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A little voice carried across the table. “Why did you end MYSTIC that way?” Students gathered around waiting for me to sign their books. I heard her question and desperately wanted to answer. However, I had made a promise not to give away the ending to some of her fellow students who were halfway through MYSTIC.

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Valentine’s Day Cookie Pies

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Oh, how I love Valentine’s Day! Forget the daily spinach salad and healthy snacks, I’ll be eating chocolate all day long. Since my beautiful daughter is away at college studying, practicing with her team and writing for NPR (so cool!) I asked some friends to bake a Valentine treat with me this year. I ended up with a house full of children. Luckily, they knew what they were doing and stopped me from putting my plastic pie press in the oven. “Wait! That will melt…won’t it?” I pretended like I was just testing them. “Very good! Never put plastic in a four hundred degree oven.” I blame my lapse of judgment on my four and five am. mornings. That’s my answer and I’m sticking to it.

The kids took turns running around my house, tweeting, playing the piano, searching for cartoons and putting together a heart-shaped cookie pie. They did all the work. This was an easy recipe that all the kids loved.  I found it on Living Locurto. Silly me, I thought a single cookie pie was too much for just one person. They proved me wrong. Valentine Treats 2014 006 copy Can I just say one more time how proud I am of my girl. She amazes me! Just in case the link above was too small–check out this awesome blog about 8 runners preparing for the Boston Marathon.

NPR Running Toward Boylston

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I love three real characters very much! Eric, who continuously teases me and keeps me laughing or squinting and uttering “grrrrr!” Kai, who takes after his father but then plays beautiful music for me so all is forgiven. Arielle, who remembers to keep in touch from college because she knows how much I miss her. Happy Valentine’s Day to my family and Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone.

Today, I’m writing about fictional characters. The ones I create. They are with me daily and I strive to understand them as much as I would any family member or friend. In MYSTIC a character named Sri (a wizard) has fallen in love with a man from another world. In order for me to fully understand Sri I had her write in a journal. The journal written in first person is Sri’s voice. With this backstory I was able to understand the motivations of my other characters as well as Sri. I did this three years ago when I had no idea of when MYSTIC would be published. Since it’s about love I thought today was the perfect day to repost it. This is from Feb. 3, 2010. I kept my rule about not changing previous posts and left everything the same. Enjoy!

Sri’s Journal

Entry: I have learned to calm the mind of a wild beast, to turn a stick into silver and to fly amongst the Seer Dragons but I cannot stop the bursting excitement that flows through my body every time I see him. It’s as if a breeze brushes over my heart and I must breathe deep when he is near in order to keep my composure. He is only a man not a wizard yet he appears to have placed a spell on me. This is unacceptable and I must stick to my path. My future has been carefully planned. I have great gifts. I am Queen Fredonia’s only daughter. A daughter in need of a spell to wipe away thoughts of handsome strangers.

Entry: I have decided to speak to him. My jumbled emotions are getting the best of me and I cannot focus on my studies. Surely when I speak to him I will learn of his daftness and get over my sickness. Enough is enough. Ralient has been odd lately. Our friendship seems strained. He looks at me with distant eyes. Though I have given him no reason to believe I have feelings for the stranger, I worry he knows my heart too well. His desire for me is no secret. I feel only friendship for Ralient and I don’t want to hurt him, yet fear I will.

Entry: There is a light shining from within me that I cannot dim. No spell can replace the happiness that colors my world that once was clear. James, his name is James and he is kind, intelligent and brave. We have spent the past month together and I have learned much about his world. It is not a place I wish to visit. When James is with me I feel content, safe, at peace and my mind is far from my studies and full of only him. We spend our days escaping to the forest and the White Mountains. I have shown him Mystic’s beauty in hopes that he will want to stay. Today he took my hand during our walk. I had to remind myself to breathe. Then I felt a tinge of annoyance that Queen Fredonia’s daughter could let herself become so vulnerable in the presence of a man. I thought of my great power for only a brief second before James interrupted me. He stopped, took me in his arms and kissed me. I felt the stubble from his beard on my chin and that familiar breeze across my heart. My tears dripped onto his collar.

Suddenly, I felt piercing heat on my back like arrows shot from a distance. A pair of eyes were watching us, cursing us.  I stiffened and turned to face them. I felt his pain and knew that I had hurt Ralient deeply. A line had been crossed and my once perfectly planned life was now unpredictable. I knew I could no longer allow myself to act like a helpless child. James was in danger. Ralient’s power was only surpassed by his jealousy. Now, my only concern is whether or not my powers are strong enough to protect the man I love from the man who was my best friend.

Spreading the Love

Caloosahatchee_River_bridge Caloosahatchee River bridge

Valentine’s Day is on its way! I say let’s spread the love to everyone. Let’s make the holiday more than loving just our immediate family. I read an article the other day that said Americans are lonely especially older Americans. Living in Cape Coral I can say that it is all too often I see an elderly person sitting alone in a restaurant.

This Valentine’s Day do something in your community or online that shows people you care. Compliment someone, buy a few desserts and take them to your local police or fire station with a note of thanks, or write a kind letter to your child’s teacher. Reach out to your neighbors who live alone. Bring a bag of dog or cat food to your local shelter. Tell friends on Facebook about your favorite restaurant or local boutique. Or you can get creative and do something like the following person.

Cape Coral has three bridges connecting to Ft. Myers. There is a $2.00 toll on two of the bridges leading into Cape Coral. Several months ago, I was crossing the bridge from Ft. Myers and as I came to the toll with my $2.00 the woman told me it was already paid by the car in front of me. I was shocked. I had no idea who the person was. Suddenly, I was overcome with a feeling of joy and awe that a stranger would offer such kindness expecting nothing in return. I decided to pay it forward. Now, every so often I will do the same. I’ll pay for the car behind me. I get giddy and imagine the stranger’s surprise. I hope that they too feel the joy I felt. To me, that’s what Valentine’s Day should be about–spreading love to those in our community.

Having just published a book I have had a lot of love and support from friends. Getting the word out about a new book can be a challenging process if you’re not a major publishing house or a celebrity. Many people on Facebook have helped me by sharing links. I’ve been invited to do school visits. I’ve received two wonderful reviews. One anonymous and one from the Daily Dose (Rob) at the Reeve Foundation.

I’m going to start my spreading the love campaign by spreading the word and including  links to organizations that are dear to my heart. These organizations show love to children, animals, and veterans. If you decide to join in and help spread the love in your community please let me know on Facebook or in the comments section of this post. February 14th can be a day of giving and showing love for everyone. Afterall, it really doesn’t take diamonds to make people happy. Chocolate…maybe… but not diamonds.

Organizations I love:

The Reeve Foundation Brittany’s Hope the Elephant Sanctuary

And one I just read about…Mission Continues

And of course where we found our Buddy: Gulf Coast Humane Society

For more Spreading the Love ideas check out Flowering Minds.

 

Popcorn, M&M’s, caramel and pretzels … all it needs is a side of vanilla ice cream and a Richard Gere movie.

Most of the recipes I post are easy. This one is super duper easy.

I found a recipe for popcorn cake on Pinterest. The recipe called for marshmallows which are not vegetarian. Yeah, I was crushed when I found out how gelatin is made. No more smores for me unless I can find vegetarian marshmallows.

Anyway, I took the recipe for the popcorn cake and made one with caramel and another with chocolate. If I hadn’t run out of caramel, I would have used them both on the second cake. I’m crazy that way. They both turned out super duper yummy.

By the way, did you notice the Valentine’s Day card in the picture? It was made for me by my favorite three year-old.

Valentine’s Day Popcorn Cake

Cook time 15 minutes
Meal type Dessert
Misc Child Friendly

Ingredients

  • 1 bag Popcorn
  • 1 bag M&M's
  • 1 bag Caramel
  • 2 tablespoons Heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups Pretzel sticks (May want to break the pretzel sticks in half.)

Directions

Step 1
Microwave the popcorn according to the package directions.
Step 2
Pour the popcorn, M&M's and pretzel sticks into a bowl.
Step 3
Melt the caramels and cream in a saucepan. Pour the caramel over the popcorn mixture.
Step 4
Spray the cake pan and your hands with cooking spray. Spread the popcorn mixture into the heart shaped pan and press down.
Step 5
I also made this recipe and added chocolate instead of the caramel. Just as delicious!

As promised here’s my new Valentine’s Day treat.

Remember that day when I went searching for the candy conversation hearts at Publix and they laughed at me because it was too early – it was all about the Super Bowl? Then I had to use animal crackers in my cupcakes because I couldn’t find the conversation hearts…

Well, that same day in the dollar section of Target I found little pink heart ice-cube trays. Two for a dollar. I picked them up and had this little conversation in my head that said… Do you really need these? … Little heart-shaped ice how cute, they’re only a dollar and they’re adorable. Why not? I brought them home to the rolling of eyes. Seriously, heart-shaped ice cubes, mom? That’s what they were thinking. I live to amuse my teens.

Jump ahead a couple of weeks to chocolate pretzel making day. I saw the little heart shape and wondered if I could make my own unique chocolate treat. I decided to experiment. I added chocolate and then a conversation heart, M&M, and purple sugar just for fun. Notice how I only made three. At this point I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get the chocolate out of the tray.

I did and it worked! Yay, for me. But the chocolates were upside down so I decided to try again. This time I put the M&M and conversation hearts at the bottom of the tray.

 

Notice my baking confidence. This time I used the entire tray.

 

Chocolate awesomeness with a message.

This is an easy inexpensive treat for a classroom, Valentine’s Day party, or even a bridal shower or wedding favor. If you personalize the M&M’s and place them on top of the chocolate (example above) they could have the wedding date or bride and groom’s names on them. OR … If anyone is thinking about a proposal why not have the words, Marry Me? written on the M&M. Now that would be uber cute especially on Valentine’s Day.