January 31, 2017

Learn the Language of Flowers for Valentine's Day

Most people know the red rose speaks the  words of love. Few know this has been so for over 5000 years since they were first cultivated in Asia. But have you ever heard that a yellow rose signifies elation, while white represents sophistication, pink is gentility and style, coral is yearning, and a red and white combination means harmony, dating back to the conclusion of the War of the Roses in England?

White rose buds, on the other hand, are a warning that you are far too young for real romance

Although the rose is oft times called the "Queen of the Garden” for her beauty, scent and abundance, there are many more flowers that speak.  And they are as deafening with their loveliness.      

#Floral communications are referred to as "the language of flowers.”  This form of conversation became prevalent in the middle and latter part of the 1800s, both in North America and Europe

The following is a list of the more commonly recognized flowers with their mostly optimistic meanings:              

Alyssum (sweet) — priceless
Amaryllis conceit
Aster diversity
Azalea self-control
Bachelor's Buttons abstinence
Buttercup immaturity
Butterfly Weed freedom
Cactus heat
Carnation, striped rejection
Chrysanthemum, red adoration
Chrysanthemum, white fact
Chrysanthemum, yellow snubbed affection
Clematis psychological attractiveness
Columbine foolishness
Daffodil gaze at
Daisy purity
Fern allure
Forget Me Not my one and only
Foxglove disingenuousness
Geranium, Scarlet consoling
Hibiscus fragile
Hollyhock aspiration
Honeysuckle dedicated
Hydrangea a braggart
Ivy faithful in marriage
Jasmine friendly
Lavender suspicion
Lilac, Purple early stirrings of love
Lily, Day teasing
Lily of the Valley cheer revisited
Magnolia fondness for the natural world
Marigold covetous
Morning Glory quirky
Moss a mother's affection
Nasturtium self-involvement
Pansy imaginings
Passion Flower spirituality
Peony shyness
Periwinkle, Blue blossoming affection
Pink carnation feminine caring
Ragged Robin humor
Shamrock breeziness
Snapdragon conjecture
Tulip renown
Violet, Blue faithfulness
White Lily spotlessness
Wisteria salutations
Zinnia missing you

Unfortunately, not all floral language is meant to be positive.  Should you receive narcissus, your vanity is being ridiculed.  A passel of petunias, no matter the color, expresses resentment.  The sunflower represents arrogance - receiving several would be dreadful!  A dahlia denotes instability, the marigold grief, witch hazel a spell, and lobelia exemplifies malevolence. 

The worst to receive of all is basil, which stands for hatred!  To me, basil is more a spice than a flower.  So let the spices, trees, fruit, and vegetables join the discussion with their own messages.
Allspice — empathy

American Elm — nationalism

Apple — inducement

Ash Tree — sadness

Bay Leaf forever

Beech Tree — opulence

Chamomile — misfortune brings strength

Cedar — might

Cherry tree — well schooled

Clematis — pure thoughts

Cloves — poise

Cranberry — aid for pain

Cocoa Plant — fervor

Dogwood — stability

Elm — self-respect

Endive — thriftiness

Grape — a helping hand

Hawthorn — expectations

Live Oak — emancipation

Maple — stash away

Marjoram — embarrassment

Mint — high merit

Mistletoe — triumphant

Oak Tree — welcoming

Orange Tree — giving

Palm — winning

Pea — pleasant goodbye

Pear — caring
Peppermint — good emotions

Pineapple — ideal, welcome           

Pine, Spruce — positive outlook

Plum — liberty

Potato — compassion

Raspberry — repentance

Rhubarb — guidance

Rosemary — tribute

Sage — family values

St. John's Wort — disingenuous

Spearmint — moving

Strawberry Tree — esteem

Thyme — goings-on

Truffle — revelation

White Oak—sovereignty
May you understand what you have given and received in the past and, perhaps, choose differently what to offer/send/appreciate in the future.
This is a reprint of an article I wrote for our original GraciousJaneMarie.com website.
                                                                             - Jane Marie

January 25, 2017

Baked Zucchini Chips

I make Zucchini Chips often.  They're quick, easy, are good for you and everybody loves them.  Give them a try and you'll be making them often, too.

You'll need:
  • Fresh zucchini, unpeeled and sliced very thin, about 1/16th of an inch thick           
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • Garlic powder
  • Parmesan cheese
Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray. 
Spread the thin zucchini slices in a single layer on the sheet. 
Spray the slices with more non-stick spray.  Sprinkle with garlic powder and Parmesan cheese. 
Bake at 350° F for 8 to 10 minutes or until the zucchini is golden brown and crispy on the edges.

January 18, 2017

Our annual north Florida Amelia Island Book Festival is February 16, 17 and 18, 2017.  There will be many activities for both adults and children. I will be one of the authors attending the Author Expo on Saturday, the 18th, beginning at 10 a.m.  Make plans to come to our island for a long weekend or a day trip, but come if you can. 

If reading is part of your life, you'll find great enjoyment here.  If you're not a reader, give it a try. Slow down and  treat yourself by coming here or discovering a gem of a story at your local library.  The real world you know will  vanish as you delve between the magical pages of the unfolding story.  The written word is a gift from Above to the author and reader alike!

For details, visit: http://www.ameliaislandbookfestival.org/

January 15, 2017

Results for Did She or Didn't She?

Here are the results of my Did Mom or didn't Mom dust her brownies with powered sugar? unscientific survey.  Two out of three people say, YES, Mom dusted her brownies with powdered sugar!  And responses came from all over the country, so I can't really determine if dusting was/is a regional thing. (These are the items that clog my mind.) 

A few of your comments that accompanied your replies are:

"At my request, my Mum made brownies for my birthday instead of a cake." - Jean, Brunswick, GA

"My mother used to bake her brownies with a cream cheese layer." - Ruthie, New York, NY

"My sainted mother always burned our brownies.  She felt badly, so we blamed it on our old oven being too hot." - Joan, San Jose, CA

Thank you to all who took the time to impart their childhood recollection of mother and brownies, two of our favorite things! (in that order)

As I was baking a pan of brownies for our church spaghetti dinner,  I got to thinking about having brownies as a little girl. Then I started wondering if everybody's mother dusted her brownies with powdered sugar or left them plain. 

So, in the category of meaningless knowledge, I'm taking a most unscientific survey.  Either email me at graciousjanemarie@yahoo.com with a simple YES or NO in the subject line or respond to this post on Facebook in the same way. I'll give you a week or so to reply. 

If you want to take this matter further,  please leave the state or part of the country/world you're from and I may be able to semi-conclude if powdered sugar is a regional thing. 

Hey, why not? Right?   (Insert Jane Marie's big smile here.)

P. S.  If you're wondering what the rectangular line is around the edge of the brownies in the photo above, I'll tell you.  A long time ago, in a city far away, a wonderful friend told me she always whittles about half an inch or so from the edge of the brownies before she cuts them into squares and serves them.  Why?  Well, the edges are oft times crispy and, therefore, a bit less than desirous to serve.  More importantly, those edges are perfect for the baker to ingest and, if she's feeling generous, share with her family, anxious for a sample. Hmm, about that sharing thing ... (Insert another smile here.) 

(I promise not to add your email address to our list unless you insist. Heck, I rarely send out email blasts since readers seem to find us and our world so readily online.)

January 8, 2017

Meet Angelique from Amelia Island's Mark of a Man

Amelia Island's Mark of a Man
   Housemaid Angelique is a featured character in my Amelia Island's Mark of a Man, set in 1898, during the Spanish American War in the tiny seaside town of Fernandina in north Florida. Her involvement with one member of the Irish Dunnigans makes for, as I have been told, a compelling tale.

The Rains, The Rage
The Romance...  

in Ebook and Paperback, part of
The Goodbye Lie Series 
set in north Florida

Read an Excerpt below:

   "She's here ta see Dunnigan-again."
   Pat heard both his jailers chuckling as they entered the three-celled room. Raising his
Pat Dunnigan
eyes from his newspaper, he saw Angelique's serious face through the iron bars. He looked past her dark dress and the pot of dinner she carried and watched her struggle to lift the corners of her mouth. He smiled at her and, when he did, her brown eyes visibly brightened.

   "Hey, you two," teased Boliver Shagnasty, the fat guard with the malformed ear. "This is becomin' a habit—A habit I could get used ta, real easy."
   "Yeah?" Pat said, ignoring the keeper's true meaning. "Any time you say, I'll trade places with you, Bolly, and you can be the one inside lookin' out."
   "That's kind a ya," responded the big man, his tone sarcastic. "Since it's your sentencin' day, I might take ya up on that offer once you're convicted. Think a the fringe benefits …" He reached out to flick the yellow three-inch trim on the flowery shawl Angelique wore.
   His cohort in uniform laughed as he chewed his own tongue and his spittle splashed Boliver in the eye. "Good god almighty, Banjo!" Boliver wiped at his face with a dingy kerchief. "Unlock that door, you fuzzy-headed idiot! Don't keep the lady standin' there. She can sit in the cell with Dunnigan whiles we have a cup a that fresh-made coffee. It puts me in a good mood ta think his spoiled ass is gonna be residin' here with us for a long time, if the judge don’t send him somewheres worse. And there won’t be no fancy extras neither, once ya get what’s comin’ to ya, boy. Here now, missy, let's have a look inta what ya brung." After rifling through her shoulder bag and lifting the lid on the pot, "Ya passed inspection."
   Boliver winked at Angelique as Banjo's large key clanked in the lock. She flinched under his gaze while Pat surprised himself for taking such strong offense at the verbal abuse as well as the fingering of the housemaid's wrap.
   Pat pushed wide his heavy iron door and took the crock and sack from her. "Don't mind those guys. They're both crazier than pet possums. Here, have a seat," he motioned. "Since Mama and my sisters decorated the cell for me, and Clover toted in that chair, we might as well make good use of it. Once again, my father's prestige in the community affords certain luxuries, bizarre though they seem for a house of punishment. Peeper's braided rug there helps keep the evening's damp away from my feet like those blue curtains keep the sun from my eyes."
   Angelique's silence made Pat uncomfortable. He removed the well-worn baby quilt from around the pot, which was keeping it warm, and placed it on the small oak drop-leaf table. Lifting the lid, the escaping steam carried an odiferous scent that twisted his belly tight. Fish stew. Again. Although she was generally a wonderful cook, this glop was beyond awful. As he stared back at the floating fish eye, he was glad the slop jar was big enough to hold most of the last batch she'd brought. It would serve the same purpose this time, too.
   The pretty visitor wondered how Pat could stand to get the spoon near his lips, let alone put the disgusting substance in his mouth. She'd followed the recipe exactly, too … "This is the last of it. Shall I make another kettle for you? When I told everyone at Dunnigan Manor how you loved it so much, they all saved their portions for you."
   "I'm a lucky man to have such a caring family, that's for sure. Hey, don't you want to share it with me?"
   She'd tasted it once and once was enough. Touched by his offering, nevertheless, she declined, not realizing her expression showed her true feelings. "My word, no. I brought it all for you, seeing as it's your final meal before— before—"
   He strode from the table, leaving the soup untouched. If he were starving, he'd have lost his appetite. He’d let himself temporarily forget his fate would be set and sealed today. What could he do about it anyway?
   "Hey there. Don't feel bad." Another step in the small cell and he put his arm around her shoulders by way of comforting her. In instant order, solace disappeared, replaced by a far different feeling. The reality that the liberty of being this close to a beautiful woman might not be his for a very long time, accosted him.
   He looked down at Angelique's feminine features, her high brow, attractive nose and deliberate chin … and began to chuckle.
   She stepped from beneath his arm and verbally turned on him. "I'm glad you have the ability to find humor, Pat. I cannot."
   "Oh, it's not so much humor that makes me smile. It’s fond memories."  Think of anything, he ordered his soul, anything except her. "You know, for as long as I can remember, Peep has always been old and looked old to me."
   "Don't ever let Peeper hear you say such a thing, although I’m sure you don’t mean it in a cruel way."
   "Of course, I don't. It's just that I will always see her through my eyes from childhood, when we first met her.  I was a little boy and she had gray hair, so she looked old.  I would never be disrespectful of Peeper. I love that old gal as much as any member of my family. I remember one time, when we were kids, we caught her up on a ladder, yes, I'm talking about Peep—short legs, bad feet and all. Anyway, she was up on this eight-foot ladder with a file, filin' off the sharp tips of the thorns on the purple bougainvillea Mama had trellised against the barn."
   "Why in the world was she doing such an odd thing?"
   "It wasn't odd to Peep. She'd seen how little Marie's balloon popped on the thorns and it left her crying. So, in order not to have it happen again and still keep Miss Ella's plant in tack—"
   "She filed off the points!" Angelique smiled herself.
   Laughing, "That Peeper is a gem, pure and simple."
   "She is, Pat. She truly is." Her expression this time turned thoughtful. "What is it, about some people, that makes the whole world love them? That makes them special?"
   Pat walked to the barred window, reached up, pushed the curtain back and let the sun sear his face for a long moment. When he turned around, Angelique was plumping his bed pillow. "Your mother sent along a crossword puzzle book and—"
   When he stepped up behind her to take hold of her shoulders, again, he could feel the tension, even a trembling. She didn't struggle when he pulled her against him. As he savored the way her curves fit to him, his eyes closed and his mind emptied of all thoughts except those of the woman he held close. Time with her was what he wanted, time with her like this. To that end, he turned her and she came into his warmth, her length meeting his. Pat wrapped her in his embrace, and he said aloud what he was thinking. "You feel so soft and wonderful—and feminine." 
   His hands explored her back, seemingly of their own volition. They crept low until they felt the indentation of her waist and remained there resting on her hips. After a dozen or so rapid heartbeats, they made their way up to find the coiled bun, low, at the nape at her neck. His fingers discovered the thin wire of her hairpins. The anticipation of her hair, the color of sparkling coal, tumbling down her back, destroyed any sense of nagging propriety imbedded in him from youth. A physical presence such as hers, her loveliness, her fresh smell, unadorned with fancy perfumes, had smothered his good sense and he hoped it had done the same to hers. The seconds passing, passed too quickly. He would not let them be wasted. He pulled at one pin, and another, letting them fall silently onto the braided rug. As the third came loose, the tip of the braid showed itself and the silken rope began to unwind. 
   A breath of, "Ohhh …" emitted from her waiting lips just beneath his. Her warm hand stilled his movements, and she challenged, "Pat," against his cheek. "You mustn't — We —"
   He wanted this woman. Disregarding the reason he was in this confined place, he blamed the damned law for trapping him here. He cursed society’s scruples for they were depriving him of taking his pleasure and he didn't like it. He instantly determined he could change her mind. His mouth no longer hovered but landed on hers with a rough insistence that demanded compliance. The message he sent was clear to him and he hoped he was making it equally clear to her. At any moment, the will of someone else would separate them. He had to have something to take with him when they parted. He had to.
   Angelique let him invade then raid her reserved manner. Ripped and ragged, her inhibitions should have strengthened in this forbidden place of physical stirring and emotional want. Any warnings trying to rise failed, their cautioning call muted, as she handed all control to him. She didn't care that his day-old growth of beard sanded raw her lips and cheeks. No, she didn't care, for when she'd tasted him, savored him, it was no teasing kiss. In her experience with this kind of thing, he was different from anything and everything before … Was she really surprised? Jack Patrick Dunnigan was all man and all a man should be. He was fun. He was kind. He was caring—to his family, anyway. And, he was purely appealing.  
   His kiss devoured her. Just what should she do? She didn't want to make a mistake. Then again, could she really? Was a mistake even possible in a moment like this, floating as she was on waves of what surely must be defined as passion? She didn't need instruction. All she had to do was follow Pat's lead. Her motions, her actions made their way from her heart to her hands and lips. She recalled her earlier protest to him. How empty that protest really was. There was little conviction behind it. Stolen moments, she'd heard of such things—and now realized the depth of meaning that tiny phrase conveyed. Maybe, if her wish for continuance of this bliss was strong enough, maybe they could go on like this. Maybe they —
   Pat's hand was at the third button of her bodice. He was touching the simple lace edging of her chemise! Some of her hair had come loose from its weave. The remaining length of the braid over her shoulder was an arrow pointing straight down toward hades! Yet, she couldn't bring herself to form the word no. She didn't have to.
   "Quite a show you two is puttin' on fer us," interjected the nastier of the jailers who had returned. "Me and Banjo surely do appreciate it." The homely sentinel was practically drooling. Grinning a foul, half-brown stained smile, Boliver took another jab. "We hate ta have ta disturb y'all, but seems everybody in town is waitin' ta see ya git yours, Mr. Dunnigan." 
   With fire in his eyes, Pat stepped in front of Angelique, trying to shield her from the perverted stares his selfishness had instigated.
   Her expression sad, she turned her back on the three men while she re-buttoned her blouse. Tying her shawl securely around her shoulders, she left her long hair concealed beneath the wrap, not bothering to reclaim the pins on the floor, which lay witness to her depravity. Gathering her small satchel, she walked past Pat without daring to speak or chancing a glance up into his evocative green eyes. She endured the callous guards tasteless lip smacking as she passed and exited the door to freedom, a thing Pat might not know for some time.   

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