Dani Haviland

About Dani Haviland

Dani Haviland, formerly of Connecticut, Arizona, and Alaska, recently semi-retired from selling tractor parts, tools, and roses. She moved to a more temperate climate in western Oregon to pursue her passions: writing, gardening, and photography.  View website

Springtime is for roses

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Rainbow Sorbet grown exclusively in water with goldfish

Springtime! Time for fresh roses!
But also for late frosts or snow… What a bummer, having to wait to plant bare root roses because of fickle weather patterns.
But wait! I found a solution!

I plant my bare root roses in water. This may not work in all areas of the world, but it’s a real winner in Alaska where summers (at least around Anchorage) seldom get over 80 degrees. Your best bet for success is using a higher grade rose, at least grade one and a half, so it has a good root system.

There is a problem with ‘planting’ in 5 gallon buckets (or similar sized containers), though. Mosquitoes. Those little bloodsuckers love standing water, the perfect incubating area for their eggs and larvae.
Goldfish to the rescue! You can buy feeder goldfish at pet stores or larger Wal-marts for about ten cents each. I put a couple in each bucket of water and let them eat any mosquito larva that appear.

Queen Elizabeth grandflora rose grown in water with goldfish

There is an added bonus to the goldfish. Not only does their swimming keep the water from becoming stagnant, the by-product of their feasting (fish poop) is an ideal fertilizer. My Queen Elizabeth roses were nearly seven inches across one year!

Also, it’s fairly simple to move the containers inside if the forecast is for freezing temperatures. This works on both ends of the growing season. You can also ‘chase the sun’ if their once sunny spot becomes too shady later in the season. Note: all roses need at least six hours of sunlight.
Be aware, though. This method only works for one season. You are essentially forcing the roses to grow and there isn’t enough nutrition in the water to replenish the plant for a second season. If you’d like, you can plant the roses in the garden anytime, but at least six weeks before the first hard freezes. It takes at least that long for soil-feeding roots to become established. If your winters are mild, you will probably have success. However, if you have six months or more of sub-freezing temperatures, I recommend just tossing the plant in the dumpster. The stems and thorns are too tough to compost.
The blooms you get from growing your own roses may not be as fancy as the ones from the florist, but if you’ve chosen well, they’ll most certainly smell better.
More pictures and detailed ‘planting’ information at www.growalaska.net and www.chilloutroses.com. Note: emails and phone numbers are not correct. These are old sites for reference purposes only. I no longer sell roses, either.

Here’s a pretty bunch of roses for you! Yours for only #99cents!

Kiss Me, Thrill Me: As Only You Can. Seven great stories by USA Today and NY Times best selling authors. Available exclusively on Amazon (and for a limited time).

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Precious and Free

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Just because something is free doesn’t mean it has more value than an item that cost hundreds of dollars (or more).
Is that heavy diamond ring you received from that *#!% ex-husband more precious than the beach glass and copper wire ring your now departed daughter made you for Mothers’ Day, years ago?
Is a mass-signed hardcover copy of the current NY Times best-seller more dear than your great-grandfather’s journal of his trek across the Plains with a handcart in 1863? (I really have this!)
I believe value is rated by the heart and not the calculator.
One of a person’s greatest blessings is to know this and to realize that the dearest in life isn’t always tangible.
Savor and recall those tender or giddy moments: the view of sunsets and rainbows of grandeur with that special someone, the excitement of helping that little tyke ride her bicycle by herself for the first time, the birth of that puppy that is now gray-nosed but still full of love for you.
These are most precious and dear and can never be purchased, at any price.
And be generous to yourself and others. Keep a journal and record these events that mean so much to you. Plus, you can relive them when you’re feeling blue and give yourself an attitude adjustment!
And who knows? Maybe your great-great-granddaughter will find your journal and enjoy those moments with you, long after you’re gone.

In the meantime, though, here are a few freebies (good until February 14th, at least): http://bit.ly/2kiByrI  DatePromo.com runs lots of events where folks can win or simply click and acquire (you’re not buying if it’s free, right?) e-books.

He’s not what she thinks he is.

My book, Aye, I am a Fairy is part of this promo and free until February 14, but you can read it at no cost after that on #KindleUnlimited. It may be 2nd in the series, but The Fairies Saga is written so you can read in any order. Just think of it as released in Star Wars order. ; )

 

 

 

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Aluminum foil & Ziploc™ bags: Time savers & time travelers

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I’m a big fan of saving time in the kitchen, especially the time it takes to clean up the mess from making home cooked goodies. I got real frugal on this project: I re-used the root vegetables ‘marinating bag’ for the scalloped potato casserole, then used it again to pack away the peelings that I’d pared onto old newspaper (it’s too cold to compost right now). A big meal created and not one dirty bowl or pan. Pretty cool, eh?

Normally, I prefer to use non-stick aluminum. It’s pretty pricey and the sheet is narrower, but it’s perfect for sticky stuff like nachos. For this recipe, the wide, heavy duty (and less expensive per foot) foil is better. It’s easier to make baking packets for the food with it.
How to:
I drizzled about a tablespoon of avocado oil in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag then added a few hearty shakes of Montreal Steak Seasoning (see Cooking with the Authors of Summer Heat for the recipe- the book is free http://bit.ly/CookingSH). You can scrub (or peel) then chop carrots, parsnips, potatoes, whatever you’d like (onions, turnips, potatoes) and toss into the baggie. Shake the works until they’re all coated evenly, then dump onto a large sheet of aluminum foil (shiny side up). Fold the foil into a packet that will fit into half of a large cake pan. I guess a cookie sheet could be used, but I already had a ceramic 13” x 9” pan ready.
The second part of my meal was the main course. I added more avocado oil, garlic salt and black pepper to the bag and swished it around until it was blended. Then I tossed in three medium chopped potatoes and half an onion. I shook them around until they were well-coated. Next, I opened the bag and tossed in two heaping tablespoons of flour (I’m not a fan of exact measurements). I shook this around until all was coated. Finally: the meat. I took the lazy way out. I had a large can of pulled pork. It tastes like ham to me. If I had chopped or sliced ham (or Spam), I could have used any of those. One more shake to coat, then this mix was tossed onto a second large sheet of aluminum foil. I folded and pinched it into a packet and put it next to the other one.
I put the works into a preheated 375 degree oven for an hour. I let it rest for a few minutes before opening. Watch out for steam!
From foil to plate. The cake pan was still clean and if I’d used paper plates, not a dish would have been dirtied.
Oh, and it tasted pretty good, too.


How does this tie in with time travel?
When Evie accidentally fell back in time, a couple of items she had were aluminum foil and Ziploc™ baggies. Did they help her survive the cold of a 1780s North Carolina winter? You bet they did! Read about how in Naked in the Winter Wind, first book in the time travel series The Fairies Saga.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1j3QtxY
Nook: http://bit.ly/NITWWbn
iTunes: http://apple.co/1RyY7EG
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1nab2C7

 

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Last minute Christmas gift ideas

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Christmas shouldn’t cost money.
There. I’ve said it. I’m sure a lot of folks want to agree with me, and maybe some do wholeheartedly. But just think about giving a family member or a business associate something handmade and you risk being thought a cheapskate (wherever that word came from).
Personally, I’d rather receive a handmade card than a mass-produced item that might be used once or twice, re-gifted, or worse yet: put in the closet and forgotten until Christmas decorations are brought out next year!

Homemade or homegrown products are always a good choice if you want to go above and beyond a card. Here’s an easy one:
Apple Butter
2 cans or jars of applesauce (your choice of variety, sweetened or unsweetened)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp white sugar (if desired)
Put ingredients in a sauce pan. Stir and cook on medium low heat about half an hour until it smells great and looks like applesauce (brown).
Pour into sterilized jelly (or other decorative) jars.
Tie a ribbon around the jar and put in a basket with fresh bread from your own kitchen or your neighborhood bakery. Put a note on the apple butter to store in the refrigerator. This is a fresh, not preserved, product. Once opened, it will probably be consumed within hours!

2016-12-12-19-58-12I cut the last of my sweet-smelling herbs and lavenders today. We’re supposed to get temperatures into the 20s and rose-scented geranium won’t tolerate the chill. I’d shared the majority of the herbs at produce giveaway in town last month, but a few sprigs were still perky and odoriferous enough to call to me during autumn garden clean up.
And that’s when I got the idea for my Sunday School class of youngsters.
I’ll let them choose whichever sprigs they want for their mini sachet/swags, then either I or a helper will tie a bow on the ends. I have some card stock that I ink stamped for a background image. They can color one of these or create their own picture with crayons or colored pencils. When they’re finished, I’ll punch a hole in the backing cardstock and tie their potpourri to it.

The idea for the card can be used for a gift tag, too. If your garden has leftovers, or even if you decide to buy fresh herbs at the market, a few extra minutes in preparing a gift shows you really care about that person.

If you haven’t already purchased Love, Christmas, buy a copy for yourself and gift a copy to fellow avid readers. It’s chock full with 20 novellas based on Christmas songs. My contribution is Little Drummer Boy, a story about a young man in post-Revolutionary War era North Carolina who learns the story of Christmas from a crusty old soldier, but finds out about family and what is truly important during one of the worst winter storms of the 18th century.

love-christmas-ldb-pp-4x6-vignette

 

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Figgy pudding: gluten-free and fruit-sweetened

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What in the heck is figgy pudding anyhow? It’s mentioned in Little Drummer Boy, my contribution to the boxed set Love, Christmas – Holiday Stories That Will Put a Song in Your Heart, but I never tasted it. Since I needed to write a blog about food, I figured I’d put in a little test time in the kitchen.

If you’ve already read LDB, or any of my books, you know about Evie, a time traveler from the 21st century who has chosen to remain in the 1780s. In Little Drummer Boy, she is trying to learn about 18th century Christmas traditions. One of her challenges is preparing figgy pudding.

“My first attempt at figgy pudding was flat, but sweet. It may not have been pretty, but there weren’t any leftovers, either.”

Figs, grapes (raisins), apples, and cranberries grow in North Carolina, and Evie’s father-in-law, Julian, is generous and well-traveled, so she probably had a well-stocked spice cabinet, too. I didn’t have cloves, so substituted coriander. Maybe she did the same thing. I forgot to ask.

One thing that bothers me (and many others, I’m sure) is an author’s lack of research about period life. Did you know that in the 1780s there was no such thing as baking powder or baking soda? That’s why they ate bannocks instead of nice, fluffy biscuits.
Evie has something others in her era do not, though. When her eldest daughter traveled back to the 18th century to be with her (full story in Aye, I am a Fairy), one of the items she brought back to share with Mom was baking soda. Great for brushing teeth and making cookies. Evie decides to try a bit of it in her second attempt at figgy pudding.
I had to do a little experimenting, too. I gave up wheat (gluten) and refined sugars, so minor adjustments to the online recipes I found and combined had to be made.

Note: You can make this version sweeter by adding some brown sugar  (1/2 – 1 cup) if you’d like. You can also use regular wheat (white or unbleached) flour and bread instead of the gluten-free varieties. I didn’t have any rum or brandy to add to it, but will ‘splash and flame’ it before eating my second serving. I’ll top it with whipped cream and make it even more special.

FRUIT
*¼ cup raisins
*¼ cup dried cranberries (Craisins®)
*…Re-hydrate these in a cup of very hot water. Drain and let cool.
¼- ½ cup pared and chopped apples (I used Golden Delicious from my yard)
2 cups fig spread (I made my own from fresh figs. You can reconstitute dried ones by cooking about a cup of figs with a cup of water until pulpy, then mash the heck out of them. Sometimes fig spread is available in specialty stores or make your own from cooking down and mashing fresh figs).

DRY INGREDIENTS
1 ¼ cup flour or gluten-free baking mix
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp coriander (or cloves)
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
Mix these dry ingredients in separate bowl.

½ cup melted unsalted butter
3 large eggs, gently beaten
2 cups bread crumbs, any kind of bread, including gluten-free varieties. I use my Magic Bullet® to make mine, but a blender or food processor should work, too.
LAST & DON’T FORGET THIS ITEM:
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Add the dry ingredients and fruit to the bread crumbs, eggs, and melted butter. When all is mixed together, add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. This is what makes the batter rise! Stir well, then spoon into buttered (or oiled or use that spray stuff) bundt pan, mini muffin tins or glass/ceramic cups.

CONTAINER OPTIONS:
Traditional figgy pudding is steamed. You could put the batter in a bundt pan, cover with foil, and then put that pan in another pan, stick the works in the oven for an hour or so, hopefully remembering to add water to the bigger pan as it gets cooked away… Sorry, folks, I didn’t try that way. Too much chance of getting burned: either the pudding or me or both. The steaming procedures on other recipes looked too complicated, so I didn’t bother. Besides, my batter was made with baking soda and vinegar for leavening, not baking powder. Once again, I’d experiment and find another way.

figgy-pudding-single1) Stove top. This was easy, but I was only able to put a generous one cup of batter in the ‘chili and chowder’ mug that I used for the actual steaming. You could use a bundt pan or metal bowl and put it in a big canning pot OR cook leftover batter in a different way (see next variation). When you steam my way, fill the pan/bowl/cup of batter to a little more than half full. Put this container into a pan on the stove top. I used my 40-year-old two-part aluminum steamer pot. Fill with water to about half way up the side of the pan/bowl/cup. Cover, bring to a boil, and then let it simmer (make steam) for about an hour. When a sharp knife stuck in the pudding comes out clean, it’s done.
figgy-pudding-with-mookies2) Oven ‘Mookies.’ Both quick and easy. I amply filled a well-greased mini muffin tins with batter and cooked it at 350 degrees for 16 minutes. When they had cooled down but were still warm, I used a table knife to urge them out of the pan. Place on cooling rack.

These were so cute and fast! I started calling anything I baked this way a Mookie: not big enough to be a muffin, but bigger and moister than a cookie. It works great with the baking soda and apple cider vinegar combination.

The picture above is the Mookies surrounding the steamed pudding. Flaming the works and then adding the whipped cream would make a better photo, but I’m the only one around to eat this today, so I’ll wait until the crowd is back.

What other foods are mentioned in Little Drummer Boy? Find out more about Scout and 18th century Christmas traditions and trials in Love, Christmas – Holiday Stories That Will Put a Song in Your Heart.

18-dani-haviland

 

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Little Drummer Boy

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Quick! Think of a Christmas song!

Now, not so quick, find your favorite one that is really about Christmas. If you’re like me, the two weren’t the same. It’s also quite possible that the first one you thought of wasn’t even a Christmas song, but rather a seasonal tune about winter.

The first song I thought of was Jingle Bells. Hmm. Not really Christmas-y, is it? Nowadays, travel over white and drifting snow usually means sitting in a four-wheel drive vehicle as it roars down the highway, not snuggled in a blanket, sleigh bells jingling, as a horse with an innate sense of direction brings you home in a fancy sled.

My favorite Christmas carol/tune is Little Drummer Boy. I guess it is popular with other folks, too, but Debbie Haston was the first to choose it in the Authors’ Billboard contest, so my book is dedicated to her. The song’s soothing tune blends well with its simple message. Thanks for entering, Debbie!

In this classic song, the little drummer boy was poor, but talented. He had no money, so instead shared his gift. The generous young man didn’t do it for attention. His parents didn’t coerce him. He did it out of love for the new-born king.

I always identified with the drummer boy in the song. We were poor when I was a kid, but I didn’t know it. I had siblings to play with, food to eat (even though it was often beans), and a dog. What else could anyone want besides the occasional soda or ice cream treat? We got gifts for Christmas, mostly pajamas and underwear, but Mom made sure we got at least one toy. We also had special food (turkey and real butter!), decorated a tree, and sang songs.

What I remember most, though, is being together. And healthy. Everything else was just stuff that was soon forgotten, broken, or thrown away. dani-leonard-janie-christmas-card-1955The card Mom made for her mother when I was three years old is still one of my most prized possessions. Inside was a picture of Mom’s three treasures: her first three children. A store bought card would have been lost or tossed long ago.

In my contribution to this boxed set the reader discovers how a 1780s family in North Carolina celebrates Christmas, and why love and giving of one’s self is more important than fancy wrapping paper and high dollar gifts. Little Drummer Boy, part of the Love, Christmas – Holiday Stories That Will Put a Song in Your Heart. Introductory priced at only 99 cents.

Amazon US   Amazon UK    Amazon CA     Nook      Kobo    Apple / iTunes

And remember to have a safe and friendly holiday season, no matter where (or when) you are.

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Chapter One excerpt – 2016 Love, Christmas Collection – Little Drummer Boy – by Dani Haviland #mgtab

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early cover 14012888_1565771663732634_916633729_oSnap!
Scout cringed as the branch broke under his foot, its disintegration echoing in the narrow walls of the ravine. If his father had been with him, maybe he’d have cuffed his ears, or even worse, subjected him to that angry White Man scowl.
But his father wasn’t here.
Again.
He’d make do by himself as he had in the past. He huffed as realization hit. His life had been so much simpler without a father. When had their roles been reversed? He shrugged a shoulder and a faint smile crept in. Ever since he’d met him, three years ago. The smile grew and he allowed a small chuckle to escape. Yes, his first ten years of life had been so much easier, living with just his mother and grandmother in their Cherokee village. Finding his ‘real’ father was almost an accident, but whether Sky Walker—the man the White Men called Ian Kincaid—was a nuisance or not, he was still kin. And he’d watch out for him.
When he was around.
And not on another vengeance quest.
But no matter what, he needed to find food and a way to make money, but not in that order.
He clutched his rumbling stomach. “Quiet, or we’ll never get that rabbit.”
The sand-colored critter sniffed the air, then hopped through the knee-high grass, making his own trail, his white cotton tail taunting a silent farewell. Dinner almost got away, but the youthful hunter’s bolo toss was quick and accurate.
“No matter how dire the circumstances, there always seems to be enough rabbits to feed a traveler.”
***
“I canna stay with ye any longer,” he said as he kicked dirt over the dying embers of his campfire. “If I do, I’ll wind up as mean and ornery as ye. I can hunt and fish to feed myself, and trap and sell furs to save a few coins. Ye see, I have a wife now. Even if she’s young and stayin’ with her parents until she finishes school, Jenny is still my wife. Ye see, we married the Indian way, claimin’ each other as husband and wife two years past. I want to buy us a piece of land and a few starter critters, build a house, plant a garden and maybe some fruit trees. I don’t want to be like ye. I want to be settled, have a family that lives in a house, with glass windows maybe—not out in the wind and rain, watchin’ out fer snakes and bears and all those enemies ye’re always makin’.”
Scout—the youth called Wee Ian by his father—tugged at the strap securing his bundle of blanket, pan, and corn meal, and then stood up again, searching the horizon for signs of his father. Or anyone else.
“Weel, that’s what I’d say to ye if ye were here, but yer gone again.” He shook his head in disgust. “What did someone say or do to make ye angry this time…”

smBoxset

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Gelatin: The secret weight loss clinics don’t want you to find out.

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I’ve been trying to lose the ‘baby fat’ I gained with my last daughter for the past 20 years. The ad in the paper said ‘Lose 30 pounds in 6 weeks!’
That got my attention.
It was time to admit defeat and seek professional help.
I paid for the program, a month’s supply of vitamins, minerals/herbs and protein supplements the company insisted were essential, and did everything asked of me for their program. All meals were to be high protein, low carb and from my own kitchen.
I tried. Really, I did. Ten pills at breakfast, ten at lunch, but only six with my evening meal. And then there were the protein supplements: I was instructed to drink 3 to 4 of them every day. Just about every diet agrees that protein is the key to weight loss. Their clear ones were okay, but the creamy ones were nasty!
Those pills and supplements weren’t cheap, either. Add that to the hundreds of dollars for their consult fee, and I’m telling you, an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii would have been cheaper!
To make it worse, I was tired and hungry all the time. Yes, I lost eight pounds those first two weeks, but then the weight loss stopped. Now I was tired, hungry, angry and depressed. The counselors shifted my diet again. I actually gained half a pound! I was still tired and hungry and depressed. When I told the counselor how dire the depression was, she laughed at me!
Screw it!
I stopped taking their pills, ignored the food diary, concocted my own protein supplements, ate chocolate cake at my granddaughter’s birthday and lost 2 ½ pounds that week.
I checked in at the clinic to tell them what I thought about everything and to rub my weight loss in their faces. I was told, ‘Oh, it may take a few days for those extra calories to show up as weight gain.’
Nope. They’re still gone.
I did learn something for all that money, though.
Gelatin is a very great (and inexpensive) source of protein: 12.9 grams per tablespoon of dried powder.
First thing you need to know is the basic rule: gelatin needs to be dissolved in cold water first. It only takes a couple of minutes for those cream-colored granules to ‘bloom.’ This blob then needs to be stirred into very hot liquid. From there you can add it to any variety of drinks, soups, or desserts.

First thing in the morning protein PICK ME UP
1 Tbsp gelatin (1 packet of Knox)
¼ cup cold water
Sprinkle gelatin over cold water and let sit for a couple of minutes. I use a custard dish so there’s more surface area for the powder to contact
Slip this mixture into your hot coffee or tea and stir.
That’s it! I make a cappuccino with cream and cinnamon. No sugar required for me. The gelatin makes it creamer and helps fill me up before breakfast. Less chance of overeating this way, too.

CHOCOLATE PUDDING
1 Tbsp gelatin
¼ cup cold water
Sprinkle gelatin over cold water and let sit for a couple of minutes.
2 tsp cocoa powder
2 tsp sugar
Pinch of salt (makes the sugar sweeter and rounds out the flavor)
(optional: a few drops of vanilla and/or dash of cinnamon)
1/3 cup warm water
Stir the cocoa, sugar, salt, water (and other optional ingredients) together in a Magic Bullet™ cup. Nuke for 30 seconds in the microwave.
Add gelatin blob. Stir until blended. Add 1 tablespoon of cream or half and half. Stir again.
Add 5-7 ice cubes. Put Magic Bullet lid on, shake to pre-mix, and then blend until the ice cubes are gone.
Depending on how much ice was used and the temperature of the mix, you’ll either have instant pudding in the cup or you’ll have to wait 5 to 10 minutes for full ‘set.’ You can use a blender or shaker cup, I suppose, but I love my Magic Bullet™.
By using cream or half and half instead of milk, you’re reducing the amount of carbs. If you use Splenda instead of sugar, you’re even lower on the carb scale, but you may get rebound and want more sweets. Sugar satisfies: artificial sweeteners often make you want more.

You can use the same basic principle of dissolving gelatin in cold water before adding to hot liquid for many ‘snacks.’ Add to canned soup, bouillon, teas, or even your own version of puddings. Consume 3 to 4 a day for added protein. The calories are negligible and the satisfaction is great…especially when you step on the scales and see you’ve lost 2 ½ pounds by eating chocolate pudding!

Note: I buy beef gelatin in bulk from Amazon. It doesn’t have a flavor and is much less expensive than buying packets. I’ve read that artificial sweeteners are bad for your innards and take longer to process than sugar. As far as my body goes,
Splenda actually makes me hungrier. All of the weight loss clinics sweet supplements were made with hydrolyzed gelatin and Splenda.

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Find out how Evie lost 60 pounds overnight and got the adventure of lifetime at the same time in NAKED IN THE WINTER WIND.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1j3QtxY

iBooks: http://apple.co/1RyY7EG

Nook: http://bit.ly/1KA7UV5

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1nab2C7

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