Smorgasbord posts from Your Archives – Travel Day -Day 1 Arizona Here I Come by D.G. Kaye

Welcome to the first post in a four week series from D.G. Kaye – Debby Gies. Originally posts in 2016, this post takes us through just the first day of travel on Debby and her husband’s winter vacation to Arizona for two glorious months. As you will see not plain sailing…although they were not on a boat,  actually there was the limo first and then a plane, but that came with optional extras… Including germ distributing fellow passengers.

Travel Day -Day 1 Arizona Here I Come by D.G. Kaye


The limo was to pick us up at 630 am. I thought this would give us plenty of time to get through the travel ritual and rigamarole one has to endure to get where they’re going to via airplane these days.

After playing switcheroo for a few days, by adding, subtracting, and switching items in my 4 full-sized suitcases, and 3 severely overweight carry-on bags, in efforts to get ready for the trip to Arizona, I was ready. I had been high dosing on homeopathic remedies for a few days to help heal my injured hip and gratefully I had regained more than half the ability back in ease of movement for travel day. Lord knows I needed mobility to lug the lot of bags through airports, customs, on and off carousels, and on and off a shuttle bus from Phoenix airport to the car rental building.

Have Bags Will Travel

We waited for the limo driver to buzz us to inform us he’d arrived, and when the clock ticked 640 am, we began to worry they may have forgotten us, and we’d be getting into morning traffic to and at the airport being that we were flying on New Year’s Eve day. Hub decided to go down to the lobby and check, and sure enough, there he was sitting in the limo, apparently there for half an hour waiting for us. Thanks to our great ‘security’ at the gate of our building (NOT), the driver was told we were coming downstairs, only nobody told the gate such a thing, and so he waited patiently instead of buzzing up to confirm for himself.

I digress, this little incident reminded me of a conversation I had with the management office in my building when we first agreed to move there and I questioned them on the extent of security. Yes, there’s a security guard who opens the gate through the entrance when guests pull in – quite nice, but really irrelevant when they don’t ask where you’re going, or write down a licence and proceed to let anyone in. And yes, our building has a security guard at the desk in the lobby, who is rarely sitting there when anyone who comes to visit me makes their way up to my apartment door without having to buzz up for me to let them up. So when I was concerned about the underground parking and the safety, the management office told me it’s very safe. I pointed out that I didn’t see any cameras and she assured me that anyone would have to come through the security gate to get to the underground. That was not reassuring, so I said, “Ok, let me get this straight, the security at the gate entrance is supposed to make me feel safe? So after something happens to me and I’m left for dead it’s ok because they got a licence number?” How reassuring.”

Anyhoo, after getting to the airport and worrying about huge lines, which didn’t turn out to be too bad, but getting grilled by a grizzly US customs officer about the sandwich I brought to eat on the plane that was considered food that I didn’t check off on the customs form which gave me a choice to tick off of ‘are you bringing into the country … a multiple choice question of , from a farm, dairy, poultry, eg. ‘(there was no tick box for egg salad on a flaxseed wrap). He finally let me pass. Then we whizzed through security after undressing and redressing and proceeded to the gate. The plane was an hour delayed in leaving due to some mysterious unknown reason.

After getting settled in my seat on the aircraft, I once again began to feel as though I was contained in a metal can in a cess pool of germs. The plane was full, with at least 200 and some odd passengers and the heavy-set woman who whooped her cough and didn’t let up for longer than 3 minute intervals with her hyena-like coughing fits. Where was she sitting? Need you really ask? Right behind me!

My hub and I rolled our eyes at one another and bitched back and forth how people who are sick were allowed to fly and spread their germs without at least wearing a mask. We huddled our heads into our jackets as long as we could endure, hoping to stave off her ominous germs. My hub became quite snarly by the time we’d had an hour of whooping woman. He turned to me and asked me how on earth is it possible that every time we travel, we get the sickos behind or beside us. I mean really, what are the bloody odds?
I’ve always been the 1% girl when it comes to the odds of something happening to someone. So once again, I replied to him, “We’re bound to win a lottery one day. Surely all the 1% situations we encounter can’t only be negative ones? We’re gearing up for a big win!

Four and a half hours later, we landed in sunny Phoenix, Arizona. The stunning view of the mountains from the airplane window was like winning a lottery for me. We deplaned and headed through the airport on a very long walk to the luggage carousel. By this time toting my heavy and large overstuffed purse and carry-on bag, while my hub toted the other carry-on and another overstuffed computer bag, we proceeded to the luggage carousel. We loaded a cart that could barely hold 7 pieces of luggage and proceeded to push that through baggage claim to the outside through a busy walkway to the shuttle bus we had to catch, which took us to the car rental.

Once again we off-lifted the bags to lift them back onto the shuttle, only to have to lift them off once again at the car rental. We were grateful for a man who generously offered to lift our bags back onto a cart. I’m sure he could see my hub was worn right out and I was walking with a slow limp. We had only to sign in for the car and load the bags into the car, which became a mathematical puzzle we managed to accomplish.


We were worn out and feeling pretty broken in the back department when we finally arrived at our rented accommodations and discovered our condo was on the second floor with 2 flights of winding cement stairs. We only had to lift those cases one more time; each of 4 bags weighing nearly 50lbs and the smaller ones at 30 lbs. We both held an end of each bag and with our last ounces of energy managed to get them all up to our floor.

We got inside and saw this beautiful condo we’d be living in for two months, which we could barely appreciate from our worn out state of exhaustion and realized it was already nearing 4.30 pm, New Year’s Eve, and had to run and buy groceries before the stores closed until Saturday. The last thing we felt like doing was go grocery shopping and carry more bags up those stairs, but we did.

We got back, dragging our asses and bags up a few trips from the carpark up the stairs and putting the groceries away, it was nearing 6.30 pm when my phone rang and it was our good friends Larry and Lois who live in Scottsdale, informing us that they’d be over to pick us up at 7.45 pm to go out for dinner.

This was the first New Year’s Eve I can remember ever getting ready to go out in 20 minutes. The food was great, the company was great. We got home by 11pm. I barely got my face washed and creamed, hit the mattress, never saw the ball drop at midnight, and couldn’t think of anything better I’d rather be doing at midnight than sleeping.

Stay tuned for more adventures as they happen!

©D.G.Kaye 2016

Thanks to Debby for her detailed itinerary and it does sound like the condo was worth the effort….

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?”

When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.

Debby has written a book about some of her travel adventures – Have Bags Will Travel

About the book

D.G. Kaye is back, and as she reflects on some of her more memorable vacations and travel snags, she finds herself constantly struggling to keep one step ahead of the ever-changing guidelines of the airlines–with her overweight luggage in tow. Her stories alert us to some of the pitfalls of being an obsessive shopper, especially when it comes time for D.G. to bring her treasures home, and remind us of the simpler days when traveling was a breeze.

In her quest to keep from tipping the scales, D.G. strives to devise new tricks to fit everything in her suitcases on each trip. Why is she consistently a target for Canada customs on her return journeys?

D.G.’s witty tales take us from airports, to travel escapades with best friends, to reflections on how time can change the places we hold dear in our hearts. Her memories will entertain and have you reminiscing about some of your own most treasured journeys–and perhaps make you contemplate revamping your packing strategies.

A recent review for Have Bags Will Travel

This amusing memoir by D.G. Kaye is all about the difficulties faced by a shopaholic whose idea of travel centers largely around shopping and getting all her fantastic purchases home without paying excess baggage costs. I could relate to this book really well because I am both of the things the author is; I am a germ fanatic and I love to shop. My shopping also comprises of bulky objects because I collect antique and vintage dolls and books. Have you ever tried to pack three teddy bears, two porcelain dolls, gifts for everyone you know and about twenty vintage books into your return suitcase without it being overweight? I have so I can relate to D.G. Kaye’s weakness for shoes and having to get them back home.

I really laughed at the descriptions of trying to make do with the tiny bathroom facilities on an overnight flight without touching anything. I recently bought my Aunt, who was travelling overnight to Dubai, a pair of soft slippers to wear on the aeroplane so that she would not get dirty socks.

D.G. Kaye has traveled to some interesting places, and it was entertaining to read about some of them and see them through the eyes of a shopper who is focusing mainly on what she can buy. Her reflections on Las Vegas, a city I have never visited, were particularly interesting.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

Other books by D.G. Kaye


Read all the reviews and buy the books:

and Amazon UK:

More reviews and follow Debby on Goodreads:

Connect to Debby Gies

About me:
Twitter: (yes there’s a story)


Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Aretha Franklin, Peppercorns, Literary Ageism, Las Vegas

Welcome to the weekly round up of posts and thank you very much for stopping by and for your support during the last seven days.

As always thank you to the contributors who provide regular columns including William Price King with the first in the new series about the legend Aretha Franklin.

Our resident foodie Carol Taylor treated us to an interesting column on the variety and use of peppercorns – Did you know about pink peppercorns?

Our writer in residence and gardening expert Paul Andruss was posting on his own blog this week and another fabulous post on cuckoos and the music of Delius.. I did reblog but here is the direct link to the post:

And Jessica Norrie took us on a tour of books that feature protagonists through the age groups from 0 – 100 years old. Can a lead character every be too old?

The new series of the Smorgasbord Sunday Interview – Getting to know You…with my five questions that I have responded to.

Here is reblog from Mr. Militant Negro who also shares his response to the five questions to give you another idea of how the finished post will look like. I will share his post in full later in the series but it is a moving and fascinating response.

Smorgasbord Poetry – Dorothy Cronin

Personal Stuff

Letters from America 1985 – 1987 – Las Vegas Part Two.

Sally’s Drive Time and Playlist – Two songs that make me think of my husband David.

Short Stories – Background to my characters in Just an Odd Job Girl

Tales from the Garden – The boy, his dog and a fairy princess.

Tales from the Garden – Cuentos del Jardin – is now available in Spanish.

Very grateful for two reviews this week which has been fantastic

One for What’s in a Name Volume One from Amy M. Reade:

And one from the writing duo of Jaye Marie and Anita Dawes for Tales from the Garden.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Update

New book on the shelves – Twenty-Four Days (Rowe-Delamagente Thriller Book 2) by J. Murray (Jacqui Murray)

Posts from Your Archives – Travel

Welcome to Marian Beaman with an archive post for the #Travel themed Posts from Your Archives.. a turbulent trip to London and a bit of a do with a Copper. When travelling in other countries some things get lost in translation.. even when you are speaking the same language.


Welcome to author and financial expert Sharon Marchisello who shares her experiences of Docents… the locals who can see us coming a mile off when we land in a strange country and are not used to the local currency or transport systems.

Health Column

The A-Z of nutrients that we need to be healthy – B5 – Pantothenic Acid.

The Heart Structure and Function

Heart labelled

Shopping List for the Brain and its support systems.

The first key element to eating for brain health is to omit industrially processed foods that contain harmful toxins and additives that have zero nutritional benefit and effectively ’empty’ calories. They might supply sugar and trans fats and look appetizing on a plate, but the brain will not recognize them as anything it can process. Processed foods Vs. Industrially manufactured foods

Aromatherapy – Frankincense essential oil – Immune, reproductive systems, antiseptic, anti-aging.

The alternative shopping list – by nutrient




Thank you again for dropping in and all your support.. I am very grateful… Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – Short Stories – Odd Jobs and Characters – The Dental Assistant

So far I have published over 60 short stories in collections and the one drawback to this is the amount of diverse characters required to star in a wide variety of situations.

Fifty-one years ago I started work on a part-time basis as soon as it was legally possible. I was fourteen years old, and even though I have had periods when not officially employed, I have been working ever since.

This series shares some of the jobs I have turned my hand to over that fifty years, and some were very odd. Not many have sat at a table between two teams of champion dairy cows, selling bull semen!  Over the years I have accumulated a massive dossier of characters and events that now take centre stage in my short stories. If you have read my novel Just an Odd Job Girl you will have met some of them but over the next twelve weeks I hope to bring you some of the others that inspired and stimulated my imagination.

Not all these posts appeared on Smorgasbord as some fantastic blogging friends allowed me to guest post. Where this is the case I will of course provide you with the links to their post.

The Dental Surgery Part One

Following a year at secretarial college, and having gained my passes in shorthand and typing, I entered the full-time job market.

My experience along the seafront had at least prepared me for working life. I was usually punctual and didn’t take liberties with my lunch hour. I had even had my first managerial position, you could say, as I had been left in charge of my kiosk during Betty’s days off and holidays. Unfortunately this had not prepared me for the interviews that I attended and I was sorely disappointed to discover that the only job that was open, to a newly qualified secretary, was that of the lowly office junior.

I had earned two and six an hour along the seafront and at sixteen worked a forty-hour week. This gave me five pounds a week, plus tips, which were divided between all the staff. Because I was a student I did not pay tax and so I usually had at least seven pounds a week in my hand. I soon discovered that office juniors were lucky to get six pounds a week and that would be taxed.

Then fate took a hand. Smack bang in the middle of the job section of the local newspaper was an advertisement for a Dental Receptionist for a local private practice in Southsea. I will admit that the starting salary at £7 a week was an improvement on the other jobs I had chased, and the thought of a crisp white overall rather than the blue nylon one at the cafe on the seafront also appealed.

I went for the interview with Roland Phillips who at 67 was 50 years older than me. He wore half glasses and his hair was slicked back from rather an austere face. He sat behind his desk with his hands clasped in front of them and I remember thinking how dry they looked with very white nails. (I later discovered that my boss was fanatical about cleanliness which he needed to be with his hands in mouths all day.

It transpired that his dental nurse also doubled as his secretary and receptionist but the practice was far too busy for her to cope. My secretarial qualifications were acceptable but apparently I also got the job because of my accent on the phone… go with the flow I say.

I arrived on my first Monday and in between patients the very patient chair-side assistant took me through my duties. My new boss expected me to read every file for the over 400 patients; acquainting myself with their previous treatments and also upcoming appointments. I would answer the phone and make appointments. I had to prepare daily lists of patients, extract their files and greet them when they arrived and show them to the waiting room. Following their appointment I would collect their file, decipher Roland’s summary and charges and prepare a bill to be sent out at the end of each month. I was also expected to manage the inventory of all equipment, drugs and other supplies and order as necessary, which proved to be very useful later on in the job.

I was expected to learn very quickly so that Miss Smith could return to her chairside duties full time, and it was quite a tough assignment. However, I did enjoy the job very much and looked forward to 9.00 each morning.

As I became more proficient, so my duties increased in responsibility, and when busy, I would be drafted in to help in the surgery with tasks such as mixing amalgam for fillings and developing x-rays. I was given the dental nurse training course to follow at home and I found myself spending my spare time on the project. Things were going along swimmingly for the first three months when an incident occured that was to bring about huge changes.

I was preparing the end of month accounts when I heard a heavy thud from the surgery. Thinking that a patient or even Mr. Phillips might have fallen I rushed in to find Miss Smith had collapsed. They had been in the middle of a delicate operation to remove a remaining root from a tooth that had just been extracted. This was a two-person job and one of those was now sitting shakily on one of the surgery chairs. Before I knew it I was wearing surgical gloves, keeping the patient’s mouth clear of fluids and handing the correct instruments to my boss.

After many years of not being able to have a baby… Miss Smith was pregnant and could not stand the sight of blood! So began a very intensive training course and my career took a very different path.

Mr. Roland Phillips was the inspiration for the dentist in Just an Odd Job Girl… a character I will never forget.

Next week – Xray mix ups – toupees and the miners strike.

About Sally Cronin.

I have lived a fairly nomadic existence living in eight countries including the Sri Lanka, South Africa and USA before settling back here in Ireland. My work in a number of industries, and a desire to see some of the most beautiful parts of the world in the last forty years, has taken me to many more incredible destinations around Europe and Canada, and across the oceans to New Zealand and Hawaii. All those experiences and the people that I have met, provide a rich source of inspiration for my stories.

I have been a storyteller most of my life (my mother called them fibs!). Poetry, song lyrics and short stories were left behind when work and life intruded, but that all changed in 1996. My first book Size Matters was a health and weight loss book based on my own experiences of losing 70kilo. I have written another ten books since then on health and also fiction including three collections of short stories. I am an indie author and proud to be one.

My greatest pleasure comes from those readers who enjoy my take on health, characters and twisted endings… and of course come back for more.

My most recent book – What’s in a Name – Volume Two.

Our legacy is not always about money or fame, but rather in the way that people remember our name after we have gone. In these sixteen short stories we discover the reasons why special men and women will stay in the hearts and minds of those who have met them.

Kenneth watches the love of his life dance on New Year’s Eve while Lily plants very special flowers every spring for her father. Martha helps out a work colleague as Norman steps back out into the world to make a difference. Owen brings light into a house and Patrick risks his life in the skies over Britain and holds back from telling a beautiful redhead that he loves her.In one way or another all these characters will be remembered by those whose lives they have touched.

There is also a bonus story introducing a new collection The Village Square to be published in 2018.

One of the recent reviews for the book

A brief romance that lasts a life time and longer, a poignant story of Easter eggs and then we meet Martha, a colleague we would all love to have… Three stories in and I was already enjoying the deliciously different tales in this collection. Cheer on Norman, admire Patrick and have the last laugh with Rosemary. Dip into this these easy to read short tales any time, but expect some to have dark twists.

You can buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

My other books

Author Page UK:

And Amazon US:

Everything you need to know about how to buy my books and connect to me on social media is here:

Thank you for dropping by and your ongoing support.. It means a great deal to me..

Here is the link to last week’s post

Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Travel – Almost Taken by Sharon Marchisello

Welcome to author and financial expert Sharon Marchisello who shares her experiences of Docents… the locals who can see us coming a mile off when we land in a strange country and are not used to the local currency or transport systems.

Almost Taken by Sharon Marchisello

The “docents” saw me coming. I’d stopped to read a sign about ground transportation and got temporarily separated from my husband as we exited the customs area at the Santiago airport.

“Lady, can I help you?” The “docent” reached for my tote bag, which was about to topple from my rolling suitcase. (“Docent” is the term my husband I have assigned to those obsequious locals who suddenly become your best friend and offer to escort you around their city, or the monument you’re trying to visit, usually in expectation of remuneration.)

“Lady, where are you going?” The docent’s partner approached. Sharks were closing in. They had spotted a rich, gullible American tourist, bleary-eyed after an overnight flight, lost and bewildered, definitely in need of some Latin chivalry.

“I’m looking for my husband.”

Helpful docents immediately started assisting in the search for my husband. In a few moments, we were reunited. And surrounded by my new amigos.

“Did you find out where to catch the bus to Valparaiso?” my husband asked me. Fortunately, I had done some research ahead of time about ground transportation options. Taxis from the Santiago airport to Valparaiso cost approximately $150, but there was a public bus from the airport to Pajaritos station, where we could board another bus bound for Valparaiso, for approximately $10 each. Frugal travelers that we are, we had settled on this plan.

One of the docents pointed out the location of the public bus stop. “But you don’t want to do that,” he advised. “To get to Valparaiso, you have to go all the way into Santiago and change buses. And the bus will drop you off downtown, where you’ll have to take a taxi to your hotel. Three changes of transportation, carrying all your own luggage, and it will cost you about 50. For only 60, you can take the mini-bus directly to your hotel in Valparaiso. And you can pay with a credit card!”

Minibus? I hadn’t read about one, but in many of the cities we’ve visited, there are semi-public buses leaving from the airport that make the rounds of area hotels, often for less money than a private cab would cost.

“Come.” Docents started pulling our suitcases toward the minibus boarding area.

“Sixty what?” I asked as I trotted along after my baggage. “Dollars? Pesos?”

“You’ll pay in pesos,” one docent replied. “By credit card.”

“How many pesos to the dollar?” my husband whispered to me.

“The exchange rate is six to one,” said one of the docents.

“Sixty pesos sounds pretty good to me,” my husband said.

But something wasn’t right. I couldn’t remember the exact dollar to peso exchange rate, but it seemed like there were a whole lot of them to the dollar. Sixty pesos was probably less than a dollar. No way was anyone going to drive us two hours to Valparaiso for 60 pesos.

“Do you mean 60 dollars?” I asked. The last time we’d taken a cruise out of Valparaiso—about 10 years ago—we’d taken a shuttle from the airport to the cruise terminal for about 60 dollars each, and my husband still felt like we’d gotten ripped off.

“Six to one,” replied one of the docents.

We passed a currency exchange booth and I glimpsed the rate for U.S. dollars: 656 Chilean pesos. Not easy math to do in your head. “He can’t mean 60 pesos,” I murmured to my husband.

The official taxi stand I had passed at the customs exit posted prices starting at 90. At first glance, my addled brain had assumed 90 dollars but now it sunk in that the price had to be in pesos. The 90 in large print was followed by three tiny zeros. Ninety thousand pesos. But still, a ride directly to our hotel in Valparaiso for 60,000 pesos didn’t sound bad.

We reached the minivan. It looked like a large private taxi, not a community-type minibus like I’d seen in other cities. The docents loaded our baggage into the trunk. The driver opened the passenger door.

“Wait,” I said to the driver. “How much are we paying?”

He grunted and pointed to the credit card machine.

“Sixty dollars,” said my docent friend. “But you pay in pesos. With credit card.”

“Sixty each,” said one of the other docents.

“Sixty each?” I looked at the driver, the one who would be collecting the money and holding our bags hostage until we paid. “Cuantos pesos para las dos?”

He typed into the machine and thrust it toward me: 120,000. Sixty thousand. Each.

“No! Too much.” I didn’t have time to run the numbers through my calculator but I knew that amount was way more pesos than we wanted to spend. We grabbed our bags before the docents could close the trunk and headed back to the public bus stop.

“Lady! Wait! What’s wrong?”

After a stop at an ATM, we boarded a bus for the 20-minute ride to Pajaritos metro station, paying 1200 pesos each. There we purchased tickets for Valparaiso for 3000 pesos each, with comfortable assigned seats for the 90-minute ride. From the downtown bus station where we arrived, we caught another public bus to a major square for 300 pesos, where we hired a taxi for 1100 pesos to take us up the hill to our hotel. A little less convenient than the private taxi directly from the airport, certainly, but our savings covered our two nights in the hotel. Not to mention getting a little local color in the process.

Several lessons we learned—or rather, reinforced—from this experience:

  • Do your homework.
  • Know the exchange rate.
  • Don’t engage the docents.

What rip-offs have you encountered while traveling abroad? I’d love to hear your comments.

Sally: You don’t have to go to a foreign country to be ripped off… our own currency exchange firms do a very good job of that!

About Sharon Marchisello

Sharon Marchisello is the author of “The Ghost on Timber Way,” part of a short story anthology entitled Mystery, Atlanta Style, featuring fellow Sisters in Crime members. She has published a personal finance e-book entitled Live Cheaply, Be Happy, Grow Wealthy, as well as numerous travel articles, book reviews, and corporate training manuals.

Sharon grew up in Tyler, Texas, and earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Houston in French and English. She studied for a year in Tours, France, on a Rotary scholarship and then moved to Los Angeles to pursue her Masters in Professional Writing at the University of Southern California. Now she lives in Peachtree City, Georgia, with her husband and cat.

Retired from a 27-year career with Delta Air Lines, she does volunteer work for the Fayette Humane Society. Going Home is her first published novel. The murder mystery was inspired by her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s, which prompted her to wonder what it would be like to interview a witness or a suspect who could not rely on her memory.

About Going Home

Michelle DePalma expected to jet into Two Wells, Texas, check on her elderly mother, and hurry back to her orderly life in Atlanta, where she has a happy marriage and satisfying career. Instead, she finds her mother, Lola Hanson, hovered over the bludgeoned body of her caregiver, Brittany Landers.

Since the events of 9/11, one month earlier, Lola’s memory loss has amplified, and the family suspects Alzheimer’s. Now Lola can’t tell anyone what happened to Brittany.

The agency that provides home care for Lola promptly withdraws its services. Michelle is stuck in her home town longer than planned as she cares for a mother with whom she has never been close and tries to prove her innocence. The police officers who investigate the crime are old antagonists from grade school.

A secret thought to be long buried—that Michelle bore a son out of wedlock and gave him up for adoption—surfaces when a surprise daughter-in-law and granddaughter show up, distracting Michelle from her quest to solve the murder. And then she stumbles upon a motive which makes Lola look even more guilty.

“Going Home” was inspired by the author’s mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s and explores the challenge of solving a murder mystery when a potential witness cannot rely on her memory. Written from the prospective of a baby boomer forced to reverse roles with her parents, it crosses into the mainstream genre of women’s fiction and touches increasingly common issues such as elder abuse and end-of-life decisions.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Very Good By Don S and TeamGolfwell on December 4, 2017

I really liked “Going Home” by Sharon Marchisello, and found it to be an excellent and exciting mystery. I am familiar with the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s Disease and the author wrote an excellent mystery with many interesting characters. Ms. Marchisello has a lot of talent as a writer and I enjoyed it very much.


Read the reviews and buy the book:

and Amazon UK:

Read other reviews and follow Sharon on Goodreads:

Connect to Sharon.

Blogspot :
Blog WordPress:

A thank you to Sharon for this post that is a reminder to  us all that when landing in any strange country if something looks too good to be true.. it probably is. Let us know if you have experienced something similar… it helps all of us stay safe and holding on to our spending money.

Posts from Your Archives and the theme this time is all about travel.

The aim of this series is to showcase your blog and any creative work that you do from books, art, photography and crafts. You pick between one and four links to posts that you have written for your own blog since you began blogging up to October 2017 and you simply send the link to those blogs to

You have to do nothing more as I will capture the post and images from your blog and I will then post with full copyright to you.. with your creative work and your links to buy and to connect. I might sometimes need a little more information but I am quite resourceful in finding out everything I need.

The deal is that you also help promote the post by sharing on your social media and responding to the comments.

Previous participants are more than welcome

The theme for the new series is travel.

  • Places and countries you have visited,
  • Different cultures,
  • Exotic food you have discovered when travelling,
  • Modes of transport – cars, bikes, horses, RVs
  • Camping Trips,
  • Road trips,
  • On the road for work,
  • Train Journeys,
  • Travel themed music,
  • Planes and airports,
  • Ships and other marine vessels,
  • Humorous adventures etc.


Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up- William Price King sings, Paul Andruss and Hellebores and Carol Taylor and Mustard.

Welcome to the weekly round up and I hope that your weekend is going well. We have had a very special visitor from America who arrived on Friday and it did David and I the power of good to be in the company of such a delightful, articulate and successful young woman. We have known her parents for over 30 years and have seen her grown from a beautiful baby into this accomplished adult.. What a pleasure.

Anyway… In honour of the visit, the sun came out on Thursday and I was able to get some of my pots refurbished…the job is not finished yet.. I have some more planting to do next week… provided we get a little dry weather.

Anyway.. time to get on with the week and as always my thanks to William Price King, (look out for a special post in thanks to William for all his amazing contributions… Drive Time this week features two of his own performances). Paul Andruss and Carol Taylor who have, as always provided outstanding columns for music, gardening and cookery.

The Music Column with William Price King – Johnny Mathis up to date.

The Gardening Column by Paul Andruss – Heavenly Hellebores.. or should that be Devilish?

The Food and Cookery Column with Carol Taylor – It is all about the mustard.

The Open House Sunday Interview – Gregg Savage – Daily Tales

Personal Stuff – Tales from the Garden – The Goose and the Lost Boy.

Letters From America 1985 – 1987 – Trip to Las Vegas – Part One #Hilton, #Dunes

Sally’s Book Reviews – UK2: Project Renova Book Three by Terry Tyler

Sally’s Drive Time #Playlist – Music to get the Weekend Started – William Price King.

Esme’s Party Piece: Prediction for the two weeks April 12th – 26th.. and your Flower Power.


Smorgasbord Guest Post – Leslie Tate – Growing up as an author.

Posts from Your Archives.

Posts from the Archives… new series… travel themed blogs posted before October 2017. And to kick the series off.. traveller and author Darlene Foster with a surprise visit to the home of Jane Austen..

Smorgasbord Poetry – Dorothy Cronin – Tuffy

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Spring Showcase – Final post

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves

Smorgasbord Health Column

Nutrients A-Z  that we need to be healthy.

Part three of the Brain series… this week a brief overview of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Turning Back the Clock – Chapter Ten – Maintaining your Health Advantage.

Aromatherapy – Eucalyptus oil – usage and safety.


Thank you very much for all your support this week and look forward to seeing you again soon.


Smorgasbord New Series of Posts from Your Archives. – Visiting Jane Austen on a Motorbike by Darlene Foster

Time for a new series of Posts from Your Archives and the theme this time is all about travel.

The aim of this series is to showcase your blog and any creative work that you do from books, art, photography and crafts. You pick between one and four links to posts that you have written for your own blog since you began blogging up to October 2017 and you simply send the link to those blogs to

You have to do nothing more as I will capture the post and images from your blog and I will then post with full copyright to you.. with your creative work and your links to buy and to connect. I might sometimes need a little more information but I am quite resourceful in finding out everything I need.

So far in the Posts from Your Archives from September 2017, there have been over 600 posts from 150 + bloggers that have reached a different audience and encouraged more readers for their own blogs and current posts.

The deal is that you also help promote the post by sharing on your social media and responding to the comments.

Previous participants are more than welcome

The theme for the new series is travel.

  • Places and countries you have visited,
  • Different cultures,
  • Exotic food you have discovered when travelling,
  • Modes of transport – cars, bikes, horses, RVs
  • Camping Trips,
  • Road trips,
  • On the road for work,
  • Train Journeys,
  • Travel themed music,
  • Planes and airports,
  • Ships and other marine vessels,
  • Humorous adventures etc.

To kick off this new series here is author and travel writer Darlene Foster with a visit to Jane Austen on the back of a motorbike.  You will enjoy I am sure and you will also see how it can work as a way to market you work.

Visiting Jane Austen on a Motorbike by Darlene Foster

Our delightful visit to England included Yorkshire and North Wales. Viewing the countryside with its stone hedges and ancient castles was made even more enjoyable as we hurtled down narrow roads on a motorcycle.

We had one thing left to do before flying back to Canada; deliver the motorbike to its new owner in London. We travelled down from York, stopped for lunch at a pub in Cambridge overlooking the Thames and watched the rowers practice. As we rode towards London, I was puzzled when we didn’t turn off the M1 taking us into Guildford, but turned east. Soon I recognized signs for Alton, Strawberry Hill, Steventon and Chawton. We were on our way to visit my hero, Jane Austen! My dear husband had planned this as a surprise for me.

As my knight in shining armour parked the pearl white Honda Goldwing in front of Chawton Cottage, he said, “Take your time. I’m going for a tea.” He pointed at Cassandra’s Tea Shop across the road.

I couldn’t believe I was actually there. Chawton Cottage, a charming 17th century, three storey red-brick house, was Jane Austen’s home for the last eight years of her life. I entered the front door thinking about how many times dear Jane had crossed that threshold. When I mentioned I had come all the way from Canada, and I was a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, the kindly receptionist waved the entry fee.

There I stood in Jane’s house, a gift from her brother which she shared with her mother and her sister Cassandra; the place she wrote most of her work. I entered the parlour and gingerly touched the little round table she wrote on. Prickles ran up and down my arms. I had seen some of her original writing at the British Museum a few years earlier, but this seemed more real. I imagined Jane slipping her writing under a book whenever someone entered. Although she often shared her writing with her family, she only did so when she was ready.

The house, very much as it was when Jane lived there at the start of the 19th century, displays family paintings on the walls. The pianoforte Jane played her music on when no one was around, adorns one corner of the drawing room.

I climbed the stairs to Jane’s bedroom. The first thing I noticed was the patchwork quilt, made with her sister and mother, hanging on one wall. Each floral, diamond patch stitched meticulously into place surrounding a large basket of cheerful flowers in the centre, reminded me of the hours of labour that would have gone into this undertaking. The bed she slept on, covered in crisp white linen, sits peacefully in a corner. On another wall hangs a topaz cross, a gift from one of her beloved brothers and most probably the inspiration for the topaz cross given to Fanny Price by her brother in the novel, Mansfield Park. A window overlooks the garden. Jane spent many happy hours in this room. When she grew ill, she entertained her visitors here.

Other rooms upstairs, house Regency period costumes, carefully preserved and displayed. I enjoyed viewing the muslin, floor length dresses with Empire waists and soft loose skirts in pale pinks, periwinkle blues and lilacs, such as Jane would have worn. At least she did not have to deal with the constraints of a tightly laced corset. Memorabilia of her two Royal Navy brothers, Frank and Charles, can be found in adjoining rooms.

I felt Jane’s presence everywhere in the house, but nowhere near as much as in the lovely garden surrounding Chawton Cottage. I could sense Jane taking a turn around the garden, delighting in the many varieties of herbs and flowers, and resting on the rustic garden bench. Even her old donkey cart, which carried her around when she was too ill to walk, lives on in the bake house.

Back in the cottage I chatted with the host and perused the comprehensive selection of Jane Austen books. Of course I could not resist purchasing a few (not that I needed to read anything else about J.A.) I also chose a few souvenirs and postcards before I bid Jane, the house and her memories goodbye. I walked across the street to Cassandra’s Tea Shop to meet my husband, who had downed three cups of tea, ate two pieces of lemon loaf and washed the bike while waiting for me. He asked how my visit was.

I replied, “Jane was most happy I visited her and approved of my arrival on a motorcycle.”

It was a sweet view – sweet to the eye and the mind. English verdure, English culture, English comfort, seen under a sun bright, without being oppressive.
– from ‘Emma’, Jane Austen’s novel written at Chawton Cottage and published in 1815

©Darlene Foster

Thanks to Darlene for getting the new series of Posts from Your Archives kicked off in style…What a treat it must have been to visit such a role model’s home.. great husband…

About Darlene Foster

Darlene Foster is a writer, an employment counsellor, an ESL tutor for children, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, shoes, cooking, reading, sewing, chocolate, music, the beach and making new friends. Her 13-year-old grandson called her “super-mega-woman-supreme”.

She was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. She currently divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca in Spain, with her husband Paul.

“Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask” was her first published novel. Once bitten by the travel bug, Amanda travels to other interesting places, sticking her nose in other people’s problems and getting herself in trouble. Read “Amanda in Spain – The Girl in the Painting”, “Amanda in England – The Missing Novel”, “Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone”, and “Amanda on the Danube – The Sounds of Music” and “Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind”  to find out the adventures Amanda has as she travels the world.

About Amanda on the Danube – The Sounds of Music

Twelve year old Amanda Ross finds herself on an elegant riverboat with her bestie, Leah, cruising down the beautiful Danube, passing medieval castles, luscious green valleys and charming villages. When she is entrusted with a valuable violin by a young, homeless musician during a stop in Germany, a mean boy immediately attempts to take it from her.

Back on their cruise, Amanda struggles to keep the precious violin safe for the poor prodigy. Along the way, she encounters a mysterious monk, a Santa Claus look-alike, and the same nasty boy.

Follow Amanda down the Danube, through Germany, Austria and Hungary, as she enjoys the enchanting sounds of music everywhere she goes. She remains on the lookout though, wondering just who she can trust.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Michael and I read this book together and we both enjoyed it immensely. It is my favourite of the three Amanda books we have read to date and we will definitely be reading more.

Amanda and her good friend, Leah, are on a boat cruise along the Danube and very much enjoying the good food and fascinating villages and towns that they stop at when they become embroiled in a new mystery. A young boy who plays the violin most beautifully asks Amanda to please take his violin on the boat with her and meet him in Vienna. Amanda agrees to the request and quickly comes to realise that the talented boy is not the only one who wants the violin. There are a few people, both on the cruise and elsewhere, that are determined to lay their hands on this instrument.

I really like Darlene Foster’s books as they have an interesting and face paced story but they also include a huge amount of fascinating information about the specific country in which each specific novel is set. We both learned a lot about the towns and villages in Germany, Austria and Hungary and the traditional foods, entertainment and some famous places of interest. There is a lot of research that goes into each of these books. We rated this book five out of five stars.

Read all the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

A selection of other books by Darlene Foster

Read the reviews and buy all of Darlene’s books:

and Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Darlene on Goodreads:

Connect to Darlene via her website and social media.


Thanks for dropping in today and if you would like to participate by sharing some of your travel themed posts, written before October 2017.. contact me

Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Johnny Mathis, Chocolate, Tea Tree Icecream, Lamaze Classes and Mary Kay

Welcome to the weekly round up of posts on the blog this week. It has been great fun putting it together and thanks so much for being around to help share them. I definitely do not take that support lightly when there are so many amazing bloggers in our community.

The weather continues to be a pain in the butt.. We had four times the average rainfall for March and we have already had double the average for April in only 8 days. Whilst for most of this it means getting the odd soaking when we do the shopping or take any dogs out… for farmers here it is causing serious issues. We might have a very green landscape because of the rain but it also requires sunshine to grow grass and other crops. Because of the lack of new growth and because it has been so wet underfoot, many dairy farmers have been forced to either keep the herd in winter housing and keep feeding them the stored winter fodder.. Which has now run out and they are forced into paying hundreds of thousands of Euros a week across the industry to buy more fodder to keep them going. Their profit margins on a litre of milk are slim enough. So for their sakes and ours, hopefully spring and sunshine will appear shortly.

This week has also been exciting for me personally as the blog was nominated in the Best Overall Blog category (along with some of my favourite bloggers) I am very honoured and inspired to carry on doing what I love.  There are several categories and you will find some of the contributors to the blog on the lists.. It would be amazing if you could head over and vote for your personal favourites and here is a link to a post that I did earlier in the week.

As usual I must thank William Price King, Paul Andruss and Carol Taylor for their wonderful columns this week. Johnny Mathis is going down very well.. the third and last in the series is this week… Paul tickled our taste buds with one of his in depth articles, this week on the subject of Chocolate.. the companion piece to last week’s Coffee.. and Carol Taylor put together a post Easter light three course meal.

For the last two weeks I have been posting a daily Cafe and Bookstore Spring Showcase and tomorrow sees the final post in the series. That is 150 authors that have been promoted with their most recent reviews. From Friday it is back to the normal twice weekly updates. However, now that I am through the bulk of my latest book.. I am returning to promoting new books of authors in the bookstore individually in the New Book on the Shelves promotion.

I already have four in the buffer but if you are in the bookstore and have a new book then just let me know. I do prefer to promote when available so as soon as it is on Amazon just send me the link to and I will do the rest. I keep a file on everyone in the bookstore and always check the bio etc for changes.

If you do have new book covers you will find that more often or not this new edition will change the individual book’s Amazon link.. Again just send me the link to your book with its new cover and I will change me information.

A quick request if I might. The purpose of these posts is to promote your books and hopefully result in sales. I will respond to comments and share on my social media, but to be really effective, you need to respond to every individual comment that is made too. Remember that people buy people first.

Also when part of the Cafe and Bookstore update on Mondays and Fridays alongside four other authors, it really makes a difference if you share the post on your own blog and social media. For example…. one of the recent showcases received 150 views on the blog but received 25 retweets.. I did the sums by going into each of those accounts and the number of followers and therefore potential readers of the books came to….. 350,000. That is the power of the accumulation factor and a powerful marketing tool.

Anyway.. enough of the palaver!  Time to get on with this week’s posts.. thank you again for all your support it is much appreciated.

William Price King picks up the story about Johnny Mathis and shares some of his early smash hits… such as….

Paul Andruss posted a companion piece to his recent article on Coffee.. this time Chocolate received the always entertaining Andruss treatment.

Carol Taylor was on an Easter break this week but did put together a delicious lighter three course meal after the excesses of the chocolate (from Paul and in the Easter Eggs).

The Open House Sunday Interview with writer, traveler and Wild West Nut Jo Clutton.

Smorgasbord Poetry – Immortality by Dorothy Cronin – 1949 – 2006 – It is 12 years since our family lost a dear and much loved mother, daughter, sister, aunt and friend. She is still missed. I originally shared this at Easter 2014….I will be sharing her poetry for the next few weeks.

Personal Stuff- Letters from America

This week I am assistant coach for my friend Vicki at her Lamaze classes, host a Mary Kay party and am in awe of auction lots for Mother’s Day!

Short stories – Tales from the Garden – Little Girl Lost

Sally’s Book Reviews – Welcome to Saint Angel by William Luvaas

Sally’s Drive Time.. Music to get the weekend started.

This week an all out effort to bring some dry weather.. or at least sunshine back to Ireland.. with some sun themed songs.

An interview by Cynthia Reyes and a look at my little library amongst other things.

Blog Photo - Sally Library

I was delighted to be the guest of Cynthia this week… a little more background and secrets!

Posts from the Archives

Robbie Cheadle rounded off the Easter celebrations with a rhyming story with her main character Sir Chocolate saving the day.


Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Spring Showcase.

Jessica Norrie

Smorgasbord Health Column

How the brain develops from conception through life. We are hard wired and from the moment of conception there will be enforced changes to the structure and function of our brains

Smorgasbord Aromatherapy.

This week Clary Sage essential oil under the spotlight and also the hormone changing element of some oils that can be used therapeutically but can also impact gender specific health issues.

Turning Back the Clock – Chapter Nine – Holding on to your Marbles (A companion piece to the brain series)

The nutrients we need to be healthy – Vitamin B2- Riboflavin.


Another Flash Mob.. this time it is opera in the supermarket..

Thank you very much for your continued support and enjoy the week ahead..

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Sir Chocolate saves Easter – a rhyming verse story by Robbie and Michael Cheadle

As an Easter Monday treat, Robbie and Michael Cheadle share one of their popular rhyming verse stories featuring the superhero Sir Chocolate.. for everyone who loves chocolate…..

Sir Chocolate saves Easter – a rhyming verse story by Robbie and Michael Cheadle

The Easter Bunny was in quite a state;

His Easter deliveries were going to be late;

His chocolate making machine wouldn’t start;

The mechanic said he needed a spare part.

He set off to visit Sir Chocolate, his good friend;

And see if some ideas or help he could extend;

No eggs at Easter would make the children sad;

And think that they had done something bad.


Sir Chocolate and the Easter Bunny

Sir Chocolate made the Bunny some sweet tea;

It was quite an unusual problem, he did agree;

No ideas came out of their relaxed friendly talk;

So the friends decided to go for a short walk.


While walking they passed the hot chocolate pond;

They saw movement behind a Mint Willow frond;

Swimming on the pond was Daddy Chocolate Duck;

He might be able to help if they were in luck.


Daddy Duck and his family

His family laid chocolate eggs, milk or white;

The duck’s nests were a most unusual sight;

Each duck laid at least two big eggs a day;

And the extras were packed up into a tray.


Each day, Daddy Duck took them to market to sell;

They were popular, the Duck Family’s stall did well;

They would make a perfect Easter egg present;

The change would be well received and pleasant.


Two chocolate eggs in a nest

The only problem is the eggs were quite plain;

And of his eggs presentation the Bunny was vain;

Sir Chocolate had another bright thought;

And the teacher of the village school he sought.


The children might enjoy to spend a day;

Painting the eggs which is a great way to play;

When Sir Chocolate told the children his idea;

The loved the thought and gave a great cheer.


In particular, the Roundy twins, Yum and Tum;

And Sylvia Honeylegs, their very good chum;

Had ideas to make the eggs look really pretty;

To waste this opportunity would be a pity.


Yum and Tum and Sylvia Honeylegs

Daddy Duck was agreeable to help the pair;

No eggs at Easter would be most unfair;

The Duck Family started laying at a great pace;

Who could lay the most became a family race.


By the end of the week, the eggs lay in a heap;

The ducks were exhausted and needed some sleep;

Sir Chocolate took the eggs to the town hall;

The children decorated them and had a ball.


Yum and Tum painted the most beautiful creations;

Walking round the town painting different locations;

Some eggs were covered in the most beautiful flowers;

Others pictured rain and the sweet Spring showers.



IMG_1177 (2)

Eggs painted by the children

Sylvia Honeylegs also had a lovely thought;

And painted her eggs with pictures of sport;

Designs of the children playing in the local park;

Games like soccer and cricket until it got dark.


The children helped the eggs into a basket pack;

So the Easter Bunny could carry them on his back;

On Sunday early he set off his deliveries to make;

And was back in time for tea and delicious cake.


The painted Easter eggs were a great success;

The happy children were all very impressed;

Sir Chocolate and the bunny were really glad;

They have definitely started a brand new fad.


The End

© Robbie and Michael Cheadle

Thanks for Robbie and Michael for sharing this chocolate treat and all the fondant figures are made by Robbie with Michael’s help and you can find many more adventures on their website as well as in their books.

About Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle was born in London in the United Kingdom. Her father died when she was three months old and her mother immigrated to South Africa with her tiny baby girl. Robbie has lived in Johannesburg, George and Cape Town in South Africa and attended fourteen different schools. This gave her lots of opportunities to meet new people and learn lots of social skills as she was frequently “the new girl”.

Robbie is a qualified Chartered Accountant and specialises in corporate finance with a specific interest in listed entities and stock markets. Robbie has written a number of publications on listing equities and debt instruments in Africa and foreign direct investment into Africa.

Robbie is married to Terence Cheadle and they have two lovely boys, Gregory and Michael. Michael (aged 11) is the co-author of the Sir Chocolate series of books and attends school in Johannesburg. Gregory (aged 14) is an avid reader and assists Robbie and Michael with filming and editing their YouTube videos and editing their books

Books by Robbie and Michael Cheadle

One of the recent reviews for Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Dough Bees.

This is the most creative children’s and bakers’ heavenly book I’ve ever experienced! This is definitely a one-of-a-kind treat!

There are no illustrations, just incredible photographs of “… visions of sugarplums that dance in their heads …”; made of chocolate with vivid colors and totally edible.

What an amazing collection of literature with uniqueness I’ve never encountered before, and I’m a collector of classic and unusual books as well as an avid reader and reviewer!

This little book is a treasure of mixed art for all ages. This BOOK is for families and generations to come. An incredible, delectable keepsake.

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

And on Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Robbie on Goodreads:

Connect to Robbie and Michael


Thank you for dropping in today and Robbie would love to read your feeback thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – A fable about the way birds first got their wings by Karen Ingalls

Today Karen Ingalls shares a fable that carries a message to us all.. particularly at Easter and the beginning of Spring.. and a new cycle of life. A chance to perhaps change our perspective about the burdens we carry… Also two new reviews for Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir and Davida: Model and Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens

A fable about the way birds first got their wings by Karen Ingalls.

The story goes that initially they were created without them. Then God made the wings, set them down before the wingless birds, and said to them, “Take up these burdens and carry them.”

The birds had sweet voices for singing, and lovely feathers that glistened in the sunshine, but they could not soar in the air. When asked to pick up the burdens that lay at their feet, they hesitated at first. Yet soon they obeyed, picked up the wings with their beaks, and set them on their shoulders to carry them.

For some time, the load, this burden, seemed heavy and difficult to bear, but soon, as they continued to carry the burden and to fold the wings over their hearts, the wings grew attached to their little bodies. They quickly discovered how to use them and were lifted by the wings high into the air.

The burdens had become wings.

We each have burdens that we must carry until we learn how to carry them and tie them to our hearts. We must not run from them…where would we go? To be bitter or angry about them…only makes the burdens heavier. To try to have others carry our burden…what would we learn? To deny the existence of the burden…will keep us from growing.

Spring is a time of renewal. Trees get their leaves, flowers bloom, baby animals are born, and the weather warms up. The message of Easter is one of renewal, of giving our burdens to God thereby freeing ourselves to spread our wings and use them to soar like an eagle or fly from flower to flower like the hummingbird.

Wishing you the blessings of Easter today and everyday.

Fable of how birds got wings is from Streams in the Desert

About Karen Ingalls

I might be a retired RN, but I am an active and enthusiastic writer of non-fiction and fiction. It took a few years before I was willing to show that deeper part of myself. I love to get lost in the world of my novels and let the creative juices flow. I have written several articles for medical and nursing journals. I enjoy researching and discovering new information.

I enjoy writing for my two blogs ( and The first one is about health/wellness, relationships, spirituality, and cancer. My second blog is for authors and avid readers who wish to be interviewed, do a guest blog, and be promoted. I have “met” so many interesting and enchanting people, who have done guest posts for me; or those around the world who follow my blogs and leave comments.

I was thrilled and honored to be recognized as a runner-up at the Midwest Book Awards and then receiving first place in the category of “women’s health” at the National Indie Excellence Awards. The greatest reward is when a reader shares how my book(s) inspired them, taught them something, or brought a deeper awareness about life.

One of the recent excellent reviews for Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir

I am often hesitant to read memoirs or autobiographies, especially those of a medical nature, because I worry that they will contain medical jargon that will cause the story to be more sterile and statistical than compelling. This was definitely NOT one of those books.

The author chose to go a different route and focus more on her emotional journey through ovarian cancer rather than the medical side of it. I very much appreciated that. Her words of wisdom, encouragement, and strength poured through every single page to the level that anyone who is going through any turmoil or tough situation can relate to. That’s powerful writing talent!

Here are a couple of my favorite lines from this book:

I have learned that any rain that falls in my life is just droplets, and it’s up to me whether I will let those droplets flood away my spirit. Sometimes we need to build levees through more prayer, erect dams for permanent changes so the soul can grow, do a dance to pray for more sun to heal any wounds, or just take an umbrella to give temporary protection as we build up our strength and will.

I love how the author wove in various moments of the impact she made on others through simple choices she made in how to deal with her cancer in the everyday world, as well as the impact made on her through the surprising kindness of others in reaction to her illness.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is dealing with a tough situation right now, no matter the cause. It’s inspiring and heartfelt.

Read all the reviews and and buy the book:

and on Amazon UK:


My first novel, Novy’s Son is about one man’s search for his father’s love and acceptance. It is based on my father and those men I counseled when I was a nurse therapist.

Davida is my second novel which is a fictionalized biography about the love affair between Augustus Saint-Gaudens and his model. He was the premier sculptor from 1880 through the early 1900’s. These two people just happen to be my great-grandparents.

A recent review for Davida.

Traveling to the U.S. in 1876 with her mother, Albertina (Davida), a young Swedish girl will become a beautiful woman and later model for talented and well-known American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The eventual union between artist and model, the author’s great-grandmother and Augustus Saint-Gaudens produced a son, Louis. Saint-Gaudens, however, is married. “Bastard” was a term used for someone who had no social standing or recognition. He and his mother could not go out together where they might be recognized by people who were familiar with Saint-Gaudens’ wife, who had also given Saint-Gaudens a son.

Ms. Ingalls tells a love story between a highly successful sculptor and a Swedish emigrant who is very beautiful and also very naïve. Their son is called Novy by his father but never allowed to enter society with his fathers’ last name. The stigma of being illegitimate follows the man all of his life. He becomes disaffected, reclusive, and never integrates well into society.

Albertina has a love of the outdoors and the spirits of the woods melds into the story with gentle recognition and the heart of a true romantic raised in strict Victorian standards. That a liaison with the sculptor would ever happen is remarkable as well as the relatives and friends who rally around the young lady as she raises the child on her own. She never loses her love for his father and the secret of illegitimacy is kept hidden throughout the son’s life. Mr. Saint-Gaudens takes very good care of his lover and their child. They are not wont for anything except the recognition of who they really are. License is taken with tales of longing, searching, and forest creatures that sometimes invade the conscious of people familiar with forest environs.

On the whole, a beautiful love story and whose to say it couldn’t have happened that way. They maintained a relationship for twenty-five years. I applaud the author for the humanity and loving understanding with which it was written. I was given a download of the book and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for anyone interested in early American arts, the Beaux-Arts, the American Renaissance, romance, and biographies. C. E. Williams

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

And on Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Karen Ingalls on Goodreads:

Connect to Karen


Thank you for dropping in and my thanks again to Karen for sharing such a beautiful story. As always your feedback is much appreciated.


Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Semana Santa: Easter in Spain by Darlene Foster

Darlene Foster shares a post from her archives that brought back memories for me of our seventeen years in Spain. Easter is a big festival and is an occasion for all the family to take to the streets.

Semana Santa: Easter in Spain by Darlene Foster

The week before and including Easter is called Semana Santa here in Spain and is the largest religious festival of the year. Elaborate processions take place throughout the week in most cities and towns. During Holy week religious sculptures are taken out of the churches and paraded through the town to the main cathedral. Some of these precious sculptures,created by well known Spanish artists, are hundreds of years old. They are mounted on floats called pasos, surrounded with flowers and candles. Portapasos (or float-carriers) wearing traditional costumes, carry the heavy floats through the streets lined with spectators. No large trucks transport these floats, only dedicated men and women. I was eager to see one of these parades so we took a bus to nearby Murcia city to witness the Good Friday procession.


Paso carried through the streets of Murcia

Jesus Nazareno, 1797

Jesus Nazareno, 1797

San Juan Evangelista, 1952

San Juan Evangelista, 1952

float 2

Descendimiento, 2001

Ahead of the floats, carrying lamps, candles or incense, are the Nazarenos, often called penitents. These are members of various religious brotherhoods known as cofradias, wearing robes, capes and capirotes, a type of conical hat that usually covers the face. These robes were once worn by individuals doing penance. As a sign of atoning their sins, they would walk barefoot through the town, their faces covered so as not to reveal the sinners. Although the hooded cloaks look similar to the Ku Klux Klan, they have nothing to do with them. Many of these brotherhoods date back to the Middle Ages and are recognized by the colours they wear. They are responsible for the parade, pasos and music and spend countless hours in preparation, ensuring everything runs smoothly. There were about a dozen floats in this parade, each represented by a different brotherhood.

Penitent with bare feet

Penitent with bare feet.

green robes

red robes

Each Brotherhood wears its own colour

Included in the procession are women wearing the traditional mantilla, a black lace veil worn high on the back of the head. Mantillas are meant to show morning and pain. Marching bands and drummers follow the floats providing stirring music. The entire scene is alive with colour and sound, and the air is filled with the sweet scent of incense and melted wax. As always in Spain, this is a family affair with all ages taking part in the spectacle.

Women wearing Mantillas

Solemn women wearing Mantillas

all ages

All ages take part in the procession.


Incredible embroideries of gold and silk on standards, cloaks and coats

Drummers are heard throughout the cities and towns

Drummers are heard throughout the cities and towns

Candies and pastries play an important role in the Easter festivities. The Nazarenos and other members of the procession carry candy around their waists and hand them out to children who wait patiently with outstretched hands. Occasionally they give a treat to an adult too. A small robed participant caught my eyes, ran over to me, and placed some sweets in my hand, with a huge grin. So sweet.

Handing out candy to the children

Handing out candy to the children

This person is not fat, he is carrying candy around his waist.

This person is not fat, he is carrying candy around his waist.

Easter candy in the bakery

Easter candy in the bakery.

I love the stockings of the float bearers

I love the stockings of the float bearers

It is difficult not to be moved no matter what your beliefs. A merging of art, culture and religion in a vital and poignant atmosphere, I found it to be emotional and exciting at the same time. I’m thankful I was able to witness the dedication and pageantry of this special event.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter, however you spend it.

©images Darlene Foster 2016

Thanks to Darlene for sharing this celebration of Easter in Spain. As always we would love your feedback.

About Darlene Foster

Darlene Foster is a writer, an employment counsellor, an ESL tutor for children, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, shoes, cooking, reading, sewing, chocolate, music, the beach and making new friends. Her 13-year-old grandson called her “super-mega-woman-supreme”.

She was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. She currently divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca in Spain, with her husband Paul.

“Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask” was her first published novel. Once bitten by the travel bug, Amanda travels to other interesting places, sticking her nose in other people’s problems and getting herself in trouble. Read “Amanda in Spain – The Girl in the Painting”, “Amanda in England – The Missing Novel”, “Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone”, and “Amanda on the Danube – The Sounds of Music” and “Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind”  to find out the adventures Amanda has as she travels the world.


About Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask

Amanda Ross is an average twelve year old Canadian girl. So what is she doing thousands of kilometres from home in the United Arab Emirates? It’s her own fault really, she wished for adventure and travel when she blew out those candles on her last birthday cake. Little did she know that a whole different world awaited her on the other side of the globe, one full of intrigue, mystery and folklore. A world with a beautiful princess, a dangerous desert and wonderful friends. Join Amanda on her first adventure as she discovers the secrets behind The Perfume Flask.

And a recent review for the book.

Jan 18, 2018 Eileen Carter rated it it was amazing  

Adventure on every page.

What a great book for a young girl who enjoys adventure. Darlene Foster has written a Nancy Drew like book set in UAE. Amanda is ready for adventure when she goes to visit her aunt and uncle. She makes a new friend, Leah. But what happens when she buys a perfume flash?

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And Amazon UK:

A selection of other books by Darlene Foster

Read the reviews and buy all of Darlene’s books:

and Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Darlene on Goodreads:

Connect to Darlene via her website and social media.