Smorgasbord Laughter is the Best Medicine – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Dog owning and Clever Cats

Firstly, some funnies from Debby Gies from our archives followed by some funnies from Sally.

D.G. Writes is where you will find an archive full of wonderful posts across several subjects including writing tips, social issues and book reviews.


My thanks to Debby for excellent foraging skills.

D. G. Kaye – Buy: Amazon US And: Amazon UK Blog: D.G. WritesGoodreads: D.G. Kaye on Goodreads – Twitter: @pokercubster

Check out Debby’s latest Travel Column: Cruising part two

Now for a joke or two from Sally…….

How to out cat each other………

Four men were bragging about how smart their cats are. The first man was an Engineer, the second man was an Accountant, the third man was a Chemist, the fourth was a Government Worker.

To show off, the Engineer called to his cat. “T-square, do your stuff.” T-square pranced over to a desk, took out some paper and a pen and promptly drew a circle, a square, and a triangle.

Everyone agreed that was pretty smart.

But the Accountant said his cat could do better. He called his cat and said, “Spreadsheet, do your stuff.” Spreadsheet went out into the kitchen and returned with a dozen cookies. He divided them into 4 equal piles of 3 cookies each.

Everyone agreed that was good.

But the Chemist said his cat could do better. He called his cat and said, “Measure, do your stuff.” Measure got up, walked over to the fridge, took out a quart of milk, got a 10 ounce glass from the cupboard and poured exactly 8 ounces without spilling a drop.

Everyone agreed that was good.

Then the three men turned to the Government Worker and said, “What can your cat do?”

The Government Worker called to his cat and said, “Coffee Break, do your stuff.” Coffee Break jumped to his feet, ate the cookies, drank the milk, peed on the paper, assaulted the other three cats, claimed he injured his back while doing so, filed a grievance report for unsafe working conditions, put in for Workers Compensation and went home for the rest of the day on sick leave….

Thank you for joining us today and we hope you are leaving with a smile on your face.. Debby and Sally.

Smorgasbord Book Reviews -#Fantasy – A Threat from the Past (The White Dragon Saga) by Paul Cude

I have been looking for a new fantasy series to begin and Paul Cude who has been featured with his books here in the early years has a terrific Dragon themed saga that I have just begun to read. A Threat from the Past (The White Dragon Saga)

About the book

Can you be heroic and naive?

For one young man, the answer is yes, despite his magical birthright.

Blissfully unaware of what’s going on around him, for the most part Peter remains fully focused on blending in and keeping a low profile. But fate and plain bad luck have other designs on him. Not so bad, you might think. Until you discover the TRUTH! Just like his friends, he is a… DRAGON!

Thrust into a life away from the underground dragon domain, disguised in a new, awkward human form in an effort to guide and protect humanity just like the rest of his race, all he has to do is uncover the diabolical deeds playing out around him. With the help of his two young friends, a master mantra maker and a complete dragon stranger with more than a little history attached to him, will Peter manage to thwart the dark, devious scheme long in the planning?

Ever wondered how dragons use their supernatural gift to travel below ground at almost the speed of sound?

Want to know how they use magical mantras to transform their giant bodies into convincing human shapes?

Learn the true story of George and the Dragon, see if a prehistoric grudge turns into murderous revenge, and find out what to do if you meet a giant arachnid grinning at you when you’re wearing nothing but your smile.

Lose yourself in this unputdownable fantasy adventure NOW!

My review for the book 31st March 2022

Fantasy stories require great world building, characters that are unique and compelling, plenty of action, and a story line that engages and carries you along from first to last page.  I would say that all those boxes were ticked in this first book of the White Dragon Saga.

Two worlds, one of which runs deep beneath that inhabited by humans, and is meticulously described. Accessed creatively by a number of portals enabling ancient guardians to move freely between them. There is a wonderful thread of humour throughout the book as the author shares the parallel lifestyles including food, sport and adventure holidays of the mythical creatures, which lightens the mood as the dangerous plot unfolds.

The story opens with mythical dragons and a violent attack on humans that gave rise to the legend of St.George… This chapter sets the scene for events in the present, when long buried evil elements of the dragon community seek to break the harmony created over centuries between the humans and their guardians.

The three young friends Pete, Tank and Richie all love different sports in their human forms and there are some great action sequences that take place on hockey, lacrosse and rugby pitches and on the equivalent game centres in the underworld, but on a much bigger scale. The fast paced commentary has you standing on the sidelines cheering on the players in both forms.

There is evil intent brewing; missed by those responsible for dragon security, and Peter finds himself in the middle of an escalating and frightening takeover at work and on the pitch. This builds to a dangerous climax when all could be lost for both humans and the majority of benevolent dragons. Revelations about the past and the intentions for a darker future lay the groundwork for the next book in the series which I am looking forward to.

There is magic, danger, adventure and plenty of thrills throughout the book, and it would appeal to young adults who enjoyed Harry Potter, as well as adults who enjoy well written fantasy, and are looking for an established series to follow with several books to enjoy.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UKAnd: Amazon US

Also by Paul Cude

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UKAnd: Amazon USMore reviews: GoodreadsWebsite: Paul Cude – Twitter: @paul_Cude – Facebook: Paul Cude

About Paul Cude

Paul Cude is a husband, father, field hockey player and aspiring photographer. Lost without his hockey stick, he can often be found in between writing and chauffeuring children, reading anything from comics to sci-fi, fantasy to thrillers. Too often found chained to his computer, it would be little surprise to find him, in his free time, somewhere on the Dorset coastline, chasing over rocks and sand in an effort to capture his wonderful wife and lovely kids with his camera. Paul Cude is also the author of The White Dragon Saga.


Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you are leaving with some books… Sally.


Smorgasbord Health Column – Food Therapy Rewind- Beans – 12,000 years of history that we know about by Sally Cronin

There are certain foods that bring more than taste to your diet, rich in nutrients and energy they are worth including in your weekly shopping.

Food therapy is a broad term for the benefits to the body of a healthy, varied and nutritional diet of fresh foods.

Most of us walk through the fresh produce departments of our supermarkets without really paying much attention to the individual fruits and vegetables. This is a great pity because the vast majority of these foods have been cultivated for thousands of years, not only for their nutritional value but also for their medicinal properties. If you eat a healthy diet you are effectively practicing preventative medicine. A robust immune system, not only attacks external opportunistic pathogens, but also works to prevent rogue cells in the body from developing into serious disease.

NOTE If you are on any prescribed medication do not take yourself off it without consultation with your doctor. If you follow a healthy eating programme and lose weight and are exercising you may not need the same dose and with your doctor’s agreement you may be able to reduce or come off the medication all together.

Beans – 12,000 years of history that we know about 

Mention the fact that you are an ardent bean lover and people automatically give you a wide berth. Unfortunately this very nutritious food group has developed a rather anti-social reputation over the years but prepared and cooked correctly beans can overcome their wind producing properties.

History of the bean

There is evidence going back nearly 12,000 years that peas were part of the staple diet in certain cultures and certainly natives of Peru and Mexico were cultivating beans as a crop 9,000 years ago. It is likely that they were one of the first crops to be planted when man ceased to be nomadic and settled into communities.

There are many types of bean used as a staple food in different cultures around the world including Black beans, Chickpeas, Kidney Beans, Navy Beans and Soybeans. In Asia where consumption of soybean products is very high it is regarded as one of the best preventative medicines that you can eat.

What are the main health benefits of beans?

For anyone suffering high cholesterol levels, blood pressure, heart disease, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, Diverticulitis, colon cancer, diabetes or iron deficiency, beans are definitely on the healing foods list. One of the main health benefits of eating beans is their high fibre content.

Although fibre is not exactly up there on everyone’s favourite foods list it is extremely important to our overall health. Fibre is carbohydrate that cannot be digested and there are two types, water-soluble and water insoluble. Primarily water-soluble fibre comes from oatmeal, oat bran, nuts and seeds, fruit and legumes that include peas, lentils and beans. The insoluble fibre is mainly found in wholegrains, wheat bran, seeds, root vegetables, cucumbers, courgettes, celery and tomatoes.

Fibre acts like a vacuum cleaner, travelling through the blood stream and intestines collecting cholesterol plaque, toxins, waste products from normal bodily functions and anything else that should not be there.

Provided you do not pile high fat sauces and butter onto this group of foods they can be a very healthy aid to weight loss as fibre has no calories and the foods containing it are generally low in fat and high in nutrients.

What else is in beans that is healthy?

Beans are packed with nutrients as well as fibre including Vitamin B1 (thiamin) copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and tryptophan. The combination of nutrients will help boost your immune system, balance blood sugar levels, lower your risk of heart disease and help protect you against cancer.

Vitamin B1 (thiamin) is essential in the metabolism of carbohydrates and for a healthy nervous system. Every cell in the body requires this vitamin to form the fuel the body runs on, ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate).

Copper is an essential trace mineral needed to absorb and utilise iron and also assist in the production of collagen.

Folate is a B Vitamin essential for cell replication and growth. It is needed for our nervous system and heart health as folate helps lower homocysteine levels in the blood, a leading contributory factor in heart disease.

Magnesium is an essential mineral needed for bone, protein and fatty acid formation, forming new cells, activating the B vitamins, relaxing muscles, clotting blood and forming ATP. The secretion and action of insulin also needs magnesium as does the correct balance of calcium in the body.

Iron is an integral part of the oxygen-carrying haemoglobin in the blood, which is why a deficiency can cause fatigue and ill health.

Manganese boosts energy and the immune system and molybdenum another trace mineral helps detox the body of sulphites a commonly used preservative in processed food and one that many people have a sensitivity to.

Tryptophan is an amino acid that is critical in the manufacture of serotonin a neurotransmitter that affects our mental wellbeing.

Preparing beans to avoid the wind factor.

If you are not used to fibre then you need to introduce it into your diet over a period of days. This guideline applies to eating beans as people who eat them regularly seem to have less of a problem. There are a number of guidelines to ensure that you receive all of the benefits and none of the more anti-social side effects.

  1. Soak your dried beans for at least 6 hours before cooking. Change the water several times.
  2. Put the beans in a large pot and cover with cold unsalted water usually 3 to 6 times the amount of beans. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Drain the beans after 30 minutes and replace the water. Bring back to the boil and then simmer.
  3. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface of the water.
  4. When the beans have softened add some salt, as this will bring out there flavour. If you add salt at the beginning of cooking it can make the beans tougher. If you are on a low sodium diet then be careful about how much salt you add or use and alternative.
  5. When the beans are cooked you can prepare in a number of ways. Include in brown rice dishes; stir-fry with a little olive oil, seasonings and favourite spices.
  6. A lovely way to eat beans is in a casserole with tomatoes, onions, garlic, olive oil, carrots, potatoes, celery and vegetable stock.
  7. Make your own baked beans with homemade tomato sauce and serve on jacket potatoes or on toast.
  8. You can blend with other ingredients and make hamburgers, meatloaves and pates.

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2022

A little bit about me nutritionally. .

About Sally Cronin

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-four years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain.

Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.

You can buy my books from: Amazon US – and:Amazon UK – Follow me :Goodreads – Twitter: @sgc58 – Facebook: Sally Cronin – LinkedIn: Sally Cronin


As always I look forward to your comments and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask them.. thanks Sally.



Smorgasbord Bookshelf – Meet the Authors 2022 – Personal Recommendations -#Paranormal Jan Sikes, #Historical Ailish Sinclair, #Poetry Balroop Singh

In this first feature for the Smorgasbord Bookshelf I am sharing authors whose books I have read and can personally recommend along with one of my reviews for their books.

The first award winning author today is Jan Sikes.. I am enjoying working my way through her extensive portfolio of books and I am sharing one my review for Ghostly Interference. I am looking forward to reading more in 2022.

Meet Jan Sikes

I’ve been an avid reader all my life. I can still remember the excitement that surged through me the first time I realized I could decipher words. Many summers, I won the highest award possible from the Hobbs, NM Public Library for reading the most books.

There’s nothing I love more than losing myself in a story.

Oddly enough, I never had any ambition to be a writer. But I wound up in mid-life with a story that begged to be told. Not just any story, but a true story that rivaled any fiction creation. Through fictitious characters, the tale came to life in an intricately woven tale that encompasses four books. Not satisfied to stop with the books, I released music CDs of original music to match the time period of each story segment.

In conclusion, to bring the story full circle, I published a book of poetry and art. I was done.


The story ideas keep coming, and I don’t intend to turn off the creative fountain.

I am a member of the Author’s Marketing Guild, The Writer’s League of Texas, Romance Writers of America, and the Paranormal Writer’s Guild. I am an avid fan of Texas music and grandmother of five beautiful souls. I reside in North Texas.

A small selection of other books by Jan Sikes

My review for Ghostly Interference (White Rune Series Book 1) February 2021

This is a passionate love story with a gentle paranormal theme running through it. Whilst the central characters are Jag and Rena and is about the development of their relationship, the story also has other players who also create interest and mystery.

The author has done a great job of creating the world that they all inhabit and you almost feel that you are riding pillion on a motorcycle, tapping your toes to the music and seeing something faintly familiar in the shadows.

There is also plenty of action as the lives of others intrude into the love story, and the author does not shy away from writing about tough issues such as domestic violence and life in the foster care system, both relevant to background story and as the plot evolves.

There are some terrific twists and turns in the story that keep you guessing and turning the pages.

I have no hesitation is recommending the book to lovers of well written romance, paranormal and family sagas.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And : Amazon UK – Website: Jan SikesGoodreads: Jan on Goodreads – Twitter: @rijanjks

I was introduced to the next author today, Ailish Sinclair early in 2021 and loved the first book I have read and look forward to reading more of her work.

Meet Ailish Sinclair

Ailish Sinclair trained as a dancer and taught dance for many years, before working in schools to help children with special needs. A short stint as a housekeeper in a castle fired her already keen interest in untold stories of the past and she sat down to research and write.

She now lives beside a loch with her husband and two children where she still dances and writes and eats rather a lot of chocolate.

Books by Ailish Sinclair

My review for Fireflies and Chocolate June 2021

As the author explains in her notes, this story is based on actual events that took place in Scotland in the 1740s, when six hundred children and young people were kidnapped from Aberdeen and sold into indentured servitude in the American colonies. Although there are accounts of this devastating event, they are mainly from the male perspective and the author created her central character Elizabeth to redress the balance.

Sinclair has done an excellent job of merging fact and fiction with wonderful characters, some based on real people of the day. Those who survived the crowded and dangerous crossing, were sold to the highest bidder to use as they saw fit for the years of their indenture. At that time slavery was still embedded in the culture, and the indentured servants worked side by side, often in appalling and cruel conditions.

Elizabeth comes from a privileged background but it is a time of conflict with the English and like many Scottish noble families times are hard. However, nothing could prepare her for voyage that broke the spirits of many, and the horror of being sold into an uncertain future.

We follow her adventures as she meets those who are on the run from the harsh treatment on the plantations, and those with a more enlightened attitude to the slavery and the use of indentured servants. Her bravery in the face of the treatment to those she now works side by side with, wins hearts and also endangers her life and those she loves.

This book is well researched, bringing history to life and the writing flows smoothly like hot chocolate as it warms on a cold day. It is a coming of age and love story which will have you holding your breath on occasion as Elizabeth comes to terms with her future.

I can highly recommend the book to those who enjoy well researched and compelling historical novels.

Read the other reviews and buy the books:Amazon UK – And: Amazon US – Other reviews :Goodreads – Website:Ailish Sinclair – Twitter: @AilishSinclair – Facebook: Ailish Sinclair Author – LinkedIn: Ailish Sinclair

The next poet whose collections are much enjoyed is Balroop Singh and I read and reviewed her most recent collection in 2021.

Meet Balroop Singh

Balroop Singh, an educator, a poet and an author always had a passion for writing. She would jot down her reflections on a piece of paper and forget about them till each drawer of her home started overflowing with poetic reminders, popping out at will! The world of her imagination has a queer connection with realism. She could envision the images of her own poetry while teaching the poems. Her dreams saw the light of the day when she published her first poetry book: ‘Sublime Shadows Of Life.’ She has always lived through her heart. She is a great nature lover; she loves to watch birds flying home. The sunsets allure her with their varied hues that they lend to the sky. She can spend endless hours listening to the rustling of leaves and the sound of waterfalls. She lives in California.

Books by Balroop Singh


My review for Slivers: Chiseled Poetry July 2021

Poetry, particularly about nature is perfect for enjoying sitting in sunshine and listening to the sounds always present in a summer garden. The poet Balroop Singh captures this wonderful environment and other aspects of mother and human nature in her collection of micro-poetry. Inspired by Haiku and Tanka with the addition of a section of acrostic poetry, it is a collection to be savoured and reread again and again.

I have some particular favourites out of the 100 or so poems.

each day reminds us
it’s the symphony of surroundings
that whispers life into us


ochre and crimson
robes of mother nature remind
decay can be exquisite


I believe in the sun
even when it is not shining
I believe in love
even when I cannot feel it
love and light are my mentors

This is a collection that will appeal to all lovers of micro poetry that manages to capture the essence and beauty of the world around us, the fickleness of human nature, and offers hope for the future.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – and : Amazon UK – Follow Balroop : Goodreads – blog:Balroop Singh on WordPress – Twitter: @BalroopShado


Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books… Sally.

Smorgasbord Health with Sally Cronin and Carol Taylor – Cook from Scratch to prevent nutritional deficiency – Vitamin B12 combined with Vitamin E – Beef, Broccoli, Eggs, Bananas and Wholegrains

Welcome to the rewind of this series from 2019 where we look at cooking and your diet from a different perspective. Usually we emphasize the health benefits of food and how they can be incorporated into your diet. But, what happens if you do NOT include them in your diet.

We wanted to share with you what happens if your body is deprived of individual nutrients over an extended period of time.

In this series we look at cooking and your diet from a different perspective. Usually we emphasize the health benefits of food and how they can be incorporated into your diet. But, what happens if you do NOT include them in your diet.

Thankfully most of us eat reasonably well, with plenty of variety, but if you take a look at a week’s worth of meals, do you find that you are sticking to a handful of foods, all the time.

Variety is key to good health, to provide your body with as broad a spectrum of nutrients as possible that the body needs. Taking a supplement or relying on shakes and bars to provide your daily allowance of vitamins and nutrients is not in your body’s best interest. Giving it foods that the body can process and extract everything it needs is vital.

Over the next few months we are going to be working our way through the most essential of these nutrients and I will share the symptoms that you might experience if you are becoming deficient in the vitamin or mineral and list the foods where you can find the nutrient.

Carol Taylor is then going to provide you with some wonderful recipes that make best use of these foods… Cooked from Scratch.

Vitamin B12 (Cyanocolbalamin) is an essential water-soluble vitamin but unlike other water soluble vitamins that are normally excreted in urine very quickly, B12 accumulates and gets stored in the liver (around 80%), kidney and body tissues.

B12 is vital for the efficient working of every cell in the body especially those with a rapid turnover as it prevents cell degeneration. It functions as a methyl donor and works with folic acid in the manufacture of DNA and red blood cells and also is necessary to maintain the health of the insulating sheath (myelin sheath) that surrounds all nerve cells. It is involved in the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for resetting our biological clock’s rhythm when we change to new time zones, and also helps us sleep.

The most common disease associated with B12 deficiency is pernicious anaemia, which is characterised by large, immature red blood cells. You can find out more about anaemia in a post Anaemia – Iron and B12 deficiency

Some other diseases and medical conditions associated with a lack of this vitamin are:

• allergies,
• Alzheimer’s disease,
• asthma,
• low blood pressure,
• multiple sclerosis,
• tinnitus
• low sperm counts.

How do we become deficient in B12?

We actually do not need a huge amount of the vitamin per day, around 2 micrograms or 2millionth of a gram. The problem is that it is not particularly well absorbed by the body so larger amounts are needed in the diet to supply the amount we need. Absorption of B12 requires the secretion from the cells lining the stomach of a glycoprotein, known as the intrinsic factor. The B12-intrinsic factor is then absorbed into the ileum (part of the small intestine) with calcium.

Meat sources of B12

Liver, Calf'S Liver, Raw, Offal, Eat, Blood, Calf

One of the issues regarding deficiencies is that many people have turned away from the richest sources of B12 because they believe either that they are harmful, fattening or will raise levels of cholesterol. Liver, kidneys and eggs have not enjoyed wonderful press over the last few years and many people have also reduced the amount of cheese they eat believing that it is fattening.

Plant sources of B12

Plant sources of B12 are virtually non-existent and many long term and dedicated vegetarians have been found to be deficient.

Over use of antacids, inflammation of the stomach lining (Helicobacter pylori infection) and pancreatic problems can also lead to deficiency as the secretion of the intrinsic factor is compromised. There is some evidence that women with breast cancer have lower levels of B12 and there are indications that women after menopause with very low levels were more likely to develop the disease. It is not clear if the deficiency is caused by the cancer in the body or the other way around.

Some drugs have inhibited the uptake of B12 such as those prescribed for diabetes and ulcers and there is a great deal of research into these interactions.

As we age our ability to process our foods becomes less effective with enzyme production reduced such as the secretion of the intrinsic factor necessary for B12 absorption. Added to the fact that many elderly people suffer from a lack of appetite and you have a higher risk of malnutrition.

The importance of Vitamin E rich foods in the absorption of B12

An interesting piece of research proposes that it is possible that Vitamin E may protect the process of absorption of B12 by preventing oxidative damage to cell membranes. If so a deficiency in this vitamin may well affect our B12 levels. (Which is why the recipes today also contain Vitamin E rich foods)

What food sources are there for Vitamin B12?

B12 is present in the following foods

  • beef
  • offal like liver and kidneys
  • eggs and dairy.
  • mackerel
  • shellfish such as clams and crabs
  • fortified cereals and tofu
  • Marmite
  • cottage, feta and mozzarella cheese.
  • It is better to drink a cold glass of milk than to eat yoghurt as the fermentation process destroys most of the B12 as does boiling milk.

There are very few sources, if any of B12 in plants, although some people do believe that eating fermented Soya products, sea weeds and algae will provide the vitamin. However analysis of these products shows that whilst some of them do contain B12 it is in the form of B12 analogues which are unable to be absorbed by the human body.

Eating foods containing Vitamin E may help the absorption process and the best sources for this are in

  • nuts such as the walnuts,
  • sunflower seeds,
  • whole grains,
  • eggs,
  • spinach,
  • apples,
  • bananas,
  • broccoli,
  • brown rice,
  • carrots,
  • onions
  • oily fish.

Most cereals and breads today are fortified with B12 as are yeast extracts (marmite) and vegetarian products.


Time to hand you over to Carol Taylor who has been creating dishes that include ingredients that are great sources of these two vitamins.

The vitamin B12 is not found in as many food sources as other vitamins however Vitamin E is said to aid the absorption of B12…

Starting today with a recipe for Beef and Broccoli …The beef is a very good source of the B12 vitamin and the addition of broccoli and onions is your source of the Vitamin E…

Beef and Broccoli stir fry.


• 500 gm of beef tenderloin
• 4 cups of broccoli florets
• 3 tbsp of Oyster sauce
• 2/3 cloves of garlic crushed
• A 2 in piece of fresh ginger julienned
• 1 small brown onion cut into 6
• 2 spring( green) onions sliced
• I tbsp of soy sauce
• 1 tbsp of sesame seeds lightly toasted
• 2 tbsp of vegetable oil I used coconut oil
• 1 chilli finely slice( optional)

Let’s Cook

Slice the beef finely into 3 in strips put in a bowl and add the ginger, garlic and oyster sauce then massage the sauce into the meat…Yep, get those hands in there once done set to one side until you have prepared all your ingredients.

Add 1 tbsp of oil to a pan and heat to med to hot not smoking and add your beef stir fry until your beef is cooked to your liking then remove from the pan and set to one side.

Add 1 tbsp of oil and add the onions stirring until they start to soften but not colour and add the broccoli at this point I added a dash of hot water and cook for 2-3 mins, then add the beef back into the pan and if using add your spring onions and the soy sauce…Check your seasoning and adjust if required. Then sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds…

Serve with Brown Rice…

Now if you really don’t like brown rice then add a really good handful of chopped watercress to white rice and leave for about 10 mins before you serve the rice and the heat from the rice will wilt the watercress which is a very good source of Vitamin E. It is also a lovely addition to rice which everyone in this house loves.

My taste testers loved it…Lily didn’t like the white onions and wanted more of the green onions and her mum suggested the addition of a few mushrooms and of course a chilli or two so I am guessing that is how take two will pan out but it got the thumbs up from Aston who if anything contains beef or meat he will eat it…He is a growing lad after all and I have even managed to convert him to Brown Rice…

How about a nice old fashioned banana milkshake??

Just take a ripe banana and blitz it with ½ tbsp of honey until it is nice and creamy about 2 minutess and then add 1 cup of full cream milk and blitz for 2 mins…You now have a lovely fresh milkshake …Containing your B12 from the cold milk and your Vitamin E from the banana…

Quick and easy to do and delicious…

Beef and mushrooms with pasta.


• 250 kg beef mince…grass fed
• 2 tbsp diced onion
• 1-1/2 cups quartered fresh mushrooms
• 3/4 cup Burgundy wine or beef stock
• 1/2 cup fresh stock if using beef stock then water
• 1 bay leaf
• 2 cloves garlic crushed
• Salt to taste
• Pepper to taste
• 2 cups uncooked medium egg noodles (about 4 ounces) cooked as per packet instructions.
• 1 tbsp all-purpose flour

Let’s Cook!

Add a good splash of olive oil to a pan and heat on a medium heat add the diced onions and cook stirring until they soften slightly add garlic, bay leaves and minced beef.

Cook stirring until the mince is browned and add wine or stock bring to a rolling boil and reduce the heat and cook for about 15 mins and then add the mushrooms. Add some water if required cook for a further 10 minutes and season and taste.

Cook your pasta as per the packet instructions and when cooked add the mince mixture to the pasta stir gently to combine and check the seasoning.

Serve with steamed vegetables or a side salad and add some grated parmesan or cheese of your choice… Enjoy!

We love smoked mackerel and it is a very good source of B12 and with apple, horseradish and either watercress or spinach it makes a lovely light healthy salad with some lovely whole grain bread with grass fed butter.

I get lovely fresh smoked mackerel from my local market and I love this salad so quick and easy…

All you need to do is wash and grate an apple, add some horseradish freshly grated if not a tsp or two depending on your taste from a jar will suffice. Take a couple of large handfuls of either spinach or watercress and toss the apple, horseradish and some good olive oil and then flake your smoked mackerel and add to the salad…Eat straight away…

Nothing is simpler to make or tastier as a light lunch…

I hope you have enjoyed these recipes if you have any questions please ask either Sally or myself will be happy to answer xx

My thanks to Carol for preparing these delicious dishes to ensure you and your family are obtaining adequate amounts of vitamins such as B12 and Vitamin E in your diet.

Next time.. we turn our attention to Vitamin C.. I hope you will join us.

About your hosts…

About Sally Cronin

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-four years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain.

Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology: Amazon US

Connect to Carol – Blog: Carol Cooks 2 – Twitter: @CarolCooksTwo – Facebook: Carol Taylor

Smorgasbord Laughter is the Best Medicine – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin – Car Expenses and The Ostrich

Firstly, some funnies from Debby Gies and her neighbour Marilyn who has donated her humour for our enjoyment followed by some funnies from Sally.

D.G. Writes is where you will find an archive full of wonderful posts across several subjects including writing tips, social issues and book reviews.  

My thanks to Debby and Marilyn for sharing these with us.

D. G. Kaye – Buy: Amazon US And: Amazon UK Blog: D.G. WritesGoodreads: D.G. Kaye on Goodreads – Twitter: @pokercubster

Check out Debby’s latest Travel Column: Cruising – Part One

Now for some funnies from Sally….all about the birds…

The auction

One day a man went to an auction. While there, he bid on a parrot. He really wanted this bird, so he got caught up in the bidding. He kept on bidding, but kept getting outbid, so he bid higher and higher and higher.

Finally, after he bid way more than he intended, he won the bid – the parrot was his at last!

As he was paying for the parrot, he said to the Auctioneer, “I sure hope this parrot can talk. I would hate to have paid this much for it, only to find out that he can’t talk!”

“Don’t worry.” said the Auctioneer, “He can talk. Who do you think kept bidding against you?”

The dinner companion…….

A man walks into a restaurant with a full-grown ostrich behind him. The waitress asks for their orders. The man says, “A hamburger, fries, and a coke,” and turns to the ostrich, “What’s yours?”

“I’ll have the same,” says the ostrich.

A short time later the waitress returns with the order.

“That will be $9.40 please,” and the man reaches into his pocket and pulls out the exact change for payment.

The next day, the man and the ostrich come again and the man says, “A hamburger, fries, and a coke.”

The ostrich says, “I’ll have the same.”

Again the man reaches into his pocket and pays with exact change. This becomes routine until, the two enter again.

“The usual?” asks the waitress.

“No, this is Friday night, so I will have a steak, baked potato, and salad, says he man

“Same,” says the ostrich.

Shortly the waitress brings the order and says, “That will be $32.62.”

Once again the man pulls the exact change out of his pocket and places it on the table. The waitress can’t hold back her curiosity any longer.

“Excuse me, sir. How do you manage to always come up with the exact change out of your pocket every time?”

“Well,” says the man, “several years ago I was cleaning the attic and found an old lamp. When I rubbed it a Genie appeared and offered me two wishes. My first wish was that if I ever had to pay for anything, I would just put my hand in my pocket and the right amount of money would always be there.”

“That’s brilliant!” says the waitress… “Most people would wish for a million dollars or something, but you’ll always be as rich as you want for as long as you live!”

“That’s right. Whether it’s a gallon of milk or a Rolls Royce, the exact money is always there,” says the man.

The waitress asks, “But, sir, what’s with the ostrich?”

The man sighs, pauses, and answers, “My second wish was for a tall chick with long legs who agrees with everything I say.”

Thank you for joining us today and we hope you are leaving with a smile on your face.. Debby and Sally.

Smorgasbord Bookshelf 2022- Share an Extract from your latest book – #YA #Fantasy – Golden Healer (The Curse of Time Book 2) by M. J. Mallon

In this series you are invited to share an extract of 500 words from your most recent book published within the last 12 months. Details at the end of the post.

The aim of the series

  1. To showcase your latest book and sell some more copies.
  2. Gain more reviews for the book.
  3. Promote a selection of your other books that are available.

Delighted to share an extract from the latest release by M.J. Mallon – Golden Healer (The Curse of Time Book 2)

About the book

I didn’t think my life could get any weirder, until the dreaded rollercoaster…

Amelina Scott’s destiny is to be a Krystallos: a magician of light, chosen to learn the ways of crystal magic on her 16th birthday. Located on a river pathway in a mysterious part of Cambridge, the Crystal Cottage is guarded by mythical beings.

Unfortunately, there are those who seek to harm this haven of light. Learning of Ryder – a Shadow Sorcerer with hypnotic powers – Amelina discovers that her own magic is now threatened, and that the Curse of Time might be unleashed again.

As secrets abound and the creatures of the Chronophage come alive, can Amelina become the true magician she needs to be?

A unique, imaginative mystery full of magic-wielding and dark elements, Bloodstone is a riveting adventure for anyone interested in fantasy, mythology or the world of the paranormal. NOTE: this book contains mention of self-harm, mental health issues and alludes to the potential dangers of sexual attraction, which may trigger younger/sensitive readers.

An extract from Golden Healer

Time’s merry-go-round,
The rollercoaster breaks earth,
Such pained suffering,
Can Amelina survive?
Life’s eerie, blissful playground.

The grasshopper opened his belly to take out a rusty key encrusted with debris and dirt. He lifted a square carpet of grass before turning the key in the earth’s lock.

“Watch out, hell’s coming!” he yelled.

Amelina dropped her easel and rushed towards me.

The blast was immediate and deafening. A sudden explosion of air lifted us up high and I hit the ground hard, Amelina landing some distance away from me. Shocked and confused, I stumbled to my feet, checking that Amelina was with me before running for safety.

The sickening ride appeared out of the ground with a deafening thunder, as it ripped through the hardened earth, sending clods of turf, dirt and stones rolling in a storm that obscured the emerging expanse of metal, cage, cars, and wood.

As the rollercoaster came to its full height, the sound of wood splintering and cracking filled the air, metal jarred and groaned, the sound revealed the melancholy hidden aspect of the meadow.

The grasshopper flew towards the nearest ride door. He approached the seat, which was intact, black faded leather, ripped in places, covered in mud, dried blood and vines.

“It is ready for you, Mark,” he announced.

The terrible sight of the rollercoaster made me feel sick and my knees trembled. It roused Amelina’s spirit and she reached for my arm, trying to stop me, but her body slipped through me like a ghost aura. No words escaped her spirit lips. Her eyes were watery wells of terror.

During the blast, I realised I had dropped the Stone of the Mind. The churned-up ground was a mess and there was no way for me to find it. And even if I did, what could I hope to do?

As I stepped towards the ride, I staggered, my heart tightened, fear gripping, carving its way into my lungs, making my breath shallow. I trembled.

I couldn’t do this again.

But I must.

I had to, for my daughter.

Closing my eyes, my brow furrowed as I prayed for a buried strength that I thought I’d lost. I drew in fractured breaths from the depths of my soul to steady my nerves.

Amelina pleaded and pleaded with the grasshopper to stop this madness. She wept crystalline tears of sadness, but he didn’t, or couldn’t, care. She became more and more distressed, her spirit form flickering in and out of vision with escalating spasms of increasing anxiety.

She screamed: “Spirit, where are you? Help us!”

A strange wind began to howl as an apparition appeared. It twirled, taking on an ethereal form sparkling with ever-growing light that lit up the meadow.

I forced my limbs to crawl towards the ride, fearful what would happen if I did not. The wind kept on pushing me back. At last, staggering forward, the ride threw me in, clamping me to the hard, unforgiving seat as the wind howled in gusts of protest.

© M J Mallon – Excerpt from Golden Healer, The Curse of Time Book 2.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Feb 18, 2022 Adele Marie Marie rated it five stars

It was exciting and wonderful to find myself back in the world of Marjorie Mallon’s characters. A beautiful and magical place to visit but it also contains a dark and menacing edge. When visiting be careful as it will draw you in and captivate you.

In Bloodstone Curse of Time Book One, Amelia, the main character learned about her magical birthright which served her well as she rescued her father and saved her family.

At the beginning of Golden Healer her family life is as perfect as it ever has been, but, and it’s a big but, the crystal, Bloodstone is missing. The one she swore to protect above all others.

As things unravel they are all caught in a spiralling web of danger.

I felt for the characters, I wanted them to succeed, to be happy.

Marjorie Mallon’s characterisation is so intense I was drawn in and found myself caring not only about those on the side of light but also those who do not let their light through. In this world, people are a mixture of light and dark and this shows in the world of The Golden Healer.

At times I was nearly screaming as I read what was happening to them then breathed a sigh of relief as they were clever and escaped.

Ryder the main antagonist is darker than before, slimier than before but there are surprises in store for him and you dear reader.

I was lucky to receive an arc copy of Marjorie’s novel The Golden Healer. In both novels in the series so far, she deals with the subject of self-harm. I started to self-harm when I was eleven and it is an ongoing struggle. Marjorie highlights self-harm in a sympathetic and knowledgeable manner and you can also find the links above to various organisations which can help.

I loved this novel, I can not believe I finished reading it and the ending left me gasping.

Five out of five stars for this wonderful read and do please check out the links to other works that Marjorie has been featured in. She is a rising star in the writing world. Read for yourselves, I promise you will not regret immersing yourself in the world of The Bloodstone. 

Head over to buy the book: Amazon UKAnd: Amazon US – Other outlets: Books2Read – 

Other books by M. J. Mallon

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK Website:M.J. Mallon – Goodreads: Goodreads – Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon

Bloodstone is now available in audio: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

About M.J. Mallon

My alter ego is MJ – Mary Jane from Spiderman. I love superheros!

M J Mallon was born in Lion city Singapore, a passionate Scorpio with the Chinese Zodiac sign of a lucky rabbit. She spent her early childhood in Hong Kong. During her teen years, she returned to her father’s childhood home, Edinburgh where she spent many happy years, entertained and enthralled by her parents’ vivid stories of living and working abroad. Perhaps it was during these formative years that her love of storytelling began bolstered by these vivid raconteurs. She counts herself lucky to have travelled to many far-flung destinations and this early early wanderlust has fuelled her present desire to emigrate abroad. Until that wondrous moment, it’s rumoured that she lives in the UK, in the Venice of Cambridge with her six-foot hunk of a rock god husband. Her two enchanting daughters have flown the nest but often return with a cheery smile.

Her motto is to always do what you love, stay true to your heart’s desires, and inspire others to do so too, even it if appears that the odds are stacked against you like black hearted shadows.

Favourite genres to write: Fantasy/magical realism because life should be sprinkled with a liberal dash of extraordinarily imaginative magic!

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books.. thanks Sally.

What will be in the post and how to get in touch

      • I will top and tail in the usual way with your other books and links, bio, photo and social media.
      • I will also select a review from Amazon or Goodreads that I feel has the best selling pitch for the book.
      • If your book is very recent and as yet has not received a review then I will share one from a previous book.
      • This series is open to all authors both those on the Bookshelf or new to the blog
      • I suggest an extract of approximately 500 words or a poem that you feel best reflects the theme of your collection.
      • If you have an illustration or images you can attach to the email for me to include. No need to send the cover as I will have that or will access from Amazon.
      • If you have not featured on the blog before then I will need Amazon link, Goodreads, blog or website plus your social media links (main three you use)
      • Please send your extract and any accompanying images to

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Breakfast Show with William Price King and Sally Cronin – Chart Hits 1991 Part Two – Extreme, Lenny Kravitz, Whitney Houston, Bryan Adams

Welcome to our show and we are excited to share decades of music with you in 2022.

Here is my second selection of top 1991 hits which I hope you will enjoy.

Extreme – More than words

“More than words,” composed by Nuno Bittencourt and Gary Cherone is from the album “Pornograffitti.” This ballad was built around acoustic guitar work by Bettencourt with vocals by Cherone and was a detour from the funk metal style generally associated with the group. It became a mega hit and made it to the #1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100, the #2 spot in the UK and the top 10 around the globe.

June 18th “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” single released by Bryan Adams (Billboard Song of the Year, 1991) 

Lenny Kravitz – It ain’t over ‘til it’s over 

“It ain’t over ‘til it’s over” was written and produced by Lenny Kravitz for his second album. The title is based on a Yogi-ism, or quotation from Yogi Berra: “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” This was Kravitz’s most successful single on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #2. It also reached the #2 spot on the Canadian RPM Top Singles chart and #11 on the UK Singles Chart.

September 10th Rock band Nirvana release their single “Smells like Teen Spirit”, often dubbed the anthem of Generation X 

Here are my second picks from 1991

Bryan Adams  -Can’t Stop This Thing We Started

“Can’t Stop This Thing We Started” is a song by Canadian singer-songwriter Bryan Adams. The song was written by Adams and Robert John “Mutt” Lange, and was the second single released from Adams’ sixth studio album, Waking Up the Neighbours (1991), after “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You”. The song peaked at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100 while topping the Canadian RPM Top Singles chart for three non-consecutive weeks. The track received two nominations at the Grammy Awards of 1992 for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance, Solo. Bryan Adams

November 23rd Freddie Mercury, 45, confirms he has AIDS the day before he dies 

Whitney Houston – All the Man That I Need

“All the Man That I Need” is a song written by Dean Pitchford and Michael Gore. The song was first recorded as “All the Man I Need” by Linda Clifford for her album I’ll Keep on Loving You (1982). In 1990, American singer Whitney Houston had a number-one multiple chart hit with this song, recorded as “All the Man That I Need”, from her third album I’m Your Baby Tonight (1990), it reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100; it remains her fourth biggest-hit in that chart. Whitney Houston

December 9th 2nd Billboard Music Awards: Michael Jackson, Billy Ray Cyrus, Boyz II Men & U2 win 

Additional sources: On This Day – Music – Hits of the 80s: Playback FMWikipedia

Your Hosts for The Breakfast Show

William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.

His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.

While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.

Blog– IMPROVISATION William Price King on Tumblr – Buy William’s music: William Price King iTunes – FacebookWilliam Price King – Twitter@wpkofficial
Regular Venue – Cave Wilson

Sally Cronin is an author, blogger and broadcaster who enjoyed four years as part of the team on Onda Cero International’s English speaking morning show in Marbella and then for two years as a presenter on Expressfm the local radio station in Portsmouth. She co-presented two ‘Drive Time’ shows a week with Adrian Knight, hosted the live Thursday Afternoon Show and The Sunday Morning Show guests including musicians and authors. Following this she became Station Director for a local internet television station for two years, producing and presenting the daily news segment, outside broadcasts and co-presenting the Adrian and Sally chat show live on Friday evenings.

She and her husband David have now returned to Ireland where they live on the Wexford Coast where she blogs and continues to write books.

Books :Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – More reviews: Goodreads – blog: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Twitter: @sgc58 – Facebook: Sally Cronin – LinkedIn: Sally Cronin

Next week 1992 Part One – We hope you will tune in.. as always we love to hear from you.. thanks William and Sally.

Smorgasbord Bookshelf – Meet the Authors 2022 – Personal Recommendations – #Children – #Travel Darlene Foster, #Safety Miriam Hurdle, #Mystery Elizabeth Merry

In this first feature for the Smorgasbord Bookshelf I am sharing authors whose books I have read and can personally recommend along with one of my reviews for their books.

The first author writes for children, Darlene Foster, and her travel series featuring Amanda is hugely popular. I have read Amanda in Malta:The Sleeping Lady (An Amanda Travels Adventure Book 8)

Meet Darlene Foster

Growing up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, Darlene Foster dreamt of writing, traveling the world, and meeting interesting people. She also believed in making her dreams come true. It’s no surprise she’s now the award-winning author of Amanda Travels, a children’s adventure series featuring a spunky twelve-year-old who loves to travel to unique places. Readers of all ages enjoy following Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another. When not traveling herself, Darlene divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca, Spain with her husband and entertaining rescue dogs, Dot and Lia.

A selection of other books by Darlene Foster


My review for Amanda in Malta May 2021

This book is a fantastic mystery thriller for young readers. It would also be a wonderful guidebook for anyone visiting Malta with their family and wanting to get the most out of their time of this ancient Mediterranean island.

Amanda and her friends Caleb and Leah get involved in two potentially dangerous criminal activities as they explore the island with Caleb’s parents, unsuspecting of the younger generation’s involvement in solving mysteries sounding missing artifacts and endangered wildlife.

We get a guided tour of some of the main tourist attractions on and around the islands, including churches with miracles and artifacts, museums, the falconry centre and the Popeye theme park. As in any well written adventure stories, there are some heart stopping moments, as nature and criminals do their best to ruin the holiday, but the resourceful teens are on a mission to solve the mysteries.

The author has created some wonderful characters to undertake this well researched and entertaining adventure, and developed an exciting plot for young readers and those of us who are delighted to tag along.

I lived in Malta as a child and have returned since, and I appreciated the attention to detail about the history of the three main islands and tourist attractions. Not to mention a reminder of sunlit blue seas and the delicious Patizzi.. pastry filled with Ricotta cheese.

Recommended as an entertaining, exciting and educational read for anyone from young teen upwards.

Find out more about Darlene’s books and read the reviews: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Website/Blog: Darlene Foster WordPressGoodreads: Goodreads – Twitter: @supermegawoman

Another poet and children’s author I have enjoyed reading this year is Miriam Hurdle and I hope that this first book is not the last for the younger generation.

Meet Miriam Hurdle

Miriam Hurdle is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She published four children’s books at twenty-six years old. Her poetry collection received the Solo “Medalist Winner” for the New Apple Summer eBook Award and achieved bestseller status on Amazon.

Miriam writes poetry, short stories, memoir, and children’s books. She earned a Doctor of Education from the University of La Verne in California. After two years of rehabilitation counseling, fifteen years of public-school teaching and ten years in school district administration, she retired and enjoys life with her husband in southern California, and the visits to her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters in Oregon. When not writing, she engages in blogging, gardening, photography, and traveling.

Books by Miriam Hurdle.

My review for the Tina Lost in a Crowd April 2021

This is a beautiful picture book that carries an important message even very young children will benefit from.

School holidays are to be enjoyed, with a mix of fun and learning experiences that broaden a child’s knowledge about their environment and surroundings, but some do come with risks that even with the best will in the world, can ruin a special outing.

The setting is spectacular at a classical music concert in the Hollywood Bowl. This of course comes with an audience of thousands of people, and it is easy for a small child to slip from a parent’s hand or wander off in a brief moment when a back is turned. Every parent’s nightmare.

Thankfully in the story, Tina and Erica benefit from a mother’s wise words to her child to keep them safe, and what might have been a distressing situation ends well.

I applaud the author for the flow of the story which is easy to follow and carries nuggets of wisdom for both parents and children. The illustrations are beautifully drawn and brightly coloured to catch the eye of a child and enhance the story as it unfolds. Highly recommended.

Read the reviews and buy the collection also in Spanish and Portuguese: Amazon US – And:Amazon UK Goodreads: Miriam Hurdle –Blog: The Showers of Blessings – Twitter: @mhurdle112

Another children’s book that I enjoyed was by poet and author Elizabeth Merry and I can also recommend her poetry book too.

Meet Elizabeth Merry

Elizabeth Merry was born in Bangor, Co Down in the province of Ulster but has spent most of her life in Co Dublin. She has been writing for many years and has previously published a novel for children and many short stories. “We All Die in the End” is a series of interlinked “scenes” set in a seaside town on the Ulster coast where most people know each other. It is a book filled with miserable couples, meddling siblings, or individuals struggling to survive. Some of the “scenes” are twisted, some are macabre, and more than a few deal with abusive relationships. But there is joy here too, and a lot of dark humour.

Elizabeth has recently published a collection of poetry, much of which has been published over the years in literary magazines. Also two children’s books, Ghost’s in Trouble and Felix Finds Out.

Books in the Children’s Reading Room and the Cafe and Bookstore by Elizabeth Merry.

My review for Felix Finds Out July 2021

I stepped back in time to my childhood and my enjoyment of the adventures of The Famous Five and The Secret Seven by Enid Blyton.

Felix Finds Out is a full length novel for slightly older children and adults who wish to revisit the enjoyment of reading a well written adventure containing all the classic elements needed such as realistic plot, wonderful characters, heroes and villains, and a wicked witch….of sorts.

I loved the individual natures of the co-conspirators, on a mission to discover what the school caretaker has been up to, which might have a disastrous knock on effect on Felix’s future. The group grows from the solitary Felix anxious to hide his family situation, to include Samantha the worldly planner, shy Hubert who is the technical support and Joanne, slight but feisty.

This intrepid band of crime fighters are putting themselves at risk but at the same time forming a friendship that will strengthen them all for the potentially dangerous climax to the story.

The author writes with flow and clearly knows the minds of children and young teens caught between being a child and a young adult with all the angst that goes with it. Elizabeth Merry evolves the characters over the story giving them plenty of opportunity to grow and shine.

A very enjoyable read I have no hesitation in recommending the book.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – Follow Elizabeth: Goodreads Blog: Embookstuff WordPress – Twitter: @ElizabethMerry1


Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Travel Column Rewind with D.G. Kaye – #Cruises Part Two – Ship Tips, Deals and Dining

There is good news finally on the availability of cruises in 2022 although it is important to keep up to date with current Covid restrictions in place. It is almost certain that vaccine passports will be required and PCR testing or similar evidence of non-infection required.

Here is an update from one of the cruising websites that shares how busy the year is likely to be for bookings.

“As travel begins to return in greater numbers following the COVID-19 pandemic, the future of cruise will continue to evolve in 2022 and beyond.

Pent-up demand already has led to a huge surge in bookings in 2022 and 2023 from cruisers who have had their trips canceled or delayed because of the pandemic as well as new bookings from people who foresee cruising coming back safer than ever.

A couple of examples of this: Oceania’s world cruise for 2023 sold out within one day of opening for sale to the public January 27, 2021. And river cruise operator Uniworld has seen a 425 percent year-on-year increase in late 2021 and 2022 bookings to exotic destinations like India, Vietnam and Egypt.” Adam Coulter Cruise Critic

Last time Debby Gies (D. G. Kaye) shared some important information on cruise lines, the various standards of cabins available, and the best place on the ship to be if the weather is a bit choppy. Here is the link to Part One

Cruises – Part Two – Ship Tips

In my first post in this series I covered what to look for when considering booking a cruise. Today I’m going to cover some of the activities available while on a cruise, and some tips on how to save money when booking those activities.

Packaged Deals

Many cruise lines offer package deals you can purchase pre-cruise or while onboard such as beverage packages. Yes, it’s true that soda pop, tea, coffee, and some juices are free to drink while onboard, but beer and alcohol, bottled water, specialty drinks and coffees, smoothies, etc. are not part of free.

If you’ve re-booked a cruise on a previous sailing or if you luck into a promo offer at the time of your booking, often cruise liners will offer you bonus incentives at bonus pricing. With Celebrity, their promos change often and depending when you book you will be offered to choose 2 or 3 packages to add on to your cruise FREE. The choices can be anywhere from a drink package (including alcohol), your tips paid for the entire cruise, a $200 – $300 onboard credit (my fav!), or free wifi (rare but I managed to catch one). So do make sure to check on the special offers to get the best bang for your bucks while booking. You can always book a drink package of your choice once onboard, but typically, you’ll get a better deal when pre-booking your packages.

Note: I highly recommend if you aren’t offered a free drink package, to buy one at a reasonable price comparatively to paying for each drink you consume on the whole cruise. Without a prepaid all you can drink package the price of alcoholic beverages and any specialty drinks can add up to well over $1000 if you’re taking a 2 week cruise. For example, premium bottled water will run you close to $4 a bottle. On a hot pool day I have no trouble drinking at least 6-8 bottles a day. And that’s not counting a specialty coffee in the afternoon and a cocktail or two before dinner then wine with dinner. I would have no problem spending at least $80 a day just in beverages!


When purchasing drinks, sundries or any other service related product while onboard, you just use your ship card to make those purchases. The card is your method of payment for anything purchased onboard without having to carry money around. When purchasing service related products, you can expect to see a service charge added to your bill if your purchase isn’t included in a package.

You will also be expected to leave tips at the end of your cruise to your cabin steward and restaurant staff who have served you nightly in the dining room. These tips are pre- calculated on a daily basis and will vary from ship to ship but will typically run at approximately $12 a day per person. This is where choosing the ‘tipping package’ will save you a few hundred dollars, already paid for. Some passengers get angry over this tipping charge and if you find it a problem, you can always go to the front concierge desk and ask them to remove the charges from your room bill. But I will state that the staffers work hard and many long hours daily, so my take is that it’s relatively cheap to tip those amounts compared to if you were to tip every single time you were served food or ordered a drink. My husband and I always drop an extra $20 or more to our favorite or most helpful staff to show our appreciation but use your discretion.


Wifi is available on all ships and unless you were lucky enough to book a free bonus wifi package you will have to purchase separately. You will be able to choose how many days you’d like your wifi for as you may not want to take it for the whole cruise. But if you’re someone who relies on using your mobiles, tablets or laptops daily, I highly suggest you take the package deal offered for the whole cruise, it often works out cheaper.

Alternatively, if you find you’d prefer a technology-free vacation and only wish to check on your emails etc., you can take your device with you off the ship when you’re docked at port and log in at a variety of coffee shops or terminals at ports which offer free wifi. You will also have access to the ship’s internet room where you can use their computer’s free of charge.

There are often lineups to use those computers so use your discretion what is worth more to you.


Sightseeing and beach excursion packages are offered both pre-cruise and onboard for each port. Depending on where you’re cruising to will help you determine if you’re better off booking a planned tour or going off on your own to explore. If you’re new to cruising, it may be a good idea to book a tour with the ship. All tours offer a pick-up and drop-off right outside where your ship is docked. But if you’re a seasoned cruiser like me and are returning to ports you are familiar with you may choose to hire a taxi (plenty at the ports) and perhaps invite another couple to share the ride and go wherever you like for a lot less money.

Taking a taxi to your own choice of destination – be it beaches or shopping, allows you the freedom to take your time and not be rushed to meet back at a bus. Just remember to be back at the designated time the cruise ship posts for sailing. You can go to a beach and pay a nominal fee to rent a beach chair and towel from a hotel or take your own towel and pack a few drinks and/or lunch to take with you and stay on a beach.

If you’re cruising to places other than a warm, winter getaway such as Europe, you will undoubtedly be spending much of your time touring. I would suggest once you’ve chosen your itinerary for that cruise to check out the ship’s offered excursion packages to see what tours they’re offering with all fees included – transportation, meals and entrance fees. It’s also a good idea to check out those tourist avenues online to see if it works out cheaper to book directly with them for entrance tickets and what a taxi would cost to get there.


Oh yes, one of my favorite events on any vacation, but especially fun when cruising to Caribbean islands. The best part of shopping in many of the Caribbean islands is the duty-free prices!

Besides shopping at the ports, there is plenty of shopping to be had right onboard the ship. All ships have various stores on their promenade levels offering anything from clothing to sundries to designer goods, tobacco and alcohol, and of course . . . jewelry! Many of these items are at duty-free prices. You will also find many ports offering duty-free shops of the same with a variety of jewelry stores with prices unmatched anywhere else. So if you’re interested in bringing home a sparkly souvenir from your vacation and want some good recommendations about which stores to shop, you’re ship will offer a channel on your cabin’s TV where they’ll inform you about best places to shop at each port as well as offer seminars onboard with a host who will educate you on the jewelry available at the upcoming port, what is popular on a particular island, and what to look for when purchasing.

I can tell you flat out that your biggest selection of jewelry with the best prices is in St. Martin. The whole Front St. is lined with one jewelry store after another! This can be overwhelming, causing tough decisions about what to buy when all that glitter flashes upon you (ladies) lol.

And words of advice: Never pay the asking price! Bargain, bargain, bargain! Trust me, shop owners hate to see you walk away empty handed so if you’re not thrilled about a price but feel you ‘must have that ring’, try walking out of a store. Once you’ve shown interest in an item believe me, they’ll chase you down the street trying to make you a happy customer.

Offering cash for an item will often bring down the price further. And don’t forget to get an appraisal receipt with your purchase. I promise you, you will be blown away once you bring that item home and take it for appraisal to your own jeweler. Often the savings can be 100% and more! Then once you’ve found that jewelry store you’re happy with, you’re best off to shop there the next time you cruise because you’re in their system and you will become a preferred customer.

I remember the first time my husband and I vacationed in St. Martin. He bought me a gold watch with a diamond face. Okay. This was almost 22 years ago when we paid a paltry $1400 U.S. for that watch (after a few hours of bargaining, leaving and returning to it) and the watch came in at $3500 value once I got home and got it appraised. The prices are amazing because they are wholesale and duty-free without middlemen and taxes. Most seasoned winter cruisers don’t buy jewelry anywhere else until they reach St. Martin because despite jewelry available at many ports, nobody has the selection or prices as St. Martin does. But I will tell you a close second is in St. Thomas.

Note: If you do purchase jewelry and don’t plan on declaring it at customs (stories for another time), ask the salesperson to mail you the receipt and appraisal. Just sayin’!

Here’s a great little video to give you an idea what it’s like shopping in St. Martin


Depending on the cruise line you book with, when you book your cruise you’ll be asked which dinner seating you prefer. Because of the large number of passengers, the main dining room offers 2 seatings to choose from – usually 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm, and in the last few years began offering ‘select’ seating where you can go at anytime during the dinner hours but are forewarned the busiest times are between 6:30 and 7:30, so you may have to wait in line for a while. If you’re on top of things and choose select, you can reserve your chosen time earlier in the day.

Buffet option is also available for all meals, which is a nice option for those nights you don’t feeling like dressing up for dinner and don’t wish to eat a full 3 course meal. There are also specialty restaurants onboard you can reserve to eat at for an additional nominal fee.

Tip: Because meals are included, I rarely eat off the ship. On port days I’ll have my breakfast before disembarking and usually return by early afternoon and then I’ll grab some lunch at the buffet or at the BBQ grill. Just think! The money you save by eating onboard, you can spend on something else.

Beware: Regardless of whether you have a drink package or not, this will never include taking anything out from the mini bar in your cabin. You will pay dearly even for a bottle of water. What I like to do when I check in my room is have the cabin steward empty the fridge, mark everything down of its contents, and place it in a bag in the cupboard to make space for my own drinks I get at any one of the many bars onboard and then store in the mini bar.

This video will give you an idea about some of the food and dining options on a Celebrity cruise


Every ship offers daily and nightly activities. Each night an itinerary of the next day’s events is left in your cabin. Events involve games, contests, specials of the day, nightly theater productions, musical entertainment, wine tasting, theme parties, glass blowing, art auctions, movies, casino tournaments, water sport activities, seminars, library events – you name it, something for everyone.

Note: Not all ships are geared to catering to children. I can say that I’ve hardly seen any kids on a Celebrity cruise. But there are other cruise lines that cater to children offering mini classes, activities, babysitting and kid’s menus. From the feedback I’ve gathered, the Disney ships are magnificent for children.

All ships have spas on board. Some of the best masseuses work on ships. You will find a variety of different massages, hair salon, nail salon, yoga classes and a gym for your convenience.

Tip: The massages aren’t cheap but I always manage to sneak 1 or 2 in for a better price. I always use part of my free onboard credit to put towards a massage. And when the ship is in port and most people are off the ship for the day, the ship will offer a discount on massages and that’s when I book in my second massage.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my ship tips for today. Please share your experiences of cruise ships with us. Debby

©D.G. Kaye 2018

Another fantastic tutorial on how to best enjoy and get the best value for money during your cruise vacation. I certainly did not know a fraction of this and will take it on board….(sorry).

About D.G. Kaye

Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.

When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.

I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.


“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”

“For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

Books by D.G. Kaye

One of the reviews for Have Bags Will Travel

marjorie mallon5.0 out of 5 stars A fun travel/shopping memoir which will have you laughing  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 21 February 2021

This is such a hoot, what a laugh!

Have Bags Will Travel is such an entertaining read which gives you an insight into D G Kaye’s character, her shopping obsession, packing troubles, germaphobia, and brushes with airport security. Enjoy her recollections on the glamour and glitz, her love to travel and a nostalgic aspect to it all.

Her friend Zan shares her shopaholic tendencies too. The two of them together… can you imagine? A red head, blonde explosion of zaniness! I love the part when they end up at Buckingham Palace and chat to a Beefeater, the royal guard and after which… it gets funnier by the moment.

Have Bags Will Travel gives a historical account of how much easier it used to be to take overstuffed baggage through airports in the good old days. Now, it seems that D G Kaye will resort to anything to get her shopping home.

Zan and D G Kaye also travel to Paris and end up shopping for shoes!

There are manmade toboggan rides in Muskoka, Canada.

Trips to Venezuela: Margarita Island and Caracas with cousin Eileen.

Las Vegas, Then and Now – gambling/casinos, fond memories of the author’s love of the desert.

Have Bags Will Travel is just what we need right now, a good giggle! There is also a section at the back of the book with Helpful Travel tips.

A short, entertaining read. Highly recommended, especially for the shopoholics and travel enthusiasts in your life!  

Read all the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – follow Debby: Goodreads – Blog: D.G. Kaye Writer – About me: D.G. Kaye – Twitter: @pokercubster Linkedin: D.G. Kaye – Facebook: D.G. Kaye – Instagram: D.G. Kaye – Pinterest: D.G. Kaye

My thanks to Debby for sharing her tips for enjoying your cruise and as always she loves to hear from you.