Celebrating the Season

What is your favorite holiday to celebrate? Is it Christmas, when everything around us is sparkling lights, mistletoe, and evergreen? Or is it New Year, where you get to toast to new beginnings? What about Memorial Day, where everyone is ready for the sun and sand of the summer?

Personally, I’m a Memorial Day and 4th of July kind of girl. Celebrating freedom and spending time remembering those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for that freedom. Plus, I’m totally a summer sun person!

Several years ago, I wrote a book called, Tangled in Tinsel. It was a sweet little Christmas romance, and one of my readers told me that she loved the little town of Celebration that it was set in. She said it would be so awesome to have a series there.

I thought that was a great idea too, and thanks to her, Tangled in Tinsel became the first of a thirteen books series!!

Celebration Township is made for family, friends, falling in love, and don’t forget celebrating the holidays. The first twelve books bring two people onto center stage as they overcome odds and figure out what their futures may hold. There is laughter, love, romance, and even suspense when you join these couples as they each find a happily ever after over a holiday. The thirteenth book brings all twelve couples, and even a few special guests, into final focus as the first couple in Tangled in Tinsel prepares for their wedding one year after they met.


Tangled in Tinsel, Book 1 (Christmas) – Download this one for FREE!
Tears to Cheers, Book 2 (New Year’s)
Heathens to Hearts, Book 3 (Valentines)
Rainbows bring Riches, Book 4 (St. Patrick’s Day)
Sweet as Sugar, Book 5 (Easter)
Making Mom Mad, Book 6 (Mother’s Day)
Sparklers or Spankings, Book 7 (Memorial Day)
Raffles to Rattles, Book 8 (Father’s Day)
Flirting with Fireworks, Book 9 (4th of July)
Working with Wheels, Book 10 (Labor Day)
Masquerading at Midnight, Book 11 (Halloween)
Blessings & Beans, Book 12 (Thanksgiving)
Velvet & Vows, Book 13 (Christmas one year later)

A Visit to Vietnam

For most Americans the word Vietnam evokes painful memories, a cherished person gone too soon, and a hateful war we’d rather forget.

Our welcome committee in Nha Trang, Vietnam

I probably would have never visited Vietnam if our cruise ship hadn’t put it on its Far-East itinerary that included five days in China, Beijing and Shanghai, a stop in Okinawa (Japan), a visit to Taiwan, two days in Hong Kong, and two days in Vietnam, before we reached Singapore to fly home.

NHA TRANG is one of Vietnam’s most popular seaside destinations. It offers white-sand beaches, azure and turquoise waters, coconuts palms swaying in the breeze, and gaily painted fishing boats in the harbors of small villages. We took a guided tour to visit the Long Son pagoda, the Reclining Buddha, the Cham Tower complex and a couple of factories.

Long Son pagoda, or White Buddhist Pagoda as called by the locals, is a beautiful Buddhist temple built in the 19th century, on top of Trai Thuy hill. A pair of dragon mosaics stands firmly at the entrance, while lush topiary lines the main grounds.
On the way to the top of Trai Thuy hill, we admired the reclining Buddha statue made of marble. People say that The Reclining Buddha represents the potential that all beings have to release themselves from suffering. The serene and smiling expression of the reclining Buddha statue portrays the compassion and calmness that come with the enlightenment. 
Po Nagar Cham temple complex was built between 8th and 11th centuries by the Cham people who once ruled the central plain of Vietnam. They are renowned for their skills in sculpture and architecture, and left behind a legacy of artifacts and temple settlements not only in Vietnam, but also Cambodia and Thailand.

 

The towers of Po Nagar Cham are square red brick structure with protruding support frames and tapering roofs. Their towers are shrines to different deities. The tallest building, the Po Nagar Kalan, is the most impressive. 
Cri Cambhu, goddess of fertility.
Vietnamese women practicing the art of picture embroidery, at a local workshop for embroidery..

 

A lacquer factory where I bought a gorgeous jewelry box

Our second day in Vietnam was spent in the capital, Ho Chi Minh–or Saigon– a bustling metropolis where bicycles, motorbikes and cars fly down at dizzying speed. We took a walking tour around the downtown.

Ho Chi Minh City Hall
Independence Palace
Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon
Pedicab is a special type of transportation for Vietnam. 

Unfortunately I haven’t cruised for two years. Now I spend my time writing. My latest book is released today. I hope you will celebrate with me and enjoy RESCUE PLANS, book 3 of Love Plans Series.

RESCUE PLANS

To forget the drama that shook his life years ago, Captain Rafael Lopez dedicates himself to his career as a helicopter pilot, transporting patients in need of urgent care. His new flight nurse holds his attention with her gorgeous face, sassy mind, and indomitable spirit.

With determination and a lot of guts, Arianna Garcia survives life in the slums, learns to conquer her fears, and fights for herself. Rafael gives her the courage to break from her past. And Arianna is delighted to be Rafael’s flight nurse by day and passionate companion by night. After meeting a few jerks, she doesn’t believe in crazy promises and sex-driven hypocrisy.

Will Rafael discover the skeletons in her closet, gain her trust, and restore her faith in love?

Rescue Plans is book 3 of the Love Plans Series

My grandchildren’s favorite meal

My children and the extended family children and grandchildren started eating cannelloni at a very young age, and grew up calling it their favorite meal. I usually prepare it in advance, freeze it, and do the final cooking just before serving. It’s always a winner at family reunion and big holidays.

Cannelloni  Recipe

  • Prepare the mix:
  1. 3 eggs
  2. 1 ¾ cups of 2% milk
  3. Tsp of butter 1 cup of flour

Mix together in a blender or mixer. 

 

 

  • Prepare the pancakes (or crèpes)
  1. Use an electric skillet or any other type but adjust the stove temperature to 400o  
  2. Melt ½ a Tsp of butter in the skillet at 400
  3. Measure ¼ cup of the mix and pour over the melted butter 
  4. Spread evenly in the skillet 
  5. Remove when cooked and slid in a plate 
  6. Repeat until the whole mix is made into pancakes
  7. You usually get 10 big pancakes with one dose of mix.
  8. I like to cut all the pancakes in half.
  • Prepare the filling
  1. 1 lb of ground beef 
  2. 1 small onion 
  3. 1 tsp all spice 
  4. Salt and pepper 
  5. 1 cup Ragu tomato sauce

Darken and cook the ground beef, onion and spices, until well cooked. Add the sauce and simmer till the meat is done. Set aside.

  • Rolling the cannelloni
  1. Use a clean plate. Arrange one half pancake on it.
  2. Transfer a Tsp of ground meat over the pancake and roll it over to form a cannelloni.

Repeat with the rest of the pancakes. With this dose of mix you can prepare about 20 small cannellonis or 10 big ones.

 

  • Cooking

    The tomato sauce and sprinkled parmesan cheese still needed to be added when this picture was taken.

  1. Spray the the pan with Pam Brush the bottom with tomato sauce.
  2. Arrange the cannellonis in a 9×13 pan in two rows.
  3. Pour enough tomato sauce to cover each cannelloni
  4. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese or Romano cheese.
  5. Bake at 300o for 20 minutes.

Bon appétit.

Here is Bosty, my grandchildren’s dog waiting for Grandma to have him taste whatever she’s cooking that smells so good.  

I use some of my recipes in my romance novels, whenever I have a grandmother of Italian or Greek background.

 


On sale at Amazon. Cozy mystery. Book 2 of The Senator’s Family Series.

FAKE FIANCEE:   https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01NAW3TRE/ Joshua Dutton’s lifestyle and tabloids pictures threaten his father’s senatorial campaign. His parents insist on finding him a sweet temporary fiancée to repair the damage.
With only her German shepherd for friend, Emma Cassiero struggles with a heap of problems. Attraction sizzles between her and Josh, but no one mentions the secret deal made by her stepmother and the Senior Duttons. When the truth comes out Emma is devastated. Were Josh’s kisses part of the charade? Has Josh lost her or would he be able to team up with her German shepherd to love and protect her?

On sale at Amazon. Cozy mystery. Book 8 of The Senator’s Family Series.

HALF A DOZEN WITH LOVE  https://www.amazon.com/DP/B08HKQSRYC

When a tragic accident deprived Tammy Fletcher of her loving parents at the age of nineteen, she pledged to take care of her five brothers and sisters, ranging in age from eight months to sixteen years. But she’s up against her greedy step-aunt who wants to get her hands on the children’s trust fund, and the CPS caseworker who insists on putting the children in the foster care system.
Dr. Jack Conan, the orthopedic surgeon treating the children’s grandmother, is both impressed by Tammy’s efforts to keep the family together and irresistibly attracted to the gorgeous and so-serious young woman. Determined to help her, Jack goes out of his way to solve her dilemma. Will his unorthodox solution only complicate Tammy’s problems—or bring her into his arms?

 

A Business Trip to Belarus

In a different life, when I was still working as a Director of the Analytical Division for an environmental hazardous waste company, I spent many hours in the lab supervising chemists who performed analytical tests on water, soil, and air samples. Everything changed when I received a request for proposal from the Department of Defense (DOD) for the refurbishment of a military laboratory in Minsk, Belarus. Excited by the new challenge, I wrote a winning proposal, but I never expected to travel to Belarus as Project Manager of our new DOD contract.

I went to Belarus for the first time at the end of October 1994, with my lab manager and our computer specialist. The long and tiring, twenty-four hour flight to Minsk started from Cincinnati, OH, on Delta, to New York, where we met the other members of our delegation: the program manager and the quality assurance manager from the DOD and their interpreter. We spent three hours before boarding the big jet to Germany, and arrived in Munich the next morning around seven. We hardly had two hours to change terminal. Carrying and dragging a lot of luggage, a couple of suitcases, carryons, and big bags, we rushed from one terminal to another to catch the Lufthansa flight connection to Minsk that flew only three times a week. Missing our connection meant being stuck for two days in Munich or rerouted to Moscow.

In Minsk, we were greeted by army officers who helped us through passport control and other formalities. Outside the airport, a brisk cold seeped through my bones and freezing rain left us drenched until we reached the military cars waiting to take us to the big Hotel Belarus. Colonel Eugene who became our delegation escort–and guardian angel–informed us that the government stops the heating between May 1st and October 31st. I spent several days shivering outdoors and indoors. On my first night at the hotel, I literally froze in my drafty room and stuffed a rolled blanket along the windowsill. During the day, I continuously requested a hot cup of tea (shaye), but was often offered vodka instead.

Our first official meeting attended by officers, chemists and doctors, took place in a government building called the Hall of Officers. After a series of speeches, our Belarusian hosts invited us to celebrate the new contract with toasts of vodka that we were supposed to drink bottoms up while saying Na Dzhrovia.  No orange juice or ice was added to dilute the 40% alcoholic drink. My throat burned and my stomach caught fire. After several trips to Minsk, drinking vodka became part of my job description. I found it a practical way to stay warm. When I got sick, my Belarusian friends insisted on treating me with vodka, their universal remedy against cold, cough, stomach pain, and headaches!

Receiving the American analytical equipment at the Minsk airport with two colonels present to facilitate the customs’ complicated formalities, transporting it to the Ecomir lab in trucks that we had to rent, and moving it to the actual lab by lifting the humongous boxes through the windows because they wouldn’t fit through the facility’s doors was a monstrous performance I never thought we could accomplish.[I will be eternally grateful to the staff of ECC and Ecomir]

The Belarusians are very hospitable people. The colonels invited us often for dinner in their homes. After the inevitable toasts of vodka, we ate the delicious stuffed cabbage, potato pancakes, black bread and sausage. The children impressed me with their impeccable manners and fluent English. They often acted as interpreters for their parents.

In Minsk, I used a car with an excellent heating system and a chauffeur who spoke English. My rental car became a haven during the freezing months of winter and the only place where I felt warm and comfortable. Out of curiosity I took the underground train once. It was old and not very clean, a far cry from the magnificent trains of Moscow.

Many of my personal adventures are related in my book, TO LOVE A HERO.

The first chapter of TO LOVE A HERO relates my first impressions: cold weather, gray skies and cigarette smell everywhere. The curious looks of the local people made me feel weird as if I was wearing the wrong clothes. I was one of the only women without a hat. I remedied the situation on my first visit to the bazaar where I bought myself the cutesy mink chapka. I still have it.

I even included my own fall on the broken escalator of the old airport on my very first trip when my pointy heel was caught between the irregular mechanical steps. I was rescued by my lab manager while my heroine fell in the arms of a hero to die for, the handsome Major General Sergei who made her pulse race and stole her heart.

TO LOVE A HERO, highlights the hospitality and warmth of the gorgeous and gallant Belarusian officers who sing and toast and make a woman feel like a goddess. I had a lot of fun writing this book and I hope you will discover a new country and interesting civilization while reading TO LOVE A HERO.

The Russian hero is a perfect example of an alpha hero: a patriotic officer, authoritative and chauvinistic but protective and gallant, honest and loyal.

HEAL MY HEART is another book set in Belarus, depicting the life of a middle-class family, a doctor and widower who lives with his small children and his strong-minded mother, a woman determined to find him a second wife.

HEAL MY HEART: Running away from Christmas celebrations and the demons of her past, Dr. Jillian has dedicated her life to saving third-world children. In a faraway country, a handsome doctor may teach her the true meaning of Christmas, with the help of a baby girl and four little boys. As Jillian and Fyodor work together for six months in his hospital, their fascination with one another surprises them both.

Can attraction and love overcome guilt, duty, and a clash of cultures?