Honey Lemon Green Iced Tea

IcedGreenTea2Hope you’re having a wonderful summer so far! This  is a refreshing drink I often make during the warmer months.  It’s easy to make and has the perfect hint of sweetness.


8 Green Tea Bags
1/2 cup of honey
4 Lemons

Add boiling water and tea bags to your favorite tea pot and let it steep until cooled.  The tea will be dark.  Pour into a gallon pitcher, add honey to taste, juice from two lemons, and then add water until pitcher is full.  Slice lemons for garnish and enjoy!


Happy Summer!
🙂 Jan


Martini Monday, Strawberry Shortcake

HapHappyMartiniMondayLogopy Martini Monday!

This month’s martini is strawberry shortcake, a recipe I made on a whim next to the planned strawberry rhubarb. (One never knows what interesting recipes are contrived in my kitchen.)  Well, the strawberry shortcake martini won by two votes–according to discerning friends and family.

For those of you who are wondering why I’m suddenly posting martini recipes, the heroine of my current project is the chef and owner of a restaurant and martini bar, hence the sudden experimentation with original martini recipes. If you couldn’t tell, I’m having fun with this book!

(I will be posting a new recipe on the first Monday of every month.  As always, these recipes are for adults of legal drinking age and should be used responsibly.)

I wanted a summertime martini and the first thing that came to mind was strawberries.  I’m not sure if this is a popular flavor in your area, but here strawberry rhubarb pie and strawberry shortcake are the desserts of summer.  I made two versions of each for this month’s martini recipe, but the strawberry shortcake was the winner, if only by two votes.  Yes, my friends have to deal with me dragging them over for martini testing, although the “dragging” really only consists of a text.  🙂  


Strawberry Infused Vodka

The first task of this recipe is to make strawberry infused vodka.  From research, I learned to use a glass jar to steep the berries for a few days. I sliced one quart of fresh berries, poured the vodka over them and let the mixture steep for four days at room temperature.  Afterward, I strained the liquid back into the original bottle.  Be sure to use a fine strainer to remove all the strawberry seeds. Strawberry juices added to the liquid by almost a third extra in volume, so the alcohol isn’t quite as potent, but I’m not sure of its actual level.

StrawberryInfusedVodka   StrainedVodka


Strawberry Shortcake Martini Recipe

2.5 ounces of strawberry infused vodka
3 ounces of vanilla infused simple sugar
1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice

Pour into an ice filled shaker.  Shake several times for good luck, and then pour into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with sliced strawberry and enjoy!



Vanilla Simple Sugar Recipe
2 pods of fresh vanilla sliced lengthwise. Run a spoon or butter knife down the inside of the pod to gather the seeds and sticky goodness from inside the pod.  This is the best part, so add both the husks and insides to the water.  (Please use fresh vanilla pods.  Extract will give it an odd taste.)
6 cups of water
1/3 cup of sugar

This is more like a vanilla tea  than simple sugar, but the sweetness level is perfect with the vanilla pods.  You can adjust sugar to your taste.  Bring the vanilla, water and sugar to a boil.  Continue on a gentle boil for fifteen minutes.  Turn off heat and let the pods steep until liquid is cooled.  Strain several times until the seeds are no longer in the liquid.  Keep refrigerated.


Until next time, hope you’re enjoying your summer, sharing lots of laughs with friends, and reading something just for fun!




Martini Monday, Raspberry Chocolate Dream

MartiniMondayLogoI hope everyone is having a wonderful summer so far!   Now that Autumn Moon is complete I’m working on my next novel in a different series.  This one has a contemporary setting. Martinis are on the menu, along with a bit of suspense, a spunky heroine, and of course,  a toe-curling hero.

For the next year I will be sharing martini recipes on the first Monday of every month–because why should  Fridays get all the fun?  Twelve recipes, fully tested by adventurous friends and family members, beginning with  Raspberry Chocolate Dream.

Happy Martini Monday!


The inspiration for Raspberry Chocolate Dream:

So, I came up with this recipe by accident when I boiled raspberries for a dessert and they liquefied in the pan. What didn’t work for pastry works like a dream in martinis–hence the name. 🙂 First, you need to splurge on the good stuff–no plastic bottles allowed!  There’s no amount of raspberry sauce that will make these drinks taste good if you don’t.  The price can be  cringe worthy, but average that out with   ordering drinks with friends at your favorite restaurant/bar/lounge and you’ll feel better about the splurge. Also, and this should go without saying–but I’m going to say it anyway–you must be of drinking age in your country to try these!


ChocolateRaspberryDreamIngredientsWhat you’ll need:

~ a twelve ounce bag of frozen raspberries
~ 1/4 cup sugar
~ 4 cups of water
~ Chambord (raspberry liquor)
~ Vodka (Grey Goose is decent)
~ Crème de Cacao (I tried using Godiva but it curdled when combined with raspberries)
~ chocolate sauce (Ghirardelli syrup works great)
~ a  shaker filled with ice  and martini glasses



For the raspberry compote, add the frozen raspberries, sugar and water in a pan and bring to a boil.  Simmer for fifteen minutes until the berries liquefy and the seeds separate.  Cool and strain into a container.  Discard pulp.  I run the raspberry liquid through the strainer a few times just to make sure I’ve removed all the seeds.  Keep refrigerated until you’re ready to make the martinis.




Raspberry Chocolate Dream Martini Recipe:

1. Prep your glasses
Squeeze a  few circles of   chocolate sauce around cooled martini glasses

2. Prep your martini

~ 2 ounces of raspberry compote
~ 1 ounce of vodka
~ 1 ounce of Chambord

Combine in an ice-filled shaker; give it a good shake and strain   into glass.

~ top with a shot of Crème de Cacao


The next martini recipes I’m testing are strawberry rhubarb and caramel apple, so be sure to stop by the first Monday in August to see which one comes out best!

As always, I hope you’re reading something just for fun!

Celtic Wolves Series Blog Tour Schedule

Celtic Wolves Series Book Tour

Summer Moon Brew

Book launching and beer brewing–that’s what’s happening in my neck of the woods. Summer Moon (the book not the brew) is available  on  September 30, 2014! This is the second book in my Celtic Wolves Series, and I’m so excited for you to meet Luc and Rosa. I will be visiting several awesome book blogs over the next few weeks with giveaways, interviews, and all sorts of fun stuff, so be sure to check out my Happenings page.

Harvested Hops

Harvested Hops

Summer Moon Cover

Available September 2014

As for the beer brewing, I planted the hops vine a year ago and already it’s taking over my eastern arbor, as you can see in the photo below; the hops are on the left, and morning glory vines are on the right.

Hops and Morning Glories

Hops and morning glory vines.

This is my first attempt with fresh hops, and I will let you all know how it turns out. I chose an IPA recipe and it has been happily bubbling all week.

beer brewing

Adding hops to the brew.

It's perking...

It’s perking…

My Autumn 2014 newsletter will be sent soon. You can subscribe here. Elen’s double chocolate hazelnut cookie recipe will be included. (Yes, I’m teasing you with beer and chocolate. Shameless, I know.)

Garden Tea

Elen’s double chocolate cookies

Wherever you are, I hope you’re having a beautiful September!

All my best,

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Romantic Times Book Lover’s Convention 2014

I just returned from my first ever Romantic Times Book Lover’s convention.  It was crazy and wonderful. The readers, bloggers, and authors were gracious and welcoming, and it all took place in New Orleans, one of my favorite cities in the world.  I’m thinking that pictures will be more fun than words with this post, so enjoy..

The Nesting Arbor

I saw my first robin yesterday, a happy sign of spring after a long winter, and it inspired me to clean out the bird houses around the yard and hang a basket of goodies for birds to build their nests. The cardinals, chickadees, finches and winter wrens stay throughout the year, but it is always a welcome sign to see the summer birds arrive once again. For my bird goodies, I just use a feeder basket that can be purchased at most grocery stores and bird feed suppliers, and fill it with strings of cut yarn no longer than five inches. I keep it as natural as possible, using wool yarn not overly treated with chemicals or dye. The birds have already pulled some of the strings and will weave them into their nests.

Birds seem to love my garden, especially the central arbor, even though it arches over a well-traveled gateway to the vegetable garden beyond. I have begun to call this the nesting arbor. Five nests were built last year within the wisteria vines that cover it, and throughout winter I keep the bird feeder well stocked.

Here are a few pictures I took of the nesting arbor in my cottage garden this morning. It may seem colorless–but if you look closely you’ll see the wisteria has begun to bud…

Nesting Basket

Bird basket full of nest building goodies.
Notice the nest above from last summer that I haven’t had the heart to remove.

Bird House

Cleaning out the old nests before spring birds arrive to build new ones.
The mama bird who stayed here last summer loved morning glory seeds.
And I wondered why I didn’t have many seedlings last year. Now I know. 🙂

Swinging Squirrel

As you can see, I don’t chase my squirrels away from the feeders.

Cardinal and Finches

Cardinal and finches taking their turn on the feeder.

I never see the nests that are built on the nesting arbor until fall when the leaves shed from the vines, but I do enjoy watching the birds jumping in and out of the arbor with treats in their beaks for their eager young ones. Their high-pitched tweets echo throughout the garden when Mama arrives back in the nest.

Nesting Arbor

Nesting arbor in summer.

Wherever you are in the world, may signs of spring be in your midst!
Best wishes,

Reach for the stars

One afternoon, not so long ago, I found this attached to my basement wall.  It’s artwork from one of my son’s friends duct-taped in their hangout room.  So, here’s a warning: Once attached to my home I get to keep it–especially if it’s cool.  🙂

UFO Graphic

Artwork taped to wall.

UFO Artwork

Of course I had to frame it!

You’ll be hearing from me again soon!  Until then, reach for the stars!


My first book signing

CELTIC MOON coverCeltic Moon is now available! It seems so surreal to finally type those words. As many of you know, the path to publication is not easy. For me, it took six novels and ten years, but I am grateful for the opportunity, and for the journey that has brought me to this wonderful place. I hope you enjoy the adventure as much as I enjoyed writing it.

This week has been filled with several heart-warming moments, a few of which I must share. Yesterday, the Bangor Public Library hosted my very first book signing. All proceeds from this signing were donated to the library. My publishing house (ACE/Penguin) graciously donated books for this event. Honestly, I had not expected to go through them all, but am so thrilled to announce that the library sold every single one and raised almost eight hundred dollars.

I have fond memories of this library, having worked there for many years. I have since retired, but over the years patrons have given me grape vines, perennials, herbs and garlic, because they knew I loved to garden–and enough recipes to create a cookbook. If I mentioned my overrun zucchini plants I would have hand-written recipes using zucchini given to me throughout the day. I’m smiling now as I write this next tidbit, because I once blogged about the increased popularity of erotic literature and erotic movies like those shown on www.tubev.sex, and I had some interesting titles secretly appearing in my box and on my desk from patron’s private collections. I remember organizing a writing group for teens, their enthusiasm and creativity, and later, a published book from one of the members. A co-worker and I co-founded a book group that was featured in a cover story of the Library Journal and was awarded a grant to buy ereaders for all its members. Later, I was thrilled to watch that same co-worker accept the RWA’s librarian of the year award.

Having my first book signing in a place that has brought me such joy was the perfect way to launch my debut novel! I will admit it was somewhat strange to be sitting on the other side of that desk.

Library Book Signing

My first book signing at the Bangor Public Library.

Sweets from the library signing

And what’s a book signing without coffee and sweets?


So, to everyone who came to the library to buy a copy of Celtic Moon—THANK YOU! I truly appreciate your support. I will leave you with a quote from the Library Journal because I think it’s fitting. The quote is from me, about this library, its patrons and readers, and our shared love of books.

Until later,

One summer night DeLima was struck with how little things have changed as she and her colleagues were locking up after a long day at the library. “Our book group members had moved on to the front lawn and were still laughing and talking about their favorite reads–this diverse group, patrons of all ages and lifestyles, had found a common joy,” she says. “Whether we download to an ereader or read the traditional way in paper and print, we still want to share our love of books with others.”

~Library Journal, September 2011

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Take a photo stroll around my cottage garden

I have been tucked away in my office writing, so I haven’t done much this year to my little cottage garden. However, my garden didn’t seem to mind, because summer has arrived in full bloom without me. I have more hummingbirds this year, butterflies, birds, and bumblebees than ever before. In the mornings, when I walk around with my first cup of coffee, it is like listening to a symphony of nature. It is so beautiful. One day I’ll have to post a video on my blog or directly on my Instagram story so you all can enjoy the birds with me. I suppose I’ll need to look at getting some free followers before I start posting online, I’m not much of an Instagrammer!

My garden is only small but I love it just the way it is. At the minute, it’s manageable. However, when I get older, I may not be able to keep on top of all of the jobs that need to be done to ensure the garden looks lovely. In that case, I’ll probably need to find someone who can sort my garden for me. Perhaps a company like https://www.lawncare.net/ could maintain the garden, it’s worth keeping a business like that in mind for when we all get older!

Although my garden is smaller than others, I was speaking to one of my friends from Australia the other day though and she told me that she is currently in the process of having a granny flat built her in a large garden. Her parents are not as mobile as they used to be so she wants them to live as close to her as possible. It turns out there are plenty of granny flat builders in the Sydney area who can create the granny flat of your dreams provided you have enough space. I thought it was such a lovely idea as caring for your loved ones is so important.

Back to my garden now though and I love perennials, and I tend to choose hardy ones that come back each year without fuss. Peonies, poppies, Dutchman’s pipe, climbing roses, wisteria, clematis, honeysuckle, and allium are all in bloom. Everyone always asks how much time this takes to maintain, and truly, it isn’t much. I do one round of weekend weeding and mulching each year in the spring, and then let it go for the rest of the season, except for an occasional offender I might see while walking about in the evenings when my husband is grilling.

Although, for whatever reason, clover abounds in my flower beds this year. I’m just going to take that as a sign of good luck. Here are a few pictures I took yesterday. There will be another round of photos come mid-summer, when my daisies, coneflowers, dahlias, sunflowers and morning glories arrive.

Until then, here’s a little photo stroll through my garden in June…

Pinks and Poppies

Pinks and poppies spill over the walkway.

Lantern through the garden gate

Open the garden gate to where the lanterns have been hung.

Peony Bouquet

Pick a bouquet of peonies for the table, and don’t mind the ants because they are working hard to pollinate them for next year.

Grape buds

Grapes have begun to grow. They were a gift from a library patron and are over five years old now. Maybe this year we’ll try to make wine. Or drink someone else’s attempt and eat the grapes.

Sugar water over hanging plants

Boil some sugar water and fill the feeders.


For the hummingbirds to enjoy.

Hostas and Clematis

Hostas keep the clematis’ roots cool.

Gate Keeper

The gate keeper assesses the situation…


And then snuggles into her favorite shaded spot.

Climbing Roses

The climbing roses have begun to open. They get one uninterrupted bloom before the Japanese beetles hatch and much away.

Dutchman's Pipe Vine

The Dutchman’s pipe vines its way around the garden bell. Look closely and you’ll see it’s in bloom. Maybe this year we’ll get Dutchman Pipe butterflies.

Hope you all have a wonderful summer!

Best wishes,

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