Friday, October 28, 2022

Thank you, magical book-loving friends!

I just wanted to give a big thanks to everyone who has been following along and sending messages of support for my new writing project. 

Since I released the first chapter at the start of September, I've had 600+ views and downloads from the website and podcast (so grateful for each and every one)! For everyone following along, I hope you're enjoying the story. This week's chapter falls on Halloween night. A very special thank you to my incredibly talented mom, Sheri, who has lent her amazing photography to the cover art for several of the chapters!

For anyone not yet following along, but who shares my and Jess' love of children's books about magic, mystery, and time (especially those with atmospheric fall settings!), you (and your kids) can snuggle up with a warm blanket and a mug of something hot this weekend and catch up on the story at or by podcast at BuzzsproutSpotify, and Apple Podcasts.

Thanks again, friends, for all your love and support for this exciting new project. Wishing you a happy Halloween weekend!


Monday, October 24, 2022

Starting To See Fall Here

I am having some Chai Tea today while I visit with you.  My mother-in-law first introduced me to Chai Tea many years ago.  It was a favorite of hers.  I never cared for the taste, although Nel and her brother love it.  But I recently tried the Good Earth brand, and I'm enjoying it.  My mom's favorite candy bar was PAYDAY, and when my son brought me a Chocolatey PAYDAY one afternoon, it made me smile.  There is an old wagon in the middle of main street that is decorated for the holidays every year.  It looks like a pioneer wagon, and is really festive this year with Fall colors.  I don't know how old this wagon is or what year it came about, but I was told it's from the 1800's.  Many of you know that's my favorite era, so this wagon gets my attention every time I drive down main street.  It rained for us on Saturday, which pleases us with the drought conditions we've had.  It's always fun to see all the different Autumns on our friends' blogs each year.  Some of the states that had the prettiest colors I thought were Massachusetts, Virginia, Vermont, but my favorite came from my friend, Jeanie's, state of Michigan.  Oh, the Fall colors that grace her area are incredible.  We had a late start here in the mountains, but I'm beginning to see the trees change their color now.  And here is a little of Autumn in northern California.

.......and a photo that Jess took in So Cal, just cause I thought it was lovely.

My brother-in-law just sent me a short video.  Mountain Lions caught on camera near my area.  There were four full-size ones roaming together.  The video mentioned they rarely want anything to do with humans but are making their way to lower elevations in search of water and food.  Sorry for the hazy pictures - took them from the video.

Jess' caramel apples!  She said, "Francesca helped me and took off the wrappers like we used to do when we were little."

Enjoy the Fall season, friends.  It comes and goes so quickly.


Monday, October 17, 2022


Durham was like a dream. The campus is located on a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and my amazing colleagues at the university arranged for us to stay in an 11th-century castle! 

Mia made herself right at home. It was the perfect place for her to practice her magic. 

My birthday fell on the annual Labor Festival. I woke up in a castle tower to the sounds of marching bands making their way into the city center. Given how hard I've had to work to accomplish my own dreams, this meant so incredibly much to me.

We loved to stroll along the shady riverside trails in the morning before sitting down to a traditional English breakfast of eggs, toast, beans, and tomatoes. We spent our days climbing hilly cobblestone streets lined with bookstores, pubs, and tea shops, wandering centuries old cemeteries, and exploring castle treasures. 

On our last day, we enjoyed our breakfast in a Harry Potter style Great Hall and boarded the train for the last leg of our UK travel adventure (to be continued...)


Monday, October 10, 2022

Claremont Village

When I went to So Cal recently, we spent one day at Claremont Village.  It's one of Nel's favorite places to hang out.  It's really a charming place filled with a variety of shops and restaurants.  When we first got there, we stopped at Some Crust, our favorite bakery, and we got our usual blueberry cheese Danish.  They are amazing.  We took our coffees and pastries, and sat down at one of the picnic tables close by.

After, we did some shopping, and visited many lovely shops in the village.

There was a farmer's market going on that day, and Jess bought some fresh cucumbers for Francesca, as she loves them.  Mia stopped for a moment to hear the music playing.

There was a big tree on the edge of the sidewalk that was twisted and bent.  It looked like it was ready to fall, and I was surprised it was still standing.  Mia was curious and spent a little time getting acquainted with the tree.

We went inside a shop with a colorful atmosphere, that had many spices for cooking.  The swinging doors caught my eye.

I loved this one particular home shop.  It was so much fun browsing around, and I could have stayed in there for an hour or so.  There's not many shops in the mountains, but I can't complain, cause it allows me not to spend money on unnecessary items.  ; )  But while I was here, I had the best time looking around.

I was drawn to the blue section.  What is it about blue in the home that stirs my heart?  But then I asked myself, "do I really need yet another tea cup?"  I think not.

Our next stop was an olive tasting shop.  Nel bought a jar of Blue Cheese stuffed olives.  At another shop, she picked up some rosemary herb bread and two different cheeses and salami.   She made a nice spread when we got home.  It was so good.

Nel told Mia that she could pick out one thing while we were at the village.  I appreciate that my daughters don't spoil their children.  Mia saw many cute things she liked, but this little heart ring was her favorite, so Nel bought that for her.  In that same shop, Jess bought me a small purple glass heart ornament.

Later that evening, we came back to Claremont Village and ate at an Italian Restaurant.  It really was delicious food.  I can see why this area is one of Nel's favorite places to visit.  It's mine too.

Well, speaking of shopping, while I was at the grocery store last week, I saw these Fall kitchen towels, and had to bring them home with me.

Charlie Brown gets me every time.  


Monday, October 3, 2022


Before my brother-in-law left for his travels, he asked if I wanted to meet up at the Chinese Restaurant in town.  My son joined us, and the food was delicious, as always.  I usually get the chow mien, but I think next time I'll get the kung poa chicken dish my son ordered, it was so good.

My son made hot chocolate coffee one day, and it was surprisingly tasty.  I had it with cinnamon raisin toast and butter.

One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.

~Bryant McGill

When I drove to the creek, I thought I saw something in the brush ahead of me.  It was three deer - a mama and her two fawns!

As I got closer, I got my camera out, slow and steady.  One of the deer was sitting on the ground in the shade.  I think it was the mother.  I just sat there quietly and looked at her and took some pictures.  She didn't move for a long while, and she was so calm and peaceful, just staring at me the whole time.  She was the prettiest deer I had ever seen.

Then, after a few minutes, they trotted off.  It was a special moment, indeed.

When my brother found this house, it had a good size front porch, and I was glad about that.  I've had porches before, but they were always small and not much room at all.  I found some white rocking chairs at Home Depot that I want to get sometime, but for now, a perfect orange pumpkin on the front porch suits me fine.

This bird is exotic looking and very pretty, but they are a nuisance at the same time.  They peck at my tree, under the eaves, and even at the electrical post in the front of my house.   I try to shoo them away, cause the last thing I need is to have the power cut off because of this mischievous bird.  But they sure are funny to watch.

I baked a spaghetti squash, and it was a good, healthy meal.

My son brought me a couple Starbuck's iced coffees one day.  I don't really care for iced coffee, so I heated mine up.  Much better.

Jess' birthday is this week, and she usually celebrates her birthday all month haha, so I thought I'd throw in this picture for her to wish her a happy day.  I love you Yummy.

The word LISTEN has the same letters as the word SILENT.

~Alfred Brendel 

I hope pleasant surprises come to you this month of October.