About Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.

My name is Sally Cronin and I am doing what I love.. Writing. Books, short stories, Haiku and blog posts. My previous jobs are only relevant in as much as they have gifted me with a wonderful filing cabinet of memories and experiences which are very useful when putting pen to paper. I move between non-fiction health books and posts and fairy stories, romance and humour. I love variety which is why I called my blog Smorgasbord Invitation and you will find a wide range of subjects. You can find the whole story here. Find out more at https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/about-me/

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up 8th -14th December – Make a Wish, Choirs, Cranberries, A-Z Christmas and Cheesy funnies!

Before we get into the posts you might have missed this week on the blog, a reminder about the Christmas Party on the 21st of December…

The theme for this year’s party is Just One Wish. We are all familiar with the story of Cinderella and her Fairy Godmother, who was pretty liberal with that magic wand of hers and managed to turn a pumpkin into a golden carriage.

Unfortunately, she has long since retired and hung up her wand, but because I asked nicely (and she would like me to promote her memoir – The Prince Charmings I have Known!) she has agreed to allow you all one wish.

  • Your wish can be for anything you like, for you, for someone close to you, real, imaginary, massive such as world peace (that might be a bit of a stretch for her) or something you wish you had done or said in the past.
  • Humour is very welcome as it is tough for anyone to deny you anything if you make them laugh, and this particular Fairy Godmother has a very active funny bone.
  • Her memory is not as sharp as it used to be, and her attention tends to wander, so I suggest you keep your wish to 100 words or less. I cannot guarantee that your wish will be fulfilled, however, putting it out there could produce magical results.
  • My part of this is to fit in as many of your requests in as possible and so I suggest you get your wish in as quickly as you can.
  • I will also do the usual addition of links to your Amazon Page if you are an author, blog as well as one of your main social media.
  • There will be younger family members at the party, so please bear that in mind when submitting your wish, and the Fairy Godmother is not very worldly!

If you are a regular visitor to the blog I will have all your details and just need your ‘one wish’ in an email to sally.cronin@moyhill.com

If a new visitor then please include your blog or website, Amazon link if you have one and your main social media link to sally.cronin@moyhilll.com.

Now time for this week’s posts and as always my thanks to the regular contributors who share such wonderful articles.  And to you for keep showing up with your amazing support.

I am so pleased that William Price King will be a sharing a selection of Christmas music to get us into the festive spirit up to Christmas Day.. enjoy.

Here is another of our posts where I share the nutritional benefits of an ingredient and Carol Taylor incorporates it in a delicious recipe. Next week Carol will be back to share some of her creations from her Thai kitchen offering you some alternative delicacies to eat over the festive season. This week… ..Cranberries – a bitter berry which has a long history in medicinal terms and is still used today in certain over the counter preparations.

Christmas Cook From Scratch – Cranberries Bittersweet

The A-Z of Christmas in Britain – Part Three – Holly and Ivy to Sprouts by Mike Biles

Mince Pies, Christmas, Britain

Mike Biles A – Z of Christmas – Holly & Ivy to Sprouts

Delighted to share a story by Victoria Zigler from the book Ulrike’s Christmas and you can find details of how to buy this book and Victoria’s many other children’s books after her story.

The Tinsel Story by Victoria Zigler

As a special treat, Linda Bethea is sharing another wonderfully entertaining story from her archives, and today we experience a Christmas from the depression that was still filled with homemade gifts, love, laughter and some retribution for past misdemeanours.

Kathleen’s Cuthand Christmas (from Kathleen’s memoirs of the depression) by Linda Bethea

Most of you will know Carol Taylor from her Food and Cookery Column here on Smorgasbord as well as her own eclectic blog located in Thailand, where she shares the wonderful food on her doorstep and recipes that turn them into delicious meals. Carol has shared a very poignant short story.

The Snow Storm by Carol Taylor

This week the prompt words are ‘Give and Shake’ for Colleen’s Tuesday Poetry Challenge 157 And I have chosen the synonyms ‘Grant and Tremble’ in a Butterfly Cinquain.

I Grant you Permission by Sally Cronin

I grant
you permission
to abandon restraint
and tremble with ecstatic bursts
of joy.
It is the time of chocolate
and freedom to consume
as many bars
you wish.

©Sally Cronin 2019

This week on the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills we were tasked on writing a story about a garden gnome or gnomes…mine is loosely based on an alleged true event…

Carrot Ranch – Missing by Sally Cronin

I was given a gift of this lovely anthology and over the last few days I have enjoyed the stories, imagining myself on a front porch swing enjoying balmy breezes somewhere in the southern states of America.. having lived in Texas and visited Tennessee and Mississippi frequently, it did not take much imagination.

My review for Southern Season Stories from a Front Porch Swing

New books on the Shelves for Christmas

#Children 3 – 6 Oskar’s Quest by Annika Perry

Author updates with recent reviews

#Romance Karen Demers Dowdall, #Thriller Toni Pike, #Design Valentina Cirasola, #Memoir J.E. Pinto

#Romance P.C. Zick, #Fantasy Jim Webster, #Thriller Stevie Turner, #Poetry Balroop Singh

YA A.J. Alexander, Romance Christine Campbell, Family Claire Fullerton, PostApocalyptic Sandra J. Jackson

Fantasy Deborah Jay, Memoir Abbie Taylor Johnson, History adventure Andrew Joyce, thriller Daniel Kemp

#Poetry Lynda McKinney Lambert, #Memoir Marian Beaman, #Thriller JP McLean, #Romance Shehanne Moore

Wendy Janes shares the differences in proofreading fiction and non-fiction and it is very interesting.

Musings on Proofreading Fiction and Non-Fiction

Robbie Cheadle who is an experienced book reviewer shares her easy to follow methodology on writing a review.

Robbie Cheadle on how to write a book review

Review D.G. Kaye, Contest Kaye Lynne Booth, Christmas Cake Robbie Cheadle

Story Contest Stevie Turner, Flash Fiction Charli Mills, Book Review Angie Quantrell

#Q&A D.G. Kaye with Lisa Thomson, #Jacksparrow Dolly Aizenman, #Redwine Christy Birmingham

It is that time of year when we tend to throw caution out of the window along with any slimming books and fitness apps we might have (well some of us anyway).

Unfortunately, our pets are also treated to our sense of liberation and they end up eating many things they are not used to. Also their eating patterns might be thrown out the window, and in my experience their inner body clock is more accurate than a Rolex. This does not make for happy pets. Some treats are toxic to pets and can lead to not just stomach upsets but death.

Safe Christmas Treats and Homecooked dinners for Dogs and Cats.

More funnies from D.G. Kaye and a festive recipe from. Sally!

More funnies from D.G. Kaye and a joke for Sally.

Thank you so much for dropping in today and every time you pop by. Your support is very much appreciated and I always love to hear from you… even if it is to say Hi… thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction – Missing by Sally Cronin

This week on the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge by Charli Mills we were tasked on writing a story about a garden gnome or gnomes…mine is loosely based on an alleged true event…

Missing by Sally Cronin

Eunice loved her garden gnomes and each birthday her husband would buy her another for the collection. Then one July, her favourite, a right Jack the lad, with a red jacket and green trousers was stolen. She was heartbroken and even put up missing posters to no avail. Then the postcards started arriving from all over Europe. ‘Having great time, see you soon. Love Jack.’ Sure enough one morning in October, Eunice looked out the window to see him back in his usual place. Her husband smirked. ‘I see the students are back after their summer holidays my love!’

©Sally Cronin 2019

If you would like to participate in the challenge then please head over to Charli’s: Carrot Ranch Challenge December 13th.

My latest release contains a section of flash fiction as well as verse and speculative short stories..

Amazon £3.50:Amazon UK

And $4.53: Amazon US

Thank you for dropping in today and as always your feedback is very welcome..Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Christmas – Festive Stories – Snow Storm by Carol Taylor

Most of you will know Carol Taylor from her Food and Cookery Column here on Smorgasbord as well as her own eclectic blog located in Thailand, where she shares the wonderful food on her doorstep and recipes that turn them into delicious meals.

Carol also is passionate about the environment and has some down to earth things to say about our contribution to the state of the world, and the loss of habitat leading to the extinction of far too many species. You will also find her quirky and whimsical sense of humour coming through in all her posts..

Connect to Carol via her blog and enjoy posts on healthy eating, conservation, waste management, travel and amazing recipes: Carol Cooks 2

Carol also writes short stories and contributed to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology Amazon US

Which leads me to the reason you are here today, which is to read the poignant short story by Carol that I am sure you will enjoy.

Snow Storm by Carol Taylor

The snow was coming down thick and fast, the weather had changed from a few light flurries of snow which didn’t settle, into a raging blizzard with frightening speed. The wind screen wipers struggling to keep the snow off the windscreen, it was building up with alarming speed and ferocity, Jenny knew if she didn’t get to Sally’s soon she would have to stop and clear the windscreen as her driving visibility was fading fast the windscreen wipers getting slower and slower as the snow built up, she was squinting to see clearly. There were already cars and lorries abandoned on the roadside, the weather was getting pretty dire and Jenny was getting worried.

Wearing heels and a short dress was definitely not the most suitable clothing to brave the elements, if she had to get out of the car and walk.

To make matters even worse she had forgotten to put her warm jacket and boots in the car, well, the weather man had said a mild Christmas was on the cards.

I hope Sally is ready, and I don’t have to wait or we will be lucky to get to mum’s in time for lunch. Then snow or no snow she will have something to say. Jenny could just hear her mother…

“I see the pair of you turned up just in time to eat and I suppose you will both be off soon after, some work excuse or other, you don’t think about your old mum and dad spending most of Christmas alone do you?  Just wait until you have kids and they treat your home like a restaurant. Then you will know how we feel, you mark my words.”

“There will be no both of us now mum” Jenny thought.

The car spluttered to a halt outside Sally’s little flat. Jenny could hardly see out of the windows and she recalled that time 10 years ago when getting out of the car had also been a struggle as she battled the wind and driving snow while trying to open her car door, how she struggled up the path to the front door her face stinging from the driving snow.

Stamping her feet to remove the snow as she went up the steps to Sally’s front door, how the door was swinging backwards and forwards in the wind and how she thought that Sally couldn’t have closed it properly when she came home last night.

Jenny remembered calling Sally’s name as she stepped inside the tiny flat, how the heat hit her and how she involuntarily shivered and felt a chill run through her.

How the kitchen was tidy except for last night’s dinner plate in the sink, the cat was mewing outside sounding desperate to come into the warm, his scratching getting more and more frantic, breaking the silence.

The living room was quiet except for the Christmas tunes that Sally loved, playing quietly in the background, the tree lights twinkled, the presents unopened around the little tree, except for one which lay on the chair the pretty wrapping paper discarded on the floor.

Tap, tap on the window, the noise made Jenny jump it was Mrs. Brown next door saying.

“Come on in lovie don’t sit out here all on your own, you will freeze to death. Come on in and have a hot toddy with us before you go to your mum’s.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Brown I was just……

“Oh love, don’t cry said Mrs Brown. Sally has gone, she is not coming back, you know that don’t you?”

“I know, said Jenny tears running down her cheeks, I know.”

©Carol Taylor 2019

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

Carol Taylor’s Food and Cookery Column 2019

Cook from Scratch to avoid Nutritional Deficiency with Sally Cronin and Carol Taylor

Connect to Carol via her blog and enjoy posts on healthy eating, conservation, waste management, travel and amazing recipes: Carol Cooks 2

Connect to Carol – Facebook  Twitter

Thank you for dropping in and I know Carol would be delighted to hear from you.. thanks Sally.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – #Poetry Lynda McKinney Lambert, #Memoir Marian Longenecker Beaman, #Thriller J.P. Mclean, #Romance Shehanne Moore

Welcome to this year’s Christmas book fair where I will be sharing the books of all the authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore with their most recent review in the last six months. I will be selecting authors at random so that there is something for everyone in the post.

The first author today who writes beautiful poetry is Lynda McKinney Lambert with her recently released collection of poems: Star Signs.

About the collection

Lynda Lambert covers a wide terrain of subjects and topics in this new book, from lights to legends to seasons, treating us to images and metaphors about plants, people and weather.

She opens this large collection with the title poem, Star Signs, which walks us through the alphabet as it digs through thoughts, emotions and observations, “Using star signs to map out new terrain.”Throughout this book of poems, these gems of poetic creation shimmer like beads on her fabric art, like bold brush strokes of color on her paintings, and reflect light like the gemstones on her prize–winning piece of mixed–media fiber artwork. It seems this entire collection is like a multifaceted mural.Her attentiveness to nature and strong reflections from memory have woven from a collage of remnants a beautiful tapestry for us.

It offers a wonderful feast for the eyes and the mind.—Wesley D. Sims, author of Taste of Change Painting in Mid–October Autumn’s morning light revealed changes Undermined the scarlet–red palette taking center stage on the painting Undulating rain cast gray–violet hues Misty diffusion brought a new perspective Not anticipated yesterday Aroused the softened brush strokes Layered over the primed canvas.Dying is a careful arrangement A graceful staged performance Yellow leaves are faithful dancers Spectacular choreography!

One of the early reviews for the book

Discover more about Lynda’s books: Amazon US

And : Amazon UK

Connect to Lynda via her website: Lynda Lambert

Christmas…In my house…Traditions, Treats and a touch of Trivia…

Carol Taylor continues her series on Christmas at her house in Thailand and this week, instead of buying supermarket sliced ham, how about curing your own ham… a step by step guide and looks amazing.. plus a cocktail on the side.. homemade lemoncello…. break out the vodka… #recommended

Retired? No one told me!

As Christmas is not celebrated here our Christmas is far more low key…Not so frantic as it was in the UK…I do miss the atmosphere and the build-up but I don’t miss all the crowds and the must-have this as it does take away from the real meaning where family and friends get together and enjoy each other’s company…

Today however we have received a lovely parcel of goodies including chocolate and cheeses lovely little truckles of assorted cheeses…I am looking forward to sampling these over Christmas with some nice onion chutney…

What is a truckle of cheese some of you may ask…A truckle of cheese is a cylindrical wheel of cheese, usually taller than it is wide, and sometimes described as barrel-shaped. The word is derived from the Latin trochlea, ‘wheel, pulley’. Truckles vary greatly in size, from the wax-coated cheeses sold in supermarkets, to 25 kilograms or…

View original post 1,034 more words

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Writer Mike Biles – A Bit About Britain – The A-Z of Christmas in Britain – Part Three – Holly and Ivy to Sprouts

Delighted to welcome Mike Biles, author of A Bit About Britain’s History as a guest writer until the end of the year. And up to Christmas, Mike will be sharing the background some of the Christmas traditions we enjoy in Britain in his A – Z.

BTW: I can recommend the book as a great gift to any history buffs in the family both in the UK and abroad…and you here is my Review

In Part Two of the Christmas A – Z Mike shared the traditions behind Christmas Dinner to Figgy Pudding.

Christmas, Britain

The A-Z of Christmas in Britain – Part Three – Holly and Ivy to Sprouts

Holly and ivy

Here again we are reminded of the ancient rites we celebrate each Christmas. Holly was used by the Romans to decorate their homes during Saturnalia, and they would send sprigs to friends to wish them health and well-being. Ivy has been regarded as a symbol of everlasting life for centuries and was sacred to Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, and Osiris, the Egyptian judge of the dead. Some associate holly with male and ivy with female; some with Jesus and Mary. Christians have also associated holly with the crown of thorns that Christ wore on the cross, with the bright red berries representing drops of blood.

Some believe that ivy should not be used inside the house for decoration – and I have certainly never seen it, though Christmas would not be the same without some holly about the place (not before Christmas Eve, though). The carol, ‘the Holly and the Ivy’, is an old folk hymn – and I have to say that it always sounds very ancient, almost pagan, to me; something about the rising of the sun and the running of the deer…

Merry Christmas

We can say ‘Happy Christmas’ or ‘Merry Christmas’ – but we don’t say ‘Merry Birthday’, or Merry Anniversary’ (etc). Does this suggest we don’t want people to be joyous on their birthdays? I haven’t found a satisfactory explanation for this – not one that doesn’t ramble, anyway. ‘Merry’ is an older word than ‘happy’ and used to mean ‘favourable, pleasant’. ‘God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen’ (note the comma) is an old carol and the phrase means something like, ‘stay well, chaps’. Merry Christmas was used extensively in Victorian Britain – the first Christmas card said, ‘A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you.’ But by this time, the meaning of ‘merry’ had changed to ‘mirthful’ – and could also mean ‘slightly tipsy’. So the temperance brigade may have preferred to use ‘happy’. My own fudge on the subject is that it’s generally bad English to use the same adjective twice in the same sentence, so if you are wishing someone seasonal greetings for Christmas and the New Year you have to choose a different one for each; and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year sounds better than Happy Christmas and Merry New Year, even though either would be appropriate.

Mince Pies, Christmas, Britain

Mince pies

There’s a theory that eating a mince pie every day over the Christmas period is good for you.

Mince pies are small round pies with a sweet filling of mincemeat, not – as you may imagine – mincemeat. The mincemeat that goes into mince pies is a mixture of currants, raisins, candied peel, apple, spices, brandy, suet and sugar. The meat component was dropped a long time ago. Originally, mince pies were emblematical of the manger in which Jesus lay, and were shaped accordingly; they became round, allegedly, because the puritans disliked the symbolism.


Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows on the branches of deciduous host trees, including oak, apple and birch. The European variety has pale green foliage, long, oval, leaves and clusters of milky-white berries. The Christmas tradition is to hang up a sprig or two and, should a woman stand underneath then a man may kiss her. The mistletoe must never touch the ground, for that brings bad luck. In days gone by, a berry had to be plucked for each kiss and, when no berries were left there could be no more kissing. In these less wasteful times, though, the berries are left on for as long as possible; a wonderful ice-breaker.

The Druids who practised their religion in these islands before the Romans came believed that mistletoe was sacred and had magical, healing, properties. Apparently, it really does – though, confusingly, the berries can be deadly poisonous, so do not eat them. There is, inevitably, an association with fertility; it has even been suggested that the berries were associated with semen. It’s anyone’s guess how the kissing started, though…

Legend has it that the god Balder, son of Odin and Frigg, was killed by a mistletoe arrow given to his blind brother, Hoder, by Loki, the god of mischief. Balder was restored to life but Frigg determined that mistletoe should never again be an instrument of evil, until it touched the earth.

The name mistletoe comes from the Anglo Saxon word for dung, mistel, and twig, tan, reflecting the observation that the plant is propagated by birds eating the berries and depositing their waste on the branches of trees.

Nativity plays

A Nativity play (from the Latin nātīvitas, meaning birth) tells the story of the birth of Jesus and is a common feature of any decent primary school’s Christmas calendar. It usually features the shepherds, wise men, the fully booked innkeeper and a cast of animals ranging from the donkey to sheep and cows. In the 2003 film, ‘Love Actually’, they even remembered the Christmas lobster and octopus, which some versions of the Gospels omit to mention. It’s a wonderful opportunity for kids to perform, and all to be involved, though competition for the parts of Joseph and Mary can be fierce. I remember being intensely jealous of the toe-rag that got to hold Mary’s hand and was only slightly mollified by winning the coveted role of 2nd Centurion.

Legend has it that the first Nativity play was performed by St Francis of Assisi, in a one-man show to bring the story to life for people who could not read or write.

Nine lessons and carols

The carol service we are most familiar with today, the ‘Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols’, which tells the story of the Nativity interspersed with Christmas carols, was the creation of Edward White Benson (1829-1896), in 1880 when he was the first Bishop of Truro and Truro Cathedral was little more than a wooden shed. Benson went on to become Archbishop of Canterbury. The best-known form of that service was adapted by Eric Milner-White (1884-1963) at King’s College, Cambridge, and was first held on Christmas Eve in 1918. It is now broadcast around the world every Christmas. For more about this, see Kings and Carols

Kings College, Carols, Christmas Eve


Noël is simply French for Christmas, derived from the Latin natalis (dies) birth (day).

North Pole

We’re not really sure where Father Christmas (aka Santa Claus etc) lives, but a 19th century American cartoonist, Thomas Nast, suggested it might be the North Pole. No one knows where Thomas got his inside information from, but he possibly reached this conclusion from the knowledge that Santa’s reindeer lived somewhere northern and very cold, coupled with the fact that the North Pole is nicely remote and receives few visitors.


Pantomime is a uniquely British – some might even say English – form of seasonal entertainment. Based on a simple plot in which the goodies always win, such as a fairy story like ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ or ‘Cinderella’, it relies on skilful ham acting, audience participation, bad – and often topical – jokes, a bit of slap-stick and some singing and dancing. There are a few other essential ingredients: firstly, a pantomime dame, always played by a man, and a principle boy, always played by a girl. Those who don’t know any better suggest this is cross-dressing; it is not; the dame is meant to be a parody of a woman and the boy normally looks exactly like a girl. There has to be an outrageous villain, who attracts boos and hisses whenever s/he enters the stage. A fairy godmother is always useful to have around and, if animals are involved (including horses and cows), they have to be played by humans. Though pantos are primarily aimed at children, good ones operate on two levels; we Brits love our double entendre.

Any town desirous of Christmas credibility will have a pantomime running over the festive period (to make up for Parliament being in recess?) and the cast often includes celebrities as well as classic actors. But you’ll come across amateur productions almost anywhere. Oh yes you will.

The history of pantomime can be traced back to a form of Roman theatre with mime, which evolved into Italian and French street theatre that involved stock characters: the heroine, Columbine, the old man, Pantalone, and the clown, Pierrot. Crossing the Channel, this became more outrageous and bawdy and then received an injection of British music hall.

Queen’s Speech

The Royal Christmas broadcast is an intrinsic part of Christmas for many in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. The first Royal Christmas broadcast was in 1932, when King George V spoke on the ‘wireless’ to the Empire from a small office at Sandringham. George VI carried on the practice, delivering a Christmas message every year from 1939, through the war years, until his death in 1951. Our current queen, Elizabeth II, has broadcast every year except 1969, and the broadcast has been televised since 1957. As well as reflecting on Christmas, the Queen mentions global, national and personal events which have affected her and her audience over the year. It’s usually at 3pm on Christmas Day, by the way.

Some foreign chappie wrote that some Brits – especially older ones – stand while this is going on and even remove their hats. Well, the things you learn about yourself and your country from the Internet…but I can’t stop to natter – I feel a genuflection coming on.


Why do robins feature so much at Christmas? The short answer is we don’t know. The usual explanation is that the robin, Britain’s national bird and a bold little thing, is often seen during winter looking for food – and the red breast makes the cheeky chap stand out, particularly against the snow. Now, I’m no ornithologist, but as someone who has turned the odd spade in my time, I reckon robins are ubiquitous all year round.

Some will tell you that robins became associated with red-coated Victorian postmen (nicknamed ‘robins’), who brought the Christmas post. Robins were even depicted delivering Christmas cards. Others suggest that a robin protected the baby Jesus from the glowing fire in the stable (I didn’t know there was one, did you?) – thus gaining its red breast from the heat. Another tale is that as Christ was on the way to His crucifixion and was, mockingly, given a crown of thorns, a robin plucked one thorn that had bitten deeply into Christ’s head and, as it did so, a drop of Christ’s blood stained its breast. Or it could just be that red, along with green, is one of the colours of Christmas.

Christmas, Britain, a Christmas Carol


See ‘A Christmas Carol’. The name of Dickens’ main character in ‘A Christmas Carol’ is now in the dictionary, meaning someone who is tight with money, or miserly. It is thought the name may have came from an archaic verb, ‘scrouge’, meaning to squeeze or to press. But I think ‘Scrooge’ is almost onomatopoeic anyway.


The sprout – Brussels sprouts – seem to be an essential part of the British Christmas meal. They are really mini-cabbages. And, like Marmite, you either love ‘em or detest ‘em. I’m in the latter camp and can’t figure out why they are foisted upon us at what is otherwise a reasonably joyous time of year. They smell awful, taste worse and have predictably unpleasant side-effects. Unfortunately, they are very good for you; a single sprout contains more vitamin C than an orange. They originated in the Mediterranean, but are easily grown in northern Europe, became popular in the low countries (hence the name) and common in Britain in the 19th century, when people didn’t know any better. The only explanation I can find for the inclusion of this hideous vegetable in our Christmas feast (other than the plot to get me) is seasonal availability.

©Mike Biles 2019

My thanks to Mike for sharing his A-Z of Christmas and next week we will continue the series with more traditions, legends and food.

A Bit about Britain’s History: From a long time ago to quite recently.

About the book

Could this short, elegant, volume be the only book on British history you’ll ever need?

A Bit About Britain’s History is for anyone who wants a serious, yet light, introduction to Britain’s amazing story. If you don’t know the basics, or would like a reminder, this book is for you. It is also perfect for those that didn’t enjoy history at school, but who have suddenly realised they’d like to understand it a bit better now.

What did the Romans achieve? How did Christianity arrive? Who are the English and why did they fight the French so often? What is Henry VIII’s greatest legacy? When did democracy start and people get the vote? Why on earth did Britain get involved in WW1?

Organised clearly and chronologically, A Bit About Britain’s History covers every period from a long time ago until quite recently. It begins by briefly mentioning that the place was once inhabited by extremely large lizards, and ends up with a post-war 20th century consumer society. Brief articles explain the essential aspects of Britain’s past, including how the ancestors of its current inhabitants arrived, how they fought each other, formed nations, fell out over religion, acquired a large empire, became gradually more democratic, helped win a couple of world wars and were left wondering what to do next. At the end of the book are detailed timelines for each period, which provide useful reference and make fascinating reading in their own right.

A Bit About Britain’s History might be the only book on British history you’ll ever need; or it might be your stepping stone to more in-depth academic reading

One of the recent reviews for the book

I took my time reading this one because I loved the way the author wove the facts into a highly enjoyable narrative. What amazed me was how the author could start at pre-historic times and carry the reader forward to present day in such a brief book, yet cover the essentials and connect the complicated factors behind so much of that history.

The touches of a Bill Bryson wit was just enough to amuse me while I pondered the reality of “One Damned War After Another” It was a book I looked forward to returning to each night.

I’m keeping this one on my kindle so I can refer to the amazing Timeline included at the end of the book.

Read the reviews and buy the book in print and kindle: Amazon UK

And on Amazon US: Amazon US

Follow Mike on : Goodreads

About Mike Biles

Mike has lived in Britain all his life and generally loves the place, warts and all. He first learned history on his dad’s knee and went on to study medieval and modern British and European history at university. He was planning on teaching it, but then drifted into a career running his own business. Despite having worked with some of the UK’s most prestigious firms, he is often at his happiest with his nose in a history book, or exploring a historic site where the past is close. Several years ago, Mike began a blog – now an increasingly authoritative website – ‘A Bit About Britain’. He had to write a bit about Britain’s history for the website, and it seemed only sensible to put the material into his first book, ‘A Bit About Britain’s History’.

Connect to Mike Biles and explore his wonderful archives

Website home pagehttp://bitaboutbritain.com/
Blog pagehttp://bitaboutbritain.com/blog-2/
Facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/bitaboutbritain/

Thank you for dropping in today and I know Mike would love your feedback – More Christmas A-Z next Saturday – thanks Sally.

Blogger Recognition Award

Stevie Turner has been given the Blogger Recognition Award which is lovely to receive especially at this time of year… Stevie in turn has nominated quite a few people you will recognise.. including me.. so very honoured.. thanks Stevie and congratulations.

Stevie Turner

Thanks to Suzan Khoja at Magical Booklush for nominating me for the Blogger Recognition Award Ceremony:


1. Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

2. Write a post to show your award.

3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.

4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.

5. Select up to fifteen bloggers you want to give this award to.

6. Comment (or pingback) on each blog to let them know that you’ve nominated them and provide a link to the post you’ve created.

How My Blog Started:

I started this blog back in 2013 when I began writing novels.  I find that blogging is one of the best ways to showcase my work and my writing style.  I have also found many new friends in cyber world who are also writers. They offer support, many volunteer to be…

View original post 135 more words

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Friday December 13th 2019 – #Q&A D.G. Kaye with Lisa Thomson, #JackSparrow #Cookies Dolly Aizenman, #Redwine Christy Birmingham

Always an interesting place to visit and meet other authors… D.G Kaye (Debby Gies) place for a Q& A and today it is author and divorce expert Lisa Thomson.

D.G, Kaye Book Promotions

Q and A with D.G. Kaye Featuring Author Lisa Thomson – The Wine Diaries

Welcome to Q and A with D.G. Kaye interview series. Today I’m happy to introduce here, friend and fellow Canadian author, Lisa Thomson. Lisa is mostly a nonfiction writer who shares lots of herself and her anecdotes and empowering advice for women going through divorce. But her teachings, in conversational writing, invite anyone to read her wisdoms as she has lots of life experience to offer. And her teachings can easily be applied to any kind of loss in life. Let’s get on with the show!

Lisa Thomson

Head over to read the interview and find out more about Lisa, her blog and her books: D.G. Kaye Q & A with Lisa Thomson

D. G. Kaye – Buy: Amazon US Blog: D.G. Writes Goodreads: D.G. Kaye on Goodreads

Catch up with Debby’s Travel Column here every month: The Travel Column with D.G. Kaye

Now if you are heading out over the holidays and are likely traveling in bad weather, including snow storms, it is important to take emergency rations with you. Dolly Aizenman has just the perfect food to go for you… Steel Cut Oat cookies enhanced by a goodly measure of chocolate chips.

But before you get to the recipe.. find out more behind the legend that is Captain Jack Sparrow.. did he really exist?  What is the real story?

The Infamous Pirate Queen and the Traveling Rations

Was there a pirate ship called The Black Pearl that roamed the Caribbean? And was there a flamboyant, dashing Jack Sparrow who captained it? No and no!

The main lie, of course, is that Jack Sparrow never existed, and the real pirate, on whom Johnny Depp’s character (largely composite) is loosely based, was oh! so far from the fierce fighter of the Disney extravaganza! Captain John Rackham, AKA Calico Jack, has never achieved the legendary wealth and glamour of numerous victories at sea attributed to infamous pirates. His peculiar fame lies in the bosom of his wife, Anne Bonny, and her best friend Mary Read, both the combatant stars of Calico Jack’s crew. There is no one better to tell you this story than a brilliant Scottish Celtic singer and songwriter Karliene:

Head over an enjoy a snippet from one of the Pirates of the Caribbean and a lovely song from Karliene…plus grab that recipe for Steel Cut Oat Cookies and choc chips to go: The Infamous Pirate Queen and the Traveling rations with Dolly Aizenman

Dolly’s book Kool Kosher Kitchen is available: Amazon

I have no doubt that although I don’t drink that much these days, I will be drinking the odd glass of red wine over the holidays. I prefer to white, unless it is a dry sparkling wine, and I don’t feel so hungover the next morning if I have a couple of glasses with a meal, particularly one which might be slightly on the fatty side.. Here is a post from Christy Birmingham on When Women Inspire on 7 key benefits for women from drinking red wine.

Red Wine Benefits for Women

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, does a glass of red wine do the same? If you read Mayo Clinic’s assertion that consuming red wine in moderation can be good for the heart, then the answer is yes! Let’s explore health-related red wine benefits for women here.
A few facts about red wine

Made by fermenting dark grapes, red wine comes in several varieties, depending upon the age, type of grapes used, and other factors. Interestingly, ancient Egyptions turned red wine into medicine, roughly 5,000 years ago, to help with several different conditions, ranging from stomach aches to herpes.

Since that time, the health benefits of red wine have been favorably linked with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, metabolism, and more. A small amount of good-quality red vino has numerous beauty benefits to the skin and hair, as per the details below.

Find out what the Top red wine benefits for women are: When Women Inspire – Top benefits of red wine for women

About When Women Inspire

Are you looking for inspiration? Hope? Do you want to learn about how women are changing the world every single day? Then you’ve come to the right place.

When Women Inspire is dedicated to showcasing the efforts of women around the world to change the world in positive ways. These are women making social, economic, literary, political or educational waves – in a great way.

Christy Birmingham is also available as a freelance writer and is a published poet – to find out more visit: About When Women Inspire

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope that you will head over to read these posts in full.. thanks Sally.


Smorgasbord Health Column – Christmas Kissing Kith and Kin… Keep Peppermint to hand

It is the season for Christmas parties and family gatherings and at this time of year there is the additional pleasure of getting kissed under the mistletoe – of course it all depends on who is doing the kissing, but having fresh breath before embarking on this lovely activity is essential.  And also having something to ward of the unwanted attentions of any germs that might be lurking in the vicinity!  We will also be eating richer food than normal and that can cause digestive upsets and is one of the reasons we become so prone to infections during the holiday season.

You may have noticed that almost all non-prescription preparations that claim to help indigestion are mint flavoured. And this is not just because mint has a nice taste. Mint is one of the oldest known treatments for indigestion and its inclusion in medicines is due to the plant’s ability to settle the stomach. However, do be aware that there are other components in these over the counter products and overuse can undermine your own ability to maintain an acid and alkaline balance in the body. Using a natural digestive aid over a period of time should stimulate your own system to do its job efficiently rather than rely increasingly on synthetic assistance. Do remember that if you are on prescribed medication that you should not stop taking without the knowledge of your doctor.

Originally native to the Mediterranean region, peppermint, which is a cross between water mint and spearmint, is one of the oldest cultivated herbs and was used for culinary as well as healing purposes by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. It would seem that poor eating habits have been a problem throughout all of human history!

The ancient Romans carried it with them wherever they colonized; (presumably the relief it offered was much needed at the end of an orgy!) To this day, the Arabs brew it into tea and chop it into salads, the Asian Indians include it in chutney recipes, the British make its juice into jellies to be served with heavy meat dishes, and the Germans, concoct it into schnapps as an after-dinner drink. In all these cases, the motive for including mint in the diet is to improve digestion and avoid indigestion.

Nutrients in Peppermint tea

As with any dark green leafy plant the peppermint offers a wide range of nutrients that make it an excellent food source. Vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, Vitamin B2, Vitamin C, manganese, folate, iron, magnesium and calcium. Unfortunately you do not normally consume a sufficient quantity to be able to classify this as a superfood, but if you add the nutrients in the leaves to an already balanced diet it will certainly add to the pot of essential and varied nutrients you need each day.

Peppermint improves digestion in general but is great for stomach and colon cramps as the menthol in the herb has a muscle relaxing action and IBS sufferers often find it reduces symptoms. A cup of peppermint tea after a meal is much better for your digestion than a cup of coffee.

The oil mixed with a lotion or light skin oil, rubbed on the forehead can relieve headaches and is cooling when massaged into sore muscles.

As a forerunner of our modern gum, the leaves were chewed to prevent bad breath which was essential before toothpaste and flossing. Even 100 years ago dental hygiene was not common practice for nearly everyone…Does not bear thinking about as we come into the mistletoe season…..

Peppermint oil usually comes in small capsules or in a liquid tincture. The tea also comes with some variations, one of my favourites being Green Tea and Peppermint.

Other health benefits

Animal studies have indicated that the oil produced from the leaves could provide protection from cancer and also inhibit the growth of certain tumours in the breasts, pancreas and liver.

Peppermint oil is highly antibacterial and it also inhibits the growth of other potentially dangerous bacteria such as H.Pylori (Helicobacter pylori), the bacteria that causes peptic ulcers; Salmonella, E.Coli 0157:H7 and MRSA.

If you have a cold or flu there is nothing better than a little peppermint oil sprinkled on a tissue, or rubbed on your chest, to help you breathe better.

For asthmatics the rosmarinic acid in the oil acts as an anti-inflammatory and also encourages cells to produce substances called prostacyclins, which keep the airways open.

Apart from its medicinal uses and nutritional properties, mint is wonderful with lamb. Make a home-made sauce or jelly and enjoy two or three times a week along with a cup of peppermint tea after your dinner.

I use diluted peppermint oil to soak my toothbrush in – will put a tiny drop on the toothbrush to clean my teeth and I also use in the kitchen and add a drop to my normal strength peppermint tea once a day.

A definite all year round herb to use but at this time of year one to keep close to hand.

Have fun under the mistletoe……

For all other posts in the Health Column please check out this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-column-news-nutrients-health-conditions-anti-aging/

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

A little bit about me nutritionally.

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty 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 and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse by health books and fiction you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019-2020/

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope that you have found the post informative…If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.. thanks Sally.