Happy 4th July – Part Two – Houston Texas – 1986 – Halley’s Comet -Hawaii – Magnum PI – Top Gun


In celebration of our time in America and the wonderful people we met and still are in touch with, here is our second year living in Houston and some of the adventures we enjoyed. We actually ended up visiting all the East and West Coast as well as driving across country.. On this trip we wanted to see the once in a lifetime visit of Halley’s comet.

It is now 1986 and we were very aware that we only had a year left of David’s contract in America and that we needed to step up our explorations.  In that twelve months we visited the East and West coasts and made the epic road trip from Houston to New Mexico with a friend  to try and glimpse Halley’s Comet: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halley%27s_Comet

Halley’s Comet only appears every 76 years and being such a rare visit we needed to find a very special place to try and view this once in a lifetime event .  We opted for the car park of Carlsbad Caverns which is an enormous underground network of caves.

We explored the 119 caverns hundreds of feet below ground in the day; at night we returned to the car park miles from any light pollution and lay on ground sheets searching the star filled sky above us. The second night we were rewarded with the most amazing, if very tiny, sight of this elusive comet with our low resolution telescopes and just about with the naked eye. We had taken a rucksack with us with hot coffee and snacks and as we watched this astral display, we heard the rucksack being dragged off into the undergrowth. Fearing we had been targeted by large felines; we aimed our combined torches at the predator. A raccoon stared back at us challenging our refusal to pay the car park fees!  We persuaded him that this was not acceptable and were able to enjoy our breakfast at dawn surrounded by deer and a view that stretched for miles across the Chihuahuan Desert.

That year David and I also took advantage of the air miles he had accumulated on all his sales trips and flew to Hawaii for the first of several visits to these magnificent islands. I have to admit at this point that I have always had rather a crush on Tom Selleck…. Magnum P.I and I rather hoped that I might be lucky enough to encounter him on our trip. Whilst waiting for a glimpse of an earthbound comet…. we did some of the usual tourist activities and I splashed out on a wonderful MuuMuu which was set off by my 80s hair.

Sally-Hawaii-Mumu

We also  discovered the delight of rum cocktails and completed pre-dinner tasting sessions. The outright winner is the Molokai Mule which is a drink not to be attempted on an empty stomach with the expectation of being able to stand up again afterwards.. It certainly has a mighty kick…here is the recipe for those of you brave enough to attempt! http://www.sheknows.com/recipes/molokai-mule

Eventually my secret wish was fulfilled and the day before our flight back to Houston, whilst at a four way stop near Diamond Head, I was rewarded with a fleeting encounter with Magnum P.I. He was in a convertible at the stop opposite us and as we glided past each other like ships in the night I knew that 1986 had been a very special year!

The music of that year was great with many hits making their way across the Atlantic in both directions. Here is a small selection: Lionel Ritchie – Say You Say Me, Dionne Warwick & Friends – That’s What Friends are For, Robert Palmer – Addicted to Love, Pet Shop Boys – West End Girls, Steve Winwood – Higher Love, Simply Red – Holding Back the Years, Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer, Madonna – Don’t Preach, Billy Ocean – When the Going Gets Tough and Bananarama – Venus.

In honour of the passing years I have selected Simply Red for this weeks chart track from 1986.

Films were equally interesting in 1986 and we managed to get in a weekly cinema visit wherever we might be at the time. Aliens, Platoon (stunning) The Mission, Crocodile Dundee, The Name of the Rose (highly recommended) Star Trek IV- The Voyage Home, The Color of Money, and Mona Lisa (amazing). Without a doubt the film that followed in the wake of An Officer and a Gentlemen in the romance category, with action thrown in high in the skies for good measure, was Top Gun with the every youthful Tom Cruise.  Here is the theme song.. and 30 years later the soundtrack is still on my playlist.

Buy Top Gun: http://www.amazon.com/Top-Gun-Tom-Cruise/dp/B001K3K5MO

Halley’s Comet Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License;

I hope you have enjoyed my step back in time in tribute to our American friends and the two wonderful years we enjoyed as guests in Houston.

 

Happy 4th of July Part One – 1985 – Renaissance Fair, Fire Ants and The Alamo


In celebration of July 4th and the wonderful friends we made in the two years that we lived in Houston, I am repeating my memories of some of our adventures. We look on that time with great happiness and are still in touch with our friends from 30 years ago today. This picture is some of the gang with David at the end of the table on the left. Every weekend was an excuse for a party…..

It was amazing how quickly we settled in to life in America. We were determined to make the most of our time there and whenever feasible I would join David for a long weekend in one of his various ports of call. He was on the road most weeks and on the Friday afternoon I would drive to the airport and get a flight to Los Angeles, Washington, Seattle or Boston and we would then spend two days exploring the area and sampling local delicacies. We went to Disney World and on a paddle steamer in New Orleans and sampled the music and the gumbo in small hole in the wall cafes.

My parents, both just into their 70s, wanted to come and see us from the UK. Once we were past the worst of the heat and the hurricane season, they arrived for three weeks a few days before our 5th wedding anniversary. Despite the long flight they were ready and raring to go the next morning and during the week I would drive to various tourist attractions within 100 miles or so in my new car; a metallic pewter Ford Topaz with air conditioning and all mod cons.

At the weekends David would join us and we were lucky enough to have one of the Texas Renaissance Fairs on within driving distance and here is a picture with the three of us tucking into Turkey drumsticks… My father has his hands full as David was taking the photo.

sally wedding day 1980Our fifth anniversary was celebrated in usual Chancellor Apartments style with a party at our place. We asked the neighbours above, below and on each side so that noise would not be an issue and my parents, who had really got into the swing of things, were treated like royalty by our friends. My father who did not normally drink very much was much taken with a new rum drink we had introduced him to… I had never seen him even the slightest bit tipsy in my entire life until that visit!

sally wedding day 1980As the party wound down, David and two other mad friends decided to go for a run to burn off the alcohol whilst some of us retired to the hot tub directly in front of our apartment block. It was quite cool at nights in November and we enjoyed the soak and chat for about five minutes as we sat on the wooden slats surrounding the tub. That is until I felt excruciating bites on my legs. I stood up and went into the hot water to brush off whatever was biting me but it only drove the insects further up my body stinging as they went.

I have always reacted badly to wasp and bee stings but could usually cope with one or two. But this was multiple bites and I started to go into anaphylactic shock. Luckily David and our other friends had just arrived back from their run and headed our way to get into the hot tub. By this time I was finding it hard to breathe. One of our neighbours who was in the crowd, lived on the ground floor; without time to call an ambulance, he dashed inside grabbed his keys and they bundled me in a towel into the back seat.

There was an emergency room about three minutes away and on arrival one of the lads dashed inside and grabbed assistance. I don’t remember much of what took place in the next couple of hours but I do recall feeling as though I was looking down on my body; watching as they pumped me full of epinephrine and kept me breathing. Some say it was a near death experience but it might have just been that my mind was overloaded with venom, tequila and adrenaline!!  Fire ants and tequila is not a recommended combination even on your 5th Wedding Anniversay.

Thankfully the treatment took effect and they eventually allowed me home the next morning. We walked in the front door to find my parents enjoying breakfast thinking we were having a lie in!

My father was a John Wayne and Western film fan and we had promised to take them to San Antonio on that same day to stay in the Marriott Hotel combined with a visit to the Alamo. We couldn’t disappoint him, and despite their insistence on cancelling the trip, we headed off with David driving and me sleeping solidly for the entire journey. I went to bed early and the next morning, still a little shaky, we headed off to relive one of the most historical moments in Texan history. My father was like a small boy in a sweet shop and was simply in his element. Such a pleasure to see his face light up. Here are my parents resting for five minutes before returning to the hotel for more rum cocktails and fajitas.

sally wedding day 1980Here is the music and the films of 1985 again and this week I have chosen two different tracks to share.

Wham and George Michael – Careless Whisper, Madonna – Like a Virgin, Foreigner – I Want To Know What Love Is, Paul Young – Everytime You Go Away, Huey Lewis and the News – The Power of Love, Whitney Houston- Saving All My Love For You, USA for Africa – We Are The World, Phil Collins – One More Night, The Pointer Sisters – Neutron Dance, Billy Ocean – Suddenly, Tina Turner – Better Be Good To Me and the one that I featured last week, Katrina and the Waves – Walking on Sunshine. This week a track that I still play a great deal.. Starship – We Built This City.

And the films.

Top at the Box Office were Back to the Future, The Breakfast Club, Witness, The Color Purple, Rambo -First Blood Part Two and Rocky IV. Cocoon , Commando, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Mask and an all-time favourite of mine and tissue manufacturers; Out of Africa.

Here is Tina Turner with the hit We Don’t Need Another Hero from Mad Max Thunderdome

More of our American memories tomorrow… I hope you will drop in.. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Book Promotion – Air Your Reviews – Jacquie Biggar, Sacha Black and Sally Cronin


The first author with a new review is USA Bestselling author, Jacquie Biggar for her latest book released in April 2017 – Hold ‘Em – A Gambling Hearts Novel (Volume 1)

About the book

In the game of love all bets are off

When professional poker player Matthew Shaughnessy wins the pot of a lifetime, he didn’t expect to land himself a fiancée.

Cassandra Gardener is left with little choice but to play the part of a Texan’s fiancée for a week if she wants to clear her father’s gambling debt.

Can two people with so much to lose win the biggest bet of all- love?

The most recent review

on May 15, 2017

I have never read a book by this author but found it to be well written and it held my interest. Professional poker player Matt Shaughnessy wins more than he expected when the one player did not have the means to totally pay up. This player a Canadian diplomat was short the wagered amount, he dug into his jacket pocket and pulled out a diamond ring. Asking Matt if he will accept this as a token? It was a beautiful ring and it was in the family for generations and was for his daughter who was to be getting married soon.
Matt lives in Texas and comes from a good Texas ranch family. His grandmother is dying and her wish is before she dies to see her grandson with a good woman, about to marry.
Gardener from Canada, was feeling like he won and he was about to pull the winnings his way before Matt had a chance to lay down his hand.

Cassandra was Gardener’s daughter and they had just settled on her becoming Matt’s fiancée for a week. To come back to Texas with him, meet the grandma and pretend to be in love with Matt. This was to pay off her fathers $250,000 gambling debt.
Cassandra stepped up to the plate in doing what needed to be done to settle what her father had gotten her into. She would be living in the next room from Matt, with a Jack and Jill bathroom separating them. She had to encounter the whole Shaughnessy family and ranch hands, learning to ride a horse, etc.

You could tell that Matt and his grandmother Madeline had a wonderful strong bond. Madeline firmly believed that Cassandra was the girl that she had dreamt about for Matt.
I hope to be able to read more from this author.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Hold-Em-Gambling-Hearts-Novel/dp/1988126134

A selection of other books by Jacquie Biggar

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Jacquie-Biggar/e/B00MSIJQBG

Read more reviews and follow Jacquie Biggar on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8445812.Jacquie_Biggar

Connect to Jacquie via her website: http://jacqbiggar.com

The next review is for Sacha Black’s debut book How to Craft Superbad Villains – 13 Steps to Evil published last month.

About the book

Your hero is not the most important character in your book. Your villain is.

Are you fed up of drowning in two-dimensional villains? Frustrated with creating clichés? And failing to get your reader to root for your villain?

In 13 Steps to Evil, you’ll discover:

+ How to develop a villain’s mindset
+ A step-by-step guide to creating your villain from the ground up
+ Why getting to the core of a villain’s personality is essential to make them credible
+ What pitfalls and clichés to avoid as well as the tropes your story needs

Finally, there is a comprehensive writing guide to help you create superbad villains. Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned writer, this book will help power up your bad guy and give them that extra edge.

These lessons will help you master and control your villainous minions, navigate and gain the perfect balance of good and evil, as well as strengthening your villain to give your story the tension and punch it needs.

If you like dark humour, learning through examples and want to create the best villains you can, then you’ll love Sacha Black’s guide to crafting superbad villains. Read 13 Steps to Evil today and start creating kick-ass villains.

The most recent review on Amazon

Sacha Black makes a great point in the opening of this book – that a villain is at least as important as the hero and rarely gets an equivalent amount of attention as a book is crafted. And we all love a great villain, whether we know it or not, because a great villain makes our hero miserable, which promises a satisfying payoff when the hero prevails!

Black is thorough, elaborating on 13 different factors related specifically to villain development, though many of the points, including those covering motivation, conflict, and authenticity, apply to all characters. Villain-specific chapters address such things as female villains, cliches, the villain psyche, and anti-heroes. There is a thoughtful chapter on mental health challenges in relation to building a villain’s profile.

In general, Black’s presentation is a hoot, witty and conversational, and a joy to read. The book is well-organized with summaries at the end of each chapter and references and appendices in the back. Once read, the book can easily serve as an ongoing resource. 13 Steps to Evil is a must-read for new writers and has some good reminders/tips for seasoned writers as well.

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0722X7Y4P

and https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0722X7Y4P

Connect to Sacha via her blog: http://sachablack.co.uk/about/

And I am delighted to also include a new review for my latest book What’s in a Name by Marsha Ingrao in her blog this week.

About the book

There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet.

There are classical names such as Adam, David and Sarah that will grace millions of babies in the future. There are also names that parents have invented or borrowed from places or events in their lives which may last just one lifetime or may become the classic names of tomorrow.

Whatever the name there is always a story behind it. In What’s in a Name? – Volume One, twenty men and women face danger, love, loss, romance, fear, revenge and rebirth as they move through their lives.

Anne changes her name because of associations with her childhood, Brian carries the mark of ancient man, Jane discovers that her life is about to take a very different direction, and what is Isobel’s secret?

Marsha’s review on Amazon

What’s in a name? Would you expect a dry rendition of the ancient origins for names? NO! Sally Cronin would not write something that would put you to sleep. What’s in a Name? is Sally’s newest book, published in February 2017.What’s in a Name?

In What’s in a Name? Sally wrote simple stories about people named Anne, who preferred to be called Annie, Alexander Winterbottom, Beatrix, and David. She gave them all interesting lives. Beatrix was a beautiful actress. Even after 40 years, she retained her regal demeanor and her audience appeal. Only at the end do you find out how. Celia buried herself in work for twenty years and then had to leave the nunnery and find a new life outside. Clive had a life-changing run-in with a cobra at age three. Diana Grace, courted by a handsome merchant banker, fell in love and married him in short order. When she got pregnant three years later, her husband did not react the way she expected he would.

Many stories, each with their plot twist that often made me smile, even when the protagonist murdered someone. Yes, there are a couple of murders and a few deaths. Four-year-old Grace went on a hunger strike when a loss broke her heart. I cried at that story. Hector accidentally killed a man who attacked his buddy and had already killed two security officers.

You will not be bored. It is an easy book to put down because each person has their own chapter. However, you will not want to. Can you tell I loved this book?

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Whats-Name-Sally-Cronin-ebook/dp/B01N6Y8BK1

Also by Sally Cronin

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Read more reviews and follow Sally on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thank you for dropping in today and please let me know if you have a great review that you would like to share. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Short Story Festival – 9th -12th June – Elaine by Sally Cronin


To end the festival I have one of the stories from What’s in a Name volume one. Elaine is looking forward to a very special celebration with her husband and neighbour.

ELAINE by Sally Cronin

Elaine lay under the warmth of the duvet and her hand crept across the mattress to touch her husband’s hand. Not enough to wake him but just a gentle touch to remind him of her presence. Jack’s even breathing and gentle snore was comforting and Elaine smiled to herself, savouring the delicious secret that she was desperate to reveal.

She had been saving up the news until today as a gift for Jack’s birthday. They had been married for two years and she knew that his greatest wish was for them to have a baby. His large family had already provided his parents with six grandchildren and whilst he might not talk about his desire for a family; he wanted to hold their child in his arms almost as much as she did. She had remembered the look on his face when she had thought that she might be pregnant but it had turned out to be a false alarm.

This is why she had waited until she was absolutely sure; today would be the perfect time to reveal the secret.

Jack stirred beside her she turned her face in anticipation of his usual morning kiss on her brow and lips.

‘Good morning my lovely,’ he gently stroked some stray hairs out of her eyes. ‘How are you today?

Elaine smiled at him lovingly and touched the tip of his beautiful nose. ‘Happy birthday my darling,’ and she leant over to kiss his mouth.

Over breakfast they discussed the final details of the birthday party that afternoon. Jack’s family lived too far away to attend but he had asked one of their neighbours from down the street to join them. Jessica was always in and out and would pop in for coffee most mornings when Jack was at work. Sometimes she would also bring her children in at the weekend and they had a wonderful time playing scrabble and cards.

Elaine had butterflies in her stomach as the urge to blurt out her special secret became too much to bear. It had to be the right moment, when Jack was cutting his birthday cake that Jessica had kindly made for him. She was a much better baker that she was and it looked amazing.

Jack had been in the navy when they met and on top of the white and blue cake, a figure in a sailor’s uniform posed with an anchor. Elaine bet the inside of the cake would be delicious and would taste all the better when she announced her news.

After a quick sandwich for lunch and whilst Jack tidied the living room ready for the party, Elaine popped upstairs quietly to their bedroom and sat at the dressing table. She smiled to herself as she viewed her reflection in the mirror. There was no doubt about it; her skin had a definite glow. Artfully she brushed her blonde hair into a smooth bob and applied her makeup carefully. Not too much, but just enough to enhance her youthful beauty. Laid out on the bed were three outfits and Elaine was having problems deciding which to wear.

Jack would always laugh about her preparations for an evening out. He knew she would try on all the options a couple of times before making her final choice.

This kept her busy for the next half hour and eventually she headed downstairs in her favourite cream dress with pearls at her neck and in the lobes of her ears. Jack took her hands and stepped back for a better look.

‘You look stunningly beautiful sweetheart,’ he gently straightened the string of pearls around her neck; they had been his wedding present to her.

Elaine almost gave the secret away at that point but held the temptation in check. Her plan was perfect and she must wait a few more hours until his birthday cake was cut.

Jack left her sat in the lounge surrounded by plates of neatly cut sandwiches and a pile of festive napkins. In the corner on a cabinet sat the cake surrounded by the birthday cards that had arrived over the last two or three days.

Just then the doorbell rang and it startled Elaine as the sound intruded into her secret daydreams. She pushed herself out of the chair and headed for the hall. Jack was coming down the stairs and held out his hand to her.

‘Don’t worry love I’ll get it,’ and he opened the door to find their three guests on the doorstep.

In they came, bearing brightly coloured bags of gifts and contributions to the birthday tea. There was much hugging and chatter as overcoats were dispensed with and they all headed into the living room. Jack and Jessica took the food she had brought into the kitchen and put the kettle on. Sophie and Ben, who were in their early teens, entertained Elaine with tales of their antics at school during the week.

The food disappeared rapidly and two pots of tea later it was time to cut the cake. This was Elaine’s moment and she stood up to join Jack at the cabinet as he prepared to slice into the blue and white icing.

‘Darling, I have a very special birthday present for you,’ she held out the envelope that clearly contained rather bulky contents. Jack smiled at her eager face and proceeded to open the envelope carefully. He drew out the birthday card that had a huge heart on the front and carefully opened it to reveal the surprise. In his hand were a pair of knitted baby booties decorated with white satin ribbon.

Tears formed in the corners of his eyes as he pulled Elaine to him. ‘Thank you darling for the best birthday present I have ever received.’ Over her shoulder he smiled at their guests and they nodded and smiled in return.

Jessica’s children helped clear away the plates and carried them into the kitchen whilst their mother sat on the sofa holding Elaine’s hand. ‘That is wonderful news and I am so happy for the both of you.’ she smiled gently at the woman at her side. ‘We can talk about it on Monday when I pop in for coffee and we’ll get the baby knitting patterns out to look at.’

An hour later and Jessica kissed Elaine on the forehead and gently stroked her cheek. She headed off to the hall and gathered up the coats and handed them out to Sophie and Ben. When she reached the front door, she turned once more and gave Jack a warm hug and whispered in his ear. ‘It was a wonderful birthday tea Dad and I will come in as usual on Monday when you go out to do the shopping.’

Jack went back into the lounge and stood for a moment looking at his wife, sitting calmly watching the flames flickering in the fireplace. The outfit that Elaine had finally chosen was her wedding dress, and she looked as radiant today as she had forty years ago. He sat beside her and gently moved some stray silver hairs from her forehead and took her face in his hands. He looked into her sparkling blue eyes that no longer recognised her daughter or grandchildren.

The most precious birthday present he had received today, was that his beautiful Elaine still knew him, and that even in the darkness, her light continued to shine brightly.

©sallycronin2016 What’s in a Name. At a special price http://www.moyhill.com/wian/

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Thank you very much for dropping in and I hope you have enjoyed the short stories over the last few days. Sally

Smorgasbord Short Stories Festival – 9th to 12th June – The programme of events.


As you may have already heard there is a #BloggersBash going on in London this weekend and having been unable to go the last two years, I am delighted to be heading off tomorrow.

As usual when taking a break I invited some guest writers to contribute their fiction short stories to keep you entertained while I was offline. And I am very grateful to Sheila Williams, John Howell, Phillip T. Stephens, Wendy Janes, Mary Smith and Robbie and Michael Cheadle for their wonderful tales.

There will  also be the regular posts from Paul Andruss and the start of the serialisation of Geoff Cronin’s second book written when he was 84 years old with more stories of life in Ireland in the 1920s onwards.

On Monday morning I have also scheduled a health post and an introduction to a new series.. The health benefits of laughter and the Smorgasbord Laughter Academy.

The Programme – Friday 9th June

Thomas the Rhymer

Frankenstein

Paul Andruss with the background to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Boy with a Harmonica

Sheila Williams with a story set in France during World War II with a supernatural twist.

Albert

Sally Cronin –  Meet a man who was the perfect candidate for the job set in the near future.

Saturday 10th June.

The Matmakers

Geoff Cronin – As a boy Geoff befriends the travellers who come to the beach near his home every summer.

The World Darkly

John Howell with a story that makes you rethink your approach to finding lost property!

The Last Emperor

Sally Cronin with a story of redemption and loyalty in the Magic Garden.

Sunday 11th June

Flinches

Geoff Cronin explains the old country ways of bird catching.

Search and Seizure

Phillip T. Stephens with a futuristic look at border and customs control.

From Hackney to Hollywood

Wendy Janes takes us on the trail to stardom from Shakespeare in Hackney to the chat show sofa in Hollywood.

Monday 12th June

The health benefits of laughter and an invitation to join the academy with your favourite jokes, videos or images.

Sir Chocolate and the Stolen Moon and Stars

Robbie and Michael Cheadle bring us another adventure story starring Sir Chocolate in verse and also Michael’s original concept for the tale.

Trouble with Socks

Mary Smith with a story of how simple things can become very important to us.

Elaine

Sally Cronin with the story of a woman planning to surprise her husband on his birthday.

I am sure you will enjoy the stories from my guest authors, and as I shall be offline completely for the weekend from tomorrow, I will catch up with you on Monday evening. 

As I will not be here to click the share buttons.. I would be very grateful if you would do so for me.  Thanks Sally.

 

 

Smorgasbord Poetry – Holidays by Sally Cronin


Holidays By Sally Cronin

Time between holidays was very slow
Anticipation growing by the day
Kept asking the question ‘When do we go?’
On and on from the beginning of May.

Food filled memories remain on my lips
Of scones on a plate, warm, laden with jam
And plates of piping hot and crispy chips
Served with thick slices of crumb crusted ham.

Other summer treats are fresh in my mind
Crisp battered fish, served with peppery peas.
Soft whirling ice-creams of every kind
That made you forget the cold icy seas.

The days at the beach with sand in your pants
And in the hard boiled egg sandwiches too.
Left over crumbs that attracted the ants
And painful wasp stings that turned the air blue.

Far too quickly the summer was over
And the long wait for the next festive break
Weeks before Christmas went even slower
Looking forward to that marzipanned cake.

Now I am older the time goes so fast
I don’t have to wait so long for the fun
I know how to make the holidays last
Despite the fact there is too little sun.

I fill up my trolley with scones and jam
And a pot of the finest clotted cream.
Cornish icecream, battered cod and crumbed ham
I am now finally living the dream.

©sallycronin 2017

If you would like to share your poetry here then please contact me directly on sally.cronin@moyhill.com  Next week a poem from Mary Smith.

Smorgasbord Short Stories Lit Fest- June 9th – 12th -Storytellers wanted – Sally at the #Bloggersbash


If you have not heard, I am packing my bags, polishing my dancing shoes and working with weights to get my arms hugging fit.  I am off on June 9th to London so that I can finally attend one of the best #BloggersBashAwards ever.

As you know, I do like to leave a little something for you here when I am off on a jaunt, and this time I am loading the blog with short stories.

I will be sharing stories across the four days from Geoff Cronin from his second book of tales set in Waterford in the 1920s and 1930s.

I will also be sharing my own fiction stories from Flights of Fancy, Tales from the Garden and What’s in a Name Volume One.

It would be lovely to have some of your short stories to post as well and I am looking for fiction appropriate for a wide ranging audience from 14 – 100 years old, across all the genres.

I will top and tail the stories with your bio, blog details or book details with the usual buy links. So it is an opportunity for you to share your work with my readers as well as helping me out.  It is also a perfect way to show off your creative writing skills.

There are four days available so plenty of room. If you are interested please contact me at sally.cronin@moyhill.com as soon as possible.

 

Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Cook From Scratch – Multi-vitamin on a plate – Brown Rice Pilaf


I do take supplements from time to time. If I feel that I am going through a stressful time and not eating as well as I should, then I will take a multi-vitamin or appropriate supplement. As we get older some of our systems become less efficient and the digestive system is one that needs careful monitoring. You will find a whole directory of posts here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe/

I know that if you have been following the blog for the last three years or so, you will have seen this recipe before, but for those of new to the blog you might find it a useful illustration of how you can pack a plate with not just food but nutrients.

My philosophy about food is very simple. ‘Cook from Scratch’ avoiding industrialised foods that have been infused with chemical enhancers and gift-wrapped in plastic. This does not mean that you stop eating the occasional food that comes in a packet or carton.. but if you eat at least 80% of your food from fresh produce with only 20% that is manufactured you are doing pretty well.

However, all of us go through times when we might need a little addtional help and that is where taking the right supplements is useful.

And the word supplement means in addition to not instead of. Your body is designed to process food to extract the nutrients that it requires and many supplements on the market, especially the cheaper brands may not be in a form that your body can utilise.

You can reproduce some of those often expensive vitamin and mineral supplements yourself, and here is my version.

It contains most of the food groups and a great many of the nutrients we require on a daily basis. Protein, wholegrain carbohydrates, good fats and a wide range of nutrients.  Whilst it makes a delicious main meal for the family you can make it in bulk and keep some in the fridge for two to three days and freeze portions for later in the week. You only need a couple of large serving spoons to get a great nutritional boost.

DSC_1207aw

But before I give you the recipe I would like to show you how this meal is in fact a delicious form of a multi-vitamin pill that the body understands and you will gain more benefit from.

This recipe provides you with a great vitamin B-Punch. I am only including those nutrients that are available in a higher concentration, but I think it illustrates that if you compare this to the information on your multivitamin supplement; you are getting most of what you need in this simple to make dish.

Ingredients with main nutritional elements.

Brown rice – any form of brown rice will contain more of the nutrients as it loses only the outer layer of the grain called the hull. During the process that turns brown rice to white rice it loses 67% of its vitamin B3 (niacin) 80% of B1, 90% of B6 – half of its manganese and phosphorus, 60% of its iron and all the dietary fibre and essential fatty acids. Do you realise that to make white rice acceptable as a food it has to be artificially enriched with B1 B3 and iron? It is amazing the difference that processing a food can have on its nutritional content. It also contains selenium and copper.

Olive Oil – Omega 9 Fatty Acid and Vitamin E. Inflammatory disease throughout the body is one of the leading causes of health problems for major organs such as the heart and brain. Using Extra Virgin Olive oil even in cooking helps reduce inflammation in the body. Also contains Vitamin E.

Onions and Garlic Folate, B1, B6 Vitamin C, biotin, manganese, copper, chromium, quercitin, potassium, phosphorus – heart health, blood sugar levels, inflammation, digestive system.

Red Peppers – Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, Folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, phosphorus, magnesium. Antioxidant.

Mushrooms – Folate, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, copper, selenium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, manganese and a great source of protein.

Walnuts – Omega 3 fatty acids, copper, manganese and biotin. Heart health.

Spinach – Vitamin K, Vitamins A, Folate, B1, B2, B6, C, E, Calcium and potassium.

Tuna/Salmon – Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins B3, B6, B12, selenium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, potassium.

Eggs – Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Folic Acid, Vitamin A, B2, B5, B12, D (very important) E, iron, iodine, selenium. (Research is indicating that having an egg a day is not harmful as unhealthy cholesterol is not caused by eating natural foods containing it but in eating industrial foods with high sugar levels and commercially manufactured fats).

Ingredients for four servings. You can freeze three portions and use as needed.

225gm /8oz of wholegrain rice (you can add some wild rice for flavour)
15ml/ 1 tbsp. Extra Virgin olive oil. (Recent research has indicated that this is safe to heat for cooking but do not burn).
30gm real butter (Spreads that contain half and half butter and margarine are also full of additives) Better to have a little of the real dairy fat.
1 large finely chopped onion.
Half a red pepper
Handful of mushrooms, button or shitake and as an alternative protein.
10 chopped walnuts.
4 oz. of finely chopped spinach or dandelion leaves.
Any leftover vegetables from the day before.
1 crushed clove of garlic.
1 teaspoon mild pimiento
Your choice of protein – One Egg per person, chicken, salmon, tuna, lean bacon or a mix of various kinds.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Wash the rice under cold running water until clear and drain to remove dust and any remaining debris. Cook until tender in boiling water for 20/25 minutes either on the stove or in a rice cooker in the microwave.

Hard boil four eggs. (A little tip is to put a teaspoon of bicarbonate in the water and it will make the eggs much easier to peel).

In a frying pan melt your butter into the olive oil and cook your bacon and remove from the pan. Add finely chopped onions, red pepper, mushrooms and garlic with a pinch of salt, the pimiento and a sprinkle of pepper to the bacon infused oil and butter and cook until soft. Add the bacon back in and then stir in the chopped spinach and walnuts.

Drain your rice and I usually pour boiling water over it in the colander to remove any starch residue. Add in one large serving spoon per person to the pan and on a low heat blend the rice through the ingredients.

Add in your cooked protein such as chicken, tuna or salmon or cooked shrimp.

Serve in a bowl and garnish with a hardboiled egg.

Variations.

Add in the vegetables you enjoy to the base recipe and you can jazz it up for dinner parties as guests love the variety. You can also eat this cold. Keep in the fridge in a sealed container and serve with a garden salad.  It will keep for a day or two and you can reheat with a small amount of stock in a large frying pan or reheat in the microwave.

©smorgasbordhealth 2017

A reminder that you will find posts on vitamins and minerals and the foods that provide them in this directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-nutrition-directory/

 

 

Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Stevie Wonder, Justice ‘East End’ Style, Skin and Bones


Welcome to the round up for the posts this week just in case you missed any. I feel a little guilty since I spent quite a bit of time off line and not spending time with your blogs but I promise that just another week to go and I will be more attentive.

The plan was to get the next volume of What’s in a Name finished.. I have two more stories to go Y and Z… already in my head and then I have some surprises to add that will be revealed when it is published.  A slightely different appoach to the names from K to Z with just ordinary people doing something they will be remembered for.. Even if it is only by those they love.

Some of you may remember that I wrote a story using an illustration by the very talented Donata Zawadzka.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/smorgasbord-short-story-tales-from-the-irish-garden-after-the-festival-illustrated-by-donata-zawadzka/

This story along with 24 more make up the sequel to Tales from the Garden but this time set in Ireland. Queen Filigree is forced to escape from the palace beneath the magnolia tree in Spain and to seek refuge with her Irish cousin.

I am working with Donata who is producing four central illustrations that head up the four seasons in the book and I am very excited by the project. And I have to thank Paul Andruss for introducing us. It will be in print as well as Ebook and is the first book of mine to be written in Ireland since 1999.

You can find out more about Donata at her website and her sales site:  http://dezawadzka.wix.com/donatasgallery
Buy her work on Redbubble: http://www.redbubble.com/people/donattien/works/7004053-the-birch-maiden?c=32080-ink-illustrations

I have managed to get some gardening done this week which has a duel purpose.. I pot plants and plot stories!  I am going to do the same this week whilst I finish the current projects but I will be in each day to check up on things and have a chat.

Thank you for all your wonderful support and wonderful comments… I am hugely grateful.

Now for a look at the posts from the week… with additional thanks to my two collaborators.. William Price King and Paul Andruss.

William Price meets the Legends

A brand new series and this time the artist is the amazingly talented Mr. Stevie Wonder who has entertained us for over 50 years. His first performances at age 11 propelled him to early stardom and some of his most iconic hits were written when he was a teenager.  To get you in the mood is one of my all time favourites.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/william-price-king-meets-some-legends-stevie-wonder-the-early-years/

Writer in Residence – Paul Andruss

Paul explores the origins of music and you might look at chimpanzees in a different light.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/writer-in-residence-extra-song-and-dance-man-by-paul-andruss/

The Colour of Life – by Geoff Cronin

Just a few more chapters to go in my father-in-law’s memoir but since so many of you have enjoyed I will also be serialising his second book of tall tales.. This week too I pay tribute to my mother-in-law Joan who would have been 97 yesterday. A lovely woman with the most infectious laugh you will ever hear.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/20/the-colour-of-life-serialisation-the-rosary-1955-by-geoff-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/20/the-colour-of-life-extra-behind-every-great-man-joan-cronin-1920-1994/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/21/the-colour-of-life-tommy-and-the-fish-and-the-power-of-prayer/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Book Reading and Interview

Just  a reminder that if you are in the bookstore you are welcome to do a book reading and interview. The details of how to do that are in this post.  My guest this week was Richard Ankers and next week Sandra J. Jackson and C.S. Boyack.

Sally's Cafe and Bookstore

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/new-series-sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-book-reading-and-interview/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/20/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-book-reading-and-interview-richard-ankers/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore New on the Shelves

If you are not already on the shelves of the bookstore then please pop in and take a look at this post which has a link to what you need to send me.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-13-steps-to-evil-by-sacha-black/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update

If you are in the bookstore you can enjoy regular updates of new releases, great reviews or offers.. Just send me an email to sally.cronin@moyhill.com

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/15/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-dan-alatorre-and-angie-dokos/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-deanie-humphrys-dunne-and-lesley-fletcher/

Smorgasbord Book Promotion – Air your Reviews

This is open to all authors on the bookstore shelves or not… just send the link to your latest great review to sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Jessica Norrie

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/smorgasbord-book-promotion-air-your-reviews-jessica-norrie-and-sue-coletta/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/18/smorgasbord-book-promotion-air-your-reviews-annette-rochelle-aben-and-hugh-w-roberts/

Smorgasbord Poetry

My thanks to Robbie Cheadle for her contribution to this post this week.. In a dilemma about which cake to bake for her husband’s birthday she took to verse…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/smorgasbord-poetry-which-cake-by-robbie-cheadle/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/smorgasbord-poetry-dark-waters-by-sally-cronin/

Smorgasbord Short Stories

The Sewing Circle is about a group of elderly residents of an East London estate whose lives are devastated by the actions of a family of thugs.  Here are all three episodes. More stories from this collection next week.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/11/smorgasbord-short-stories-the-sewing-club-part-one-by-sally-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/15/flights-of-fancy-short-story-anthology-novella-the-sewing-circle-part-two-by-sally-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/18/flights-of-fancy-short-story-anthology-the-sewing-circle-part-three-by-sally-cronin/

Some personal stuff

I was delighted to be interviewed by two writers this week. The first was with Amy M. Reade.

https://amreade.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/sally-cronin-is-back/

And the second was with Lisa Burton.... courtesy of Craig Boyack.

https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/2017/05/18/odd-job-girl-on-lisa-burton-radio/

I was also very honoured to be nominated in the Most Informative Category for the #BloggersBash this year and voting is now open. There are ten categories and some wonderful nominees.. Please head over and vote for your favourites.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/smorgasbord-reblog-bloggerbash-2017-voting-is-now-open/

Smorgasbord Health – Let’s Walk a Marathon Challenge

This week.. how to burn extra fat…

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/15/lets-walk-a-marathon-update-and-methods-to-burn-extra-fat/

Smorgasbord Health – Top to Toe.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe-the-skeleton-the-progresson-of-osteoporosis-over-50-2/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/18/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe-the-skin-the-largest-organ-of-the-human-body/

Smorgasbord Health – Cook from Scratch

I would love to hear from you if you have a recipe made from fresh ingredients that is a favourite.. sally.cronin@moyhill.com

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/cook-from-scratch-the-sandwich-that-packs-a-punch-with-link-to-140-fillings/

Humour

Put your troubles away for a little while and enjoy the outlook of a pug who has a neural problem but does not let it get him down..

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/15/the-afternoon-video-when-adverts-are-better-than-the-television/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/smorgasbord-time-for-some-laffs-joys-of-old-age-and-a-slice-of-scotland/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/lets-walk-a-marathon-the-agility-circuit-try-and-keep-up-with-this-jack-russell/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/05/20/smorgasbord-time-for-some-laffs-things-are-not-always-what-they-seem/

Thanks for showing up, commenting, sharing and being so supportive.. hugs Sally

Keep smiling

 

 

 

Smorgasbord Poetry – The Lure of the Waltzer by Sally Cronin


I have been revisiting my poetry from my teen years and have added some of the life’s experiences gained in the intervening 50 years. This one takes me back to fourteen and the lure of the summer fairground along the seafront.. and one slick operator in particular.

The Lure of the Waltzer

Preparations take an hour to complete
With curlers, mascara and bright red lipstick
The adding of two years is quite a feat
As is the hairdo with the right little flick.

We sneak from the house without a goodbye
Heading for a forbidden destination
Very keen not to be caught in a lie
But we are obsessed with a fascination.

We loiter along the rails of the ride
With the others who have a similar aim
To walk away with a swagger of pride
Being winner of this particular game

Black-haired and blue-eyed with a rakish air
He knows the effect he inflicts on his prey
As he deigns to spin a customer’s chair
And rotates his hips with an arrogant sway

Spellbound we wait for him to catch our eye
All desperate to be singled out as the one
And when he does, and smiles, you almost die
From the joy of having your time in the sun

The Gypsy boy on the waltzer is god
But we know to only worship from afar
For we have heard tales of those he has awed
And have then ventured far too close to this star.

But the excitement and danger is bliss
For young girls exploring tales of the bad boys
To test new found womanhood with a kiss
Now that we have stopped playing with a child’s toys.

He grins as he whirls faster and faster
For he has finally selected a date
Let it be me, and not the disaster
Of him deciding that he fancies my mate.

To my relief he ignores both of us
And with virtue intact we leave for the day
Plotting next moves on the top of the bus
To win at this fun game of love we all play.

©sallycronin2017

Image: From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository