Presents from Across the Pond!

I didn’t go to London for Wimbledon last week with my husband and my son, but I got some good stuff, anyway.

Remember those souvenir T-shirts that said, “My parents went to wherever and all I got was this T-shirt?” Yeah, my souvenirs are way better than that. I got all three of the items I suggested before they left! 🙂

The English like their tea, right? Me, too! I would’ve fit right in. And I probably wouldn’t have had to carry around my own tea bags or ask if the tea was freshly brewed at all the restaurants like I do in the U.S. of A.

I was happy to learn that in London, the hotels actually cater to tea-drinkers. Instead of a coffee pot for coffee drinkers – and pretty much nothing for those of us who don’t appreciate coffee-flavored tea from water that’s been run through the coffee maker – there was tea service in the rooms!

Too bad I wasn’t there to see that, but it makes me smile, anyway. Can’t wait to try this new-to-me brand. Mango and Earl Grey – mmmmm.

And then there’s the chocolate. They did well. Or, I did well. A chocolate library?! Ha! Two of my favorite things combined. Extra brownie points to the hubs who carried these hefty chocolate bars in his bag through two airport terminals due to flight issues. This little “library” weighs a ton!

Next? A very British silk scarf from a museum there. The lightly printed architectural drawings with bold royal blue and gold border look . . . well, royal!

They had a great time being tourists and taking in the amazing tennis at Wimbledon. While I enjoy watching tennis, I’m not a big fan of lines or “queuing up” as they call it. So I declined. I’m happy they had a fabulous father/son experience. And I appreciate they took the time to think of me while they were at it!

If you’re vacationing this summer, happy travels!

What’s your all-time best souvenir?

Darlene

 

Just a Little Flower Power

Last week, I took a road trip that wound through nine states plus a chunk of Canada, passed by four of the Great Lakes, and included a visit to Holland, Michigan — apparently the tulip capital of the U.S. I’d never been there before, and wasn’t sure what to expect from the little town that boasted of its tulips and quaint features.

Turns out, it was a charming town and the tulips were fantastic. So was our timing. My sister and I arrived just a few days after the annual tulip festival. The crowds were gone, but the tulips still put on a stunning show and offered plenty of photo opportunities.

We had a fun day (our only sunny one of the entire trip) walking through the town square shops, visiting the farmer’s market and strolling through rows and rows of gorgeous, colorful tulips. I must’ve taken hundreds of pictures. Couldn’t help myself. So many bright, cheery blooms! They still make me smile!

Enjoy!

Darlene

What’s blooming in your world?

Trip down Memory Lane salutes Teachers

I could never be a teacher. I don’t have the stamina or the patience — and I don’t have enough control over my facial expressions. (It’s probably the eye-roll.) So I have a high regard for good teachers.

Having gone to public schools and sent two kids to school, I’ve seen a thing or two go down in the classroom. I’ve been a room parent and school volunteer. I’ve witnessed classrooms in total disarray and classrooms that function like clockwork thanks to a special kind of person who can only be described as a rock star, or maybe a saint!

I’m delighted to pay tribute to one such teacher in a new anthology that features me and 38 other authors from around the world sharing everything from heartwarming to hilarious essays about teachers and teaching. It’s called Will Work for Apples, and it released today in ebook and paperback formats.

My piece is about a favorite memory from third grade and the fabulous teacher who cheered me to one of my greatest childhood achievements! It’s called A Wagon and A Wink. It’s about jump-roping, persevering, and a little encouragement!

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Are you a teacher? An education advocate? Need a year-end teacher gift or simply enjoy true stories? You might need a copy of Will Work for Apples! 🙂

Happy Reading!

Darlene

Amazon: http://bit.ly/WILLWORKFORAPPLESamazon
Kindle: http://bit.ly/WILLWORKFORAPPLESkindle
iTunes: http://bit.ly/WILLWORKFORAPPLESitunes
B&N Nook: http://bit.ly/WILLWORKFORAPPLESnook
Kobo: http://bit.ly/WILLWORKFORAPPLESkobo

Couples that Capture your Heart

When my kids were in elementary school one of the popular Valentine party games was a matching game. Room moms cut large paper hearts, then cut them in half and wrote the names of popular “couples” on each half . . . Romeo and Juliet, Beauty and the Beast, Hans Solo and Princess Leia, etc. The idea was for the kids to find their match.

It was just a fun way to pass some time during the classroom Valentine party. But it reminds me how fictional couples capture our hearts. So much so, that some book and movie couples become legend.

c0e3b31cedf0ae427b4600e905234257One of my favorite couples goes way back to childhood reading – Loved reading about the budding romance between Laura Ingalls and Almanzo Wilder and their eventual marriage. A couple of other favorites: Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy (of course), and Matt and Meredith from Judith McNaught’s novel “Paradise.” Movies also are a source of some of the greatest romances. A few that come to mind: Rose and Jack from Titanic, Sally and Harry, When Harry Met Sally, Ian and Toulah in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

It’s Valentine’s Day, so let’s have some fun. Everyone share your favorite couples!

Authors, take a few lines to introduce us to your “couple” characters. I’ll go first:

Darlene

From my novel “Unexpected Legacy,” fiction with romantic elements: Matt Dalton is about to meet his 16-year-old son for the first time. Kate Austen is an interim high school principal fighting to make her mark in a man’s world. Sparks fly when the two clash over the best approach to Matt’s son’s recovery given the recent tragedy in his life. Unexpected Legacy

Theresa Hupp’s latest novel, Forever Mine: Love Along the Oregon Trail, is the story of Esther and Daniel, who are emigrating with their families in a wagon train to Oregon in 1847. Esther and Daniel fall in love, but what chance does their romance have, when their fathers argue at every turn of the trail and their travels bring only danger, disease, and death? https://www.amazon.com/Forever-Mine-Along-Oregon-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B0797F39SL

In Joyce Ann Brown‘s cozy mystery series, Beth and husband Arnie don’t see eye-to-eye when it comes to Beth’s sleuthing, even when their “Psycho Cat” noses out clues. Arnie wants to stay clear of detecting. But he’s there for Beth when it counts.

When I was young I watched Roy Rogers and Dale Evans on a black and white tube TV and fell in love with the “singing cowboys/girls.” Today, as a writer of suspense and time travel, I’ve logged a number of characters. My first novel, Return of the French Blue, features Catalina Syrah and Nicholas Bonhomme. The story takes place in the California Wine Country, and the beautiful coast of southern France. Pit two strong spies against each other who desperately want to retrieve the legendary French Blue diamond—and you have the makings of a suspense-packed novel. The settings couldn’t be more beautiful, and the characters—oh my! I still see them in my dreams.  Please indulge at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008BDBKTS     Pamela B. Eglinski

Scroll through the comments below to discover other fave couples!

Surviving restaurant week . . .

It’s restaurant week in Kansas City. Or, as my husband and I refer to it, “Amateur Week.” Neither of us is much of a cook. We don’t enjoy the process, and just don’t have a flair for it. So we eat out a lot. And when restaurant week comes around, it messes up our rhythm. Our usual places are busier than normal and some dispense with their regular menus, instead offering only a pre-set, fixed price three- or four-course meal. For me and my husband, who often split an entree and add sides, the price increase is pretty significant.

But worse, restaurant week means forced cooking — a stock-up trip to the grocery store and an attempt to feed ourselves at home. For seven days!! I’ve used my crock pot twice this week – pretty sure that’s a record. So far, I’ve made pulled pork, chicken and noodles, chili, and lemon-pepper baked chicken. Spaghetti is in the line-up for the weekend, and maybe a breakfast-for-dinner option or baked potatoes. Nothing fancy, that’s for sure!

This year, there’s actually a silver lining. Restaurant week just happened to coincide with a big snowstorm. This is a happy thing! I can escape the winter weather during a time when I was going to stay home and cook anyway! Hooray! Spaghetti is in the line-up and maybe a breakfast-for-dinner option or baked potatoes. Nothing fancy, that’s for sure!

Okay, I’ll mention that I did one time get what I consider amazing praise for my cooking. I had my daughter’s group of friends over for a baked-potato bar during senior year when they were allowed to go off-site for lunch. I was completely shocked to read that one of the girls had written in my daughter’s yearbook, “Your mom’s baked potatoes are da bomb!” I am not making this up! Haha! Who writes something like that in a yearbook? Must’ve made an impression, right?!

Anyway, I think we’ll survive, but I’m really glad it’s only one week!

Do you enjoy cooking? What are your easy go-to meals?

Darlene

2018 – Year of Memories and Modifications

Well, I didn’t publish a book in 2018. I wrote one, but it’s pending an agent’s interest. I took a break from working on two other novels to write this post. One is a women’s fiction, and the other a contemporary romance that might be the first in a series. So my goal for 2019 is to publish at least one of them!

penned con signingIt was a busy year. I attended several author/reader events locally as well as the Romance Writers of America conference in Denver and the Penned Con book fair in St. Louis. Met up with writer friends, made new connections and had a blast meeting readers.

Plus, we had a lot of action on the home front. Both kids graduated in May – fortunately, a week apart. One with a bachelor’s degree and the other, her masters. Being my son’s final college tennis season, we traveled to a few more of his matches, which took us from Orlando to Kalamazoo and several places in between. Lots of fun times and memories made! And, I’m happy to report both are gainfully employed and pretty much self-sufficient! Woo-hoo! I’m calling that parental success! 🙂

That said, we are now truly empty nesters. And that feels weird. And it changes everything! No more winter breaks that last three to four weeks. No more “Spring Break.” Our daughter was home for Christmas, but only for a few days. We were only able to fit in a quick overnight to see my folks because both kids had to be back at work the day after Christmas. Our daughter flew back to New York on Christmas Day. This new reality is cramping my style, for sure!

But it’s like the old saying, “The only thing constant is change.” It just keeps coming!

I don’t know what 2019 will bring, but I’m hoping for new adventures, new connections and new books! Wishing you all peace, good health and happiness!

What are you looking forward to in the new year?

Darlene

Stunning colors take the edge off

I know some people love fall. It’s their favorite season. For me, it’s generally okay. Not my favorite, though, because it puts an end to summer and is the prelude to the bitter cold temps and drab landscape of winter.

This year we haven’t had a lot of nice fall weather. It’s been a little rainy and on the chilly side for me. We never got that 70-something-degree Indian summer. Instead, it seems like one day it was 89 and then all of a sudden, it was 59.

But this year, fall gave us something else. It gave us absolutely stunning colors! I honestly can’t remember a fall that’s been as pretty. I can’t remember wanting to stop the car every couple of blocks to take pictures. The colors are brilliant and bright. The reds are vibrant, the yellows glow and the oranges blaze like fire.

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It’s already almost a week into November, and the gorgeous colors are taking the edge off of this transition that I usually dread. Hooray!

This is also the first fall in a few years that we haven’t ventured to central New York to visit our daughter and enjoy the spectacular views that are the hallmark of that area this time of year. So, I appreciate getting a taste of them here at home.

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I’ve taken so many pictures it was hard to narrow them down to just a few to share. But here they are. Enjoy! Hope you’re having a colorful season, too!

Darlene

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