Gingerbread House Extravaganza, JAX ~ out with the girls

1980-01-01 00.03.51

Moi kissing the Gingerbread Man

I roll with a group of gals calling ourselves Christian Gals Dining & Doing-JAX. Six of us went to see the amazing gingerbread houses displayed at the Jacksonville Historical Society in Old St. Andrews. Tis the season…

The gingerbread houses had already been judged and blue ribbons were given out in several categories. The structures were made of gingerbread and held together with a strong icing. In many cases fonant covered them. Many other candies and foods were used in ingenious ways: candy canes, pretzels, twizlers, marshmallows, life savers, jellied candies, Swiss rolls, bread, cereal, and much more.

1980-01-01 00.00.35

Visitors voted for a “people’s choice type” award. I voted for this one: The Mandarin Garden Club. The work one on it was incredible. If you look through the door, a woman is sitting.

 

1980-01-01 00.00.49

That woman is Harriet Beecher Stowe author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” She lived in Mandarin, a community in Jacksonville.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1980-01-01 00.00.56

This 1950s Florida ranch home came close to being my “people’s choice.” The house is lit up from withing and people are inside

 

 

1980-01-01 00.02.02

Theater Jacksonville, or the Little Theatre ~ live stage productions

 

 

 

1980-01-01 00.02.00

San Marco Theatre & Grill ~ showing first run movies and offering up eats, beer and wine

1980-01-01 00.01.57

Jacksonville Central Fire Station No 1

1980-01-01 00.03.13

Jacksonville Beach Red Cross Volunteer Life Saving Corps.

1980-01-01 00.01.08

The life story of Jesus. Holding onto the silver knob the exhibit can be rotated from the birth of the Christ Child to the cross.

1980-01-01 00.02.50

The life story of Jesus. Holding onto the silver knob the exhibit can be rotated from the birth of the Christ Child to the cross.

 

 

 

There were so many more to see: the Jaguar den at the zoo, a cabin made by a nine-year-old, the historical Myers and Halstead Farm, a rendition of the North Pole, a scape of little huts by a second grade class, a salute of Jules Verne, and so much more.

 

 

The Hurrican Irma tree with bark from trees and varieouspieces of wood found in the aftermath used as its ornamentation, as well as photos of the destruction.

Advertisements

Double Barrel Mysteries by Barbara Ellen Brink ~ an intriguing series

I was intrigued by the intelligence of the DOUBLE BARREL MYSTERIES so I asked its author, Barbara Ellen Brink to share with my readers how this well-constructed series came about and evolved. This is one that has everything I love in mysteries suspense, plenty of twists and turns, laughs, and quirky characters.

Let’s turn it over to Barbara…

Blake and Shelby Gunner ARE Double Barrel Investigations

My husband and I took a road trip along Lake Superior to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula about three years back. It was a beautiful fall weekend and the changing colors were amazing. Soon after, I woke from a dream and started writing Double Barrel Mysteries. Rather than an actual storyline, my dream consisted of characters and setting.

The Double Barrel team of Blake and Shelby Gunner was in my head as clear as bold font. Blake is a cop. Shelby’s an actress who speaks Shakespeare as a second language. Together they make the perfect team. He’s got the experience of a seasoned detective and she can act like one.

Now all I needed was a murder for them to solve.

Roadkill

 

 

In ROADKILL, the Gunners consider moving from Minneapolis to the safe, small-town environment of Blake’s hometown. They take a road trip to Port Scuttlebutt in order to check out an old bed & breakfast on the market, and soon get pulled into the cold case of an unsolved hit-and-run. Surprisingly, Port Scuttlebutt isn’t as innocent as it appears on the surface. Their investigation stirs up danger as easily as a Lake Superior storm churns up waves.

I always begin one of my Double Barrel Mysteries by writing the murder scene. Once I’ve killed off someone, I start making up the story about how it came to be. Funny thing is, I don’t usually know who the killer is until at least the middle. In fact, sometimes it’s almost the end of the book before I know whodunit. If the author is surprised, I’m pretty sure the reader will be too.

Much Ado About Murder

 

In MUCH ADO ABOUT MURDER, Blake and Shelby have just begun renovating the old boathouse into offices for Double Barrel Investigations when they get sidetracked with a case of murder. Someone buried Pete’s ex-wife under his woodpile, making Pete look as guilty as a cocker spaniel surrounded by chicken feathers. Being the talk of the town after solving their last case, Blake and Shelby feel the pressure to find the killer and keep their newly hired construction foreman out of jail. After all, winter is coming on and the doors and windows have yet to be installed.

 

Midsummer Madness

The third book in the Double Barrel Mysteries was released this past weekend. In MIDSUMMER MADNESS, Blake and Shelby have a surprise announcement that everyone seems to know before they tell them. Shelby is working to get the new Port Playhouse ready for its grand opening when a local business owner asks the Gunners to look for his stolen fishing boat. A stranger’s body turns up in the Lake near the Drunken Sailor Bed & Breakfast and a missing boat quickly morphs into a case of murder. With new friends under suspicion and a killer still unidentified, the Gunners have to work quickly to solve the case before someone else is pulled into the madness.

Barbara’s Bio:

Barbara Ellen Brink

Barbara Ellen Brink is a multi-published author, wife of one long-suffering husband, mother to two adult children, walker to one very spoiled mutt, lover of funny baby-goat videos, and a black licorice connoisseur. She grew up on a small fruit farm in Washington State, but now lives in the mean “burbs” of Minnesota. In her spare time – when she’s not reading – she likes to take her motorcycle for a spin, hang out with friends, or catch up on the latest movies.

She is the author of the best-selling Fredrickson Winery Novels; young adult series, The Amish Bloodsuckers Trilogy; inspirational suspense series, Second Chances; and the Double Barrel Mysteries. Her speculative/thriller, Split Sense, won the 2012 Grace Award, and Much Ado About Murder won this year’s Grace Award in mystery/suspense/thriller.

handgun

Purchase Links:

ROADKILL

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VN0A3QC

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/roadkill-barbara-e-brink/1121462059;jsessionid=E5F3028898CB93BC29D756AFF133EDA0.prodny_store01-atgap01?ean=2940154967577

iBookstore: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/roadkill/id1311166714?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/roadkill-21

 

MUCH ADO ABOUT MURDER

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01FN1YIJ4

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/much-ado-about-murder-barbara-e-brink/1123747711;jsessionid=E5F3028898CB93BC29D756AFF133EDA0.prodny_store01-atgap01?ean=2940154996850

iBookstore: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/much-ado-about-murder/id1311168692?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/much-ado-about-murder-4

 

MIDSUMMER MADNESS

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07798B882

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/midsummer-madness-barbara-ellen-brink/1127329433;jsessionid=E5F3028898CB93BC29D756AFF133EDA0.prodny_store01-atgap01?ean=2940154990186

iBookstore: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/midsummer-madness/id1311176460?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/midsummer-madness-9

 


Joseph D. Chillemi ~ honoring my husband on the first year of his passing

IMG_0739

Joseph on New Year’s Eve several years ago.

I’m aware of several widows’ groups in my area, one of them for Christian widows. For some reason, I’ve avoided them. As it turns out, I’ve attracted to myself a small group of Christian women friends: some widowed, some divorced, and one is even married. So, I’m far from alone.

As the anniversary of Joseph’s death approached, I became super aware of conversations about the first year “date” of the passing of a husband. It seems, at this point in time, there’s a great deal of counsels to avoid the word “anniversary.” They’re calling it “marking” the death of a spouse. Popular culture is saying widows should not celebrate the death of their husbands, though, I’m sure there are some who for their own very personal reasons do just that. So, it certainly isn’t one-size fits all. For me, I look to the Bible on how to handle this monumental date.

 

IMG_0572

Christmas season at Houston’s Steak House (now closed) in the Roosevelt Field Mall, Long Island. I have no idea what I was reading. I’m a notorious planner, so it could’ve been a notice about a Christmas event. He probably said something like, “Get your nose out of that paper, woman, and give me a kiss.”

 

 

So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. ~ Ephesians 5:33 [New Living Translation]

 

 

 

As a Christian wife, I honor the life of my husband, the years he had on earth, the people he touched and the positive impact he had as a husband, father, son, friend, co-worker, social worker. Christian wives celebrate the passing of a spouse who has gone on to be with the Lord, I know in my heart, Joseph is joyful beyond what I could ever imagine.

 

IMG_1515

On my birthday at Clemente’s Maryland Crab House in Brooklyn. I’m sure I was 39 — again.

 

IMG_1535

Joseph on his birthday with Beauty. She’s 11 now and still lives with me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0571

Joseph and Victoria in St. Augustine, FL. The sun worshippers. LOL

 

IMG_0118

Joseph and Alyssa (L) and Delayne (R) in Boca Raton, FL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. ~ 2 Corinthians 3:17 {New American Standard Bible]

 

 

IMG_0066

Boca Raton

 

 


A Ladies’ Thanksgiving ~ ab fab

 

IMG_2546

L to R: Moi w/Sophie the Wonder Dog, Charlotte Woods Innes, Lynn Woods Rix who writes as Dalyn Woods

 

Friendship is so important at any age but is extremely important for the over-50 crowd. I found myself alone in Florida after my husband passed away, but not-to-worry, I was swept up by a group of Christian ladies who like to get out and get going.

I enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with three of these gals. We gathered at my dear friend Deborah William’s house. I arrived early to help Deborah cook the turkey, her first time cooking one.

Each lady brought one or more traditional dishes. I wish I had a photo from last night of Deborah, but I do have one of Lynn Woods Rix and her sister Charlotte Woods Innes. We’re standing in front of one of Deborah’s three beautifully decorated Christmas trees.


Giving Thanks ~ makes me feel good

vegetables-fall

So, first of all, I want to thank all my blog readers and my fiction readers. You make me feel good.

If there’s a secret sauce in my life, it would be stop analyzing and just give thanks. That’s it.

Why did that thing happen? Why did those people act that way to me? Why didn’t they appreciate me? Why couldn’t they see what they were doing was so destructive to themselves and others? I could, and I have spent weeks, no months analyzing issues such as these. At the end of that time, I’ve come up with some pretty plausible answers. Were any of them, the right answer? Maybe, maybe not. Hard to know, but they were plausible answers to those questions. Did all that analyzing solve any dilemmas? No, not really.

When I first started trying to find things to intentionally be thankful for, it felt weird, like an exercise. But once I kept at it, thanksgiving started to change things inside me. First of all, I realized the act of giving thanks is energizing. Thanksgiving is powerful.

In my life, the one I thank the most is God. I’ve been doing this long enough now that it’s actually fun to watch God move. I thank Him for what he’s doing in my life.

1 Chronicles 16:34 ~ Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever! ~ [ESV]

This is going to date me. I think Captain Kangaroo was right. Thank you is a magic word. Most people should use it more often. I should use it more often. I should say the words ‘thank you’ aloud to other people more often. Saying ‘thank you’ makes others feel good. When the people around us feel good, life is a whole lot easier for everybody. When there’s a general feeling of appreciation, there’s a lot less stress.

This thankfulness thing is really pretty simple. it’s so simple it works.


LAND LORD by Cheryl Colwell ~ a review

Land Lord

There is no end to big surprises in this espionage thriller. The one at the end, I didn’t see coming. In fact, I didn’t see quite a few of them coming. It’s a story about an attempt to overthrow the United States government from within. The reader will have to remember not only the novel’s characters but also their code names. But it’s worth it. So much is not what it seems. So much is clandestine.

Secret Service Agent Dain Ryder is loyal to the president at a precarious time when not all the men sworn to protect POTUS are trustworthy. Dain’s family were missionaries in China where his grandfather was murdered and his father blinded. Thus, he has long lived with bigotry and hatred in his heart toward the Chinese people. So, he’s thrown a curve ball when President Robert Bradley gives him a special assignment to work with a beautiful Chinese spy to find out who is behind the plot to bring down his administration.

Lian Chen is not only gorgeous, she’s a biochemist, a superb classical Chinese dancer, martial arts expert, a crack shot, and proficient with explosives. Dain begins to doubt her loyalty to America and to the president. She could be on the wrong side. She’s hiding something big. As he fights his attraction to her, he fears she may have a secret relationship with Robert Bradley?

This story goes from the Oval Office, to the halls of George Washington University, to the streets of D.C.’s Chinatown and back again. It’s quite a thrilling journey.

 


The Dividing Stone by Anita Estes ~ a review

The Dividing Stone

 

Margo’s intention was to discover more about her ancestors and her family’s history. Instead, she uncovered evil. THE DIVIDING STONE is a supernatural mystery/thriller, much along the lines of a Frank Peretti novel, depicting the forces of evil in a tirade against heavenly angelic forces.

Margo is a potter in the small town of New Coven, where she lives with her husband Chris. She discovers a note handwritten by an now deceased relative warning her there is great evil and danger in New Coven, which used to be named New Covenant. Immediately, she begins having troubling prophetic dreams. She discovers the existence of the Dividing Stone, actually two circular stones welded together. One half is in Egyptian hieroglyphics and the other in Celtic lettering. She learns the dark purpose of this stone is division: breaking up Christian marriages and causing church splits, even death to believers. At times the story has an eerie quality. Yet it also has the quick plot twists of a contemporary mystery/thriller.

A smartly dressed, sophisticated man comes to town. He’s known to Margo and Chris as Bill Guiles and begins attending their church. His real name is Bill Guiles Eville and he’s a fairly high ranking member of a dangerous, occult secret society. He fooled a number of townspeople and members of their church, including the pastor. Bill senses Margo has deep spiritual discernment and it enrages him. He vows to destroy her. The town has a group of very strong prayer warriors. As the struggle between good and evil supernatural forces plays out in the heavens, it became very stirring and vivid. This is a novel that will stir the soul of anyone interested in the supernatural, as well as anyone who loves a fast paced mystery.


%d bloggers like this: