Share the Love Month on Main Street

This February, Main Street is opening its doors and arms to romance! In addition to romantic stories from our very own authors, we’re inviting anyone with a story to tell to post on our site to offer our readers a romantic story every day of the month! So please join us for excerpts and short stories that focus on love and laughter.

If you’re an author and you’d like to feature a story, please send an introduction of yourself, your books, and where your own personal Main Street may be. Every story (or book excerpt) chosen will include buy links. Please keep in mind that here on Main Street, we keep things family friendly. Just leave a comment, and I’ll get back to you with available dates. (But they’re going fast.)

Nostalgia and Winter Drinks to Warm the Soul

Besides my mom and sisters, there are two special women in my life. Aunt Louella and Aunt Clara.

Aunt Louella’s house, filled with love, warmth, a bear hug and sweet kiss, always smelled of food. Delicious food. She could have a meal on the table before most women could gather their ingredients. A Godly woman, it didn’t matter if you were family or a stranger, the welcome sign was at all times in view. While I’d love to give you her biscuit recipe, there’s no way. She didn’t have a recipe. She’d give birth to a pan of catheads, brushed with butter, before you could barely set the table. 🙂 Oh…the jams and jellies, along with vegetables, she canned. Too good.

When another Godly womanAunt Clara, made this pungent, seriously warming drink, her entire house oozed with an amazing delicate scent that lingered long after the fireplace lost its magic. I still have a taste for Wassail, also known as hot cider, and I believe it permeated my sense of taste and smell for life! So did the pancakes that graced her table every Sunday morning. I’ve never seen her without a smile, a hug and a kind word.

While there are many versions of Wassail, a seriously spicy, flavorful cup of hot drink is a few short minutes away. Granted the drink is traditional at Christmas, but I like it anytime, especially during cold weather months. As much as I love coffee, sometimes my taste buds need a little boost. This drink does the job every time. This isn’t Aunt Clara’s recipe, but still almost as tasty.

tea

Ingredients:

8 cups apple cider

2 cups orange juice

½ cup lemon juice

4 whole cinnamon sticks

12 whole cloves, or 1 teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Instructions:

Transfer liquids into a large pot, add remaining ingredients and place on stove.

Lower heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and continue simmering for 30-45 minutes, to meld the flavor. Pour into cups or favorite mugs. Serve with cheese straws, crackers or cookies. Find a spot by the fire and enjoy!

Raspberry Zinger

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If you want something even quicker and easier, grab a box of Raspberry Zinger tea from the grocery shelf. I add a packet of non-sugar sweetener or one teaspoon of honey and a slice of lemon. So good and spicy to perk up an afternoon of writing!

Do you have special memories or a warm drink to share?

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If you haven’t gotten our latest Anthology, please go to Amazon and check it out!

Please check out these links to my books, available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Apple and Smashwords. http://caroldevaney.weebly.com/my-books.html

 

 

Cooking with Stephanie Queen

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Don’t go by what Myren, my chauffeur, says about my cooking. I’m no pro, but I have my moments of deliciousness in the kitchen. Especially when I get hungry. Then I can really cook.

I think I got my penchant for cooking and food from my Italian grandmother. She could barely speak English and forget about reading or writing. But she could cook any hoity-toity chef from the best Italian restaurant under the table. I’d put her in any of those TV cooking show competitions and bet my house on her. She was a red-headed spitfire and enjoyed nothing more than cooking for a party of people any time. The main room in her home was the kitchen, second was the dining room. There was no living room or parlor or family room. She didn’t need any room extraneous to cooking and eating.

Myren says it’s about time I got to the cooking and recipe-sharing part of this blog-a-treatise. So here it is. My Grandma’s *heirloom* marinara sauce from the old country–otherwise known as Grandma’s Gravy. Watch me cook it up HERE!

The Recipe

 

Stephanie Queen’s Recipe for Grandma’s Gravy (aka marinara sauce)

Ingredients:

  • 2 28 oz cans Crushed Tomato
  • 1 lg can Tomato Paste
  • 3-4 cloves of Fresh Garlic
  • 4 medium – large bunches of fresh large leaf basil
  • ¼-1 whole Sweet Onion, chopped finely
  • Olive Oil
  • Approx. 1- 1 ½ lbs combined Pork, Sausage and beef (cuts/amounts as preferred, but include some with bone-in)

Instructions:

In large heavy dutch-oven pan, cover the bottom with a generous amount of olive oil and add the meat. Saute on medium heat until lightly brown, turning over 2-3 times. Remove meat from pan and lower heat.

Add chopped onion, chopped garlic and basil. Tear basil before adding. Saute for a few minutes, adding more olive oil. Add tomato paste, stir, saute for a couple of minutes.

Add meat back in. Mix in with tomato paste. Add olive oil and stir to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.

Turn heat up to medium and add two cans of crushed tomatoes and one half can of water. Stir this mixture thoroughly.

Cover pan and heat, stirring occasionally, until it begins to bubble. Turn heat down and simmer for 2-7 hours, stirring occasionally.

Myren also suggests wearing an apron. Right now he’s hovering with a big spoon and a bowl of spaghetti waiting for the *gravy*. Time to go.

What’s your favorite *heirloom* recipe? Please share!

 

Here’s to 2017!

Jill blogged about wanting, doing, and creating more in 2017 . Susan had a similar idea but different take, focusing on less – less and fewer negatives for 2017.

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I love both ways of looking at self improvement and will be using both, starting today. More writing. More dance, karate, weapons training, and time in the gym. More focus on family, friends, and love. Less focus on negativity. Fewer reasons to say “NO”, and more listening, learning, and trying to find ways to make good things happen.

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Adding one good thing a day – like broccoli to lunch, or an extra ten minutes of stretching isn’t monumental or hard. Consistently over time it will make life better.

Here’s to better – Happy 2017.

Leigh

Beautiful Girls

This New Year’s, everyone was talking about Mariah Carey’s disastrous lip-sync fail on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. But another performance that evening stood out to me and stayed with me. It was Alessia Cara singing “No Scars to Your Beautiful.”

While most of the other female performers came on stage in glitlittle girl posingtery, barely-there costumes, Alessia wore a simple leather jacket, jeans and sneakers, and no makeup. Her attire echoed the sentiment of the song, and its powerful message for girls about body image and self-acceptance.

Here’s a link to the performance.

What a contrast to many of today’s young female singers, who flaunt their sexuality and push the boundaries with explicit lyrics. As a mom of three young daughters, I often worry about the messages they’re receiving from popular music and images in the media. There’s constant, crushing pressure to fit the mold, to look a certain way, as though a woman’s value lies in her appeal to men. In our supposedly enlightened times, young women are more sexualized than ever. It’s so wrong, yet so prevalent.

I’ve felt this pressure all my life. As we grow older, it doesn’t go away. Women are not allowed to age. We obsess about every line in our faces and every roll on our tummies.

I want my girls to feel beautiful in their own bodies, and I also want them to understand that true beauty comes from the heart. How do I teach them this in a culture that places so much value on physical appearance?

For me, it was the most optimistic moment of New Year’s 2017 to see a 20-year-old singer defy the trend and put forth a message to young girls that it’s OK to be unique. It’s OK not to fit our society’s impossible standards of perfection. “Beauty comes from the inside” isn’t just a cliché. It’s so true. We all know that the more you get to know someone, the more their inner qualities shine through and the exterior no longer matters.

In 2017, let’s keep empowering girls to be true to themselves, to embrace their strengths and to love themselves as they are.

2017 – The Year of More

I am proclaiming 2017 my year of More. I’m grabbing for the brass ring, climbing to the top of the mountain, aiming for the moon, kicking butt, and taking names.

wish-potMy best friend gave me a Wish Pot one Christmas a few years back. You write your wishes for the new year and put them in the pot and next New Year’s Eve you take them out and see how you did. This New Year’s Eve I took them out and I had achieved 3 out of 4 and the fourth one was thisclose!!

Then you write the new wishes and put them in for the coming year. I have decided that 2017 is my year of MORE! More exercise. More healthy eating. More writing. More joy. More happiness. More of everything that is great in life. For too long I’ve been trying so hard to get somewhere in my writing instead of just enjoying the process. I’m opening my hands and letting that go. This year I will seize opportunities that come my way. I will stretch my horizons and try new things, more things.

Who is with me in this year of more?!!!


Jill James, romance writer and seizer of the day!!

Adventures in Hair Coloring

I have a confession to make. I’m not a natural redhead. At least, not fully. My natural hair color has always been a bit of a melange: blond, brown, and red. Fearing comparisons to I Love Lucy, for decades, I used to try to tone the red down in my hair. Try as I might, the red always peeked through. See? This was me attempting to be a brunette in the early 90s:

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Notice how there’s still plenty of red in those tresses. Finally, one brave salon owner convinced me to embrace the red and after several trials and errors, he and I came up with a color I loved. I’ve been this obnoxious bright red ever since:

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My husband claims it makes me look like I’m not 100% human, but I love the richness, how it makes my light blue eyes pop, and most important of all, how I stand out in a crowd.

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I mean seriously, can you find the bright red head in this picture? How long did it take you?

But…

Nowadays, more and  more people are going red. I no longer stand out in the crowd. In fact, I have a doppelganger at many writing events, a woman whose hair is bright red, and who, in passing, has a close enough resemblance to me in build and height to confuse my friends. This will not do.

New year means new changes.

And so, I am on the lookout for a new haircolor that will allow me to look less than 100% human, to stand out in the crowd, and will make my light eyes pop. So far, we’ve experimented with combinations of red and violet and while I like them, I don’t love them.

I have a few more combinations up my sleeve before conference season starts, but I ain’t telling what they are. It’s important I get a jump on those who might want to copy me. And don’t dare suggest I go “natural.” At this stage, I’m probably more gray than anything else and that ain’t happening.

One day, I was on the NYC subway and there was a woman in her early seventies in a gorgeous leather coat, her hair in a sleek cut and a vivid blue-violet hue. I poked my husband, pointed, and said, “I wanna be her when I grow up.” He blanched and then laughed as if I was joking.

I wasn’t. But I’ve got a decade or two before I’m ready to try that. Stay tuned.