Romance And The Farmer’s Almanac

old-farmers-almanac

Have you ever flipped through the pages of a farmer’s almanac? These things are crazy prescient when it comes to predicting the weather. Instead of oft-wrong computer models we usually rely on, the information inside an almanac is culled from centuries of observing nature–and go way beyond ‘red sky in the morning, take warning’ sayings.

woolly-worm

The width of color bands on woolly caterpillars can predict the harshness of winter accurately 80% of the time. Or noticing how high off the ground a bees nest in a tree is can hint at the coming winter. That, along with a whole host of signs and signals in nature, can be found in an almanac. How cool is that?

An almanac doesn’t just contain information about the weather–but is full of planting guides, recipes, folklore, and stargazing tips. But does it say anything about love?

harvestYep! From courting according to moon lore, to a plethora of time-honored tips for finding a mate (“pluck a stalk of yarrow and stick it up your nose. If a drop of blood appears, your love is true”…or “place a snail in a pan of cornmeal, and the tracks it makes will spell your true love’s initials“), a farmer’s almanac can lead the way to love and romance (“in Elizabethan times, prunes were so highly regarded as aphrodisiacs that they were served for free in brothels.”)

groundhog

And such information is especially helpful in these long weeks between Groundhog Day and the First Day of Spring.

Or you could read romance novels. That would work, too.

Free in the New Year…Without the Side-Effects

blank list of resolutions on blackboardOne of the things we love to do in the New Year is make resolutions. We want to be kinder, exercise more, eat better…

Fat-Free Food

To eat better, we don’t want to get too crazy and give up life-long favs. So we head to the diet section of the grocery store and find our favorites…all sporting the word FREE.

chochipsFat Free

Sugar Free

Gluten Free

You get the idea. But if you flip the package over and read the ingredients, you might notice that in order to remove what makes something yummy, they have to add a lot of strange ingredients, some of which are worse than the original stuff. Who hasn’t eaten delicious ‘guilt-free’ chocolate…and then spent some time doubled over with stomach cramps? Sometimes free comes with a price–especially ironic when diet food costs so much more than their regular counterparts!

Is there such a thing as ‘free’ without the guilt? Absolutely. And the pastime is way more fun than dieting. I’m talking about reading, of course! 😉 When you visit blogs like Authors of Main Street, you find great reads that are often part of free promotions.

MCM med

By the way, my latest time-travel romance is now FREE, and extra-new because it has an updated cover.

Modern day Nashville and 1950s Detroit clash worse than an IKEA futon and a plaid Barcalounger when a free-spirited interior designer and a strait-laced automotive engineer find themselves in another time. TOMS-wearing Olivia Haugen and Madras-shirted Kyle Daniels have no idea why they’ve ended up in 1954 Michigan, but it’s probably not because of all the swank mid-century furnishings. Discovering the reason might have something to do with a wily salvage warehouse owner and her not-so-little shop of secrets.

Free…without the stomach cramps! Now that’s a New Year resolution I can get behind!

A Mid-Century Modern Christmas

midmodxmas

Mid-century Modern decor is enjoying a comeback, thanks in part to shows like Mad Men. Who can resist the swank lines, hip colors, and all that shiny chrome? Mid-mod Christmas decor is especially fun–enhanced by aluminum trees and color wheels.

tree

Perhaps part of such appeal is a nostalgia for the ‘good old days’–even if they weren’t so good. Sometimes the past can shimmer with a halcyon glow just because the current time is so bewildering. That said, can anyone imagine a return to an 80s theme? Yep, I just shivered a little, too.

putz house

Putz houses are a mid-mod Christmas fav, and you can find instructions in our free decorating book Authors of Main Street Holiday Decorating. I made the little cutie above and will be making many more this season (it’s like I can’t stop).

So get your mid-mod on this Christmas. The internet is loaded with inspirational sites–especially Pinterest sites like this one. And this one, too. Here’s another fav. Can you feel those creative juices starting up?

MidCenturyMayhem10

To help with the mid-century modern theme, I’ll be releasing a new time travel romance next week called Retro Romance Presents: Mid-Century Mayhem, Book One in the Time Travel by Design Series.

Modern day Nashville and 1950s Detroit clash worse than an IKEA futon and a plaid Barcalounger when a free-spirited interior designer and a strait-laced automotive engineer find themselves in another time. TOMS-wearing Olivia Haugen and Madras-shirted Kyle Daniels have no idea why they’ve ended up in 1954 Michigan, but it’s probably not because of all the swank mid-century furnishings. Discovering the reason might have something to do with a wily salvage warehouse owner and her not-so-little shop of secrets.

I had a blast researching the era and was even able to add some of my own memories of the time, having grown up in a mid-century bungalow. I live in a granny ranch now, so I’m like an expert 😉

So, whether your crafting, decorating, or reading, it’s definitely the season for Mid-Century Modern!

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like…

Don’t smack me, I wasn’t going to say Christmas. Honest! I was thinking more along the lines of this:

t-day

Thanksgiving is such a fun season and along with friends and family–the price of butter finally comes down!

butter That right there is something to be thankful for! I’ve been known to buy 20 to 30 pounds at a time when the price goes sub $2/lb, and I fill my freezer for the baking days ahead.

Speaking of baking, it’s one of the favorite past times of the season. I’ll be trying a new recipe I just discovered and wanted to share it here–to get that baking mood buttered up.

Apple Roses (h/t Betty Crocker)

apple roses

Roses never smelled—or tasted—so sweet! Our apple crescent rose pastries are ready in 45 minutes and are a delicious addition to any brunch.

  • Prep Time 20 min
  • Total Time 45 min
  • Servings 9

3 medium apples

4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Flour, for sprinkling
1 roll Pillsbury™ Crescent Recipe Creations® refrigerated seamless dough sheet
5 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

 Heat oven to 400°F. Grease or spray 9 regular-size muffin cups.

  • Wash and core apples. Thinly slice each one, leaving the peel on.
  • In 2-quart saucepan, heat 4 cups water, 4 tablespoons sugar and the lemon juice to boiling. Add the apple slices; boil about 3 minutes or until apples are soft. You want to be easily able to bend them without breaking.
  • Drain apples, and place on paper towels to dry and cool completely.
  • Sprinkle flour on work surface, and roll out dough sheet. Sprinkle 5 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon on surface of dough. Using pastry cutter (or pizza cutter), cut dough into 9 (1-inch) strips.
  • Arrange cooled apple slices end to end down each strip. Carefully roll up each strip, and place in muffin cup.
  • Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until nicely golden. Remove from pan, and cool on cooling rack. Serve and enjoy!
  • If you are unable to find the dough sheet, you can use regular crescent roll dough; just press perforations to seal seams while rolling out.

Drizzle with caramel, or sprinkle with more cinnamon and sugar for added goodness.

What’s your favorite recipe of the season?

Does the May-September (er, October) Romance Still Work?

daphne du maurier

How do you feel about romance where there is a large age gap?

I recently read Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier and I loved, loved, loved it. The opening scene is spectacular and sets the tone for the rest of the novel. But as I read, I was surprised by the age difference in the hero and heroine. It didn’t bother me in the book. I realize that in its historical setting, it was accurate, and the fact that the hero was a widower made even more sense. But when I watched the film, which had actors fairly-well represented according to age, I got a different feeling.

wife husband

Watching it was quite different than reading it. And I wonder if such an idea is past its prime. While there’s nothing immoral or illegal about a May-September (or even December!) romance, does it still feel natural or even ho-hum when it comes to romance novels and films?

Before the longer life expectancies and medical advances we enjoy today, husbands could easily find themselves widowers if their wives died in childbirth. Seeking out someone perhaps younger and stronger could help survival. Or in some cultures, men couldn’t marry until they had built up an estate. Naturally, they’d probably prefer a younger spouse. Or a young ingenue could be guided in marriage by the steadying influence of an older man. To wit:

harlequin

But in this day and age, it seems to be a more unusual pairing–especially when the news is filled with child predators and teachers in sexual relationships with minors.

What does this mean for romance novels? Is the May-September romance a thing of the past? Or is it still a legitimate tale of love?

The Unseen World Just Off Main Street

pisky-on-stem

Just off Main Street, and right under your nose, there may exist an unseen world of creatures we call faeries and pixies.

pixie kitchen

All of us probably have some memory attributed to the influence of faeries and pixies. When I was a kid, I visited a place on the Oregon coast called Pixie Kitchen. The food was magically good. midsummer-eve-victorian-art

But the idea of sweetly, child-like faeries are largely a product of the Victorian age. In ancient lore, faeries were a mischievous, and sometimes downright murderous, lot.

And Cornish pixies (or piskeys) could be be the most magical and evil of all.

According to Pixie Folklore and Legends by Enys Tregarthen, God once called on Adam and Eve after they’d been driven from Eden. Eve was washing the children (she had a lot by then) but still had some unwashed. She presented the clean children to God, and when when He asked if she had other children, Eve said no because she was embarrassed that some were still dirty. God was upset at her deception and so decreed that the children Eve hid must remain hidden. The children went away into the forests, hills, and lonely places where they remain hidden from man, ‘not good enough for heaven and not bad enough for hell’.

So maybe they have a reason to be annoyed. But a quick note to kids—don’t fight bath time!

house pixies 

When they’re in a good mood, pixies might clean your house when you’re not looking (please come to my house—see I left out milk for you!), and have parties complete with tiny horses and chariots when you’re asleep. If you happen to wander into a ring of stones or mushrooms, you’ll be pixie-led, destined to wander aimlessly, speaking jibberish (or maybe that was too much whiskey—which oddly enough rhymes with piskey—but I digress). 

Truly evil pixies are called spriggans and have been known to steal babies from their cribs, leaving behind one of their own kind called a ‘changeling’. A formerly sweet, perfect child grows into a sullen troublemaker. Who’s with me in saying they’ve met one? I know, right?

Explore this unseen world off Main Street with my Tennessee Waltz series, where fireflies and pixies intersect with a singer just trying to make it to Nashville, a yoga instructor trying to keep the doors of her studio open, and a travel agent who wonders if she’ll ever truly feel at home

TN waltz series

 

Magic is always just around the corner…

Saving The World One Book At A Time

womanWhat’s so special about the romance genre? Do the readers live in a fantasy world to escape their own mundane existence? Are they unwilling to look for love in the real world, preferring the illusion of fiction instead? Do they have unrealistic expectations of relationships? Many have made these claims and more—I believe unfairly so. And it doesn’t stop the romance reader from picking up that next book. That romance reader being me.

To say I am a romance novel fan is an understatement. If I read fiction, it has to have at least an element of romance in it. And I’m not the only one. Romance as a genre accounts for around 25% of the total fiction market, and despite economic downturns. Why is that?

Two people—usually shown on the cover so we know who they are at the outset—fall in love and get together. There’s no real mystery here. They hook up. On the surface the romance genre sounds like the height of cliché. It’s so ‘formulaic.’ So ‘pedantic.’ And yet I keep reading and writing them, and will for as long as I can. Sure there’s some element of fantasy reading about those happily-ever-afters—everyone is hard-bodied and drop-dead gorgeous—but that’s just part of the fun. That’s part of the ‘what-ifs.’

romance

For me personally, the wonder of an unfolding romance in the pages of a book is about that special moment when someone chooses another above all others—and the feeling is mutual. It’s the ultimate choice. No one has to get together. These days our parents probably aren’t arranging our marriages. We get to explore and discover and eventually let that special someone know our hearts are open to that next step. And that same someone just might respond in kind.

Of course there are all kinds of obstacles that delay the inevitable. But what’s true love if it can’t overcome each and every one? When the trials, tribulations, and misunderstandings clear up, the characters arrive on the edge of a precipice that will change everything. An entire future hinges on that moment of connection—a future that will not occur if they remain apart. So romance is infinitely personal—and on a broader scale—just plain epic. That deeply personal decision impacts the entire human family and binds us to something bigger than ourselves.

Whoa.

It’s exhilarating to live that moment over and over again through the stories of different characters in just about any time period or culture. It appeals to our common humanity and gives us hope for the future. Yes, mankind is savage and often ugly. But when two people fall in love, the emotions are so powerful, the potential so limitless, it gives us glimpses that maybe, just maybe, we’re not so bad after all.

How about some science to go with the mush? Granted, there’s a lot of hand-wringing that says romance novels are bad for the psyche, but such studies seem to always be done at the behest of non-romance novel readers. Meanwhile spouses of romance readers reap a real benefit between the sheets—having upwards of 74% more fun than non-romance readers. Let’s face it, a heart-melting romance just puts us girls in the mood.

Romance novels can help us work out real-world issues in a safe place. We can visualize consequences of actions better when played out between the pages of a book. Knowing there’s a good chance of a happy ending also makes reading a novel a way to reduce stress from the pressures of everyday life. Everyone has an escape, a release valve. This one is legal, you can’t catch a disease or get pregnant, and provides an interactive rather than passive activity. Win! For me personally, romance novels were my escape when my kids were little. My stack of novels at the side of the couch saved my sanity. Reading romances practically saves lives! And the kids saw mom reading so much, they had to have books of their own. Today they are devoted readers.

doveAll put together, it’s safe to assume reading a romance novel can bring world peace! Right?

Well…a girl can dream, can’t she? Yes, she can. Because she reads romance.

So get your romance on with some of the best: Weddings on Main Street. Who knows, it might just save the world.

2D Boxed set