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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?

Lets Take Tea With Jane Austen

Thursday Thirteen

During a recent visit to the local library, I came across a copy of Tea With Jane Austen by Kim Wilson. I’m a big fan of tea, so I picked up the book and checked it out.

Thirteen Things About Jane Austen and Tea

1. Jane Austen was responsible for making the family breakfast each morning and also the morning pot of tea.

2. Tea was very expensive during Jane’s time and was kept locked away to avoid pilfering by the servants.

3. Young ladies of the time used to decorate tea caddies with filigree work (rolled strips of paper applied in decorative patterns)

4. Jane took sugar in her tea, but probably not milk. The sugar was also locked up due to its expensive nature.

5. The sugar came in large cone-shaped loaves and someone had to break it up before it could be used. Sugar cubes came much later.

6. Shopping was different in Jane’s time. For example if she wished to buy tea she could buy it from a pedlar, she could walk to the local shops or wait until she visited a larger town or city.

7. Visits to the city were rare. Whenever Jane visited the city, friends and family would give her a list of their requirements and errands. Items such as jewellery and material were common additions to Jane’s list.

8. During Jane’s time a pound of tea sold for six shillings. Better quality tea fetched even higher prices. This was double the wages received by unskilled workers.

9. The quality of the tea varied widely. Legal tea was usually a decent quality as was smuggled tea, although it sometimes smelled a little of horse. Some tea was adulterated, which could be quite dangerous.

10. Some shops, such as dressmakers and milliners, offered tea to their customers. Tea contributed to a genteel atmosphere.

11. Twinings tea warehouse on The Strand probably hasn’t changed much in appearance since Jane’s visits to purchase fresh tea.

12. Riding in a carriage was considered exercise. Sometimes it was difficult to remain in a seat due to the bone-jarring roads. Tea was often the first refreshment called for on arrival at a destination.

13.  Gentlemen and some ladies too, took to spiking their tea with spirits, especially in the morning after a hard night. If that didn’t work to fix a hangover, they’d move on to normal tea.

Are you a Jane Austen fan? Which one of her novels is your favorite?

Thirteen Places On Shelley’s Visit Wish List

Thursday Thirteen

Regular visitors will know how much I love to travel. In fact on my last travel post several of you commented – “Where haven’t you been?”

This TT proves I still have plenty of places on my wish list.

Thirteen Places on Shelley’s Wishlist

1. Antarctica

2. Nelson, New Zealand (South Island)

3. Stewart Island, New Zealand (the island at the bottom of the South Island)

4. Broome, Australia (want to go camel riding)

5. Machu Picchu

6. Texas – one state I haven’t visited yet

7. Madagascar – would love to see the lemurs.

8. Vietnam

9. Darwin, Australia

10. Falkland Islands

11. River cruise down the Amazon

12. Chile

13. Scandinavia

Which place is top of your list?

13 Facts About NZ Green Lipped Mussels

Thursday Thirteen

New Zealand is known for its green lipped mussels, so I decided mussels would make a great topic for a TT.

Thirteen Factoids about Green Lipped Mussels

1. Their scientific name is perna canalicula.

2. Mussels are native to New Zealand and are found all around the coast.

3. They are also farmed on a commercial basis.

4. Mussels live on rocks in the intertidal zone and feed on phytoplankton.

5. The shells are a brownish/green color and the outer edges are green, which is where their name comes from.

New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels

6. The commercial farming of mussels is highly regulated. The mussels and the water they grow in are tested for toxins on a regular basis.

7. It’s one of the largest mussel species.

8. They contain a unique brand of fatty acids, which are not found anywhere else.

9. New Zealand produces over 140,000 tonnes of mussels a year.

10. At present the mussels cost $1.50 for a pound (NZ$2.99 for a kilo) at the supermarket.

11. The omega acids in mussels are said to benefit those with inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

12. They are also said to be good for those with asthma symptoms and stomach ailments.

13. My husband loves mussels and eats them on a regular basis. I think they’re repulsive. I don’t like the texture or the yucky bits of the actual mussel. I’m alone in my dislike though because even Bella likes them. My husband tosses the shells out on the lawn and she spends days chewing the hinge bit that is left on the shell when the mussel is removed.

Do you like mussels? Have you tried New Zealand Green Lipped mussels?

13 Things to do with Ghosts and Ghost Hunters

The Victorian Lure

I’m thrilled to welcome Sky Purington, author of The Victorian Lure, a paranormal/time-travel/historical blend to my blog today. Since the hero of Sky’s book is a ghost hunter, I asked her to tell us a little about ghosts and ghost hunters today. Over to Sky.

13 Things To Do With Ghosts and Ghost Hunters

1. First and foremost, be logical minded and debunk before labeling paranormal. Many older houses have copper wiring and extremely high EMF (Electro Magnetic Field) readings. These homes affect sensitive people and make them see things that aren’t there, not to mention influence their health. If the EMF readings are off the charts, there’s a very good chance the home is not haunted. It’s highly recommended that the homeowner hire an electrician as soon as possible.

2. Be patient when ghost hunting. It’s not like what you see on TV. It often takes a full night of investigating to gain one nugget of evidence.

3. Have plenty of extra camera battery packs. Paranormal activity is well known to drain battery life in under a minute.

4. Record a disembodied voice with an EVP (Electro Voice Phenomena) recorder. When trying to get one, be sure to ask clear, concise questions and give the spirit time to answer.

5. Catch a fluctuation in the magnetic field with an EMF Detector. Before doing so, walk-through and establish all places that already have an EMF reading such as light fixtures, electrical outlets and wires in walls.

6. Feel first-hand what a cold spot is. This is a very small area that sharply drops in temperature for no reason. Chances are a spirit’s nearby.

7. See an orb (AKA-energy ball). These are unexplained circles that often appear in places reported to be haunted.

8. Witness unexplainable heat fluctuations in a thermal camera. Again, be sure to debunk first. Even rodents have a small heat signature.

9. Be sure to bring flashlights with screw-off tops. They’re a good tool for trying to get spirits to interact.

10. Bring along flour to sprinkle over places reported to have active disembodied footsteps. Makes for good potential evidence.

11. Capture doors that shut and open on their own. Another one to watch for debunking. Often times in old houses the floor is tilted and a person’s weight on the floorboards can make doors swing without being near them.

12. Catch a face in a window. That’s when things definitely get creepy. Don’t forget to rule out reflections caused from everyday things both indoors and outdoors.

13. See a full bodied apparition. This is as good as gold to ghost hunters. Have your camera handy so it’s captured on film! Smile

Do you think you’d like to go ghost hunting?

Fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter Sky’s contest:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Victorian LureThe Victorian Lure

Calum’s Curse Ardetha Vampyre

Book 1

Sky Purington

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

ISBN: 1601549903

ASIN: B00654CY2W

Number of pages: 310

Word Count: 80,000 words

Amazon Barnes & Noble

Book Description:

Is it true love…or is the magnetic pull just another part of the Victorian’s lure?
Dakota Allerton depends on no one but herself, but then she’s never needed a ghost hunter. When her dream home becomes a house of horrors that is holding her hostage, her only hope is a Scotsman who investigates the paranormal.
The supernatural is nothing Leathan Stewart can’t handle. However, trapped in Dakota’s cursed Victorian home, he finds himself falling back in time. Only those who persevere can survive the dark domination.
Fear has a way of drawing two people together…but so does the need to be loved. Dakota and Leathan must fight against unknown enemies, discover the secrets of Calum’s Curse and defeat a vampire bent on finishing the legacy it began.

Sky Purington

Author Bio:

Best-selling author, Sky Purington lives in southern New Hampshire with her son and husband. The written word has been her obsession from the very beginning. Purington writes time-travel paranormal/fantasy romance heavily influenced by history.

From Irish Druids to Scottish Highlanders many of her novels possess strong Celtic elements. More recently, her vampire stories take the reader to medieval England and ancient Italy.

Enjoy strictly paranormal romance? Sky’s latest novels follow three haunted houses in New England and the sexy ghost hunters determined to make sense of them. Make no mistake, in each and every tale told you’ll travel back to another time and revisit the romanticism history holds at its heart.

Sky loves to hear from readers and can be contacted at Interested in keeping up with Sky’s latest news and releases? Visit Sky’s Website, to download her FREE App on iTunes and Android.


A Writer’s Mind Blog:

Sky’s Paranormal Blog:




13 Benefits of the Public Library

Thursday Thirteen

My introduction to libraries came at a young age, and I haven’t looked back. I spend hours in the library, so it’s a worthy topic for a TT.

Thirteen Benefits of the Public Library

1. It’s free. Anything free is good.

2. A library houses books and gives away information!

3. No matter what your interest, you’ll find books to suit your needs.

4. They have special story times for kids.

5. If the kids become too much, you can search the library catalogue online from the comfort of your home. I reserve books online all the time.

6. If another patron has the book you require it’s easy to reserve it, and the library email you when the book becomes available.

7. It’s a great place for research. The library is my go-to place for all things research.

8. Besides books, the library lends music, sheet music, audio books, videos and magazines. They also have computers and family genealogical records.

9. My local library does some nifty newsletters including a romance one. I subscribe to the romance, young adult, travel and history newsletters.

10. If the library doesn’t have a particular book, you can suggest they purchase it. My library is excellent in this respect.

11. The librarian stereotypes don’t fit. They don’t go around saying shush all the time. I’ve found them very approachable and willing to help. They’re up on social media these days. My library tweets.

12. I can return my books to any of the libraries in the Auckland area. Very convenient!

13. I can check out as many books as I want.

Are you a member of your local library? Can you think of any other benefits?

13 Interesting Facts About Whiskey

Thursday Thirteen

During the winter my mind often turns to whiskey. It’s my standby fix for winter ailments. Whenever I get a cold—or sometimes when it’s cold and miserable—hubby will make a hot toddy consisting of whiskey, lemon juice, hot water and honey. Delicious!

Thirteen Factoids About Whiskey

  1. Irish and American whiskey is spelled with an ‘e’ while the Scottish leave the ‘e’ out of their whisky.
  2. Once whiskey is bottled it stops aging or maturing. You might as well drink that bottle because it’s at its peak as soon as you purchase it.
  3. It’s said whiskey was first made in Ireland, although Scotland also makes this claim.
  4. Whiskey is distilled in oak casks. The casks give the drink both its flavor and color.
  5. Whiskey can be made from wheat, barley, corn or rye.
  6. Malt whiskey is made from malted barley.
  7. Whiskey appears in historical records around the 1500s.
  8. It’s said Queen Elizabeth the first liked a tipple of whiskey.
  9. In 1661 excise tax was applied to whiskey, driving production underground.
  10. There are four distinct regions producing whisky in Scotland. The Highlands, The Lowlands, Islay and Campbelltown.
  11. The whisky from each region has a distinctive taste.
  12. Most of the major whisky breweries in Scotland are now owned by international companies.
  13. Mctears Auctions in Glasgow is the most famous auction house for rare bottles of whisky.

Do you like the odd nip of whiskey/whisky? Which brand do you prefer?

13 Green Household Cleaning Tips

Thursday Thirteen

I’m a big fan of using natural items for cleaning around the house and will use vinegar, baking soda, lemon and salt over manufactured items. Not only is it better for the environment, but it works out much cheaper too.

Thirteen Green Household Cleaning Tips

Lemon - dreamstimefree_117467  Salt - dreamstimefree_232233

1. Clean the base of an iron with a paste of white vinegar and baking soda. The paste will make the sole plate clean and shiny.

2. To get rid of perspiration marks and associated odour on shirts – soak in white vinegar and then wash in the normal method.

3. Kill weeds or unwanted grass by spraying vinegar directly onto the trouble spot.

4. Use baking soda to clean the inside of the fridge. It will clean up greasy marks and remove any odours.

5. Clean a rubbish bin with bicarb of soda and warm water. This will help eliminate smells.

6. Clean both the toilet seat and bowl with baking soda. Sprinkle baking soda in the bowl and leave a while before flushing.

7. If you spill liquids on a book or drop a book in the bath (horrors!) – sprinkle baking soda on the wet pages and let them dry – in the sun if possible.

8. If you need buttermilk for a recipe and don’t have any – mix one cup of milk with a tablespoon of lemon juice. This substitute tastes just as good as the real thing.

9. To refresh and sanitize a cutting board – rub all over with the cut side of a lemon or wash in undiluted lemon juice.

10. To sanitize your dishwasher – make sure the dishwasher is empty and place lemon juice in the soap dispenser. Run a normal wash cycle. This also makes the dishwasher smell nice.

11. To remove mildew use a mixture of salt and lemon juice.

12. To mop up oven spills if something bubbles over in your oven – put a handful of salt on top of the spilled juice. The mess won’t smell and will bake into a dry, light crust that can be wiped off easily when the oven has cooled.

13. Remove red wine from a tablecloth after a clumsy guest spills their drink – pour a little salt onto the splash immediately. This will soak up the wine. When the meal ends whisk off the cloth and soak it.

Do you have any good household hints?

Source: Green Cleaning by Margaret Briggs and Vivian Head

Rodeo! About Farms and Bull Riders

NOTE: visitors for the HOT JOCK blog hop, please scroll down.

Debra Kayn is visiting today. While she’s discussing farms, bull riders and handy-dandy items with multiple uses, I’ve going to sit back in the winter sun and continue reading her new release, Rodeo Rebel. I left Florentine and Cole at an impasse and need to learn what happens next. Over to Debra!

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen things you can find around the farm or ranch that come in handy for other things.

1. Twine – Typically used to secure hay bales. We use twine to stake plants, hang bird feeders, make gate latches, and tie items on the back of the quad as we’re working around the property. If you have long hair, you can quickly braid and tie when you get caught without a rubberband.

2. Laundry detergent buckets – Used to haul feed and water. Used to organize bolts and hand tools in the barn or garage. Also great to use when washing cars and tractors to hold your soapy water.

3. Vinegar – We also wash our windows with a mix of vinegar and water in a spray bottom. Then scrub the glass dry with wadded up newspaper for a streak-free shine.

4. Dog nail clippers – Work great for clipping off the thorns of a rose bush when you want to gather a bunch for in the house.

5. Horse brushes – Work great as a boot brush to knock off the mud and dirt before coming in the house.

6. Cattle or Hog panels – Arched and staked in the ground make a wonderful archway to grow peas, green beans, or grapes on, and will last forever.

7. Mane & Tail Shampoo and Conditioner – Made for horses, and safe enough for human use. If you suffer from tangles, it’s wonderful.

8. Tractor inner tubes – When inflated it makes a great trampoline for kids and adults in the yard, or if you want to try to curl inside and go for a ride downhill.

9. Rake heads – When the handle breaks on your rake, you can still use the rake head in your country chic décor! Nailed to the wall, they make a great coat rack. You can also hang dog leases, belts, necklaces, and umbrellas from the many prongs.

10. Egg shells – Crush and sprinkle into the ground around plants to help them grow. It’s a great source of calcium, which plants need.

11. Plastic Milk Jugs – If you cut “flaps” around the sides (along the length) and stick them on a fence post beside your garden, the wind makes a howling sound and rattles the plastic…scaring the deer and rabbits away from the garden.

12. Chicken hook – Typically used to catch chicken. They are great for hooking apples off the tree that are too far out of reach.

13. Chicken wire – Have outside deck steps that get slick in the winter? Cover the step with chicken wire and tack the edges underneath the step. It makes a nifty non-skid surface and you can easily remove it during the summer.

Can you think of anything around your house that you use for something else besides the real purpose of the item?

Rodeo Rebel

Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble


Rodeo RebelBlurb

When widower and land baron Cole Reardon acquired the Turner Grain Corporation, he didn’t know the company sponsored a bull rider. He refuses to support thrill-seekers dumb enough to get on the back of a crazed animal. He’s not willing to risk his fortune and livelihood when he has his daughter’s well-being to consider. Not even when the bull rider is the sexiest woman he’s ever seen.

Bull rider Florentine McDougal plans to turn pro after the season championship, fulfilling her lifelong dream of succeeding in a man’s world. That is, until Cole Reardon shows up and threatens to break his sponsorship contract with her. Now everything she’s worked for is less than eight seconds away from being destroyed.

Cole distracts Florentine with his sexy mouth and unreasonable demands, and he’s not going to compromise his integrity. But she’s not going to let him loose until she has pro status. And neither will come away from this dust-up unscathed.

Multi-published Romance Author, Debra Kayn, lives with her family in the beautiful coastal mountains of Oregon on a hobby farm. During the summer, she enjoys riding motorcycles, gardening, playing tennis, and fishing. During the winter, you’ll find her outside playing in the snow. A cold weather nut, she lives for the days she’s snowbound and fighting with the woodstove to keep the house warm when the power goes out. A huge animal lover, she always has a dog under her desk when she writes and chickens standing at the front door looking for a treat. She’s famous in her family for teaching a 270 lb pig named Harley to jog with her every morning.

Her love of family ties and laughter makes her a natural to write heartwarming contemporary stories to the delight of her readers. As someone who met her husband on a blind date when she was nineteen years old, she’s a believer of love at first sight and happily ever after.

Visit Debra’s website

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Wedding Do’s and Don’ts with Catherine Bybee

Thursday Thirteen

I have a special guest today – New York Times and USA Today bestselling writer Catherine Bybee. Catherine is celebrating her new release Married by Monday, book two in her Weekday Bride series, and I’m thrilled to have her here to visit. Over to Catherine and her wedding advice…

13 Wedding Do’s and Don’ts

1. If money is tight, invite only people you plan on being friends with on your 10th wedding anniversary.

2. Don’t get married at a county office with bullet proof glass separating you from the person signing the paper.

3. Have who you want standing up with you…not who your family ‘thinks’ are the right people.

4. Don’t compromise. It’s your day.

5. Don’t get drunk.

6. Brides: Wear a button up shirt when getting your hair and makeup done, easy to get out of before getting into your dress.

7. Take a moment throughout your wedding day to run down everything that has happened…Helps you remember everything long after the day is only a picture.

8. Don’t have a full mass if you’re 8 months pregnant…people laugh at that shit.

9. Pick a wedding day away from other holidays…no need to group in all the presents for the rest of your life!

10. Grooms: Send flowers to your bride the morning of your wedding. Let her know she has made you the luckiest man in the world.

11. Don’t put your wedding on a credit card.

12. Put your maid of honor or best man to work. Have them watch out for ‘Great Aunt Drinks A lot’, or the clock so you don’t miss your flight. They can party after all the work is done.

13. Take a look at #4 – Use what I have here only if it works for you and throw away the rest.

Oh…one more thing…make sure you’re truly in love with the one you’re saying ‘I Do’ to… Unless he offered you millions of dollars for a one year contract…then WTF, do what you want!

Do you have any wedding advice to add?

clip_image002Carter Billings:

Sandy blond hair and Hollywood good looks, Carter Billings could have any woman he wants. However, when he makes his bid for the Governor’s seat in the state of California, he needs to settle down and become a family man. Eliza, the woman he secretly adores, embodies the perfect amount of spice and passion to suit his marital needs, but she’s not interested in becoming Mrs. Billings. She can’t even stand to be in the same room with him.

Eliza Havens:

It’s much easier to drive Carter away than to give into desire. Matching couples is how she earns a living, but getting married isn’t an option. The secrets she carries are too dangerous to entangle anyone else. When her hidden identity and past threaten her future, she’s left with little choice. Carter is quick to offer solutions to both their problems, but saying yes could mean endangering the man she’s growing to love.

Author of New York Times Bestseller, Wife by Wednesday presents, Book Two in the Weekday Bride Series

Purchase Married by Monday – Barnes & Noble / Amazon / Smashwords

New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author Catherine Bybee has been addicted to romance since her teens. After spending a decade of her life working as an RN in urban emergency rooms, Catherine is now dedicated to writing happily-ever-afters for the world to love. Catherine is married and raising two sons in Southern California.

She loves hearing from her readers so feel free to visit her at:

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