Ice cream makes everything better!

It’s National Ice Cream Day. Yes, I guess it’s a thing. But does anyone really need a national day to enjoy a cup, cone or bowl of their favorite ice cream? Not me!

But, hey, I’ll play along. I’ve recently taken quite a liking to a pistachio gelato at Spin Pizza. But my all-time go-to fave is Haagen Dazs Vanilla Swiss Almond.IMG_1789

So in honor of this day, I’m sharing a scene from my first novel, Unexpected Legacy, which takes place around . . . you guessed it. Ice cream, of course!

Unexpected_Legacy_CoverUnexpected Legacy:

“It’s very nice to meet you,” Pattie continued. “My kids are dying to meet you, too, but we’ll save that for another day. Just remember, though, the longer you put it off, the more excited they’re going to be. That means the more wild and obnoxious they’ll get. And I won’t thank you when they start driving me crazy.”
Matt couldn’t help but grin as Brady stared at his aunt. She must’ve seemed crazy already to him.
“Well, I can see you’re a talker,” Pattie told Brady. “But since you shouldn’t talk and eat at the same time, we’re just going to leave this for you. We’ll collect the utensils later. Unless you decide to come out for dessert. Ice cream with caramel and whipped cream.”
With that, she winked at Brady and breezed out the door. Matt nodded at his son. “Need anything else?”
Brady shook his head.
**
While the others dug into the ice cream, Matt gathered up the empty pizza boxes and shoved them into the large plastic trash bin in his garage, grateful for the few moments of silence the task afforded him. He didn’t want to be rude, but he hoped Pattie and the kids would leave soon. He was ready to crash, or at least settle into the couch in front of some mind-numbing television.
He started back to the kitchen then heard Tess shriek, “There he is!”
Matt bounded up the stairs in time to see Brady standing in the hallway. All heads swiveled toward him.
Matt’s mother was the first to greet Brady.
“Brady, would you like some ice cream?”
He shrugged. “Sure.”
Pattie restrained Tess, who’d jumped from her chair, about to charge Brady.
“How ’bout caramel and whipped cream?” Nonie asked.
“Uh, sure,” Brady said.
“Well, come on in and sit down,” Matt’s dad said, pulling out a chair for him.
Brady took a few more steps, then plopped into the chair. Matt’s dad took the crutches from him and leaned them against a corner.
Matt held his breath as Brady looked around the table, making eye contact with the other kids.
“Brady,” Pattie spoke up and nudged Tess, who’d suddenly gone shy and was holding on to her mother. “This is your cousin, Tess.”
“Hi, Tess,” Brady said.
She turned away and hid behind Pattie.
Matt shook his head, not sure he’d ever understand children, no matter how many books he read.
Pattie went around the table. “And this is Alex. And Jeremy.”
They both mumbled a hello, and Brady nodded.
Nonie set a heaping bowl of ice cream in front of Brady.
“Now let him eat his ice cream,” she told the kids, as if they were clamoring to talk to him, rather than staring, tongue-tied. “And you eat yours, too. Jeremy, you’re making a mess. Here, use this napkin.”
Scott stood up and reached a hand toward Brady. “Hello, Brady, I’m Scott. These hooligans belong to me.”
Brady offered Scott about half a smile, and shook his hand. “Hi.”
“How’d you like to babysit some time?” Scott asked, a grin spreading across his face.
The room erupted in laughter, and the awkwardness seemed to subside.
Matt nodded at Brady, secretly proud of him for venturing out of the bedroom and facing the situation. It showed courage, and that was something they’d both need a healthy dose of in the coming months.

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And happy scooping! Feel free to share your fave with us!

 

Fireworks of a Different Kind

Don’t you love feisty characters who create fireworks on the page or the screen? Those women and underdogs who stand up for their rights or fight against the establishment are often the ones we connect with. The ones who make us clap and cheer.

In honor of July 4th – fireworks day, and the day that a bunch of people said “enough,” I thought I’d take some time to think about the fictional folks who make us say, “You go, girl!”

20170513Norma-Rae1The first one that comes to mind, and I’m probably showing my age here, is Norma Rae – the classic story of a young woman (played by Sally Fields) taking on big business to get union representation. Who didn’t cheer when she shut down her machine and climbed up on that table with her sign? It’s so iconic, that I refer to these kinds of scenes as Norma Rae Moments.

Remember when Jewell Ivy in “Country” told that banker he’d better come with more than a piece of paper to take her family’s land?

Or how about when single mom Erin Brockovich took on big business over chromium contamination and won? You go, girl!

Do you like these kinds of feisty characters? One of my all-time favorite romance books also features a great Norma Rae Moment. In Paradise, by Judith McNaught, Meredith Bancroft has finally had it. After years of being pushed around by her father and later the board of directors of his company, she finds the courage to fight back, and gives a stunned group of men a piece of her mind. In standing up for her principles, she stands up for herself and the love of her life. It’s a fun read.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00031]In one of my Women of Whitfield novels, Second Wind, single mom Dana Gerard has a similar “I’ve had enough” moment. She’s tired of keeping her nose to the grindstone. Of not making any waves to protect her job. She’s good at what she does. She’s responsible and then some. So when her integrity is challenged, she refuses to take it sitting down.

Sneak peek without spoilers:

It was hard to keep her cool when fire flared inside. This guy was going to get his answer. Gathering her courage, Dana gripped the arms of the chair, and pulled herself erect. “Thank you. I’d be happy to address that, Mr. Newman.”

She glanced around the room, making eye contact with the other people, who shifted uncomfortably and looked as though they’d like to be anywhere else.

I know there are many, many more examples in both books and movies. Share your favorite Norma Rae Moment and let’s enjoy the fireworks!

Happy Fourth to all!

My Yard as a Battleground

Yep. I am at war. It happens to some degree every year. I plant flowers in my yard and squirrels, rabbits and chipmunks team up to trample them, dig them up, or chow them to the ground.

The first under attack this year is the gorgeous hibiscus on the patio. You never know what will go first. The critters sometimes have different favorites from year to year. The hibiscus have been targets before. But usually it happens at the end of the summer after we’ve at least had a little time to enjoy them and they’ve had a chance to put on some growth. Not this year. I thought I’d purchased decent-sized plants. Yeah, I did. But when branches are constantly gnawed off, they get thin quickly.

I present my case: see the fallen — downed branches, lifeless leaves and stemless flowers. Unfortunately, I have few weapons with which to do battle. A BB guns stands ready beside the patio door. But since any movement alerts the varmints to our presence, that doesn’t do much good. I’ve tried every chemical and trick in the book –– Irish Spring soap, cayenne pepper, human hair, fox urine, etc., etc. These guys are undeterred. In fact, I’m pretty sure they get a good laugh at my expense.

Sigh. So I’m reduced to the ugliest of options. Chicken wire. See for yourself. Isn’t that lovely?! Caged flowers. All the rage. Really.

The ordeal leaves me frustrated, exhausted and envious of the beautiful gardens I see around me. It shouldn’t be this hard to grow a flower or two!

I’d love to hear your garden success stories. Or, if you just want to commiserate, have at it!

Summer Romance: Five Alluring Getaways

This is for all you romantics out there who are looking for a cool getaway! Bon voyage!

I Luv2cruz!

Ah, the romantic summer vacation –warm days, scenic wonders, interesting things to do together —  a chance to reconnect away from the every day drudgery that saps the amour right out of you.

I’ve been consulting with my romance-writer friends, and we agree that these five trips are the best for reviving the romantic spirit:

  1. Rhine River cruise. Was it the day of castle-lined scenic cruising? The strolls through quaint, flower-filled towns? Or perhaps the gourmet dinners with real French champagne night after night? All I can say for sure is that falling in love again in this setting is as easy as nachtisch.
  2. Italy. Really, just anywhere — a tour, a cruise, a week in Rome — doesn’t matter. Multiple trips to the bel paese may be necessary to explore the full range of romantic options! I would suggest a tour of Venice, Florence, and Rome by…

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Romance at the Grand Canyon

SB2017_020As part of a spring break road trip, my husband and I visited the Grand Canyon last week. I’d done a small plane tour many years ago, but this was the first time for either of us to walk the south rim of the park. Have to say it was pretty incredible. We arrived in late afternoon as the sun was beginning its descent, and the moon was rising. Made for some nice photos.

We stayed overnight in the Village, then went back to the scenic vistas of the south rim the next morning. There were fewer people, and we wandered the path without jockeying for position at the lookout areas.

At one area, a little farther out from the main path, we came upon a young couple enjoying the view, and they asked if we’d take a photo. Lucky them. Their timing was perfect, as my husband is a professional photographer.

Turns out they’d just gotten engaged! And it just happened to be our anniversary. Kind of cosmic. We spent the next several minutes chatting and taking photos. The photos probably won’t be their “official” engagement pictures, but I’m sure they’ll be treasured. Of course, he didn’t take just one. He knew how to place them for the best lighting, and the best composition. And he remembered to have the young woman place her hand where her new engagement ring was front and center. It was a short but fun photo shoot.

I don’t remember their names. We’ll never see them again. But it added to the romance and ambiance of our Grand Canyon experience. This is how memories – and stories – are made. Little snippets. Chance meetings. Unexpected connections. Intertwined with life’s big events.

They don’t know us, but we’re forever part of their story. I love that.

Real flower or cheap plastic?

I’ve got spring break on my mind. And sunshine. And all the things I love to do when we’re in California, like go to the beach and stroll through Huntington Gardens. Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens is one of my favorite places. It’s absolutely beautiful with a stunning Japanese garden, rows and rows of gorgeous camellias, and one of the most incredible desert succulent displays I’ve ever seen.

On my last visit, I went by myself, and was able to go at my own pace, leisurely strolling along and taking about a bazillion pictures. Some of the strangest plants reside in the succulent garden. You might look at the photos here and think I picked up that cheap plastic flower at a craft shop or pulled it from an ancient, dusty floral display at an estate sale.

Nope. This flower is real. That color is real. I’d never seen that color in nature before! It really does look fake, both in color and texture. It grows almost like a yucca, standing several feet tall. With a little internet research, I found it’s called a puya flower. One site even had it listed in a collection of plants “from a bad sci-fi movie!”

I’m not sure I even like it, probably because it doesn’t look real, doesn’t seem to fit in with the other flowers. But it kind of fascinates me, too. I love flowers. I attempt to grow them, but heat, rabbits, squirrels, mosquitoes, etc. prevent me from doing a very good job of it. So I tend to get my flower fix at public gardens. Whether I discover a new-to-me plant variety or just enjoy acres of beautiful color, they’re just plain fun. My eye candy!

Enhancing your Romantic Getaway!

Whether your getaway-for-two is over Valentine’s Day or not, by land or by sea, you can enhance your romance wherever you go — without spending a fortune. Here are some inexpensive and easy tips: Find a garden. It could be right there at your resort, in a park near your hotel, or part of an […]

via Easy Ways to Enhance Your “Getaway” Romance — I Luv2cruz!