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Archive for the 'Potpourri' Category

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/

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/

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/

Gift Ideas for the Avid Readers in Your Life

Gifts for Christmas
Looking for some fun gift ideas for the avid readers in your life?

Good news. You’ve come to the right place.

I’ve teamed up with some fellow authors to share our picks for the perfect gifts (in a variety of price ranges!) for readers to cozy up with. The only other thing they’ll need is a great book.

Without further ado, here is our roundup of the top gift ideas for readers:

Huhuhero Fineliner Color Pen Set

These color pens are perfect for bullet journaling, coloring and notetaking in general. At just $6.98, they come in a 10-pack of vivid colors. They write smoothly and are just plain fun!

Product suggested by L. Danvers, YA Paranormal Romance Author

Literary Candles

Have you ever seen anything so adorable? These bookish candles feature custom scents designed to evoke fond memories of your favorite literary tales – from Sherlock Holmes to Jane Eyre. Sixteen bucks for a gift your loved one will rave about? Yes, please!

Product suggested by Cecelia Mecca, Paranormal Romance Author

Long Distance Friendship Lamp

This gift is on the high end, price wise, but as I have several loved ones who live far away, I love the idea behind it and it seems like a lovely way to touch their heart!

Product suggested by D.M. Marlowe, Paranormal Romance Author

I Love Reading Fleece Luxury Blanket

Know an avid reader who simply wants to snuggle up with a good book and be left alone? Then this blanket is sure to make them smile. (Mental note to self: do not mess with L.G. Castillo when she’s reading.)

Product suggested by L.G. Castillo, Paranormal Romance Author

Mismatched Fingerless Mittens

Keeping your hands warm doesn’t have to be boring. These fingerless gloves are colorful with a bit of whimsy. Perfect for long winter nights.

Product suggested by Beth Caudill, Paranormal Romance Author

Aqua Love Notes Waterproof Notepad

Since I do all my best thinking in the shower…

Product suggested by Shelley Munro, Paranormal Romance Author

 

We hope you found this list helpful. We’d love to know – are any of these products on your Christmas wish list this year? Let us know in the comments below.

PARANORMAL ROMANCE AUTHORS | GIFT IDEAS | GIFTS FOR READERS | CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS FOR READERS PARANORMAL ROMANCE AUTHORS | GIFT IDEAS | GIFTS FOR READERS | CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS FOR READERS

Cats and Romance – Check Meowt! #books #romance #cats

Kitten

September is the month of the cat.

Cats—both wild and domestic—come from the Felidae family. Around eight to twelve million years ago cats evolved into two categories, which scientists called Old World and New World species. The cat family was also classified into two further groups. Big cats that roared e.g. lions, tigers etc were Panthera while the smaller cats that didn’t roar were placed in the Felis group.

Our modern-day domestic cats evolved from the Felis group. Experts think the African wildcat chose to live close to humans in Egypt and became domesticated. From here traders took cats into Italy and they spread through Europe and western Asia.

These days many of us own cats. They’re excellent companions. They entertain us. And who doesn’t enjoy the purr of a cat. It’s very relaxing to listen to a content cat.

Cats are independent, full of curiosity and they love to explore. They’re fastidious and self-cleaning. Many people are convinced they’re the perfect pet.

With so many cat lovers around, it’s not surprising that cats have found their way into romances.
If you’d like to read a romance featuring a cat, try one of these https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/36815.Cats_Wonderful_Pets_in_Romance

Personally, I’m a fan of feline shifters—the roaring group of cats—and I’ve written leopard, lion and tiger shapeshifters.

If you’re a fan of feline shifters check out one of my Middlemarch Shifters series, Middlemarch Capture series or my House of the Cat series.

And if you enjoy historical romances, my heroine in The Spurned Viscountess adopts a stray cat.

Sleep and Tips for Getting a Good Night of Rest #sleep

A dog sleeping
Humans spend one third of their lives sleeping, and recent research suggests that we’re sleeping one to two hours less per night on average.

I watched a British documentary on sleep this week and found it interesting. As I get older, I find I have more trouble sleeping, and I’m not alone. Sleep problems are common among all ages. Instead of sleeping, we watch television, play with our phones, computers and other gadgets.

Too little sleep can be dangerous. Your mind isn’t quite as sharp. There is a risk of falling asleep while driving or operating machinery. When we’re tired we often crave sugar so lack of sleep can lead to obesity and diabetes.

So what are some tips and tricks to aid sleep?

1. Make your bedroom a place to sleep. Remove the TV and the gadgets. You don’t want the blue light from gadgets interrupting your sleep or a text message waking you.

2. Are your bed and mattress comfortable? This can make all the difference to your sleep quality.

3. Have a warm bath or shower before going to bed. This will help you relax.

4. Don’t have naps in the afternoon. Try and hold out until it is bed time.

5. Try and stick to a schedule when it comes to your sleep. Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time.

6. Get out in the sunshine in the morning and avoid bright light in the afternoon to get your body clock in rhythm.

7. Wind down during the hour before sleep. Listen to music or read a book. Reading a book is my favorite way to unwind.

8. Stay away from alcohol, heavy meals and cigarettes for two to three hours before sleeping. Caffeine can stop your body from relaxing. Alcohol can affect your ability to sleep.

9. Temperatures can affect sleep. Around 20C/70F is about right but experiment what works for you. I sleep much better when it is cooler.

10. Daily exercise can help regular sleep patterns, but don’t try to exercise just before bed time.

How is your sleep? Do you have trouble getting a good night of sleep?

Moon Called – Facts and Superstitions About the Moon

Moon

The moon is fascinating—at least I find it interesting. There is nothing more romantic than a walk under a cloudless sky with a full moon.

Facts about the moon:

  1. The moon is the Earth’s only natural satellite.
  2. The moon is 384,403 kilometers from the Earth.
  3. It takes the moon 27.3 days to orbit the Earth.
  4. Neil Armstrong was the first person to step on the moon. He is one of 12 people who have walked on the moon.
  5. The surface of the moon is covered with craters from collisions with comets and asteroids.
  6. The Earth’s tides are caused mainly by the gravitational pull of the moon.
  7. A lunar eclipse causes when the Earth is between the moon and the sun.
  8. The moon is shaped like an egg. The larger end points toward Earth.
  9. A survey was conducted in 1988, and 13% of those questioned believed the moon was made from cheese.
  10. The moon has no atmosphere.

Moon1

Sometimes the moon is visible during the day, which was when this photo was taken.

Moon2

There moon is the subject of many superstitions.

Here are a few:

  1. A full moon is when men transform into wolves.
  2. A full moon is a good time to start a new job or finish old business.
  3. A full moon can make you crazy. Police and hospitals will confirm that there are more problems around a full moon.

Do you have anything to add?

Spider Cures and Superstitions

While doing some research for one of my books, I came across several superstitions regarding spiders. On the whole spiders are considered positive, and many people protected them from harm because they were considered lucky.

Here are a few superstitions:

1. If a spider is sighted during the evening, expect a letter in the morning.

2. If you kill a spider, it will rain the following day.

3. If you see a spider running toward you in the morning, misfortune will follow.

araneus diadematus

What I found slightly disturbing is that spiders were used to cure diseases such as ague, whooping cough and to treat bleeding.

The spiders were:

1. Swallowed as a medicine, disguised by jam or treacle. The spider was swallowed alive.

2. A type of pill was made enclosing the live spider in cobwebs and this was swallowed.

3. The spider was enclosed in a nut or a linen bag and worn around the neck until the spider died.

Not so good for the spider!

Spider webs were also used to bind wounds and stop bleeding. I’m not sure how well this works, but I think I’ll stick with plasters rather than experiment.

The use of spiders as medicine contradicts the idea that spiders were considered lucky.

An Orkney saying goes: If you wish to thrive, let the spider go alive.

While a Devon saying goes: Who kills a spider, bad luck betides her.

Where do you fall on the spider scale? Are they lucky or unlucky?

Source: The Penguin Guide to the Superstitions of Britain and Ireland

How Do You Get Rid of a Stuck Song?

Earworm

You know how you get those catchy songs stuck in your head? You hear them once and suddenly you’re humming or singing the song? It becomes the song that will not go away!

These songs are called earworms.

And they’re really annoying. The more you think about them, the more they stick in your mind.

I was waiting for my toes to dry after a pedicure and came across this short snippet in Women’s Health, Australian edition, about how to get rid of earworms.

The answer: Chew gum.

Why does it work?

The motion of your jaw interrupts the earworm by distracting the part of the brain that is responsible for repetitive thinking, according to Dr. Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis, Director of the Music Cognition Lab at the University of Arkansas.

A second way to stomp on an earworm is to play another song and listen to it all the way through. Of course, you run the risk of catching another earworm!

Can you remember your last earworm?

Superstitions About Tea

ReformBadGirlCup

I picked up The Penguin Guide to Superstitions of Britain and Ireland at my local library and the section on tea grabbed me because I’ve written a romance with a tea-leaf reader heroine. I hadn’t realized tea came with so many superstitions.

Here are a few of them:

Tea pot lids – if you accidently leave the lid off the pot when making tea, a stranger will call soon. People from Suffolk believe leaving the teapot lid off means you’ll be sent for—it’s not clear by whom—while those in Somerset think the teapot lid means the services of a doctor will be required before day’s end.

Pouring the tea – It’s bad luck for two people to pour tea from the same pot. In some regions two people pouring from the same pot will result in a pregnancy (I presume there is a man and woman in the equation as well as a teapot!)

Tea Stalk or leaves – if you find a stalk or a leaf floating in your cup of tea a visitor will arrive. It’s possible the visitor will be a stranger.

Milk and sugar – If you put milk in your tea before the sugar you run the risk of losing a loved one.

There doesn’t seem to be any logic to the superstitions, but I found them interesting. The only one I’d heard of before is the one about floating tea leaves. My parents used to say to expect a visitor whenever there were floating tea leaves.

Have you heard of these superstitions or do you have any to add?

Note: The book featuring tasseography or tea leaf reading is Reformed Bad Girl.