Saturday, November 29, 2008

On the Painted Soul Tour - Coffee at Bambi's

Today was a blast! I arrived at Bambi's by Java Dave around 10am.

Bambi, the owner is a friend of mine and as excited as I was to do an event in her shop. Before she even poured a cup of Black Cherry Tea, I had sold two books!

While she took care of her customers, I had fun chatting with them. We shared some laughs and I sold more books. Some people I knew stopped in for a cup of java and some conversation.

Thank you a hundred times to Bambi for letting me hang out in her cute little coffee house for a few hours. I had a lot of fun! HUGS!
Bambi's by Java Dave
4632 State St. -Green Acres Plaza
Saginaw, MI

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Twas the night before Thanksgiving and in my sleep.
Strange dreams in my mind, began to creep
Thanksgiving leftovers beckoned --- The dark meat and white,
But I fought the temptation with all of my might.

Tossing and turning with anticipation......
The thought of a snack became infatuation.....
So to the kitchen I did race, Flung open the door,
And gazed at the fridge full of goodies galore.
I gobbled up turkey and buttered potatoes,
Pickles and carrots, beans and tomatoes.

I felt myself swelling so plump and so round,
Till all of a sudden, I rose off the ground !!

I crashed through the ceiling. Floating into the sky....
With a mouthful l of pudding and a handful of pie,
But I managed to yell as I soared past the trees....................


Monday, November 24, 2008

Cleaning Day - A Helping Hand

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, it's easy to become overwhelmed with cleaning the house, preparing the meal, plus the usual day-to-day activities. Don't be afraid to ask for help because there isn't a Thanksgiving Fairy to do the work for you.

Delegate chores; recruit hubby, kids, friends, relatives! Be prepared and have patience as others will bombard you with questions and resist the urge to "do it yourself". Divide the grocery list between kids and turn it into a scavenger hunt. Assign food items to be brought by guests or make the meal more of a pot-luck style.

Take a deep breath to relax and ease tension. Ask someone to rub your shoulders or even take care of the laundry while you soak in a tub! Reflect on "Turkey Days" of your childhood and share the memories with others while you work.

During this season of giving, one often forgets to be willing to receive. After all, receiving is just as important as giving and allow others to help. Remember the reason behind this season and be Thankful.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ladies Day in Bad Axe

What a fun night on the Painted Soul Book Tour! My friend, Kendra, and I left a little after 2:00pm for Reading & Rhythm in Bad Axe, MI. The two hour drive flew by and we arrived early for the event. All day was Ladies Day in Downtown Bad Axe; specials, sales and events for women were offered everywhere.

Murder/mystery author, Denise Collins, joined me at R&R for book signings. Kendra went Christmas shopping. Heh, heh.

Traffic was better during the day but we still had fun. I strolled around the store carrying a dish of Hersey kisses schmoozing with the customers.

Me: "Wanna kiss?"
Customer smiles at my dish of candies: "Why sure."
Me: "Do you like romance?"
Customer gives another smile.
Me: "Books that is..."
Customer giggles and follows me to my table to "check out my latest romance novel".

Things got a little silly when a discussion turned to the fact that women who read romance books have sex 73% more often than women who don't. Matt, the book shop owner decided to purchase a copy of Painted Soul for his wife.

I love meeting romance readers. The best part is celebrating being women... uh.. I mean... Romance Divas!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Humpday Help - Chocolate Chip Cookies

Wednesday is the perfect reason to bake chocolate chip cookies. Hot from the oven will certainly get anyone over the hump of the week. What? You don't have time to bake? Well here are two variations of the easiest cookie recipe in the world.

1 box of yellow cake mix
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
2Tbsp water
1 cup of milk chocolate chips
Bake at 350' for 10-12 min. Cool 1 min before removing from sheet.

Another version:
1 box of french vanilla cake mix
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Bake at 375' for 9-11 min. Let cool 1 min before removing from sheet.

This recipe is great when the kids want to bake. It's quick, easy and they'll be done before their attention span wanes.

Cookies left in the air will harden and make excellent dunkers. If you wish to keep them soft, place the heal from a loaf of bread into the cookie jar.

The only thing better than good friends and chocolate chip cookies is sharing the cookies with good friends.

Ahhhh... the sweet life...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Another Stop on the Painted Soul Tour - Bad Axe, MI

It's Ladies Day
at Reading & Rhythm
with Romance Writer
Mary Quast

The author will be signing copies of her latest novel, displaying the original artwork she created for the cover of Painted Soul. Copies of Painted Soul will be available for purchase.

Enter to win a Diva Gift Basket from Mary.

Thursday, Nov. 20
Reading & Rhythm110 E. Huron Ave.
Bad Axe, MI
(989) 269-6300

Cleaning Day - Gotta Love Those Totes!

I'm approaching the end of my little book tour and I'm oh so thankful for the person who invented plastic totes. My faithful bin has been incredibly helpful carrying my books, posters, book stands, easels, and other odd-n-ends to my signing events.

I use these same totes for storing out of season clothes, hunting clothes, sporting goods, camping gear, holiday decorations and rummage sale items. With a label on each bin, searching for an item is easy.I love the clear bins so I can see exactly what's inside. Plus, using these bins helps clear the clutter!

They stack nicely in a closet, on a shelf, or against a wall. Items inside are protected from mice in the attic or a flooding basement. I like to keep cedar bars or fragrant sachets in bins holding clothing. I even have a wafer-like disc that smells like leaves and dirt I put into the bin holding my husband's hunting clothes.

I've taken three small bins and made them into time capsules for my sons. The outfit each boy wore the day he came home from the hospital and the one he wore for his baptismal are in the bins. Early artwork, items from birthday parties, notes from relatives, newspapers from the day each was born... these are all items in their bins.

Several bins hold art supplies for the classes I teach. Having such organized bins makes it easy for me to pack for a lesson outside of my studio.

Uses for totes are endless and you can still use those fun packing peanuts.
What can you fit into a tote?

You know... that bin might get a bit too heavy and you might need a little help carrying it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Another Stop on the Painted Soul Tour

I woke to rain at 6am in Caro, MI on opening day of firearm deer season. I was in the Thumb and this area is known for having large deer herds. During breakfast we watched deer cross the field next to the driveway.

On our drive to Deckerville for the book signing event, we were very alert watching for deer. Some ran across the road in front of the car, others simply ran out of the woods into fields. Every acre had a pickup truck parked on a two-track or a deer blind with a flash of orange inside. Welcome to Michigan!

Deer hunting is a part of life in many parts of this state. Especially in these tough economic times. My husband already brought in two deer from bow season and are now neatly packaged in our freezer. Many wonderful dishes will be made this winter for my family with the meat.

Anyways.... once arriving in Deckerville we wandered Main St. for a bit. Cute little town. Most of the traffic was hunters coming in for breakfast. There was a large craft show "crowded with deer hunter widows" being held at a school. The Deckerville high school football team was in regional so two busloads of locals left to cheer the players.

We dallied for a bit in a quaint resale shop. All proceeds from the shop stay in the community for charities and the local food pantry. I purchased a long leather coat for $20, a pair of black jeans for $1 and a few small items. My friend Deb found a few treasures as well.

Tracy, the owner of TLC Used Books, greeted us when we walked in and helped set me up at a lovely antique wrought iron table. We had fun chatting with customers and shared some laughs when I passed out Hersey kisses saying, "Do you wanna kiss?".

Despite the dreary day, the event was successful. Thank you to Tracy for inviting me! I hope to return in the spring!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Book Signing Event

Romance Writer
Mary Quast

The author will be signing copies of her latest novel, displaying the original artwork she created for the cover of Painted Soul, and chatting with friends over coffee.

Enter to win a Diva Gift Basket from Mary.

Copies of Painted Soul will be available for purchase.

Painted Soul, the debut novel of Quast’s Soul Series is edgy and fresh. A contemporary romance with a twist, Painted Soul is a story that takes the reader on a wonderful ride in an artist’s life, through the streets of London, and into the shadows of the underground.

Saturday, Nov. 15
TLC Used Books
Deckerville, MI

“Quast’s emotionally charged and intensely romantic novel is so well researched and so exquisitely told. I will be looking for more of Mary’s work; that is for sure!” -Karen Mayes, contemporary romance reviewer.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Humpday Help - Give me Coffee!!!!!

I love flavored coffee! It really picks me up any time of the day. I don't mean the caffeine... I simply enjoy the hot beverage. Oh, don't get me wrong, I still am a tea totter.

On November 29th, I'll be at a friend's coffee house promoting my book. I look forward to sampling her teas. There is an array of natural flavors I've never seen and look forward to trying; especially those with "Vanilla" in the name. Yep... I can see myself lounging by the fireplace in the shop sipping my tea, chatting with the regular customers.

However, I love how I can go up to the counter and say, "I like coffee and chocolate. You decide." My friend, Bambi or her daughter, will smile and begin making me a wonderful surprise. It's like a mini Christmas gift when I hold that cup in my hand; not really knowing what is inside. Is it a Latte, Cappuccino, does it have whipped cream? I may know it's coffee with some kind of chocolate flavor, but there are so many varieties. Mocha, Mocha-caramel, Choco-mint, Choco-almond, Choco-cherry, Choco-hazelnut... the list is endless!

What? I can get it hot or iced! Oh wow! Can I have both?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cleaning Day - Chicken Soup

When Mom would get sick, Grandma would move in with her homemade chicken soup and cure the entire household from the common cold. Ironically, studies show that Gram was right. Chicken soup really can help you get over a cold!

Those miserable symptoms of the cold usually include coughing, sneezing, and a stuffy nose. Actual university studies have proven ingredients in chicken soup have anti-inflammatory properties that inhibit certain white blood cells from traveling into airways that contribute to the inflammation that causes cold symptoms.

Chicken soup contains compounds that also help inhibit mucus production. In addition to the soup's anti-inflammatory effects, the heat and steam may help open nasal passages especially if you add some garlic or cayenne pepper! Always drink the broth, researchers determined most of the help comes from the liquid.

Here's Grandma's recipe:
3-4 lb stewing chicken
1 onion
2 -3 qts water
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 tsp salt, dash pepper
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced carrots
2 cups noodles or 1/4 cup rice
Heat to boiling then simmer until meat is tender. Gram would simmer hers all day.
She also said you could always add lemon juice to "help cut a thick throat" or garlic for a stuffed up nose.

Grandam always thought ahead and would prepare batches of stock soup so she'd be ready at a moment's notice to aid her ailing family. In today's world, preparing ahead may also help the working mom.

Basic Chicken Stock
4-4 1/2 lbs chicken
2 large onions
3 carrots, leave skin on
1 leek, chopped
2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
season with: parsley, thyme, marjoram or tarragon, bay leaf

Put chix and veggies in bottom of a large pot, cover w/ about 2" of water. Bring to boil over med heat. A foam will begin to appear on the surface; skim off the foam w/ a slotted spoon. When stock reaches boiling point, reduce heat to low, add seasonings,simmer uncovered for 4-5 hours. If liquids falls below the solids, top w/ cold water. At the end of simmering, gently ladle the stock through a stainer into a large or several containers (canning jars work best). Store in fridge or freezer.

If you wish to keep more than just the stock; simmer for only 2-3 hours the remove meat from bones, place with veggies and stock back into pot and simmer for another 2 hours. Gently ladle into jars.

These "jars of health" make great get-well gifts too!

So be sure to eat your chicken soup, drink plenty of fluids, and get some rest when you feel the symptoms of a cold coming on.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mary Quast featured at Barnes & Noble Fall Authors Event

Romance Writer
Mary Quast

The author will be participating in Barnes & Noble Booksellers Fall Authors’ Event signing copies of her latest novel, displaying the original artwork she created for the cover of Painted Soul, and chatting with readers and fans.

Copies of Painted Soul will be available for purchase.
Painted Soul, the debut novel of Quast’s Soul Series is edgy and fresh. A contemporary romance with a twist, Painted Soul is a story that takes the reader on a wonderful ride in an artist’s life, through the streets of London, and into the shadows of the underground.

“Quast’s emotionally charged and intensely romantic novel is so well researched and so exquisitely told,” says Karen Mayes, contemporary romance reviewer, “I will be looking for more of Mary’s work, that is for sure!”

Painted Soul can also be purchased online at

Saturday, November 8
1:00pm – 3:00pm
Barnes & Noble
3311 Tittabawassee Rd
Saginaw, MI
(989) 790-9214

Monday, November 3, 2008

Humpday Help - "What's a Bodice Ripper?"

Being a writer in the romance genre, I hear the term "Bodice Ripper" occasionally. Today's writers don't care for the term too much and are quick to correct the person who uses the phrase.

"Bodice Ripper" is considered a derogatory term for all romances. It was inspired by some early historical romances that featured rape fantasies or included rape as part of the plot. This term is used most often by people who do not read romance books.

Today's romance is sensitive to the needs and emotions of women. Rape is not part of today's storylines! Romance writers focus on the emotion and sensuality between characters; providing the reader a chance to escape from every day life into a variety of plots and a world of passion.

Erotic romance sometimes referred to as "romantica", is a story at the more erotic end of the romance spectrum. These adventures will include intense details of sexual liaisons that may happen frequently between the main characters and are vital to the plot. These stories are usually very sensual and emotional as a strong relationship develops between the characters.

Take a break this Humpday and check out an erotic romance. If you hear somebody call it "a bodice ripper" tell them to read one... they'll be hooked! Passion is such a wonderful word and so much, much more.

I think we all would like to have this sort of passion in our lives... but we certainly don't want our bodices ripped! We prefer them to be slowly undone with tender kisses and soft caresses.

Cleaning Day - Make Your Home Cozy

A cozy home is the result of mixing comfortable surroundings to create a nurturing and relaxing atmosphere. One doesn't need expensive furnishings but a cozy, welcoming home can be developed during your cleaning day.

I'm a junker. I love finding treasures at sales and using them to make my home cozy. But you don't have to run out to a sale to find treasures; clean out that closet or rummage around in the basement and attic. Look for items such as an old lamp that with a bit of elbow grease will shine a new light. Gather some photos and put them in some old frames to arrange a new display on a boring wall. Rescue vintage plates and display them as artwork.

If you're not in the mood to wrestle with a large project such as cleaning the attic; then tackle the washing. Wash your comforter or bedspread in lavender scented detergent for that cozy feeling in the bedroom. Wash those dingy curtains and look at a different way of hanging them; try some tiebacks, a new valance, or perhaps a homemade grapevine & silk floral swag. Take some old throw pillows, throw them in the dryer with a scented sheet then recover them with lovely silk or sheer scarves; attach a vintage pin for a fabulous new look!

Speaking of scarves... I love to drape them on tables for a romantic look. I also use them as a valance on curtains. Depending on the size and shape, you can create many items from scarves. I collect ones that catch my eye from rummage sales and Goodwill.

So, today while you're cleaning look for the small things you can change to add a little comfort to your home. Make your space the refuge from the busy world and the shelter from the storms of life. A cozy home is a place where you can be yourself and spend some valuable time be cozy with someone you love.