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.