February, a Time for…

It’s Valentine’s Day: a time for romance… Did you receive or give flowers, chocolate, cookies? Did you go out to celebrate, start or revive a relationship?

It’s Lent: a time to fast and pray, but not to go on a diet! “Give Love and Time to your neighbors, your family, friends or anyone who is lonely and in need of help,” our pastor said.

It’s snow time: a time to stay warm. Avoid careless and unnecessary driving. Get someone to shovel your driveway if you’re not in your best shape. OR it’s snow time: do you ski? What better time to enjoy a fun weekend on the slopes!

If you’re a student, it’s time for hard work and thorough studying. Keep the social gathering, partying, and celebration for vacation time.

It’s also time to get cozy: relax on your couch, sip a hot chocolate or tea, and enjoy a good book.

DOCTOR’S ORDERS

DOCTOR’S ORDERS series (a set of three winning novels): Babies in the Bargain, Right Name Wrong Man, No More Lies ( previously titled Rx for Trust)

We’re All Heroes

Contemporary Romance with emotion, passion, action, and humor.

Audiobooks

Following Dani Haviland’s advice and example, I decided to accept Amazon’s invitation to create an audiobook using AI voice. It was so easy!!!

  1. I chose the book–one of my books where Amazon put a note [Your eBook is eligible for an audiobook.]
  2. I clicked on Add audiobook with virtual voice
  3. I chose a voice–when the story was mostly in the heroine POV I chose a female voice
  4. I listened, enjoying my own story in a different way.
  5. I paused and corrected the word that weren’t pronounced right–again so easy.
  6. So here are my new audiobooks– those published so far:

Honeymoon Cruise Audible Logo Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

Mona Risk (Author, Publisher), Virtual Voice (Narrator)  212 ratings See all formats and editions This title uses virtual voice narration. Virtual voice is computer-generated narration for audiobooks.

Mother’s Day Babies Audible Logo Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

Mona Risk (Author), Independently Published (Publisher), Virtual Voice,    216 ratings

A Bride For Prince Paul Audible Logo Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

Mona Risk (Author), Independently Published (Publisher), Virtual Voice (Narrator)    96 ratings

We’re All Together Audible Logo Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

Mona Risk (Author), Independently Published (Publisher), Virtual Voice (Narrator)   8 ratings

We’re All Winners Audible Logo Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

Mona Risk (Author), Independently Published (Publisher), Virtual Voice (Narrator)    11 ratings

We’re No Saints Audible Logo Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

Mona Risk (Author), Independently Published (Publisher), Virtual Voice (Narrator) 12 ratings

Heal my Heart Audible Logo Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

Mona Risk (Author), Independently Published (Publisher), Virtual Voice (Narrator)176 ratings

For Sarah’s Sake Audible Logo Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

Mona Risk (Author), Independently Published (Publisher), Virtual Voice (Narrator) 94 ratings

A Cook Book For Happy Meals

In our family, joyful get-togethers at holidays and special events were celebrated with boisterous gatherings and hearty meals prepared by the loving mothers and grandmothers. Over the years, some of the favorite dishes became an essential part of our traditional menu.

For the grandchildren born in the U.S., the delicious ethnic food prepared in abundance represented a vital bond to their background.

Following in my grandmothers’ and my mother’s footsteps, I took over the sacred duty of preparing the Christmas Eve dinners. Since the scrumptious dishes are always appreciated, I don’t mind spending hours cooking and baking. Our dear guests’ precious chat, laughter and happiness echo in my heart for the rest of the year. Now Thanksgiving and Christmas are celebrated at my children’s houses.

During the pandemic, the children stopped going to school and followed classes on line. My granddaughter Madelyn who was thirteen years old at the time came to spend a few days with me and learned to cook her favorite meals. I was amazed by her eagerness to cook and the speed at which she assimilated instructions. At the end of the day, she took her new creations home for the family to taste.

The next day she called me with a special request. “Nonna, I want you to write a cook book for me.”

And that’s why I wrote this cook book and dedicated it to my lovely Madelyn who must have inherited her culinary talents from her paternal great-grandmother Rose, or from her maternal great-great-grandmother Helen, or… from the amazing dear old ladies who spent hours in their kitchens feeding their children and grandchildren, and bringing joy to the family reunions.

Hopefully this cook book will inspire the young grandchildren to continue the tradition of joyful
family reunions and delicious meals.

Recipes for Madelyn Paperback – December 14, 2023

by Mona Risk (Author)

The joy of grapes and homemade juice

We were blessed with established grape vines on the property we bought nine years ago. The place had been abandoned for two years yet the plants still bore fruit. They were struggling, but that was because the surrounding trees had blocked their sunlight. We did extensive pruning and were rewarded with four varieties of grapes as a result. But enough backstory. Here’s a quickie lesson on how easy it is to raise grape vines and get some dandy (sugar-free) juice for drinking or making jelly.
Selecting Grape Varieties: Luckily, there are plenty of varieties suited for nearly every growing region. Early, mid, and late-season grapes extend the harvest. Consider seedless varieties like Himrod (green/yellow), Canadice (red)*, Lakemont (blue-black)*, Venus (pale green), Reliance (red), and Suffolk*. The * means they’re cold weather hardy. Check with your local agricultural extension service to find out which types grow best in your area. Remember: whichever type(s) you select, be sure to choose disease-resistant cultivars. This helps avoid common grape diseases like powdery mildew. Don’t be in a hurry either. Most vines take 2-3 years to mature and produce fruit.
Planting and Caring for Grape Vines: Grapes thrive best in sunny locations with well-draining soil. Space vines 6-8 feet apart in rows, with the rows 8-10 feet apart. Dig holes and amend the soil with compost to improve drainage. Soak bare root plants in water before planting. Water young vines regularly for the first two years until they establish an extensive root system. Installing a trellis system is also critical. As vines grow, train the stems along the wires. Trim away suckers and excess growth.
Ongoing Care and Maintenance: Prune grape vines before spring growth emerges. Remove up to 90% of the previous season’s growth, leaving just a few healthy canes with 6-10 buds each. Fertilize vines in early spring using compost or organic grape fertilizer. Put down mulch to retain moisture and reduce weeds. Install bird netting as fruit ripens to protect from hungry birds. Scout for pests like Japanese beetles and apply organic neem oil if needed. With proper care, homegrown grapes will flourish!
Harvesting Your Grape Crop: Depending on variety, grapes will be ready for picking from mid-summer into early fall. Snip bunches off vines when grapes are plump and sweet. Wear gloves to protect your hands from sticky juice. Select bunches that are fully ripe but not mushy. Use sharp pruners or scissors when harvesting to avoid damaging vines. Pick grapes in the morning when cool and transfer immediately to flats (don’t pile them high) out of the sun.
Extracting Fresh Grape Juice with a Steam Juicer: Once harvested, it’s time to turn those grapes into delicious homemade juice! A steam juicer allows you to easily extract pure, concentrated juice. You can leave them on the bunch, but I prefer to pluck them, making sure there aren’t any moldy ones hiding.
Fill the bottom pot of the three-part juicer with a few inches of water and bring to a boil on the stove or hot plate (I process mine outside). Place the top colander section loosely packed with grapes over the boiling water. The steam rises and heats the grapes, releasing their juice which drips down into the center section. Stir, then add more grapes as the level lowers in the colander. My unit has a vinyl hose with a clamp on it. I decant right into sterilized canning jars. I add the lid and band, then set them aside on a flat surface to sit for 24 hours, undisturbed. If the lid hasn’t ‘sucked down’ and stayed that way after 24 hours, put that jar in the refrigerator and use right away. A boiling water bath is optional. Check online to find out more.

I made V-3 juice with the steamer, too. My orange tomatoes, Vidalia onions, and Poblano chiles produced a beautiful orange drink (top picture, with the pink and purple grape juices) that has just the right amount of kick.

Did you know that archaeological evidence suggests grape cultivation began 6,000-8,000 years ago in the South Caucasus region between the Black and Caspian Seas? It’s big the world over now. I wonder if some of my time travelers ever went back that far to sample the vintages of Ancient Greece?
I’m pretty sure Big Mac didn’t. He only makes short ‘hops’ and always for doing good deeds. Check out his story while it’s only #99cents. Or read for #free anytime with #KindleUnlimited.