, is a finalist for a Greater Detroit Romance Writers of America’s Booksellers’ Best Award. WTG, Marin!

While I’m on the subject of great reads, do check out this month’s American Romances, on shelves today!

The Marine’s Babies
by Laura Marie Altom

Once a Hero
by Lisa Childs

The Man Most Likely
by Cindi Meyers

Her Very Own Family
by Trish Milburn

Happy reading!

Until next time,

Monday, May 11, 2009

This Week with the Wet Noodle Posse

I’m blogging today with the Posse. I really hope you’ll drop by, and that you’ll check back for the rest of this week’s wonderful posts.

Monday, May 11th: Lee McKenzie—Sisterhood: In Sickness and in Health

Tuesday, May 12th: MJ Fredrick—Grandmother

Wednesday, May 13th: Karen Potter—You Gotta Have Friends

Thursday, May 14th: Diane Gaston, Amanda McCabe, and Deb Marlowe—The
Fitzsmanning Sisters

Friday, May 15th: Q&A Day

Until next time,

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sunday Fun

Moms, if you are honored with a cake today, I hope it’s one like this instead of one of these.

Or these!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Until next time,

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Swing

I believe this poem is classified as a nursery rhyme, but I still think it’s one of the loveliest pieces ever written.

The Swing
by Robert Louis Stevenson

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside—

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

A writing instructor once told me that with poetry, you have to make every word count. This poem only has eighty-one of them, yet it perfectly captures the exhilaration of being on a swing. I learned a lot from that teacher, but I still struggle and strive to do what appears effortless to Stevenson.

Until next time,

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Food for Thought—Edible Flowers

The herb garden in a pot that I mentioned on Tuesday is about to have some company. This summer I’ve decided to plant a variety of edible flowers, and I’ve decided to start with nasturtiums and pansies.

I think they’ll be great for adding color to salads and other dishes, and I found a great snack suggestion. Spread cream cheese on a slice of bread and “decorate” it with pansy petals. Yum.

Another suggestion is to freeze the flowers in an ice ring and use it in a punch bowl. I’ll have to plan a summer patio party so I have an excuse to try it!

Over the next few weeks I’ll be researching recipes, so the next few "Friday Food for Thought" segments will be all about edible flowers. If you have a favorite edible flower and/or a recipe to use it in, please share it.

Until next time,

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tuesday News

This month the Harlequin American Romance Authors are adding several fresh new features to the blog. In addition to authors’ regular blog days, we’ll also post:

  • Favorite Family Recipes on the 5th
  • Author News on the 6th and 25th
  • Household Cleaning Tips on the 11th
  • Writing Advice on the 22nd
  • Craft Ideas on the 30th
Each author still has her own blog day, and this month several of them will discuss one of our most-loved topics—heroes and their occupations. Yes, we’re talking handyman, police officer, cowboy...

What’s your favorite?

On the personal front, I'm so glad the weather has decided to synchronize itself with the calendar. It finally feels like spring, and I've started to do some container gardening on the patio. So far I have a "kitchen garden" that consists of a big pot filled with parsley (regular and Italian), rosemary, thyme and cilantro. At the end of the summer, I'll move the rosemary into its own pot. I also have seeds for two varieties of dwarf sunflowers to go into pots. The next project will be the hanging baskets.

Until next time,

Monday, May 4, 2009

This Week with the Wet Noodle Posse

On Friday, the Wet Noodle Posse introduced its May theme—Sisterhood. This week we get the ball rolling with these great posts.

Monday: Trish Milburn—“Sister-sister, Sister-friend”

Tuesday: Terry McLaughlin’s topic is TBA

Wednesday: Maureen Hardegree tells us about “A Little Girl Time: Vacationing with Friends”

Thursday: Maureen Hardegree on “Qualities that Make a Best Friend”

Friday: Q&A Day

Sure hope you’ll join us.

Until next time,

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday Fun—America’s Next Top Model

Last week I saw a fabulous pair of rain boots in a shop window. I didn’t dare go inside for a closer look because I knew I would be tempted to buy them. Besides, summer is almost here and no matter how much I want rain boots, I really don’t need them. Not even fun, gorgeous boots that make me smile every time I look at them. Which is often.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the boots, though, so several days later I went back to the shop. They had a pair in my size so I tried them on.

What can I say? Me and these boots? Meant to be.

See what I mean? What’s not to love about red rubber cowboy boots?

They’re from a California company called dav that sells “high fashion for wet days.” Fabulous boots, waterproof handbags, umbrellas, and accessories. Stunning stuff.

Especially these.

The store where I bought my red ones didn’t have the peacock boots, and it’s just as well. I might have been tempted to buy them instead. Or both.

But I’m better off with the red boots. Much more sedate, don’t you think?

Now you’re probably wondering what this has to with America’s Next Top Model. Well, yesterday I met two writer friends for one of our three-hour lunch rituals, and we went to a restaurant that’s right across the street from the shop where I bought the boots. And I had the boots on because it turns out that, to wear them, it doesn’t actually have to be raining.

After lunch, my friends thought they should take a picture of me in the boots. Next thing I knew, we were in the shop and had permission to take a picture of me in their window! Here I am in what is almost sure to be my first and last photo shoot.

Here’s the funny part. People walking by stopped to watch, and many decided to come into the store. A few even asked me and my friends for help finding sizes! Did they think it was a real fashion shoot? Hm. Maybe I could be America’s Next Top Model.

Or not.

I'll settle for a red handbag and umbrella to match.

Until next time,

Friday, May 1, 2009

More Nature Notes

It's May! Summer's almost here!

Every Friday I usually post Food for Thought recipes, but since there are five Fridays in May and since today is May 1, I decided to introduce this month with more from The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden.

The chapter for May opens with a lovely pastoral scene—ewes and lambs enjoying some spring sunshine and a quiet moment. What a perfect way to spend an afternoon!

Edith’s notes for May include many references to birding.

“I saw a great variety of birds on the moor” (May 1st)

“...found two Blackbirds nests with eggs.” (May 2nd)

“A Pied Wagtail’s nest in a heap of cut granite in the quarry and a Black-bird’s nest in a cleft in the rock.” (May 6th)

She also included numerous references to spring flowers: yellow pimpernel, wood sorrel, blue milkwort, and marsh violets. On May 4th she “Found a ripe strawberry.” I'll bet it was fresh, sweet, and still warm from the sunshine. Luscious.

This illustration really does capture springtime, doesn’t it?

Can you spot the butterfly? I'm not sure I can!

Then there’s the weather. “Eighth day without rain, and sixth of bright sunshine” (May 12th).

I'm with Edith on this one. Winter’s over and we’re seeing an end to the dreary April showers. Finally!

In her May notes, she quotes some of my favorite poets—Tennyson, Milton, and this well-known passage from “Pippa Passes” by Robert Browning:

The year’s at the spring,
The day’s at the morn;
The morning’s at seven;
The hillside’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn,
God’s in his heaven;
All’s right with the world.
Happy May Day! I truly hope all is right with your world.

Until next time,