Travel with Mona to Florida

Why would you go anywhere else on New Year Day? Since I moved to Florida I have often wondered how I coped with living in the north for so many years. And Fort Lauderdale is the best of Florida. So what would you expect to find in Fort Lauderdale? A glorious sunshine, wonderfully warm temperatures, sandy beaches, the turquoise ocean, … Should I continue?

Sunrise on the ocean in Fort Lauderdale

If you are a snowbird escaping from the cold, you will love sunbathing on the sand, walking along the coastline, or swimming in the ocean.

Sunset on the city and the canals in Fort Lauderdale

Sunbathing on the beach: With over 23 miles of smooth sand, Greater Fort Lauderdale provides plenty of space to soak up the sun in one of Broward County’s beaches.

A picture from the ocean: The high-rises lining the coast

Swimming in the ocean: Average annual water temperature on the coast in Fort Lauderdale is 79°F, by the seasons: in winter 73°F, in spring 77°F, in summer 84°F, in autumn 81°F. With minimal current, exceptional water quality, typically calm sea conditions, shy marine life inhabiting the nearby coral reefs, and professional lifeguards stationed above, visitors find safe swimming conditions at the beautiful beaches of Fort Lauderdale.

My favorite beach Fort Lauderdale Beach

Walking along the coastline: The paved beachfront promenade highlights Fort Lauderdale’s world-famous coastline and stretches the 7-mile length of the beach, and is lined by an array of shops, restaurants, sidewalk cafes and entertainment venues.

The famous Fort Lauderdale promenade

Bicycling in a park: Fort Lauderdale’s “Central Park” was gifted to the city by Hugh Taylor Birch. The park is named after him. Hugh Taylor Birch Park is complete with gopher tortoises and boat access from the intracoastal waterway. The park is a vibrant center for the community of Fort Lauderdale, and residents take pleasure in activities from inline skating to reading under the shade of palms and oaks. Visitors can access the beach via the pedestrian tunnel under A1A.

Seen while walking on the promenade

Seen while walking on the promenade

To visit Fort Lauderdale—a city of canals—we hoped on a Water Taxi and experienced the multi-million-dollar mansions, hotels, and seafood restaurants lining the canals. In addition to sightseeing, the water taxi stops at boutiques and eateries along Las Olas Boulevard.

Boating along the intercoastal

Some of the mansions along the main canal

Las Olas Blvd is the main strip in Fort Lauderdale – Stretching from the heart of downtown, through the business, shopping and dining districts all the way to Fort Lauderdale Beach. Las Olas Boulevard is at the forefront of everything from fashion boutiques and art galleries, to memorable restaurants, sidewalk cafes and bars…The oldest and most famous bar in Fort Lauderdale is the Elbo Bar. It was featured in the movie ” Where the Boys Are” with Connie Frances and George Hamilton in 1961. It’s always crowded.

If you have time you can visit the Everglades Holiday Park where you can take a boat ride and watch an alligator show.

If you come to Fort Lauderdale, I’ll be happy to take you around and give you a
tour of Fort Lauderdale–my Paradise on Earth, especially at Christmas time.

LAST CHANCE PLANS on Preorder

Available at Amazon

At twenty, Rick Lambert ran away from the US to escape the accusations hurled at him. Fifteen years later, he returns to settle in Fort Lauderdale. His mother agrees to live with him and take care of his two sons who have been raised by nannies and boarding schools.
Flight attendant, Madison Howell loves nothing more than her job. During a flight from Dubai to Miami, she meets the authoritative businessman and his mother. The sweet old lady befriends her, and Rick doesn’t hide his attraction. When his children come home, Madison finds herself entangled with the Lamberts way too often. As she helps the young boys adapt to their new life, she falls in love with their gorgeous father, but she’s not sure she really knows Rick, her charming lover. A loving son and dedicated father but also a womanizer and tough businessman with a hidden past.
When people from long-ago cross his path, secrets are revealed, threatening to ruin their romance. Now mature and powerful, Rick confronts his enemies to clear his name, but will it cost him the woman he loves?

Monkey Bread #Recipe By @TaylorLeeWrites

Monkey Bread is sticky, delectable, and surprisingly simple! This recipe comes from the inimitable Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, who insists “The smell is to die for, but the taste is life itself. I would endorse this monkey bread as the next presidential candidate.”

Monkey Bread

I tend to agree.  It was the hit of our Christmas morning brunch. You owe it to your family and friends who crave recipes that are simple to make and sinfully delicious to test-drive this terrific recipe!

You can pull off pieces by hand or, if you’re civilized, feel free to use utensils. (But then you will miss the treat of licking the cinnamon sweetness off your fingers!)

Monkey Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3 cans buttermilk biscuits (the non-flaky ones)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2-3 tsp, cinnamon
  • 2 sticks butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar

Directions:

  1. Reheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Open up all three cans of biscuits and cut each biscuit into quarters.
  3. Next, combine the white sugar with 2 to 3 teaspoons of cinnamon. (3 teaspoons of cinnamon gives it a fairly strong cinnamon flavor. If you’re not so hot on cinnamon, cut it back to 2 teaspoons.) Dump these into a 1 gallon zip-up bag and shake to mix evenly.
  4. Drop all of the biscuit quarters into the cinnamon-sugar mix. Once all the biscuit quarters are in the bag seal it and give it a vigorous shake. This will get all those pieces unstuck from one another and nicely coated with cinnamon-sugar. Spread these nuggets out evenly in the Bundt pan.
  5. At this point, you’re going to want to melt the two sticks of butter together with 1/2 cup of brown sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. This can be light or dark brown sugar. Cook butter-sugar mixture, stirring for a few minutes until the two become one. Once the brown sugar butter has become one color, you can pour it over the biscuits.
  6. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes until the crust is a deep dark brown on top. When it’s finished cooking, remove it from the oven. If you have the willpower, allow it to cool for about 15 to 30 minutes before turning it over onto a plate.

Now, I’m not completely sure why this stuff is called “Monkey Bread,” but I think it has something to do with the fact that people seem to stand around it making primitive noises, jumping up and down, and picking at it incessantly. Taste it and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

ENJOY!!

While you’re snacking on these sinful nuggets, dive into my equally sinful book:

The Unstoppable Detective Brooks

The Unstoppable Detective Brooks

Not all Christmas reunions have sugar plum fairies dancing in their heads.

Some include murder.

Detective Piper Brooks is as beautiful as she is outrageous. To the chagrin of her famous legal family, she disdains  her Harvard law degree, declaring she prefers to be a cop. Now lead detective in Denver’s police department, her motto in the words  of the irascible General Patton is “Lead me, follow me…or get the hell out of my way.” The latter being the most applicable.

The newly elected District Attorney Ethan Matthews is as powerful as Piper but sports a sophisticated patina that masks his background as a fierce undercover agent and wealthy attorney. As honorable as he is fierce, Ethan makes it clear that while the blonde bombshell is a force to be reckoned with, no one including Piper should underestimate him.

And while you are at, don’t let this holiday season go by without snatching up these two terrific boxsets by my ABB colleagues:

Irresistible — Unexpected Christmas Gifts

Christmas Romance

And

Unforgettable Christmas Miracles—Unforgettable Memories

Unforgettable Christmas Miracles

WELCOME TO NIGHT LIGHTS IN ST. AUGUSTINE

I am fortunate enough to live in the beautiful and warm state of Florida, and had the pleasure of meeting up in St. Augustine with a friend from our days in elementary school, which was not far from Vancouver, Canada. Sixty years have passed and we both have lost our husbands. Jacquie now lives in Phoenix and came to visit this week.

St. Augustine

Old Town of St. Augustine

As a special outing we drove to the magnificent old town of St. Augustine, the first European settlement in the United States, founded in 1565 by the brave and bold Spanish explorers. The beautiful and stately architecture was influenced by the founders—but who discovered the land first?

Pedro Menendez de Aviles was sent to Florida by King Philip of Spain in order to establish a center of operations from which to attack the French. Pedro may have the fame and glory, but in reality, he was not the first to discover this piece of land. Let’s give credit where credit is due.

La Florida is claimed

The first European known to have explored the coasts of Florida was the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon. He ventured in 1513 as far north as the vicinity of the future St. Augustine. He believed it to be an island and named it “La Florida,” claiming it for the Spanish crown. Others had attempted to colonize the land before the founding of St. Augustine. But all attempts had failed.

So yes, I’m confused. While both men are recognized for being the adventurous explorers, Pedro seems to have the most credit. I won’t bore you further with the history, but I will let the photos speak for themselves. It truly is a wonder and gorgeous to see.

Here we are at the Christmas Night Lights at St. Augustine 2022.

Travel to Vienna with Mona

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Vienna, the capital of Austria, is known as the City of Music due to its musical legacy. Many famous classical musicians such as Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Schubert, Johann Strauss (father and son), Johannes Brahms and Gustav Mahler called it home. Vienna is also said to be the City of Dreams because it was home to the world’s first psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud.

I visited Vienna in the nineties and was impressed by the elegance of people in the streets. The picture of an older couple relaxing in a public park is forever etched in my memory. Dressed in suit and fur coat, they were sitting on a bench, their haughty dignity contrasting with the simplicity of the children playing and running around.

When I returned in 2011 and 2014, I was struck by the diversity of the population and costumes. Vienna had become more cosmopolitan and less European. But the monuments and landmarks haven’t changed and attract interest even more than in the past. Vienna has so much to offer to the tourist.

The Austrian Parliament Building in Vienna is where the two houses of the Austrian Parliament conduct their sessions. The foundation stone was laid in 1874; the building was completed in 1883. 
The Austrian Parliament Building: Theophil Hansen, the architect responsible for its Greek Revival style, designed the building in a comprehensive way, aiming to have each element in harmony with all the others. 
St. Stephen Cathedral is the most important religious building in Vienna and has borne witness to many important events in Habsburg and Austrian history. With its multi-colored tile roof, it has become one of the city’s most
recognizable symbols. 
The Maria Theresien Platz is located directly at the Ringstrasse, embedded in an imperial scenery between the Museum of Natural History and the one for Art History. Directly across the Ringstrasse you can find the Hofburg Palace.
The monument of Empress Maria-Theresa
One of the Museums at the Maria Theresien Platz.
My husband and I in front of the Maria-Theresa monument
Heldenplatz is a public space in front of the Hofburg Palace. The President of Austria resides in the adjoining Hofburg wing, while the Federal Chancellery is on the adjacent Ballhausplatz. Many important actions and events took place here, most notably Adolf Hitler’s ceremonial announcement of the Austrian Anschluss to Nazi Germany on 15 March 1938. 
The Spanish Riding School is the only institution in the world that has existed for 450 years and continues to cultivate classical horsemanship in the Renaissance tradition– It can also be found on UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage.

The Spanish Riding School is dedicated to the training of Lipizzaner horses. The performances taking place in the Hofburg are also a tourist attraction.
St. Peter Church
St. Stephen Platz (plaza) with the Plague Memorial Monument
Art History Museum at Maria-Theresia Platz
Mozart
Goethe

There are so many palaces in Vienna. Some are now museums, some are still used as official sites for the government. We never had time to visit the Vienna Opera House, but we attended a fabulous Strauss concert with a performance of waltz presented by professional dancers.

The Music Palace and garden during the day
Strauss Concert and performance of waltz.

A visit to Vienna is not complete without a visit to Schönbrunn Palace, the summer residence of the Hasburg emperors.

Schönbrunn Palace: Front view
Schönbrunn Palace: Back view

 

Baroque Sculpture that intrigued me in the fabulous gardens of Schönbrunn Palace. It represents the abduction of Helen of Troy by Paris.

Vienna is one of the most romantic capitals of the world.

Four books in each box– Eight romance novels, romantic comedy or romantic suspense set at Christmas time.

If there is one thing Senator Howard Dutton hates, it’s scandal, and all that it entails, juicy gossip, paparazzi, tabloid magazines, and the likes that could negatively affect his career. A family man with political ambitions, he’s happily married to a beautiful woman and he adores his four sons, David, Joshua, Ethan, and Brian, and his only daughter, Julia. Fiercely protecting his stellar reputation, he taught his children at an early age to work hard and avoid disreputable people. While in college, the children made him proud, until things turned rotten … just before a re-election campaign.

His sweet Julia, the apple of his eye and a gorgeous fashion designer, breaks her engagement a week before her wedding—the wedding of the century with seven hundred guests, all loyal supporters of Senator Dutton.

Joshua, a successful lawyer and his father’s right hand, now feeds the tabloids by flaunting a new beauty every week. David, a dedicated doctor, has marital problems and is going through a messy divorce. Senator Dutton would rather not talk about Ethan, the black sheep of the family who dropped out of college after a noisy argument with his dad. And what could he say about the relatives who add their share of problems. Thank God, young Brian discreetly restricts his amorous pursuits to his medical school and hospital.

Senator Dutton is ready to issue a warning. They should reform, at least during his campaign season, or else…

The Senator’s Family Series #1

The Senator’s Family Series #2