BEN & JILLY is available for preorder!Aug 25, 2020

December's most notorious matchmaker is about to become half of the town's next Christmas romance.

Preorder it now so you can read it on October 20th!

When North Pole Unlimited’s #1 elf turns Scrooge, a new flame and his furry sidekick need to jumpstart her Christmas spirit before it’s too late.

Executive assistant Jilly Lewis has never resented the holidays before, but this year the company’s resident matchmaker and holiday-disaster fixer has learned her family is going to be elsewhere during the most wonderful time of the year.

Ebenezer “Ben” Fredericks is giving up the road for a desk job at North Pole Unlimited. He has lots of things to do as he reorganizes his life in December, but number one on his list is getting Jilly back into the Christmas spirit.

He’ll need to enlist help to put the jingle back in Jilly’s step, but his co-workers at North Pole Unlimited and new neighbours in December are ready to pay back Jilly for her years of spreading Christmas joy everywhere she goes.

Can Ben put the ho-ho-ho back in Jilly’s holidays, or will she find coal in her stocking on Christmas morning? Only Santa knows.

* * *

Only $2.99 on Amazon -- Kobo -- Apple Books -- Barnes & Noble -- Google Play

or ask your library to order it on Overdrive or Hoopla!

Pandemic GardeningJul 19, 2020

I've had a garden for years, and we always like trying something new. This year, as Covid-19 made itself known at the beginning of the year and as we started our social distancing and shut-downs in March, there were several articles about potential food shortages and all kinds of predictions of what was to come. We had the time and we had the supplies, so we decided to increase out planting space from our usual 8'x10' garden plot, and our u-box, by constructing five 2'x3' raised garden boxes. We put these four in the front yard. 

We have our favourites but because we had the space, we decided to try a few new things this year, for a total of 22 types of fruits and vegetables.  It's been two months since we planted; here's how things have progressed. * means it was our first time.

1. Watermelon*.  We planted the seeds. They sprouted and shot up two inches with their bright green leaves. They're still alive and two inches tall. RESULT: utter and complete failure.

2. Pumpkin*.  We planted 12 seeds not expecting them all to sprout. Surprise! 4 went into a box and the remaining 8 lined our backyard fence.  We have 9 remaining plants, averaging 1 viable pumpkin per vine. We say viable because while there are many buds, not all the wee baby pumpkins get fertilized.

3. Spaghetti Squash*. We planted 12 seeds and again they all sprouted. We gave away 7 and planted the remaining 5. We currently have 3 viable squashes.

4. Purple beans. These took up a lot of space in the garden last year so we moved them to a pair of garden boxes. They loved it and climbed the frame. Now we're waiting for them to start producing fruit.

4. Potatoes. We planted two. The first shot up right away. The second had a two to three week delay, but they are growing like mad now. We are using a new potato box this year, and ensured it had very good drainage after our disastrous summer last year. We're leaving these for a while longer, hoping to get a good haul come fall.

5-9. My herb box. Parsley, oregano, basil, rosemary and thyme. My basil and parsley have gone wild and I love it. My oregano is a little slow, and the rosemary and thyme are fine.

10. Corn*.  We had 12 stalks come up. They are starting to flower, or whatever the term is for corn, and so far only three stalks are showing signs of producing cobs, but we still have time.

11-14.  Zucchini, onions, carrots, beets (and corn.) This is our main garden. The zucchinis are across the short (far) end. We've had four zucchinis so far this year. The first was about 500gr (1 lb) and the largest was over 1000gr (over 2 lbs.) We thinned the beets for the first time ever this year, and wow, did they take advantage of the space. They're huge! As a bonus, we were able to sauté the beet tops, so that was another meal. The carrots are well on their way. The onions are all tops and no bottoms at the moment, so we wait. 

15. Cucumbers. Some neighbours gave us an open packet of seed, so we started these from scratch. They are good slicer cukes, but did not grow up the ladder like ones we've planted in previous years. We will have to buy cucumbers for pickling, but we did get some fresh ones to eat.

16. Peppers. The selection was limited when we got to the nursery, so we only got three (2 Cajun Reds, and 1 Hungarian Wax). All are hotter than jalapeños. Unfortunately, the thieving squirrels around here ran off with two of them! One was so hot, they took one bite left it in the garden. We'll have a few Cajun ones left for salsa, but they aren't as good as the Mucho Nacho peppers we had last year. No photos because we've had to put covers on them to protect the remaining peppers from the furry thieves. 

17. Tomatoes.  We tried a type of cherry tomato from seed and they look like they are going to produce exceptionally well! They're green right now, but soon! We also bought two large, beefsteak-style tomatoes. They are also looking good. We won't get enough to supply what we need for our canning needs, but we'll definitely be able to contribute some homegrown tomatoes to the sauces.

18. Green onions. We have limited success when we plant these in our main garden. And NO success when we plant them in the tomato box. RESULT: complete and utter failure. Nothing even sprouted.

19-22. Strawberries, Raspberries, Saskatoon berries, and Rhubarb. Our u-box garden has three parts. One has strawberries. We finally had a good year, and got enough for a couple bowls of ice cream. Now that we know how much water they need, we anticipate good things next year.  Our raspberries grow quickly and get quite bushy, but we never get any berries. RESULT: utter and complete failure. It's been 4 years, so we are pulling the plants. Our rhubarb did well; we've pulled a few stalks already and used about 12 cups in baking and jamming.  We have a saskatoon bush at another property, and it does well every other year. This is an other year. We got an ice cream bucket of berries (about 2.2 kg/5lbs) so far - enough for jam, muffins, and pie. 

We're very fortunate to have the space to do this, and to have had it as a hobby for several years so we weren't starting from scratch this summer.  I hope you new gardening are enjoying digging in the dirt, and are getting some tasty veggies to reward your hard work. And to my fellow long-term gardeners, happy hoeing!

Happy birthday, AmericaJul 4, 2020

I hope my American friends are enjoying a great Independence Day (as part of a long weekend, if they can.) Barbecues, camping, and fireworks for the win!

FALL A MILLION TIMES is out today!May 4, 2020

Need some good luck? Let's see if some rubs off from Andie and Freddy, who won both the lottery and in love!

She's a retired hockey player. He's a retired soldier. And now they're both millionaires.

How do you start over? You find someone to lean on.

Andie Ronald has all kinds of luck. The bad kind where an injury ends her professional hockey career, and the good kind where she wins part of a fifty-million-dollar jackpot a couple months later. Now she's back in Hopewell with nothing but time on her hands, and a dream that may be out of reach if she doesn't accept a little help from her friends—especially Freddy.

Co-winner Freddy Turnbull used his share of the lottery winnings to buy a fixer-upper and start his own construction company, but after a series of accidents, all the plans he's building with Andie could come tumbling down.

When Andie puts up walls to protect herself after a huge loss, Freddy must share his own problems before he can help Andie with hers. These two fiercely independent millionaires must remember strength comes from helping each other up and dusting each other off before they get to the happy ending they deserve.

This full-length sweet romance is available everywhere:

Amazon -- Kobo -- Apple Books -- Google Play -- Barnes & Noble

Back of the pantry mealsApr 16, 2020

Hi, my friends. I hope you are all hanging in there. If you have already re-organized the pantry, cleaned the fridge, and alphabetized your spice rack out of boredom, I'm sure you've discovered some dusty bottles of spices and condiments in the corner. Now is the time to put them to use.

I'm in the same boat, so I've put together a bunch of easy recipes which might ease the strain of "What's for dinner" when the pickings get slim.

Mustard Crusted Pork Tenderloin

  • 1 lb pork tenderloin 
  • 2-3 tbsp Dijon mustard 
  • 2-3 tbsp bread crumbs 
  • 1 tbsp Herbes de Provence, or 1/2 tbsp dried thyme* and 1/2 tbsp dried rosemary*

Brush mustard evenly over tenderloin. Mix breadcrumbs and spices. Sprinkle over mustard. Cook for 1 hour at 350F.

(Note: if you only have ground thyme and ground rosemary, reduce amounts to 1/2 tsp of each for a total of 1 tsp)

Spicy Potatoes

  • 4 medium potatoes 
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano (or 1 tsp ground oregano)
  • 1 tbsp paprika

Cut potatoes into wedges. Mix all ingredients in bowl. Ensure potatoes well and evenly coated. Cook for 1 hour at 350F.

Orange Chicken

  • 1 pound chicken pieces, thawed (3 breasts or six boneless chicken thighs)
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

Mix first three ingredients. Pour over chicken. Cook for 1 hour at 350F. 

Tuna Pasta Salad

  • 1 box macaroni and cheese (hold the cheese packet for another recipe), or 3 cups dried rotini noodles
  • 1 can plain tuna*, drained and flaked
  • 2 ribs of celery, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/2 to 3/4 Miracle Whip, (or mayonnaise, sour cream, or plain Greek yogurt, or any combination of these for the dressing)
  • Salt and pepper as needed.

Cook pasta as directed. Drain well and rinse with cold water. Add all other ingredients and mix well. If you do not have all three vegetables, add the ones you have available to give it some texture and crunch. 

(Note: if you have one small can of flavoured tuna, you can add it as well, but do not make the salad with ONLY flavoured tuna because it can easily become overpowering. I, personally, like the Thai Chili or Lemon Dill flavours.)

“Chag Sameach!” to my Jewish friendsApr 9, 2020

This is an image of food often eaten at the seder. I did some research to find out what Passover was, so I could have some knowledge of what I was wishing my Jewish friends, and found a very good explanation here.