December 30, 2015

New Year's Idea

You've heard the phrase that goes something like this: When life gives you lemons, turn them into lemonade.

I got to thinking how fresh-made lemonade would be a great drink for your New Year's Eve celebration. If you are spending the night on your own, contemplating, reading, drawing, dancing, singing, playing the canjo (not a typo) or whatever, or if you are with family and friends, squeeze the lemon and follow the simple recipe below.  As you raise your glass to 2016,  each or all resolve to make the best of any challenges the new year may present. Simple, easy, healthy, wholesome and safe!

                                    Lemonade by the Glass

2 tablespoons of sugar or 3 to 4 packs of stevia natural sweetener
1/4 cup hot water
2-3 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup cold water

Mix the sugar or natural sweetener in 1/4 cup of water.  Microwave 30 seconds until hot and stir to dissolve sugar.  Add lemon juice and the rest of the cold water. Adjust sugar/lemon ratio to taste.  Serve with a couple of ice cubes.  Makes an 8 ounce glass.  To serve more folks, simply multiply each ingredient by the number of family members/ guests.  (This is also a good math activity for the kids.)


December 22, 2015

Annual Christmas Letter - 2015

Merry Christmas to all,

It has been a busy year on Amelia Island, in north Florida, USA! 
Here are just a few of the highlights from our past twelve months:

Father sniffed his wallet to see if it smelt of farts.

Uncle Fuzzie still showers. We’re all happy for him when it rains. 

Daughter was asked to alphabetize the books in the public library. She declined, citing it was her turn to wash the cracks in the sidewalk. 

The palmetto bugs squish when you step on them.

Grammy quit choir and volunteered, instead, to sing solos.  It seems handbells, cantatas and all that praying are using up the hour of church each week and the music director can't fit her in until 2024. Now, Mother must decide on which Tuesday of that year she will perform.  Oh, the pressure!  

Son bought a new home in a new neighborhood.  He lost the address though.  If you see an empty house anywhere, let him know.  He is listening for your call.

Uncle Blocktassel heard bananas will keep longer if they do not touch.  He thinks it best they don’t see each other either, so stashes them in separate rooms.  He is suspicious that Cousin Squirtfinger snuck in and ate the banana he had tucked away behind the third volume in The Dandelion and The Nut Pick series. Be warned. Uncle seeks proof.
Granddaughter ate too much chocolate and blew chunks clear across her newly decorated white and pink bedroom.  The chocolate stains look like polka dots.  Everyone knows brown and pink, together, are a very chic combination, and Aunt Snuffle says it adds designer tones.   

When Mother set Father's plate of leftovers before him, he said, "This looks like Sunday dinner in the state pen." Mother is grateful for a husband who is always so free with his compliments.    

The trees have no feathers, but the dog’s fur tastes like the sweeper.

The stop sign works best on Thursdays. 

Brother learned to eat cheese.  Grad school has taught him the riches of life.

That’s all we have time for as we are already sanding the grapefruit and plowing the paper towels to prepare for the coming year. 

Love from your favorite Amelia Island family.   X O X O X O

December 17, 2015


Displayed in an office, this lovely tree reminds me of the ones we had at home when I was growing up.  Although it is artificial and doesn't have the big colored lights or the rotating color wheel shining up at it from the floor,  with the mismatched ornaments, it still says home, in part, because of the hanging tinsel. 
I remember that tinsel we used to have, which landed more on the floor than on the tree, and how my sister and I got into fights over the stuff.  She wanted it hung skinny strand by skinny strand, singularly. If I am honest, that is the way it should be hung.  It didn't matter to me.  Short of rolling a handful into a ball and pitching it toward the branches, I threw pinches of it at the tree.  Most of what the needles caught, lay in silver clumps, and only a few feet up from the bottom.  I was a short little kid, after all, so my aim wasn't great and my reach wasn't too high. 

Since you don't always see tinsel on a tree these days,  I was happy to discover it.  The thing is, it's not your mother's tinsel. This stuff is wider and longer and probably made of that mylar balloon-type stuff. I tried to take a photo of it for you. Look closely, below, to see that the tinsel doesn't come in single strands.  It is, instead, cut in strips and part of several layers of mylar.  You simply rip off what you want and the rest stays put, waiting for you next year, when you decorate.  Genius, I tell you.  Pure genius!   

tinsel just waiting to be ripped off and hung!

December 13, 2015

Dickens on Centre, Amelia Island, FL

The first Dickens on Centre event has concluded and we hope it becomes an annual festival. In it, our small island town steps back to the time of Charles Dickens and the Victorian period, which
lasted from 1830 to 1901, the reign of Queen Victoria of England.  Anytime during the two weekends of this Christmas period celebration, with the smallest effort, you could imagine you were among the citizens of the time. All in period costume, men and woman strolled and wished Merry Christmas to passers-by, a man walked and juggled at the same time, a chimney sweep was spotted, a soldier played his drum, chestnuts were sold,  a kids' zone with movies and crafts was available, bobbies trolled for bad guys and a beef-eater, in full costume, appeared now and again. I was a participant, singing Christmas carols along with my husband, Bruce.  We strolled down our historic Centre Street and ended on the stage, invited there by the musicians playing.  I don't know if we were singing with them or they were accompanying us. Whichever it was, it was fun.

 James T. Hurley, our actual Chief of Police of Fernandina 
with Gil Langley, tourist development, as a colorful beefeater

Vendors' tents were set up on several blocks of Centre.  Food and fancies were offered and it was a great place to pick up Christmas gifts. I was there, signing my novels. For an author whose stories are set in Dickens period, the late 1800s, telling folks how the stories take place along the very street on which they are walking and with me wearing Victorian garb... Well, was a real hoot for this writer.
A doily pinned at the neck with a brooch, a long-sleeved blouse, a long skirt, a decorated beach hat, a velvet jacket and I found my instant Victorian costume! -jmm

   Robert Severance- chimney sweep and Keith Klawinski- drummer

Tiny Tim joined the carolers
  Jane Marie book signing on Centre Street

 Santa added to the fun!

Might Mr. Keith become a GOODBYE LIEr?

If they decide to make this an annual event, make plans now to attend.  You'll have a fine time.  We all did!

Something about Bobbies:
The origin of the name bobbies (taken from In London, the policemen were so identified with the politician [Robert Peel] who created them, that they were referred to as “Peelers” or—more memorably—“Bobbies,” after the popular nickname for Robert .

Something about Beefeaters: 
( taken from
The guards at the Tower of London are called Yeoman Warders. In principle, they are responsible for looking after any prisoners at the Tower and safeguarding the British crown jewels, but in practice they act as tour guides and are a tourist attraction in their own right. There are twelve Yeomen Warders. While their role is usually confined to the Tower of London, the Yeomen Warders do take part in one State ceremony. At Coronations, they form a guard of honour inside the annexe at Westminster Abbey.Their nickname is Beefeater.

December 10, 2015

Smoking Bishop Recipe plus Goodbye Lie Excerpt and Peep Posting

I get many requests for the festive Smoking Bishop recipe.  Here it is.  Enjoy, while being responsible, as always.  Jane Marie


 Excerpt from The Goodbye Lie: 

     Leona was at the piano playing Auld Lang Syne. Aunt Noreen and Peeper passed steaming mugs of Smoking Bishop and the scent of the spiced wine filled the room. A toast was raised and cups clinked. 1883 had begun.

Get your Goodbye Lie Trilogy here:
In Drinking with Dickens by Cedric Dickens, who was the great-grandson of Charles Dickens,  I discovered Smoking Bishop was Victorian hot spiced port wine.  Besides the Bishop, there were other clerical drinks in those times:  Archbishop-claret, Cardinal-champagne and Pope-burgundy.  
We served Smoking Bishop at a holiday party and got a chuckle out of seeing one of our guests tip the pot to get the last drop - and we’d made a double batch!  There are variations of Smoking Bishop, but this is the one we used.   
As with all alcoholic drinks, moderation is key.  

Smoking Bishop Recipe 

You’ll need:
  • 4 whole washed, unpeeled oranges
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 1 bottle dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks.
  • 1 bottle port wine (red wine and port wine combined should equal 4 to 5 quarts)
  • 5 to 6 quart slow cooker or large pot for stovetop cooking
Stick the whole cloves into the oranges.  Poke the oranges several times with a fork so the juice will seep out while cooking.  Place the oranges in the pot. 
Add  the red wine, sugar and cinnamon sticks.
Cover and cook on low or simmer for 3 1/2 hours.  Add the bottle of port. 
DO NOT BOIL at any time.  
Heat the mixture for another half hour to warm the port. 
Serve warm straight from the pot.
Garnish with extra orange slices or wedges and individual cinnamon sticks, if desired. 
Serves 10.  This recipe is easily doubled.


The Goodbye Lie Diaries:
Fernandina, Florida

Peeper writes:
Yes, Miss Jane,  I did pass cups a Smokin' Bishop around Dunnigan Manor with Noreena. I never want ta do a thing with her.  I only dun it 'acause  Santee Claus hadn't yet come and I wanted me a pair a new shoelaces, so I had ta be nice.  Miss Ella got me the shoes ta go with 'um, but I didn't ask.

December 6, 2015

New Friends

Sue'Anne Dawson, Jane Marie and Kim Marcum
It is such a pleasure for me to meet new people.  This day was particularly special because Sue'Anne Dawson, Kim Marcum and I had a fine chat.  From a discussion about personalities that evolved into novels, the minutes slipped away and I have made two new friends.  I am blessed.             

November 29, 2015

Peeper's Fruit Elixir-Fixer Recipe & Goodbye Lie Excerpt

If you know Peeper, the grandmother in my Goodbye Lie series, who adopted the Dunnigan family living on Amelia Island, Florida in the late 1880s, you know she has a remedy for just about anything.  She calls them her elixir-fixers.  With her permission, of course, she proudly lets me share another of her recipes with readers of her stories. (Peeper likes to call The Goodbye Lie series HER stories because without her, she points out, "There'd be nothin' but lots a mystery and romancin'.  If it tweren't fer me, and my special way of worryin' Aunt Noreen like I do with my neddlin', well how else would ya be gettin' folks ta laugh whilst they's areadin' all them words ya wrote, Jane Marie?")  

Peeper's Peach Elixer-Fixer
  (Again, with Peeper's permission, I have changed the sugar to natural sweetener, her fresh fruit to frozen, if fresh is not available, and, for easier measuring, her chopped ice to ice cubes. -jmm)

You'll need:
1 cup peeled peaches, blue berries, strawberries or raspberries
7 ice cubes
1 cup all natural non-fat strained plain yogurt (Fage brand)
1/2 cup water
3-4 packets of Truvia natural sweetener, to taste

Beat in blender until smooth.  Makes 3 cups. This makes a meal in itself or a great snack, too. (If you don't like yogurt, fear not.  The natural Truvia sweetens it up so you won't know you're drinking anything healthy.  The kids won't know either.  Or your mate, for that matter!)

The Goodbe Lie- an excerpt

     "Grammy? Peeper? It's me. You both all right?" Breelan called out as she pulled open the screen door that formerly possessed wooden scrollwork in diagonal corners. Now, it sagged on its hinges, plain and broken.
     Grammy was hastily drying the tears on her cheeks, and Peeper was sprinkling wood ash on the bristles of her toothbrush.
     "How often do I have to tell you, Peeper?" scolded Grammy, "If you don't stop brushing your teeth every time you get nervous, you'll polish the enamel clear off of them."
     "Quit pesterin' me. I don't get nervous and a girl's teeth can never be too white," the old woman responded, unconsciously forgetting she was up in years. Turning to Breelan, Peeper answered, "Yes, child. We're fine. We're just a little tuckered is all, except for this big toe a mine. It's all swole-up like a poison pup." Setting aside the dentifrice, she said, "Think I'll be a needin' one a my elixir-fixers afore long. Gram, I know we got plenty a borax and bran for a foot soak, but did I see ya use up the last of the iodine?"
     "You know well and good I did. I poured it across that scratch you got from the chicken wire. Although it wasn't much of a scratch," Grammy explained to Breelan, "Peeper insisted I use all that was left in the bottle. If she'd have let Clover mend the cage when he wanted to, she wouldn’t have gotten hurt in the first place." Turning back to Peeper, "And you can't remember anything from one minute to the next. You'll be asking me what your name is any second."
     Breelan watched Peeper reach for her clay pipe as she pulled one knee toward her ample chest to caress her aching appendage. It amazed the girl that a person of seventy-two years was capable of such physical agility. Peeper was the family's resident character, a true hypochondriac enjoying some fifty years of bad health.   
     "I forgit sometimes and so do you," Peep defended. "Just the little things. I remember what's important. Don't be telling me I don't."
     Breelan ran to Peeper, encircling as much of the dear woman's large girth as she could reach in a hearty hug.
     Breaking away, she crossed the small kitchen to embrace her grandmother. "You okay, too, Grammy?"
     "Yes, dear. I'm too tough to let a little old twister get me down."
     Breelan knew her grandmother well though, and realized this last episode had scared the pea waddin' out of her. "Everyone's fine up at the big house."
     "Praise the Lord and amen," prayed Peeper.
    "Daddy has a cut to his forehead," continued Breelan. Alarm tensed the elderly faces and she wished she'd said nothing about it. "But Mama's tending him and he'll be fine."
     "All the same, I best be for goin' up and aiding your ma," insisted Peeper. "My treatments is knowed for miles, ain't they, Bree?"
     Peeper unfolded herself and waddled over to the animal regally perched on the second shelf beside the store of canned tomatoes. Monstrose, the playfully malevolent, no-tailed marmalade cat was grooming himself in a most undignified position. Teetering on her good foot, Peep picked him up cautiously, since it was not his idea, and carried him to Grammy for petting.
     "It's nigh onto dark now, Bree, so wait 'till tomorra ta run over to your cousin's," Peeper told her. "If'n their place is a shambles, won't do no good ya seeing it tonight. All I can say is that it's a good thing your Aunt Noreen and the family is out a town in Savannah or else we'd be alistenin' to her wailin' all night long. I could turn a deaf ear ta her silly sufferin', but I don’t like it none when somethin' worries your Uncle Clabe and the children. He's a good man. Smart, too. I even like that handyman, Joey, he hired last winter. Joey don't take no guff off'n your aunt. Heck, he'll have their place back in shape afore ya know it. Anyhow, go check on our animals and help Clover if'n he needs it."
     "And invite that sod-soaked fellow waiting outside to supper," Grammy suggested. "He looks as if he could do with some of your mother's cooking."  
     At Breelan's hesitation, Peeper urged, "Go on. Do as we're atellin' ya. I'll look after Grammy. We'll be up ta the big house shortly."
     "The devil you say!" Grammy fired back. "No one need watch over me. Why, the way you two hover, you'd think I was some wild phlox and you were a couple of humming birds. Now git, Bree! And get out of those wet clothes quick as you can or Peeper'll be spreading one of her fiery mustard plasters on you, and then you'll know it!" counseled Grammy. 
     Monstrose let lose a soft suffer-sound, not appreciating a second disturbance when Grammy stood up and he landed on the floor. Grammy went to the unbroken front window, lifting it for air. When the sash slammed down, she fetched a wooden spoon to prop it up.
     "Make room for me, too, old lady," whined Peeper as she elbowed her way beside Grammy. Then two curious faces peered out of the opening after Breelan and Breelan's companion.

November 25, 2015

Million Dollar Moments

Because I  attended a ladies' luncheon, I will never look at M&Ms the same way again.  The favors included individual cupcake papers filled with colorful M&Ms, which represented Million Dollar Moments,  the theme of the guest speaker, Clara Thompson.  By that she meant, tiny things that you witness, participate in, enjoy, or experience can touch you so deeply, you will remember them forever.  She mentioned her sleeping grandchild's hair in her face while they cuddled in bed, as one of her Million Dollar Moments.  I remember holding my father's hand as an adult while walking in the rain. That was one of my Moments.  We all have so many, if we slow down and think about them.
Clara Thompson
So this Thanksgiving, or any time, you list what you are grateful for, think of the smallest perfections that have blessed your life.


November 22, 2015

Pennsylvania Town

Living in Florida, it has been a while since I've seen the leaves turn.  On a visit to Dillsburg, a small town outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, I was lucky to do just that. 

We always like to visit an old church when we go out of town.  This time we found
St. John's Franklin Lutheran Church.
The friendly folks there told us it was built in 1847.  It is one of several Lutheran churches in the area because Germans settled there. Surrounding this church, and all over the area, are cemeteries.  With Pennsylvania being one of the original American colonies,  many of the graves date back to prior to our  independence from England in 1776. 

The congregation was collecting canned goods to share for Thanksgiving.  They shared their kindness, as well. A special thank you to Vicar Micki Kautz for being so welcoming.  Her sermon was interesting, fun and a blessing on all.

The people in Dillsburg  know each other and help each other and are as all-American as they come.  It is a place of charm.  Thank you  for being so kind.  Pull out the blankets and parkas and stay warm.  It's turning cold in that part of the country. But then you're the experts on how to deal with cold. 

The insane person who made our flight reservations, I will not admit we are related, had us flying out at 6 a.m.  That meant we had to rise at 4 a.m.  Perhaps my photos below of the Harrisburg airport floor might be better if I hadn't had those pesky toothpicks holding up my eyelids. Yes, they are painful, but they work. 

No, not Ben Franklin.  Where are his specs?  It's William Penn, the man for whom Pennsylvania is named.  Sylvania means woods, Penn's woods.

 I saw a road sign in Dillsburg reading: Gettysburg, 26 miles.  Sadly, we hadn't the time to play tourist.  I have been there as child, but would appreciate the significance of the history so much more as an adult.
Center of a huge  Harrisburg International Airport Seal

You're looking at the bottom of my worn out suitcase sitting atop our recycle bin.  The wheels collapsed and as I dragged it over the rough cement and through the hotels and airports, I expected to see a trail of my items, personal and un, behind me.  As our daughter, Barbra, commented, "Mom, have you noticed there is usually a bit of a  nightmare that goes along with your adventures?"  My reply, "Well, yes.  So long as it's just a bit." 

November 15, 2015

Joan Baez Sings A Song of Peace

I heard Finlandia, the Finland hymn, today.  It is a beautiful song of peace. Please take a moment and listen to Joan Baez sing it. (The lyrics are below.) Then say a prayer for that peace.


This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine;
this is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine:
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine:
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"This Is My Song"[1] is a 1934 hymn written by Lloyd Stone (1912-1993) using the Finlandia Hymn melody composed by Jean Sibelius.  It is sometimes called "A Song of Peace" which is taken from the second line of the song.[1