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Archive for February, 2013

The Female Villain: She’s Alive, Well and Ready to Bite

I’d like to welcome Carol Van Atta today who is celebrating the release of her paranormal romance I Kissed A Dog. She has a very interesting heroine, but today she’s brought a villain out to play. Over to Carol…

I Kissed a Dog Tour

The Female Villain

She’s alive, well, and ready to bite. Ouch!

Carol Van Atta

Too often in the books we read the bad guy is, well, a bad guy. Not always, of course, but male antagonists are still the norm. Personally, I believe women make excellent villains. As a woman, I’ve been known to be bitchy, bratty, boisterous, and bossy. In my younger years, I had claws that would sprout if you dared challenge my territory, especially when it came to any male I’d claimed as my own.

Grrrrrr … can anyone say female competition? The Green Eyed Monster was always trolling around looking for trouble, pushing and prodding me (my girlfriends too) into action; and let me tell you, we could behave quite unbecomingly with that evil beast leading the way. I promise you; I’m over all that craziness now. Really! No more claws!

In my new book, I Kissed a Dog, book one in the Werewolves of the West series, you will meet a wolfy woman whose bite just may be worse than her bark. She’s devious, envious, mysterious, and frequently furious, with not only her enemies, but also her supposed partners in crime. When she enters a room, you will know it. The temperature drops as the clicking of her mile-high heels draws your attention to her shapely legs, designer only attire, and perfectly coifed hair. (I like that word ‒ coifed) She holds her head high, the hint of a smirk playing across her perfect features. Well aware that all eyes are trained on her, she basks in the knowledge that men desire her while women detest her. Power. She oozes it. Admired yet hated, she’s prepared to wreak havoc on hearts and homes if doing so takes her one step closer to her prize.

Jazmine, purebred werewolf, has her eyes on several prizes. One happens to be Zane Marshall, Enforcer for the Pacific Werewolf Pack. Problem: His heart belongs to someone else. Uh-oh! We know what that means, don’t we? Trouble with a capital T.

Below is a scene from I Kissed a Dog. Meet the villainous Jazmine. Hide your man and stay out of her way!

EXCERPT I Kissed a Dog:

A perky waitress, I didn’t recognize, saved me from responding. As expected, she almost drooled at the sight of Zane, who ordered without hesitation, “I’ll take the largest steak on the menu, very rare, and whatever beer you have on tap.”

“Chef Salad,” I piped up, realizing she was still staring at my companion, ignoring my presence. Was I invisible? Considering the number of men who dared sneak a look my direction, I guessed not.

“You sure have your share of admirers,” Zane noted with a hint of annoyance.

“Nothing compared to you. I thought our waitress might slobber or hang her tongue out. I bet she’s still panting.” I watched as she moved to another table, reluctant to turn away.

“Are you jealous?” He asked; his lopsided grin back on display, dimples and all.

Was I? I hadn’t been jealous for a long time.

“Well hello, Zane.” A sultry female voice interrupted our banter. “How unexpected to find you here.” Her eyes traveled over the room with obvious distaste.

“Jazmine,” he growled, not pleased by her intrusion.

“Mind if I join you?” Without hesitating, she glided into the booth beside him, resting a hand on his bicep. Her bright crimson nails shimmered; her malice-filled eyes, dark like Zane’s, gleamed at me.

“Can I get you anything?” The perky waitress returned, looking as aggravated by the new woman’s presence as I was.

“I’ll be just a moment.” A curt wave dismissed the girl. Ms. Perky marched off. I sympathized with the waitress’ wounded pride.

Jazmine was as stunning as she was ice-cold. I didn’t need to see the tags to know she was a Designer Fashion Week regular. Her sheen black hair was cut in a neat geometrical bob that framed her face, drawing attention to her sculpted cheekbones and heart-shaped lips. Her makeup was applied with such obvious expertise that I thought of a model I’d seen on the cover of Vogue.

That model had looked genuinely happy, this woman oozed of cruel intent.

“You’ve been avoiding my calls.” Jazmine sulked, caressing Zane’s arm with her graceful fingers. He shook her off.

You’ll be my mate. Tradition requires it. Her eyes flashed with a myriad of emotions.

My jaw dropped, turning my gaping mouth into a capital O. The woman’s bizarre thought had permeated my mind. Realizing how I must look, I shut my mouth and reached for a slice of bread.

“I told you I’m busy with business. We’ll talk at the scheduled time. And be aware; your behavior is not earning you any points,” Zane snapped.

“Oh, now I have to earn points.” She tsked. “I’d hate for you to lose …”

“Enough!” he roared.

With one final, scathing glance my direction, she rose fluidly and vanished out the door.

Following her exit, sound returned to the room.

It was then I recognized that following her arrival, everything had somehow revolved around her. She reminded me of a predator stalking its prey. All the other “animals” had remained silent, hoping to avoid the hunter’s detection.

I hadn’t succeeded in avoiding anything.

She was well-aware of my existence, and she already abhorred me. In one meeting I’d become the mysterious woman’s enemy. Between her and Rhonda, I was pretty unpopular.

“Don’t mind Jazmine.” Zane guzzled his beer.

Stunned by his casual comment, I leaned forward, ready to battle. “You’re kidding, right?” I didn’t wait for an answer. “Some crazy woman, with eyes like a rabid dog, comes in, and from what I could tell, pretty much threatens you. Oh, and I guess you didn’t notice the way she looked at me.”

“Your dinners.” The waitress slid our heaping platters in front of us and hurried away. Smart woman!

See what I’m saying? She’s so not nice. That said … who is your fave female villain? Take a minute to share your thoughts in the comment section at the end of this post. If you don’t have a favorite, share your thoughts on female antagonists vs. male antagonists. Which to you prefer?

I Kissed A DogI Kissed a Dog

The Werewolves of the West Series Book One

Carol Van Atta

Genre: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Cambridge Press US under the umbrella of Charles River Press (CRP)

ISBN: 1936185725

ISBN13: 9781936185726

ASIN: B009SV179U

Number of pages: 446

Cover Artist: Ann Falcone

Book Trailer

Book Description:

Chloe Carpenter isn’t like other women. She can communicate with animals. A gift she unwrapped following one of her frequent dances with death.

In her otherwise wacky life, she’s finally found a semblance of sanity working at the Plum Beach Wildlife Park, where her unique talents can make life or death differences for the animals in her care. That semblance is shattered when a new veterinarian roars into the park in his spiffed up sports car and sets his golden gaze on her. If she had her way, he’d roar right back out.

Problem: He’s her new coworker and he’s saved her life twice – in the past twenty-four hours.

Zane Marshall, Enforcer for the Pacific Pack of purebred werewolves, has a job to do – figure out who or what is mutilating the young men of Plum Beach.

With orders to find the woman who talks to animals, he accepts a position working alongside the fiery Chloe Carpenter, a female who ignites his interest far more than he ever expected. Remarkably, she’s the one elusive female with potential to bring meaning and passion to his empty existence.

Problem: She despises him.

Together, they’re forced to unravel a mystery of supernatural proportions, a murderous mystery with eternal implications for everyone. In the process, they discover opposites really do attract.

Major Problem: Zane is pledged to another woman, and she’ll do anything to keep him from Chloe.

Buy the book Author Blog Book Depository Indie Bound

Amazon Print Amazon Ebook BN BN Nook

clip_image004About the Author:

Like most authors, Carol Van Atta is no stranger to the written word. She penned a short novel at age 12 (somewhat frightening illustrations included, and lots of bunnies were involved), and had a creative writing piece published in her high school newspaper (about David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs LP). Yes, she’s an ex-80’s chick.

Devouring books from numerous genres, Carol developed a deep thirst/hunger for more reading material, and could almost always be found with her nose in a book.

She has contributed to several popular inspirational anthologies and devotional books, and lives in the rainy wetland of Oregon with a terrifying teen (another in college) and a small zoo of animals. She is taking an undetermined hiatus away from inspirational writing to delve into her darker side. (Though you can check out her latest spiritual suspense novel, Soul Defenders). It is rumored that this genre-jumping occurred after Carol discovered too suspicious red marks on her neck, and experienced an unquenchable urge to howl at the moon.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Werewolves-of-the-West-I-Kissed-a-Dog/153030771437034

https://www.facebook.com/carol.vanatta.1

http://www.werewolvesofthewest.com/

http://vampswereswhyohmy.blogspot.com/

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1237874.Carol_Van_Atta

Do you have a skill for when the grid goes down?

Please welcome author Karin Shah who is celebrating the release of In Like A Lion. I’m a sucker for a shifter romance, and this one contains a chimera—something a little different.  My favorite kind! Over to Karin…

In Like A Lion Button 300 x 225

The announcement last year that power might be disrupted because of solar flares reaching it’s peak, uh, now, caused me to spend a few hours pondering how to protect my precious electronics. After much web-surfing on Faraday cages, etc. I discovered if I put my cellphone in a plastic box in my old metal desk drawer, the phone didn’t get any reception and therefore was theoretically safe from being fried.

Now, I am by no means what you would call a "Doomsday Prepper." I’m nowhere near that category, but having lost family members in natural disasters (Hurricane Camille in 1969). I believe in preparing to evacuate and that it never hurts to get ready for emergencies, even if they never come.

The possibility we might all be back to pre-elecrical times made me start to wonder? Do I have a skill that is necessary for survival? Is my job something that (when the s*&t hits the fan) I can use to get food and supplies for my family?

Smugly, I think it is. Even though paper would be scarce and printing presses hard to come by, I, as a writer am a storyteller. Storytellers have been necessary to a group’s existence since Paleolithic times.

I think when the work is done and people gather, they’ll want entertainment and without movies, TV or video games. We writers will be one of the only games in town.

(Don’t tell my IT manager husband *g*)

So what do you think? Does your job stand a chance after the apocalypse?

CONTEST: Win a copy of In Like a Lion. a Rafflecopter giveaway

In Like A LionIN LIKE A LION

The Chimera Chronicles Book One

Karin Shah

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing

ASIN: B00AQJ756C

Word Count: 86,673

Cover Artist: Rae Monet

Amazon

Book Description:

Dangerous and forbidden…

Research scientist, Dr. Anjali Mehta, lost her beloved family in an earthquake. Only her work cuts through the paralyzingly grief, but when she finds her new research subject, reputed mass murderer, Jake Finn, maddeningly uncooperative and inexplicably sexy she’s tempted to run away. How can she burn to touch a killer–a man behind bars?

What she doesn’t know is that Jake is a chimera, a shapeshifter who can change into a lion or a dragon with all the strengths of both even in human form, who believes his ability to shape shift is nothing but a terrifying hallucination, and his overpowering attraction to his new doctor proof positive he’s finally gone over the edge.

And the employer she trusts has an agenda all his own. If she can’t believe the impossible, neither she nor Jake may make it out alive.

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/iLsLAtOMmhM

Short Excerpt:

As Anjali stepped out into the corridor, a shout made her freeze.

The exclamation’s guttural force spurred her heartbeat into double time. What the hell?

She tracked the alarming sound to a door with a glass window and peered inside.

In the center of a large room, a shirtless man moved with fluid grace on exercise mats. Karate? Or Tae Kwon Do? That explained the shout. She shrugged.

Before she could slip away, the man turned and came closer. She ducked to the side so he couldn’t catch her watching.

Her breath caught as she saw his lean face.

She swallowed, pulse leaping. God, he was gorgeous. Staring much, Anjali? she admonished herself, scraping together the remnants of logic blown away by the sight of him.

This was just a man, his face, just a pleasing arrangement of features.

Papers on the appeal of symmetry to the human mind had been mandatory reading in some of her classes.

His movements took him deeper into the room and she inched closer again, her long exhale fogging the window in front of her. She didn’t need calipers to know when God had handed out facial symmetry, this man had pushed to the front of the line.

Odd shadows lent the suggestion of a tiger’s stripes to the man’s elegant cheekbones and clean jaw. She glanced at the ceiling and noticed metal baskets caging the fluorescent light fixtures, throwing voids into the harsh glare.

Her attention zeroed back to the man.

His hair—raven black with the sheen of a crow’s feather—hung past his chin and fell forward, masking his eyes. She caught herself wishing he would raise his head so she could see them. Her gaze drifted downward, following the delicious curve of his shoulder.

His large body was a work of art, each muscle defined and chiseled, as if Michelangelo had carved him from a piece of granite. The impish light played more tricks, lending his golden skin the sheen of satin as he defended against the attacks of invisible adversaries.

Her mouth dry, she watched him flow through the movement, muscles rippling beneath that flawless skin. Who was he? A guard?

Given his size and superior musculature, if he was a doctor, he was nothing like the doctors and researchers she’d worked with in the past.

Goose flesh pimpled the back of her arms. There was just something about a man that big that called to her most basic instincts.

A disparaging laugh huffed from her chest. She’d been living like a nun for years and now she was drooling over a man so out of her league he might as well have been a movie star.

What sounded like a voice—short and harsh, but indistinct—reverberated through the thick, metal-reinforced glass. The man halted mid-move and glared over his powerful shoulder.

For the first time, Anjali noticed there were other people in the room; uniformed men with sleek, ugly rifles, not only drawn, but leveled at the man as if prepared to shoot him at the slightest misstep.

She gasped as an awful realization washed over her. This man—the first man to draw her interest since her loss—was not a guard or a doctor.

He was Jake Finn, her subject, and a stone-cold killer.

clip_image004About the Author:

I live in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio and worship Jeni’s Ice Cream, JK Rowling, Jayne Ann Krentz, the tv show Supernatural, and the movies, Hunt For Red October and The Princess Bride(though not necessarily in that order.)

I am a fanatical reader of Romance, particularly Sci-Fi Romance, Fantasy Romance and Paranormal Romance. I always write the book I want to read, so I tend to jump sub-genre a bit. My husband and I are the parents of two kids (a girl and a boy) and slaves to two dogs ( a basenji and a vizsla)

I was born in Rochester, NY, attended SUNY Oswego and got my Master’s in Information and Library Science at the University of Buffalo. I was a School Librarian in Webster, NY for five years before starting my writing career. (I still miss my students.)

http://KarinShah.wordpress.com

@KarinShah

www.Facebook.com/KarinShahAuthor

www.Facebook.com/KarinShah

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2878278.Karin_Shah

A Lesson in Cheese Making

I stepped out of routine last weekend. After packing my handbag with necessities, including my camera, I went off to be a Cheesemaker for a day at the New Zealand Cheese School.

There were about ten of us on the Dairy course, and we learned how to make milk ricotta, sour cream, cultured butter, yoghurt, quark and mascarpone.

We listened and learned. We made our own cultured butter and milk ricotta. We tasted samples of every type of dairy product.

It was so much fun.

One of the people who ran the course owns her own cheese company. She took a course much like this one back in 2000 and loved it so much, she started her own cheese company. We tasted several of her cheeses (ranging from cow and goat brie to a tasty blue) for morning tea.

Since the course, hubby and I have made our own yoghurt and some mascarpone. I like making things from scratch. They don’t necessarily turn out cheaper, but I can control what goes into my products, they taste good and I get satisfaction from making something myself.

As a side benefit, I have the perfect occupation for my next book—a cheesemaker!

Here are a few photos from my cheesemaking adventure.

Greek Yoghurt

Here we’re straining yoghurt to make it thicker – the consistency of Greek Yoghurt. When this is done commercially, milk solids (i.e. milk powder) are added back into the yoghurt to thicken it. This is why most thick Greek yoghurts purchased in the supermarket are higher in calories.

Cultured Butter

This is cultured butter that we made from sour cream. When I was a kid, we used to separate the cream from the cow’s milk in a machine called a separator. (Funnily enough!) The milk would come out one tube and the milk out another. When we had a lot of cream, we’d make butter in the butter churn. Both the separator and the churn were of the manual variety and used a lot of energy. I remember churning the butter—not an easy chore! The butter above was made using a kitchen mixer. So much easier.

Shelley_Milk Ricotta

This is me in my cheesemaking outfit – an apron and hairnet. I’m in charge of the milk ricotta. The curds have lifted to the top of the liquid, and I’m placing it in molds. The milk ricotta reminded me of scrambled eggs when I tasted it.

I enjoyed this course so much, I think I might go back at a later date and learn how to make feta and some of the molded cheeses like brie and blue cheese.

Are there any cheesemakers out there? Cheese fans?

Lone Wolf Wins Psyche Award!

Lone Wolf

I’m absolutely thrilled and honored to announce that my paranormal shapeshifter story Lone Wolf (published by Samhain Publishing) won the 2012 Psyche Award at The Romance Studio’s annual CAPA awards.

 

2012 Psyche Award

 

Lone Wolf is available in both e-format and print.

13 Facts and Trivia about Pasta

dreamstimefree_58013 Pasta

I love pasta. It’s my go-to meal when I’m in a hurry. Guess what we had for dinner tonight? Winking smile

Thirteen Facts and Trivia about Pasta

1. They say Marco Polo introduced pasta to Italy after his visit to China, but pasta in Italy can be traced back to the 4th century BC. A picture in an Etruscan tomb shows a group of natives making something that looks like pasta.

2. Pasta is great for those on a budget and is very versatile.

3. Pasta can come in different colors. Squid ink colors the black pasta, saffron for yellow pasta, spinach for green, saffron for yellow and tomatoes for red.

4. It’s said that Thomas Jefferson introduced macaroni to America after he ate and enjoyed macaroni in Naples.

5. Flat pasta is best with cream sauces while tomato sauces will cling to pasta shapes.

6. Pasta is best cooked al dente. The literal translation is “to the tooth”. Pasta should be firm yet still be tender when eaten.

7. Pasta is a good source of carbohydrates.

8. Most pasta is made using wheat flour with high quality pasta being made from durum wheat.

9. The BBC conned lots of people with their April Fool’s trick in 1957. They told people that spaghetti grew on trees and that severe frosts could affect the flavor of the spaghetti.

10. The word pasta comes from the Italian word paste.

11. Pasta should be eaten with only a fork.

12. Italians eat more pasta per year than anyone else.

13. Trendy men during the 18th century were called Macoronis. They wore fashionable clothes with very “high” hair and all the latest accoutrements of the time.

Do you like pasta? What is your favorite sort?

Indie Authors on a Mission!

I’ve been watching Angela Brown and Gwen Gardner’s publishing adventures with interest, cheering for them both as they swim through self-publishing waters. I’m thrilled to welcome Angela to my blog today. I’ll hand you straight over, but you’d better buckle in for the ride!

Welcome to the Adventures of Gwen and Angela, aka Partners in ParanormYA

Indie authors on a mission: Pour their characters upon paper and share their craziness – erm – stories with readers north, south, east and west, All Over the World!

Reading that intro makes it seem we’re caped crusaders protecting readers with powerful words betwixt digital, paper or hardback covers. In my imagination, it’s kind of fun to see us that way. Winking smile

Superhero

In reality, Gwen and I both see ourselves as writers with minds filled with stories. We just want to share them. All of them, if possible.

Partnering together, Gwen and I embarked on our publishing journey by joining together to promote our separate novels: Neverlove by Angela Brown and Givin’ Up the Ghost by Gwen Gardner. We both chose to self-publish, a decision that shouldn’t be made lightly. In self-publishing, the author owns the process from beginning to publication and beyond into marketing and promotion.

When it comes to self-publishing:

DO set your goals honestly. This will determine the amount of work you will or maybe won’t have to do. If you just want to put your book out for friends and family (like I did with Secret Lilies, a suspense erotica I published under the pen name Rayven Godchild) then marketing and promoting won’t be a big item on your list of things to work on.

DO edit or at least have someone beyond yourself give your work the once-over. As writers, we’re close to our projects, maybe read it a hundred times, literally. Words can jumble together. Plot holes the size of a Mac truck can fly by due to the familiarity we have with the story. Readers are very forgiving, but it’s best not to push your luck J

DO enjoy yourself. Choosing to self-publish and make it a career for longevity requires a lot of writing, more writing and then some writing in between all that other writing. There will be plenty of opportunities to “work” in marketing and promoting your novel, planning for book covers, blog tours, book blasts, seeking reviews and so forth. Holding on to the JOY in the process keeps the CREATIVITY bubbling and the stories flowing – even if they flow in fitful starts and stops J

DON’T give up on yourself. Whether you have a short term goal of just feeling the slick glossy of your paperback in your hand, the long term goal of a career in writing OR if you choose the traditional publishing route instead of self-publishing, believe and write on. Readers are out there and they want your tale of adventure, paranormal mischief or naughty ladies and gents in rather compromising positions.

Question From Shelley: Do you have any questions for Angela or Gwen about their self-pubbing process? Go on, ask a question! Oh, and I almost forgot. It’s Angela’s birthday today. Wish her happy birthday. Party smile

Angela Brown

Angela’s author bio:

Born and raised in Little Rock, AR, Angela now calls Central Texas home.

Reading and writing have been lifelong passions. It was around the time she gave birth to her forever-love, nicknamed Chipmunk, that she really took writing seriously. After all, how could she teach her child to follow her dreams if she hadn’t tried herself?

As a YA fantasy/sci-fi reader and author, she favors the magical, mysterious, the darker side of life…even harbors a secret fright for things that go bump in the night.

NEVERLOVE is a special project spawned from a blog-challenge-turned-blog-opera, the Abby and Basil affair. It is the first in the Shadow Jumpers series.

Neverlove by Angela Brown

For seventeen-year-old Abigail, one rash decision leads to an unexpected chance for redemption. At V’Salicus Academy, a unique institute where she trains to become an agent of heaven, she struggles with the pain of her past, the changes of the present and accepts a loveless future until her path – and heart – crosses with Basil’s.

Basil’s off-chance slip of the tongue binds him to a life of servitude to the Devourer, the master of hell. His existence has no upside until a chance meeting with Abigail brings new perspective.

Keeping the truth of their present lives from each other brings disaster when secrets are brought to light and the life of Abigail’s mentor is put on the line.
Can Abigail and Basil save her mentor and salvage their love amid the chaos? Or will they lose it all, destined forever to NEVERLOVE?

 

Purchase Neverlove

Giving Up The Ghost

A modern day medieval village teeming with spirit activity is no place for sixteen-year-old psychic and ghost whisperer Indigo Eady. Not when all she wants is to forget about these supposed gifts. After all, when needed most, it didn’t help save her father.

After her father’s death, Indigo moves to a new town and has the chance to start over where nobody knows about her psychic abilities. Hiding her secret is easy until the ghost of Bart Bagley ruins everything by barging in and begging her to solve his murder. Tempted to ignore him, she only relents because he was the father of her new friend, Badger. That and the survivor’s guilt she feels over her own father’s death.

A murder investigation is hard enough without the disruption of interfering ghosts and a mysterious soul collector with her name topping its list. But when Indigo’s psychic abilities short-circuit, sparks start to fly in more than one direction. The resulting mishaps compromise the success of the investigation and put the budding but fragile attraction between Indigo and Badger at risk.

When the body count mounts and a suspect ends up dead, Badger becomes a “person of interest" and they must surge ahead to solve the murders before they become the next victims.

Purchase Givin’ up the Ghost

Wine Tasting in West Auckland

Last week I took a day off writing and went on a wine tasting tour with Barry’s Wine Tours. After managing to cause a little chaos, (I got lost and went to the wrong meeting point) we headed to Kumeu, a region I’d only driven through before. Twenty minutes after leaving Central Auckland, we were in the countryside.

Our first stop was Soljans Estate Winery. This is one of our oldest wineries, and it traces its roots back to 1927 when Bartul Soljan arrived from Croatia and started his vineyard.

Pinot Noir Vines 

Most of the vines are covered with nets at present to protect the grapes from marauding birds. The roses were traditionally planted at the end of rows because they show signs of disease first, before the grape vines. They’re sort of like canaries down in a mine. The red roses signify the red grape varieties and yellow roses were planted at the head of rows of white grapes.

Pinot Gris Vines

The merlot grapes weren’t doing well, so the vineyard owner decided to graft pinot gris grapes onto the merlot vines. Experts were brought in from France to do the specialist work. Below the white tape, the grape is a merlot vine. A bud from a pinot gris (white grape) was grafted into the area and has grown into a new vine.

Stainless Wine Barrels

The business end of the vineyard. These are stainless steel casks that hold the wine.

Wine Bottling Machine

This is one of the wine bottling machines. The labels come next.

Wine Tasting Room

Tasting is the fun part of the tour. We tried six different wines, white and red. There are crackers and water to cleanse the palate between varieties of wine. Some people can be snobby about wine. My opinion – if I like the wine then it’s a good one!

Westbrook

This is a photo of West Brook Winery, the second vineyard we visited. As you can see the grounds are gorgeous and perfect to take the family for a picnic on a Sunday afternoon.

The day was lots of fun and the perfect way to recharge my writing batteries.

Where would you go if you have a day off to recharge?

Recipe: Delicious Strawberry Shortcake Muffins

I mentioned yesterday that Strawberry Shortcake Muffins rank among one of my favorites. The recipe came from the Baking Makes Things Better blog, which I highly recommend if you enjoy baking.

Strawbery Shortcake Muffins

 

Ingredients:

2 cups flour 
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup sugar
½ cup butter, (113 grams) cold from fridge and cut into cubes
1 egg
1 cup cream
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 – 1 ½ cups strawberries, diced

 

Method:

1. Mix the flour, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

2. Mix the beaten egg, cream and vanilla together in another bowl. Add these wet ingredients to the dry. Combine until just incorporated.

3. Mix in the diced strawberries, combining carefully.

4. Spoon into 12 muffin cases.

5. Bake in a 180C oven for around 20 minutes or until they are golden brown.

Shelley’s notes:

The original recipe called for a topping of diced strawberries and whipped cream or a dusting of icing sugar. I ate the muffins plain, still warm from the oven, and they were delicious. I also froze some and that worked well too. As mentioned, they were delicious. A real taste of summer in a muffin.

In Praise of Strawberries

dreamstimefree_1868210_Strawberries

The strawberry season is drawing to an end down here in New Zealand. I’m a huge fan of strawberries. Let me count the ways….

Reasons Shelley Likes Strawberries:

1. The appearance of the first strawberries is a signal that summer is underway.

2. They’re low in calories and very tasty. Often I’ll pick and eat. They never make it inside.

3. Strawberries and chocolate are a match made in heaven. They’re the perfect treat to eat during a romantic rendezvous.

4. Strawberries also go well with champagne. It’s that romance thing again!

5. Strawberry shortcake muffins are delicious. Recipe to follow tomorrow.

 

Sundry Facts About Strawberries:

1. They say wild strawberries grew in Italy as early as 234 BC.

2. Settlers of Virginia discovered wild strawberries in 1588.

3. The acids in strawberries help to whiten teeth.

4. They’re full of vitamin C, contain flavonolds and help reduce cholesterol. They also contain folic acid, potassium and fibre.

5. Black pepper and strawberries go well together. Better for diets, no?

6. If you ever go to the Wimbledon tennis make sure you have some strawberries. It’s a tradition, and they go through thousands of kilos of strawberries during the tournament. Around 27,000! And I have to say it’s an enjoyable experience.

7. They’re a member of the rose family.

8. There are around 200 seeds in each strawberry.

Are you a fan of strawberries, and if so, what is your favorite way to eat them?