February 28, 2015

The Goodbye Lie Diaries-Aunt Noreen

Fernandina on Amelia Island, Florida
Aunt Noreen Duffy

Aunt Noreen writes:  It is rare that I hear from my older brother, John, up in cold Pennsylvania. I had to write him first and he actually replied, but that reply was less than gracious, I must say.  All I did was tell him how Fernandina had a very rare occurrence. We had a hard freeze.  I just got his letter containing only one word:
AMATEURS.  He thinks he's very funny, I'm sure.

Aunt Noreen is a featured trouble-maker in each of the romantic historical novels of Amelia Island's Goodbye Lie Trilogy set in the 1880s on Amelia Island, Florida.  (Available in paperback and ebook form at book sources everywhere.)

February 23, 2015

National Dog Biscuit Day

Abby, our singing  Chihuahua and spokesdog for Gracious Jane Marie, our parent company, advises today MIGHT be National Dog Biscuit Day. She is at work composing a theme song for this glorious occasion and appears very busy. Well,  busy that is until it is time to take another break, where I find her in the kitchen replacing the lid on the doggie treat jar. She assures me that opening and closing said jar is good for her paw dexterity. Having  no paws myself, who am I to doubt her?

PS Abby wanted me to mention she makes a cameo appearance  in my Amelia Island's Mark of a Man. She hopes to someday star on her own novel or at least a short story like our Martha Bear, our spokesbear. (Stay tuned for Martha Bear stories. She is in each book in Amelia Island's Goodbye Lie Trilogy! Gotta keep it all in the family.)

February 22, 2015

A New Friend- Linda

Jane Marie with Linda on right
Recently meeting Linda at the Annual Amelia Island Book Festival here in Fernandina Beach, Florida was not the serious business our photo indicates.  The fact is Linda was in town visiting her sister, came to the show and found me.  She'd read The Goodbye Lie a couple of years ago and was very excited, or else one heck of a good actress, that the trilogy is complete.  I enjoyed our visit and look forward to her comments on the stories.  She's a big fan of the characters, as am I.  :-)

February 19, 2015

T-shirt Beach Bag Craft

Beach Bag???? Baby, it's cold outside, in so many parts of the world!  Am I crazy?  While that is often discussed, I thought it would be a fun, easy indoor project to make these simply totes.  With no sewing, I might add!

I'm just guessing, but is it possible t-shirts can propagate, stacked on top of each other, in the dark of the closet or cupboard, or in the corner of a bedroom or in the dirty clothes hamper or under a teenager's bed, inspired by the always growing family of dust bunnies thriving there?  Not sure? One thing is for certain, if you've supported a cause, had a family reunion, joined a club or won a prize, chances are you are the owner of a plethora of t-shirts.

I first saw this project a while back on Pinterest, I think. (If anyone knows who originated the idea, please comment below, and we, happily, will give them credit.) I was going to save it for this summer's annual Grammy Camp, but Ava couldn't wait to try it.  Neither could I. Since this was our first attempt, we didn't use a colorful shirt, but you'll get the idea of what to do from the pictures.  Have fun!

Step #1 - Cut off the sleeves and neck. Note the deep curve over the portion that covers the upper chest. The shoulder sections, which are left, will be the top of the handles.

Abby, is always available to help.
Step #2 - Smoothing the shirt flat, cut 1/2 inch strips from the bottom of the shirt, up 4 inches, cutting through the front and the back.

Step #3 - Now, simply tie each front strip to the back strip behind it.  We double knotted ours for safe keeping.  Once completed, you are done!

BONUS: Your pet has an instant shirt to wear from the neck piece you cut away! Trim the part by her feet so she/he doesn't trip then decorate at will.

February 13, 2015

Anti-Shades of Grey

This is America and that means you are free to read the book and watch the movie Fifty Shades of Grey. To quote a description of the movie I found online: true sexual proclivities push the boundaries of pain and pleasure.  If this is what you like, have at it.

If however, you prefer the less graphic, more tasteful romantic, as I do--Well, my Amelia Island historical series is like that. And I'm proud of that fact.  I often tell potential readers I dedicated The Goodbye Lie  to my father  and I didn't want to be embarrassed when Daddy read it.  All the females know what I mean.  

Bottom line:  There are alternatives out there that keep the proprieties in tact.  Spread the word.  Tasteful is still in style.  Let's keep it alive for future generations. The idea of romance in the privacy of the mind, is a better thing. Think Gone With The Wind...

A taste of romance from The Goodbye Lie: 
     Mental pictures of Breelan overpowered his wishes. Who the hell am I? Some irresistible rake she couldn't live without?  What a fool I've been to think she would return my affection. Because I love her is no reason she should love me.  I'm but one of the drooling dogs.  
     "Only a few more days," he said aloud and the overhearing crew silently commiserated with their mournful captain, knowing his affliction would last a lifetime.

Happy Valentine's Day!

The Goodbye Lie, Amelia Island's Velvet Undertow and Amelia Island's Mark of a Man are available in paperback and ebook at Amazon.com and book sources everywhere. http://www.amazon.com/The-Goodbye-Jane-Marie-Malcolm/dp/0974918229 

February 9, 2015

Daddy/Daughter Dance

The following is a taste of the chaos in the house as my husband, Bruce, and daughter, Barbra, and  granddaughter, Ava, and her father, Mark, readied for the annual Daddy/Daughter Dance. Since I'm the mama, I mostly sat back, watched and took notes. Welcome to our world:

Ava: Mom, my shoes are too little.
Barbra: What are you talking about?  We just got them a few months ago.
Ava: No, we didn't.  We got them last year.
Barbra: Well, wear your gold ones. They're in the garage.
Ava:  They're even smaller, the gold is all worn off the toes and they're spiders in them!

Grampy:  I'm sure the spiders won't mind the company of a few of your little toes.
(Ignoring him) Barbra: Ask your father if we can stop at the shoe store on the way to the dance.
Mark: We're not stopping at any shoe store.  We don't have time.
Grampy: Ava, just wear your formal flip-flops.
(Ignoring him) Barbra: Sorry, but you'll have to wear what you've got. Where's the blister cream.
Mark: She can't wear her shoes and get blisters.
Barbra: That's what the blister cream is for, so she won't get blisters. Duh.

Ava: I can't find it.
Barbra: Then find some other kind of grease.  Where's the anti-biotic ointment?  If you get a blister, at least it won't get infected.

Mark: Nice.
Ava: I can't find that either.
Barbra: Then use Vicks VapoRub.
Ava: I can't use that.  It stinks.
Mark: Where are my pants?
Barbra: I told you six weeks ago about this dance.  You had six weeks to find them.
Mark: They must be at the cleaners.  I'll have to wear the black ones.
Barbra: Are you kidding me?  Black pants, shirt and jacket?  You'll look like Johnny cash.
Mark:  I like Johnny Cash.
Ava: Daddy, where's your tie?
Barbra: He's going as Johnny Cash and Johnny doesn't wear a tie.
Ava: Who's Johnny Cash?
Barbra:  You can't wear all black.  My dress is orange and we'll look like Halloween!
Grampy: Who cares.  You'll never see these people again.
Ava: I rubbed my feet with Vics.  Now my shoes won't stay on.
Barbra: Hold them on with rubber bands. They won't show that much.  Can you wiggle your toes?
Ava: No.
Barbra: Well, we probably won't do that much dancing, anyway.  As long as you can walk from the car to the table, you should be fine.
Ava: (emitting a great whine) Mom!
Barbra: Why did you feed me so much? Three full meals today, Mark. Really? Thanks a lot. How do you expect me to fit into my dress? Oh, I should have exercised today, but I overdid it yesterday. Now I can't move my calves. I have to walk around on weggies with my knees bent.  Nice, huh? If I break an ankle...
(ignoring her) Mark:  Where's more hairspray? We're out of hairspray!
Grammy: You can use mine.
Mark: What is this? A spritzer?  Who buys spritzer hairspray?  I need an aerosol.
Grammy: Did you pick up the wrong jacket at the cleaners when you forgot your pants? You look like you're wearing your dad's coat.
Mark: What's wrong with my coat?
Grammy: The sleeves are too long. They're suppose to only go to--
Barbra: Mom, don't start.
Grammy: Time for pictures!

February 1, 2015

Christening Gowns & Cheese Straws

Just in time for the big game, the big party or any celebration, here
is a recipe for cheese straws from Martha Baker, the lovely woman who taught me French heirloom hand sewing.  Martha showed me how to make christening gowns and told me an interesting tidbit about their length.  I worked that fact into Amelia Island's Mark of a Man.  

Excerpt from Amelia Island's Mark of a Man, set in 1898 north Florida ( ... represents part of the story left out so as not to give any plot away. )

    Angelique was having a difficult time of it, having forced herself to wash and iron the long, hand-stitched, family heirloom as Marie requested. Many Dunnigan descendants had worn the christening gown, as this child had. ... 
   ... She also realized the occupants of the table were waiting for her reply to Marie's praise. Haltingly, the maid answered, "Thank you," to the compliment. There was no other reply possible.
   "I would have ironed the gown," Jency said, "but I admit my ironing is about equal to my cooking."
   “I’m sure both are fine," Marie countered. "Still,you did plenty. After all, you provided the baby!" 
   "It's good thing you didn't try, sis, or you'd have scorched it to char," Pat scoffed. "The only thing you're fit to iron is Blackie's dog blanket."
   “Pat! You sound like a mean older brother,” Sophie Belle scolded.
   He shrugged, not caring how he sounded.
   Could it be, Marie wondered, that Sophie Belle had achieved some control over her severe crush on Pat and that she finally saw him for the bad tempered dolt he was?  It hurt Marie how Pat had no care to embarrass her in front of the others. So tired of his sneering remarks, her patience with him had eroded to none.
   Sensing the serious tension, Jency watched Angelique brush the tidbits from the table into a silver-lidded crumb pan. "I truly admire your lovely fancywork in embroidering the baby's initials on the hem."
   "Mama tells us how her mother made it for her when she was born and how every child in the family since has worn it," Marie continued. "Their initials are there to prove it. Since Mama and Peeper aren't here, we have a wonderful sewing substitute in Angelique."
   "I'm glad I could help you."
   Sophie Belle sipped the last of her tea, rose and walked to the window to look out into the hard falling rain. “Does anybody know why christenin' gowns are always so long? They’re inches longer than needed ta cover the child’s toes.”
   Marie shrugged. “I never thought on it before.”
   "Neither have I,” said Jency.
   When Pat offered no comment, Angelique spoke as she brushed more specks from beside Marie’s plate. "I remember something my mother said when I was a little girl. She occasionally did French heirloom hand sewing to have extra money for us. She was making pin tucks to the front of a christening gown and I asked her that very question. She explained that as the godmother is holding the child, the gown is supposed to drape over her arm and be long enough to cover her knees."
   Pat infused some sour. "Why all this gum-bumpin' over a baby dress?  It's one of those worthless things you women care about." 
   "Some people have no manners, is all I can say," accused Marie. "And Jency, I don't mean you!"

Miss Martha's Cheese Straws

You'll need:

  • 1 stick butter or margarine (low fat for baking is optional)
  • 4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (My sister, Nancy Kamp, jewelry designer, editor and Lord High Executioner, recommends equal parts of Gouda, Parmesan and Gruyere cheeses.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Splash of Tabasco®
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sifted flour

Mix ingredients and form dough into three tube-like logs about 2 1/2" in diameter. 

Cover in plastic wrap and chill for several hours.

Cut cheese rolls into 1/4" slices.

Place them on a flour-dusted cookie sheet and bake at 375° F for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown and semi-crisp.

Makes almost four dozen.

(Recipe originally printed on graciousjanemarie.com site)