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Jamie Ayres and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

The talented Jamie Ayres is my guest blogger today. We have a lot in common. We love to write, enjoy teaching and we both live in paradise. Here is a brief description of her book, a tasty recipe and an excerpt. I hope you enjoy it.

Book Summary


With the lessons the 18 Things life list taught her engraved on her heart, Olga embarks on a new adventure as a spirit guide, but nothing prepares her for the chilling truths she’s learning along the way.

Lying is unbearable, betrayal is inevitable, and choosing which path to take is impossible.

Olga Gay Worontzoff ended her senior year as an eighteen-year-old girl totally in love with Nate, enjoying their new romance and about to attend the university of her dreams. Now she’s spending her summer in the weird subculture of the Underworld, with charmingly witty and powerful angels, and problematic demons, trying to rescue Connor, the best friend and secret crush she was unable to save during a freak accident.

But Nate has other things on his mind, mainly Grace. She’s their first assignment as joint spirit guides, and Olga’s feeling hurt and jealous. His mysterious behavior has Olga questioning everything she believed about him and now she must decide whether to stick to their plan, or follow her heart.

Unfortunately, a series of mistakes threatens everyone around her and plants Olga in the center of cosmic events much larger than she ever imagined.

Only one thing is certain: the chilling truths uncovered during her journey will leave no one untouched.

18 Truths Book Trailer


Add 18 Truths to your Goodreads

Amazon Barnes and Noble Jaime Ayers Jamie Ayres writes young adult paranormal love stories by night and teaches young adults as a Language Arts middle school teacher by day. When not at home on her laptop or at school, she can often be found at a local book store grabbing random children and reading to them. So far, she has not been arrested for this. Although she spent her youthful summers around Lake Michigan, she now lives in Florida with her prince charming, two children (sometimes three based on how Mr. Ayres is acting), and a basset hound. She really does have grandmothers named Olga and Gay but unlike her heroine, she’s thankfully not named after either one of them. She loves lazy pajama days, the first page of a good book, stupid funny movies, and sharing stories with fantastic people like you. Her books include the first two installments of her trilogy, 18 Things and 18 Truths. Visit her online via Twitter, Facebook, or at

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes


1 package of Chocolate Cake Mix
1 container of Creamy Vanilla Frosting
½ cup of creamy peanut butter
15 miniature peanut butter cup candies, wrappers removed, cut in half vertically

•Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper lines in 30 muffin cups.
•Prepare, bake, and cool cupcakes following package directions for basic recipe.
•Combine Vanilla frosting with peanut butter in medium bowl. Stir until smooth. Front one cupcake. Decorate with peanut butter cup candy, cut side down. Repeat with remaining cupcakes, frosting, and candies. Makes 30 cupcakes. Served best with coffee or chocolate milk!

And now, a sneak peek from Chapter 6 of 18 Truths, where Nate & Olga have just met their first spirit guide assignment & decided getting cupcakes is the best way to get to know her!

Grace backed up a step. “I never said I needed a friend. I said I needed cake.”

“You know, I saw a shop called Hey Hey Cupcake on the way to school. We should go there and get you a red velvet cupcake.” Even I could hear the desperation in my voice, but I crossed my fingers, hoping she’d say yes.

She smiled. “They do have really good cupcakes.” Finally, she found her car keys in one of the front pockets of her purse. “But I’m driving. Dad would kill me if he knew I got into a stranger’s car. Besides, you scare me.”

I nodded. Technically, the license I’d obtained a few months ago didn’t count since the test happened during my Limbo timeline, and Nate had never gotten his back after the accident either. And I didn’t blame her for being scared of me. Truth was, I think I would’ve bolted by now. Grace had no reason to trust us. Not yet anyway.

We headed to the parking lot together. No campus security stopped us from leaving, not that I was surprised. None of this was real.

As she drove down the highway, All Apologies by Nirvana blared from her stereo.

“Wow, George Lucas called. He wants his sound system back.”

“Excuse me?”

“Olga is a huge Star Wars geek,” Nate informed her from the back seat. “I’ll apologize now for all her references.”

I turned around and stuck my tongue out at him like a good sister would. “I just meant you have a really nice stereo for an older car.”

“The stereo is a recent upgrade, a birthday present from my dad. Music is the only thing I care about these days.”

“Well, here’s a fun twist for your viewing pleasure.” Nate leaned forward, resting a forearm on each of our headrests. “I was the lead vocalist and guitarist for an indie rock band when we lived in Michigan.”

Grace raised an eyebrow. “You don’t say? What was the name of your band?”

“Cantankerous Monkey Squad.”

She snorted. “That’s a pretty ridiculous name.”

“That was Conner for ya.” My stomach clenched painfully at my unexpected use of his name. I tried to hide my pain, but Grace didn’t seem to miss much.


I nodded in agreement because she was a stranger who didn’t know any better and because the idea of Conner as my boyfriend made the pain go away a little bit. Then, I remembered Nate. He had slumped back down in his seat.

After a few seconds of silence, except for Kurt Cobain’s lyrics about screwing everything up, I couldn’t take the heavy anymore. “This song is kind of depressing. Do you mind changing it?”

Grace rolled her eyes. “Fine. Here, take the wheel.”

“What? I can’t take the wheel! That’s the first rule Mom told me when she taught me how to drive. The driver always keeps both hands on the wheel. Two and ten o’clock.”

“Well, my mom wasn’t around to teach me how to drive. Taking my hands off the wheel now.”

I shrieked as she let go and then opened her center console. “I know I have the new Coldplay CD in here somewhere. Is that upbeat enough for our seven minute drive?”

Trying to keep my hand steady, I gave a tight nod.

“You look terrified. Are you always this high-strung?”

Was Grace teasing me already? Maybe this was a good sign. Friends tease each other.

“You know, the rule isn’t two and ten o’clock anymore.” Nate’s voice was carefree again, apparently over my Conner comment.


“My Driver’s Ed instructor told me they changed the hands thing to nine and three o’clock after the invention of the air bag.”

“Good job, Mr. Know-It-All. You want a prize?”

“Hey, I just didn’t want you giving our own kids the wrong information one day.”

Grace, having already loaded the Coldplay disc, took the wheel back, but abruptly jerked it to the side at Nate’s comment. “I thought you guys were brother and sister?”

I gave Nate an incredulous stare.

“Um, we are. I didn’t mean kids we’d have together . . . just the kids we’ll have one day with our spouses.”

Grace nodded, seeming to buy the cover up. “Right. I’m never having kids.”

“Why not?” I asked, although I already felt certain of her answer.

“Well, first of all, every child deserves a grandma to spoil them, and mine won’t have one. You know what? Bump all of that, every child deserves a mother to love them. I can’t even love myself.”

I tried to search for some wisdom I’d read in my eighteen years of life to help her, but I came up empty.

“It’s not who you are that holds you back.” Nate’s words startled me out of my thoughts, making me jump a little. “It’s who you think you are not.”

Grace laughed as she pulled up to the cupcake shop and parked. “Who are you? Some modern-day Confucius or something?”

Now I laughed. “You have no idea.”

“It’s from the last book I read, Seeds of Greatness by Denis Waitley. I can loan it to you if you want. The book is full of good stuff, if you don’t mind all my highlights and notes in the margins. I’ve probably read the book forty times by now.”

This roused a low chuckle from Grace. “Okay, sure.” She turned her attention toward me as we strode through the front doors while two blonde haired ladies greeted us from behind the counter. “Do you like cupcakes?”
“Are you kidding?” Nate gasped. “Olga lives on sugar. She tried to convince her boss at the bookstore where she worked in Grand Haven to pay her in candy instead of cash.”

I shoved him sideways. “I did not! Although, that’s actually not a bad idea.”

“What can I get for you?” the lady asked, peering at us over the bakery case. 

Scuba Diving in the Cayman Islands



I’m back! Well, I’m home but today’s post isn’t from me. It’s from someone very dear to my heart. Introducing my daughter Arielle Rausin and her new blog: The Adventures of Rain Dance REL

Arielle had an opportunity to learn how to scuba dive thanks to the incredible organization Stay Focused! Check out her underwater pictures and her beautiful poem. I’m a proud mom! Thank you, Stay Focused for teaching my daughter to scuba dive and giving her an amazing time in the Cayman Islands. I’d also like to thank JenFu Cheng Photography for capturing and sharing the awesome photos of Arielle’s adventure.

Love this kid… Arielle Rausin! Click on the link: The Adventures of Rain Dance REL

I’m back! Well, sort of. I’ve returned from my adventure and while I get back into my writing routine and tackle the piles of laundry I’ve asked a friend to contribute a guest post for me. Her name is Danielle Marcucci and she just completed her first year of college. I asked Danielle to write about her experience living away from home and managing all the responsibilities of a college student. She did a fabulous job! Thank you, Danielle!

Danielle's post

Introducing Danielle Marcucci!













“College has given me the confidence I need to fail.
― Jarod KintzThis Book Has No Title

A quote that I couldn’t agree with more after my first year of college is (finally!) in the bag. I have stories, advice, life experiences, pictures that may or may not ever surface to the light of day, and 31 credits to show for it. I wouldn’t trade a second of what I have learned in the process. I just hope I can share some ‘Ups’ and ‘Downs’ to help you or your future college attendee. 

First and for most is making that transition of flying the nest. When my family was finally about to leave me in my new apartment all I could do was try to joke about having a cage for them to live in my closet while fighting back the worst case of alligator tears I have ever had. I had a roommate but she hadn’t arrived yet so I just sat there wallowing in my loneliness. This is a point where you have to tell yourself “Hey, this is a new way of your life for a couple months. Go enjoy it! …And who are you kidding, your mom will probably drive back up to see you by the weekend.” And with that I found my first ‘Up’.

This ‘Up’ that I found was most useful; Explore. I moved from a somewhat inactive town (Cape Coral, FL) to the bustling city of Orlando. I was practically drooling over all of the savoring possibilities and opportunities about. I discovered new food, new music, new places to hangout with new friends, new volunteering cites, new jobs, new clubs! I even began going to a Buddhist temple! I was almost overwhelmed with all these new additions to my life but I learned oodles about myself in the process. So, do not be afraid to explore! This is one of a few years left you have to truly discover yourself. Your likes, your dislikes, what you’re looking for, what you can rid yourself of, dying your hair magenta for a week, it’s all up to you. With that I do want to also slide in how you have many great years ahead of you, so always, always explore safely with your smarts about you. 

A ‘Down’ I had gotten ahold of was almost being dropped out of a class thanks to tardiness from staying up the previous evenings because of lack of time management. I had lost track between six classes, my new job, a social life, and acting gigs. But there I was, my first semester of college and I was already a bum. I began to write schedules of things that needed to be done or events I was attending and added 15 minutes to every one of them so that way if they did run over time everything would not blow up in my face. And If I had an extra fifteen minutes between things, I’d go treat myself to a cup of coffee. I also realized how nice it felt not being the girl everyone stared at as she walked to her seat twenty minutes late. Now being a time management queen, I couldn’t suggest it more on completely bettering all ins and out of your life. It is possible for you to do it all. 

Two other possible ‘Downs’ I want to mention quickly is roommate(s) and being a broke college kid. I have never met a person that has ever not fought with their roommate. If there is such a person, let’s face it, they’re a pathological liar. You will have tifs with your roommate. End of story. What you have to do is take deep breaths, remind yourself ‘only seven more months’, and then remind yourself again that you will be living with them for the next seven months so don’t retaliate in some irrational way that will cause awkwardness for the remaining time spent living ten feet away from each other.

Being a poor college kid may be a ‘Down’ but you can fix it some amount by mixing it with my favorite ‘Up’; Utilize your school’s resources! There would be days that I would walk onto Valencia’s East Campus and a feast was lying before me and all I had to do was grab a flyer from the club president. Or another day they had a blow up water park with a mariachi band in the courtyard, just because. And the best part was, all of it was one hundred percent free. They had workshops about relationships, managing money, finding the perfect career for you, scholarships, etc! Being the freebie freak I am, I was on cloud nine! Keep in mind that exciting new things don’t always involve a price tag. 

Hopefully some of my words of college freshman wisdom have helped. This article is a small fraction of experiences and realizations. Have a great day and thanks for reading!

 -Danielle Marcucci

If you have any questions for Danielle you can leave a comment or email and I will forward your question to her. Thanks! K.D. Rausin

You can follow K.D. Rausin on Facebook!

MYSTIC The Novel on Facebook! MYSTIC on Amazon

Coming Soon! Elle and Buddy!




This post continues the saga of how I spent one of the best days ever – otherwise known as International Beer Day.

Belgium – Ahhh, the holy land of beer. For those that are unaware of the rich brewing traditions of this country, suffice it to say that the Belgian’s brew beer like the French make wine – with incredible enthusiasm and passion. Row after row of incredible beers beckoned me to try them. I wanted to avoid reviewing a beer I already tasted so after much careful thought and some great reviews from Total Wine I settled on the Sterkens White Ale.

A white ale is essentially a wheat beer. This one is very typical of the style – pouring a pale straw yellow with a nice white head. The smell carries a hint of citrus, more lemon than orange, and corriander wrapped in the slightly spicy roasted wheat scent. The taste is typical of a wheat beer, with a clean flavor and active carbonation. Despite being a good representation of the style I found myself underwhelmed. I have come to expect more from Belgian beers and although I would happily drink this beer again, I would much prefer other more notable ones.


Russia – While checking out the different countries’ sections in Total Wine I was slightly shocked to see a Russian section. After all, Americans know Russians for vodka, chess, the cold war, and very little else. Admittedly, it was one of the smallest sections there but I love the fact that they are producing beer (and that we are importing it). So I picked up a bottle of Baltika #4 Dark Lager to give it a shot.

This Russian beer pours a dark amber color with creamy white head. The head initially started out about 1 finger high but quickly faded almost completely away leaving nothing more than a nice lacing on the glass as you drink it. The smell is redolent with rich caramel malt and a slight alcohol tang. Unsuprisingly, the taste follows the smell giving this beer a slightly sweet caramel flavor with a dry finish that IS surprising as there is almost no noticeable hop prescence. The beer is thin and easy to drink with very little carbonation to fill you up. There is a noticeable alcoholic after taste thought that is hard to shake even after it is finished. It didn’t really work for me but maybe that is how Russians prefer their beer. Guess I’ll have to try bottles from a couple different Russian breweries to be sure.

Australia – While Fosters isn’t bad, I would be saddened if it truly was, as their advertisements claim, Australian for beer. So I was quite happy at finding a decent little collection of beers from Australia and New Zeland. Using a largely scientific process I ended up grabbing a Sparkling Ale from Cooper’s Brewery. OK, perhaps it had something to do with the kangeroo on the label but don’t judge me – they are adorable! Thankfully the beer turned out to be quite tasty as well.

This bottle fermented ale pours a cloudy gold with a faint head that disappears quickly. Bottle conditioned means the yeast is still active when it is placed in the bottle and some sediment accumulates at the bottom of the beer as a result. This does not adversely affect the flavor of the beer so I poured it in as well. The taste is very clean, with nice carbonation a just a hint of the tang that normally accompanies pale ales. It feels a bit thin in your mouth and finishes with a dry hop bite that is really the defining characteristic of this beer. It is not enough to be an India Pale Ale, but it is much more pronounced than every mass-market American beer. All in all this was a very decent beer that you could drink easily while soaking up the sun on a beautiful summer day.

So in conclusion I would like to wrap up this blog by thanking my wonderful wife for letting me hijack her blog. I would also like to personally thank the genious that created International Beer Day. If I could nominate you for a Nobel prize, I would. Until that time, however, I will have to settle with being sort of a roving beer ambassador – trying excellent beers from all over the world and spreading the word. Life is good!

By the way – if you like this blog be sure to subscribe to it via email so you get informed of every new post. (I won’t share it with anyone.) To do this, just click this link and give us your email address. Then simply click the confirmation text in the email you will be sent and you’re all set. Or click on the Facebook button above and click “like” on my Facebook page. Thank you.

Upon hearing that August 5th is International Beer Day I immediately told Krista I was hijacking her blog and rushed off to Total Wine to get some beers worth blogging about. International Beer Day. I just love the sound of that. It is like a holiday designed especially for guys. The ladies get Valentine’s Day, we get International Beer Day. Everybody wins! This really needs to be a worldwide holiday that everyone gets off. And it should be followed by International Hangover Recovery Day, which of course you would take off for as well. I will personally vote for either presidential candidate if they campaign behind this issue – I don’t think I’m alone here. Sure the economy can use some help, but in the interim – here, have an incredible new beer from a country you can’t afford to visit until it does. Sounds like a winner to me.


Anyway, let me tell you what I bought, how I liked it and give you a little beer education along the way. It just might help you win the next trivia game you play, unless you are drinking these babies as you’re playing <grin>.

Mexico – I love the joy of discovery. Finding something cool and new, refreshing and different is a huge thrill for me. So when I saw a bottle of beer with a pale green chili floating in it I knew I had to try it right away. The bottle in question was called Cave Creek Chili Beer and it just so happened we were having burritos for dinner. Some might call it coincidence; I believe it was fate.

Growing up in Southern California, I have a particular fondness for Mexican beers that probably has very little to do with their taste and a lot to do with the ease with which we could get them. This led me to distain my now normal routine of pouring the beer into a glass to check the head and fully appreciate the aroma. Instead I reverted to my younger days and drank it straight from the bottle after setting aside the chili momentarily. As a result I don’t know what kind of head it had, but I can tell you that even through the small bottle opening you could tell this was NOT going to be a normal beer. The smell of the chili overrode almost all natural beer smell and promised a drink with a kick to it.

And kick it does, although I’m about as white as they come – I like some heat in my food. That is a good thing because this beer is definitely not for people who think that medium salsa is too hot. One of the things that makes this beer so interesting though is that the fire fades after you swallow it. Unlike most spicy items where the heat lingers long after the food is gone, the aftertaste here is all beer – and a very nice one at that. It is light with just a hint of lime, no noticeable hop bite, and a perfect touch of carbonation.

After finishing the beer I was left looking at the remaining chili, in very much the same way you look at the worm at the bottom of a tequila bottle. Eating it doesn’t seem like a good idea, but you know you have to do it anyway. Luckily, all of the heat the chili once possessed must have passed into the beer because the chili was delicious and mild (even with the seeds).

While I can’t say that I would buy this to drink on its own, it is an ideal beer to drink while eating some fantastic Mexican food. Hell, it could even class up some Taco Bell if you still live somewhere where good Mexican isn’t a possibility.

Germany – The next beer I tried, Hofbrau Munchen Hefe Weizen, was a wheat beer from Germany. Germany is famous for their beer purity law that originally stated that beer could contain nothing other than barley, water and hops. Although beer can be made with just about any grain, barley was originally specified so that there would be enough wheat and rye for the bakers. Yeast was omitted from the original list because it tended to grow naturally and mixed in with the barley, so it wasn’t considered an actual ingredient in the making of beer. Of course, they know better now and have since amended the law to include yeast and sugar. They have also allowed the inclusion of other grains since there is enough of everything to go around.

One of the things that continually astounds me is how many different flavors and types of beer can be created with just those few simple ingredients. The Hofbrau Muchen is a perfect example of this. Normally wheat beers are often brewed with coriander and orange peel to create a beer that is light and refreshing. German hefe weizens can’t use those ingredients though, so what you get here is decidedly different.

The pour reveals a beer with a beautiful golden haze that is largely opaque with a thin white head that dissipated quickly leaving behind just hint of lacing (that wonderful foam that stays on the side of the glass as you drink it). The aroma of the beer conjures images of fresh mowed lawns and biscuits straight from the oven topped with honey. All of this pales compared to the taste though. The light carbonation and wheat give it a light fresh feel in the mouth, but the real surprise is the touch of sweetness. It is hard to describe but after swallowing a mouthful of this beer you get an extremely pleasant aftertaste that reminds you of banana and spices. This is a huge testimony to the creativity of the brewers and the incredible choices they made with the yeast strain and what I assume to be Belgian candy sugar. This is a GREAT beer!


Canada – For the last beer of the day I chose a great offering by the extremely consistent Unibroue brewery in Canada. The beer, Don de Dieu, is an example of the Belgian Triple style. This is one of my all-around favorite styles as they generally appear light but are extremely flavorful. Triples also typically have a higher than normal alcohol content and the Don de Dieu is no exception, coming in at a, “you really don’t notice it until you stand up,” 9%.

The beer pours a fantastic golden color permeated with a slight haze. It has a beautiful white fluffy head that was two fingers high and smelled of wheat, sunshine and a little bit of heaven. The taste followed suit with just a hint of spice and citrus lingering after the beer went down. Canada is largely known for their major brewery offerings, which while being generally good beers – rarely reach the point of being exceptional. Do yourself a favor and try anything Unibroue makes. You will not be disappointed.

Due to the fact that I am a lightweight and neither of my children particularly wants to see their father stumble around the house I am breaking this blog into two separate posts. I will post the second tonight after I have had a chance to recover a little and start drinking again.

Click here for Eric’s reviews of Irish beers.   And Here.

By the way – if you like this blog be sure to subscribe to it via email so you get informed of every new post. (I won’t share it with anyone.) To do this, just click this link and give us your email address. Then simply click the confirmation text in the email you will be sent and you’re all set. Or click on the Facebook button above and click “like” on my Facebook page. Thank you.


Introducing my beautiful daughter, Arielle Rausin.

One actress I’ve always admired for not only her versatility but her spunk is Sandra Bullock. I’ve grown up watching her movies, and whenever its chick flick night with mom, she’s our go to girl. Over the years I learned a lot from her films.

Miss Congeniality taught me to never enter a beauty pageant unless I’m ready to accept a bomb triggering tiara.

The Proposal taught me that if you deem someone your fake fiancée in order to avoid deportation, you will, in fact, fall in love with him.

The Blind Side taught me that if you welcome a large, homeless boy into your home he WILL grow up and become an NFL offensive lineman.

And All About Steve taught me there is someone out there for everyone, even the stalkers in red rain boots.

But a few weeks ago my girl Sandra taught me a lesson that I may actually be able to put to good use. Mom and I sat on the couch with our popcorn and M&Ms and selected Hope Floats on Netflix.  Not only was this charming story a real heart wrencher, it also starred the beautiful Harry Connick Jr., what isn’t there for a girl to love?

I won’t give you a detailed plot synopsis or anything, but there was one line in particular, towards the end of the movie, that really stood out to me.

“Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning, just give hope a chance to float up. And it will.”

I think that the reason this really plucked at my heart-strings was because I am finding myself at a new beginning. I just graduated high school, and now I’m off to a university hundreds of miles away from home. I am quite terrified, I can tell you that. I’m afraid to be at the bottom again, to not know anyone. I’m afraid of the intensity of my classes, of the future track meets and races. For the most part I’m afraid of the change. I remember being in such distress after my fifth grade graduation because I was going to a different middle school than most of my friends. Fifth grade! Where someone is your friend just because they gave you a piece of bubble gum once, or played chess with you during recess. Of course, in the end it worked out amazingly. I attended a fantastic arts academy where I met a bunch of friends that I intend to keep for life.  But the only difference between 5th grade and middle school was a longer bus ride and no assigned seats at lunch. The immense gap between high school and college is still unfathomable to me, even though I’m leaving in just thirty-four days.

I’m also trying to come to peace with this sad ending. Tiny little Cape Coral (or Cape Coma as my friends and I sometimes refer) has been my home for eighteen years. As much as I hate that the only place open after 10 pm is Steak N’ Shake, and that the Florida humidity will turn any hair-do from flawless to frizzy in seconds; it’s also the place where I lost my first tooth, and drove my first car, and had my first kiss. It’s the place where I spend hours with my best friends on the beach, whether we’re setting off fireworks at midnight or watching horrible horror movies to wait out the rain/tropical storm. These memories are precious and endless, but that’s what good ole’ Sandra is here to remind me of. That this is only the middle! All of the scary beginnings and sad endings that I’ve endured or will encounter in the future are only the middle of this fabulous adventure we call life. Let me tell you, I still have quite a hike ahead of me, but I can see the view from here. And it’s breathtaking.

By Arielle Rausin

By the way – if you like this blog be sure to subscribe to it via email so you get informed of every new post. (I won’t share it with anyone.) To do this, just click this link and give us your email address. Then simply click the confirmation text in the email you will be sent and you’re all set. Or click on the Facebook button above and click “like” on my Facebook page.Thank you.