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Sunday, April 18th, 2021
The Mysteries of Vegemite

Vegemite

I was doing a final read-through for Snow Moon Dragon, my next release, and I realized I had my characters eating toast and vegemite for breakfast. In fact, quite a few of my characters like vegemite.

Here is the excerpt:

Aware of Nyree’s impatience, he drank his coffee and ate the last mouthful of toast covered with something black called vegemite. It was salty and bore an interesting flavor, although he’d liked the peanut butter better. He stood. “Should I do the dishes?”

I grew up with Vegemite as a kid, as did many other children from New Zealand and Australia. I still eat vegemite on my toast.

So what exactly is vegemite?

Vegemite is a dark spread (blackish-brown in color) made from yeast extract leftover from beer production. It’s flavored with spices and vegetables and was developed in Melbourne, Australia, in 1922 by a chemist called Dr. Cyril Callister. Vegemite is rich in niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, and folate. It doesn’t contain sugar but does contain salt and gluten.

Most Australians and New Zealanders use vegemite as a breakfast spread. One of my favorite edible delights is toast with vegemite and avocado. Yum!

As children, my mother used to make us Mousetraps for an after-school snack. This consists of slices of bread, spread with vegemite and covered with grated cheese. These are then put under the grill and toasted until the cheese melts. Also delicious!

Vegemite is an acquired taste. It’s salty, and it’s best to add it sparingly to toast rather than liberally, something some of my American friends have learned the hard way. * grin*

If you’re interested in trying vegemite, you can order it from Amazon.

Spreading the iconic Australian spread vegemite on to a slice of fresh bread.

Shelley’s note: This is way too much vegemite for my liking. I prefer about half this amount.

Monday, February 8th, 2021
Operation Flower Petal Now Available for Pre-order

Operation Flower Petal, Military Men #6

Operation Flower Petal, book 6 in the Military Men series is now available for pre-order at all online retailers.

Read an excerpt here.

Purchase links here.

Friday, January 29th, 2021
Meet the Delphinium

Delphinium or larkspur, as they’re sometimes known in the United Kingdom is a perennial plant native to the Northern hemisphere. Their name comes from the Greek word Delphin, which means dolphin. It’s said that the flowers are the shape of a dolphin. During Tudor times in England, growers thought the flowers resembled the lark’s claw, hence the common name larkspur.

Delphinium

Over 500 varieties grow in the wild, and there are many cultivated varieties these days. Traditional delphiniums are tall, but the modern plants come in various heights and some are suitable for growing in containers.
Delphinium are popular in cottage gardens, and they are known for attracting butterflies.

Delphinium

Beautiful blue delphinium flowers, close up

Growing Delphinium:

1. They prefer a sunny, well-drained position with fertile soil.

2. A more sheltered position is best since strong wind can break stems.

3. The tall varieties should be staked since some can grow up to 2.1 meters high.

4. Don’t plant too close together because they can suffer from mildew or fungal if they don’t have good airflow between the plants.

5. Watch out for slugs and snails.

Delphinium

Most delphinium and their seeds are poisonous to both humans and animals.

Escape to the Country is one of my favorite shows, and a special interest section on this program featured delphinium flowers. A farmer had diversified by growing the flowers and turning them into confetti. This story inspired me to write Operation Flower Petal.

Delphinium
Here’s the blurb:

He falls for her…literally.

Since her husband’s murder, Ada Buckingham’s life has comprised one calamity after another, and the hits keep coming, yet each day, she picks herself up and begins again.

Military man Matt Townsend, AKA Frog, expects a challenging assignment when he agrees to train soldiers in tough country terrain. The rules: stay away from the old lady’s flowers and notify her of days or nights with flash-bang.

Easy, right?

On arrival via parachute, he plummets into the lady’s flowers. The sexy spitfire who confronts him isn’t the maiden aunt-type he imagined, but man, she intrigues and entices him, and he’s eager to learn more.

Matt is quick to insert himself into her life, and his mission evolves once he learns something is hinky and dangerous in the world of Ada. While he fell arse over teakettle, Ada is slower to believe or trust, but Matt is confident in his charm and brings his A-game. Now all he needs to do is keep her safe.

You will love this latest addition to the Military Men series because it contains a charming, confident, and audacious soldier known for his singing voice—not!—and a brave and determined heroine with a love of flowers. You’ll also find skullduggery in a country town, danger, and gossip aplenty. Sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy the romantic adventure.

Click here to learn more about Operation Flower Petal

Delphinium

Sources:
https://www.countryliving.com/uk/homes-interiors/gardens/a718/fact-file-delphiniums/
https://delphinium.co.nz/pages/history-of-delphiniums
https://tuigarden.co.nz/how-to-guide/delphinium-growing-guide/

Friday, January 29th, 2021
The History of Confetti

Wedding Confetti

It’s thought that the throwing of confetti started in Greek times when locals would shower athletes and those getting married with flowers and leaves. It was a unique way of sprinkling people with love and excitement and made for a brilliant spectacle.

But it was the Italians who we can thank most. The word confetti is of Italian origin and means small pellets made of lime or soft plaster. It is also the word for sweetmeats.

The Italians had a similar custom where the nobles threw coins, nuts, sweets, and flowers at the crowds. The confetti contributed to a festival-like atmosphere and got everyone excited. It seemed too excited since some of the masses became riled and tossed back stones, rotten eggs and vegetables, and other nasty items. Because the custom upset some and fights broke out, authorities banned confetti tossing for many years.

Paper confetti is more modern, and around 1875 a man saw an opportunity in silkworm farming. The farmers lined the worms’ home with thick paper. As the larvae hatched, they burrowed out of the paper and created small discs. One man saw possibilities, and instead of trashing the paper discs, he sold them for use at festivals and wedding celebrations. He informed people this was a safe and fun way to party.

The British used to throw uncooked rice, or sometimes wheat and barley, to signify fertility. Pelting a couple with rice was meant to bring luck and children into their lives. Having uncooked rice chucked at one can be painful, and the practice fell out of favor when paper confetti came along.

Flower Confetti

These days, many churches and towns dislike the mess of paper thrown everywhere. Clean up can take lots of time! People use flower petals as a natural alternative, which is where Ada from Operation Flower Petal comes into the picture!

Here is the blurb for Operation Flower Petal.

He falls for her…literally.

Since her husband’s murder, Ada Buckingham’s life has comprised one calamity after another, and the hits keep coming, yet each day, she picks herself up and begins again.

Military man Matt Townsend, AKA Frog, expects a challenging assignment when he agrees to train soldiers in tough country terrain. The rules: stay away from the old lady’s flowers and notify her of days or nights with flash-bang.

Easy, right?

On arrival via parachute, he plummets into the lady’s flowers. The sexy spitfire who confronts him isn’t the maiden aunt-type he imagined, but man, she intrigues and entices him, and he’s eager to learn more.

Matt is quick to insert himself into her life, and his mission evolves once he learns something is hinky and dangerous in the world of Ada. While he fell arse over teakettle, Ada is slower to believe or trust, but Matt is confident in his charm and brings his A-game. Now all he needs to do is keep her safe.

You will love this latest addition to the Military Men series because it contains a charming, confident, and audacious soldier known for his singing voice—not!—and a brave and determined heroine with a love of flowers. You’ll also find skullduggery in a country town, danger, and gossip aplenty. Sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy the romantic adventure.

Get more Operation Flower Petal Here

Sources:
https://ultimateconfetti.com/blog/the-history-of-confetti/
https://hoorayweddings.com/for-the-bridal-couple/the-history-of-confetti/
https://www.etymonline.com/word/confetti
https://www.brideandgroomdirect.co.uk/blog/2020/05/everything-you-need-to-know-about-wedding-confetti/

Monday, January 18th, 2021
Cover Reveal: Operation Flower Petal

 

Military Men #6
Release date: 25th February 2021

 

Hero: Matt Townsend – Ex NZSAS soldier and currently training soldiers.

Heroine: Adelaide Buckingham, known as Ada. Farmer and flower grower.

He falls for her… literally.

Operation Flower Petal, Military Men #6

 

The blurb:

Since her husband’s murder, Ada Buckingham’s life has comprised one calamity after another, and the hits keep coming, yet each day, she picks herself up and begins again.

Military man Matt Townsend, AKA Frog, expects a challenging assignment when he agrees to train soldiers in tough country terrain. The rules: stay away from the old lady’s flowers and notify her of days or nights with flash-bang.

Easy, right?

On arrival via parachute, he plummets into the lady’s flowers. The sexy spitfire who confronts him isn’t the maiden aunt-type he imagined, but man, she intrigues and entices him, and he’s eager to learn more.

Matt is quick to insert himself into her life, and his mission evolves once he learns something is hinky and dangerous in the world of Ada. While he fell arse over teakettle, Ada is slower to believe or trust, but Matt is confident in his charm and brings his A-game. Now all he needs to do is keep her safe.

You will love this latest addition to the Military Men series because it contains a charming, confident, and audacious soldier known for his singing voice—not!—and a brave and determined heroine with a love of flowers. You’ll also find skullduggery in a country town, danger, and gossip aplenty. Sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy the romantic adventure.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway to win a copy of the Military Men box set, which includes books 1 – 3 in the series.
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 31st, 2020
Scottish New Year Traditions

New Year Traditions

We have lots of people of English and Scottish descent in the community where we live, so I’ve been hearing a lot about first-footing and mutters of lumps of coal.

I had NO idea what they were talking about, so I decided to find out so as not to appear dim-witted.
Here are some Scottish Hogmanay traditions:

1. At midnight, most sing Robbie Burns’s poem, Auld Lang Syne.

This song refers to old or times past, which makes it the perfect song to sing at the beginning of a new year when we are looking back and also ahead to the future.

2. First-footing refers to the first person to enter the house after midnight. There are specific requirements for first-footing. The person should be a dark-haired male. He should carry with him a piece of coal, a dram of whisky, shortbread, salt, and black bun. It’s thought that this tradition relates back to the time of the Viking raids. If a blond Viking came to your door, it was more likely he was carrying an enormous sword and intended the residents’ harm, therefore it was luckier to discover a man with dark hair.

The purpose of first-footing is to bring good luck for the rest of the year.

Happy New Year to you. May 2021 bring you joy and prosperity.

Sources:
https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofScotland/The-History-of-Hogmanay/

Tuesday, December 1st, 2020
Check out the New Release Giveaway

I’m celebrating the release of Sasha, book 4 in my Dragon Isles series by taking part in the New Release Giveaway.

November New Release Giveaway

 

Welcome to the November New Release Giveaway! 11/30 – 12/07!

One-click all the latest books.

 

Find your new favorite author.

 

Then enter for a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

Enter here: https://lovekissedbookbargains.com/2020/11/27/november-new-release-giveaway-4/

Saturday, October 3rd, 2020
Next Dragon Isles Adventure – Meet Cherry

Dragon Isles 2: Cherry

Cherry, the next book in the Dragon Isles series is due out very soon. Grab your copy today!

Here’s the blurb:

Love is a mystery, but dragons are real.

Cherry is gutted when her friend Liza disappears, presumed drowned. She has no time to mourn, however, since she must keep Liza’s daughter safe from Liza’s ex. Cherry sneaks away to Holy Island, where she meets a big, sexy, tattooed man washed up on the beach. A big, sexy, deluded man since he insists he’s a dragon.

Accused of a crime he didn’t commit, Martinos has escaped the dungeon only to wash up on the mainland. Returning to the Dragon Isles is not his most immediate problem, though, since his dragon is bound, and he cannot shift.

Unlucky in love, Cherry is surprised when Martinos returns her growing lust and camaraderie. While the man has a flawed mind, he’s excellent with Liza’s daughter and not one of Cherry’s internal alarms ping. With Martinos, her life is stimulating, and she’s falling for him. Then, everything she thought she understood about dragons pops like a balloon, and her real adventure begins.

You will love this second book in the Dragon Isles trilogy because it introduces a courageous and curvy human, a sexy dragon suffering through hell through no fault of his own, and an unfamiliar world full of mystery, magic, and mayhem. Plus one or two dragon-caused incidents when tempers race out of control.

Read an excerpt or get your copy here: https://shelleymunro.com/books/cherry/

Sunday, September 27th, 2020
Daylight Saving

Daylight Saving

Early this morning, our clocks went forward an hour, ready for our summer down here in New Zealand. With the reminders to switch our clocks, I wondered when daylight saving started.

Color me surprised to discover a New Zealander had the idea first. George Hudson worked shifts and collected insects in his spare time. (A collection of his bugs is in Te Papa, our national museum in Wellington). In 1895 he wrote his first proposal to shift clocks to increase daylight hours, but it wasn’t until 1927 when we first observed daylight saving time in New Zealand.

According to my internet searches, Thunder Bay in Canada had daylight saving first in 1908. These days at least 40% of the world (over 70 countries) change their clocks to take advantage of the sunlight during the summer.

I love daylight saving and tend to do more walking and exercise after dinner. What about you? What are your thoughts on daylight saving?

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020
Tools for Writers: One Stop For Writers

I discovered One Stop for Writers after following the Writers Helping Writers blog and subsequently buying a copy of the Emotions Thesaurus. Both are fantastic resources for writers at all experience levels, but when One Stop for Writers went live, I signed up for the free trial and have continued using the site ever since.

This site has everything!

One Stop For Writers

There are loads of thesauruses to inspire the writer when they’re stuck. They range from emotions to setting and characters. There is also help to plot and outline, build worlds rich in detail, and to offer inspiration when a writer hits a wall.

My favorite part of the site is the many thesauruses, which I use most days. I’ve also used some templates, the idea generator, and the character builder.

If you’re a writer, I think you’ll find this site invaluable. Check out the helpful resources and sign up for the FREE fourteen-day trial. I highly recommend One Stop for Writers.