What a wonderful day! Our Thanksgiving was filled with food, family and friends. We stayed with my daughter and son-in-law and got up early to help with the food prep. This was our daughter and son-in-law's first Thanksgiving in their new home. Daughter decided to brine the turkey. It turned out to be a two day process, but turn out really wonderful.

Didn't it turn out pretty? She made a gluten free stuffing with cranberries, apples, onion and herbs. I prefer the traditional Southern Dressing, so we had both.
If you've been following me on Facebook, you know that I made my mother's from scratch, fresh coconut cake this year. My mom died in 1969, but I know she would be pleased to know her cake was the center of attention this year. New SIL loved the coconut cake. Making this cake is a family affair. You have to first shop for the fresh coconut, then you need to figure out how to open the coconut and get the coconut out of the shell. That was always my dad's job, so I enlisted the aid of my dear husband to free the coconut from the shell. It took hours and hours, but the end result was great. Maybe not quite as good as mom's, but close.
Mary Marvella is the last on the right in this picture. My smallest granddaughter is in her grandpa's arms looking to see what she wants on her plate. Mary Marvella wanted this picture, because she said no one would believe her when she told them how much food there was! Daughter and I said really? We scaled it way back this year!

So, we ate, visited, feasted some more, talked more, and finally we packed up and came home. It was a wonderful holiday. Especially since the DH and I have to leave the beach early because of the weather! Were afraid we would get snowed in and miss the celebration. How was your Thanksgiving?

Monkey Bread

Posted by debjulienne | 12:24 PM | 10 comments »

Monkey Bread

Thanksgiving wouldn't be Thanksgiving without Monkay Bread to start the day. In fact my kids would probably abandon ship if I didn't make it. During their teen years I had to make 2 in order to fill them up until turkey time.


(3) frozen loaves of Bridgeport Frozen Bread (slightly thawed)
1-1/2 sticks of butter
1 cup cinnamon
2-3 tablespoons cinnamon (depending on how you like it)

3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Spray bundt pan with pam, lightly sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, set aside.
Melt butter in microwave until melted.
Cut each loaf into 1 inch circles, then quarter.
Dip quarter in butter, covering all sides, drop in bottom of pan.
After you make a circle with bread touching, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar then start the next row.
Place this next row on each side of the existing row, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
Continue until bread is gone. Should just about fill pan.

I use the remaining butter and drizzle over the top, making sure all areas are covered with cinnamon and sugar.
Place on stove top, cover and let rise. (2 to 3 hours)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Place bundt pan on cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, give half turn, bake another 10-15 depending on how brown it gets. You want it a nice golden brown, but some areas will appear burnt because of the cinnamon cooking.

3 cups powdered sugar in a bowl, add vanilla and whipping cream...if it's too thin add a bit more sugar. If it's too thick add a bit more milk.

When bread is done, turn out onto Large plate, and while still hot drizzle the frosting over top.

Serve hot.


Posted by Mary Ricksen | 9:29 PM | 4 comments »


Determination, that’s what it took, that and believing in the impossible.

We didn’t know about puppy mills when we saw him in the window of the local Pet Store at the
Mall. I must have stopped there five times and gone in to pick up that fluffy black puppy. He was a pure bread German Shepherd and he was adorable. I fretted when I saw others look at him, or have him taken out to play with. I had to have that baby dog.

We’d just lost our first German Shepherd, he was rescued from a place where his owner had died, and my heart had a hole in it only a baby doggie could fill. It took some talking to get my husband to agree to buy him. I don’t know what it was, but when I looked into those big golden brown eyes there was a connection. I knew he had to come home with me. My heart about burst when I held him in my arms. He smelled so good, like a baby of any kind usually does. Little dog kisses washed me face and I fell in love.

That night we had spaghetti for dinner and the little boy just tried to dive into a plate of it. I gave him a tiny piece of meatball and he attacked it. He chewed merrily through the evening on all of his new toys and rawhide strips. We had a great evening and he slept on the end of our bed. Little doggie breaths and grunts made us smile. My husband wanted to call him Blackie and though I had better names I let it be Blackie, just because he got me the dog.

Then morning came. The night and day difference scared me to death. The little fellow was so lethargic and I barely got him outside to go when the first bouts of diarrhea hit. What didn’t come out of that end came out of the other and he coughed a lot too. I freaked, so we rushed to the pet store and they sent us to a local veterinarian. He diagnosed kennel cough, gave us medicine and we went home feeling much better.

He didn’t improve and I brought him back to the vet again and again. His kennel cough turned into pneumonia and antibiotics were added. He didn’t eat at all and I tried every food I could think of.
He got even worse and finally the vet told me he had distemper. He suggested we put the puppy down, would give me another dog. Put him down! What! I had this little bundle of sweetness in my heart already. Put him down, not on my watch. So here’s what I was stuck with. Lots of medicines and something from the pharmacy called parapectolin. I had to sign for it but it was an over the counter medication at that time. It had a small amount of codeine in it and it kept the poor baby sleepy, but it stopped the runs. How could I get him to eat?

I went and bought baby food, there were several kinds of meat foods and I added water to them to thin them down. I used a large syringe to draw up the food and them I put the tip of it behind his back teeth in that little area dogs have back there. I forced syringe by syringe full of food down him mouth and gave him the other medications and carried him in and out to do his duty. He slept most of the time.

I cared for him for six months and then one day he tried to eat out of my plate. I bought dog food and for the first time in six months, he ate on his own. Eureka! Victory! He got better every day and he became a wonderful family member. He was a wonderful dog and we loved every minute of the ten years he lived.
He ended up to be a huge dog at 140 lbs. Black as night the only marking on him was a small white patch on his chest. What a beautiful and affectionate animal he turned into, he seemed grateful for every day of life. I was grateful for every day of his life and I will never stop missing him. Someday I hope to see him in heaven, I know he will make it there, I hope I do too!

So, to me the moral of the story is. Never say die!

If you’ve never brined a turkey, it’s a must to consider. Once I tried it I was hooked. it's definitely a must try and the end results are the most succulent bird I've ever had.

1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey

For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
1 gallon heavily iced water

For the aromatics:
Celery (3) stalks sliced
Carrots (3) sliced
Onions sliced and quartered
Rosemary (4) sprigs
Sage (6) leaves
Garlic (5 cloves)


2 to 3 days before roasting:

Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.

Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, and allspice berries in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat:

Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.

Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.

Place aromatics to the turkey's cavity. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil. Add salt and pepper both interior and exterior of bird.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

Joanne--Deals of the Day

Posted by Josie | 1:27 PM | 3 comments »

I will leave the turkey and food deals to the many excellent websites and grocery stores. But, there are several excellent deals today. First, Amazon is offering a 25% off Black Friday deal, already in progress, on many shoes and boots. I've looked for Crocs boots for several weeks, and Amazon offered the best price by far, including no tax and free shipping. Use coupon code BFSHOE25 at checkout. A new pair of Levi's is always in style. Check the Levi's website and take an additional 30% off and free shipping with coupon code GIFT 30. Last, head to Best Buy for the Simple Nook with glowlight, at the sale price of $49.99. Happy Shopping!

Joanne--Deals of the Day

Posted by Josie | 2:35 PM | 3 comments »

It's the week before Thanksgiving and the Black Friday deals are beginning to roll in. The first place to head is your local CVS store. There are numerous free items to enjoy using your Extra Care Bucks. If you don't have a CVS card, get one now, and be sure to scan your card as soon as you walk in the store for even more deals. A brief list of free deals from Sunday thru Wednesday includes Kraft Macaroni and cheese, Starbucks refreshers, Hershey's theater box candy, Orbit gum, 5 Gum, CVS probiotic, CVS cleansing wipes, Sparkles paper towels, Glade plugins, Ricola cough drops, laundry detergent, and the list goes on and on. Check the first 2 pages of your Sunday CVS circular for more details, or stop in the store. Also in today's Sunday coupon section is a coupon for a free $25.00 gift card at K-Mart for transferred prescriptions. Enjoy the deals!

Yep, I'm going through "the Change," oh no, not that change, that one thankfully is well behind me. This is the change from unpublished to published author. Let me say, IT AIN'T EASY.

One of the hardest things I've found about being a published author is the expectation of when will you finish your next book. I've written for years, but always to suit myself. If I wanted to write, I did. If I wanted to read, I did. Boy, those were the good ole days.

I didn't realize how much more demanding my life would become once I'd published my first book. Things are different now. I have had an editor ask me to write a book for her. My current editor is waiting on book two and edits for the novella they accepted.

Yep, complicated.

Did I mention that I'm still teaching? Full time? Things are changing in education as well. The curriculum is much more rigorous. That means the students have to work harder and they don't like it. The paperwork in special education is unreal. At the beginning of the school year, I was torn about retiring at the end of this year. But with all the changes the school system has made, that decision has become much more appreciated. I no longer see leaving teaching as a regrettable thing. Now, I can't wait for the school year to end. Don't get me wrong, I love the kids and will miss them. I've become attached to many of them and hate to leave them. But the stress of all the changes lets me know I'm doing the right thing.

Besides, I've got a book to promote. I've got two books to write and a novella to revise. Plus I'm due to turn in a Christmas short story to one of my publishers, like yesterday. I've got my work cut out for me and I can hardly wait. I'll start right here and now with the trailer that Sizzler Editions produced for my novel, A Matter of Trust. Check it out!


Let's face it, Thanksgiving is about being thankful for life’s blessing, family getting together and eating. I’ve been sharing recipes the past couple of weeks and this is one of my standards. Corn bread stuffing. What’s Turkey without stuffing. Feeding my crew is no easy feat, so quick and easy recipes is the name of the game for me.

2 boxes corn bread stuffing.
1 can low sodium chicken broth (approx.)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 turkey neck (I know it sounds disgusting but dark meat is best for stuffing)
1 lg. onion, (finely diced)
1 can sliced water chestnuts, (finely diced)
2 sticks of celery, (finely diced)
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoons parsley flakes
2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
salt and pepper to taste (at least a 1/2 tsp. of each, probably more)
poultry seasoning (optional)

Prep stage (I do this the day before and let it rest in the fridge overnight)
1) Use the neck from your turkey, add a can of chicken broth and simmer for about a half hour.
2) Remove neck, reserve broth.
3) When neck cools, remove meat and finely chop.
4) Chop onion, celery, and water chestnuts.

Assemble: Spray your 9 x 11 pan with Pam and set aside. In a large bowl, mix corn bread packages. Add diced meat and all dry seasonings. Add celery, onion, and water chestnuts. Add eggs, and remaining broth, and cream of chicken soup. Stir well. Pour into prepped pan, cover and chill in fridge over night.

An hour before dinner pop into the over at 350 degrees F. Bake for 45 minutes. Will have a nice crust on top.

I look forward to this recipe every year.


If you take a look at the bestseller lists on Amazon, you would be stunned by the number of box sets of ebooks.

It feels like you are visiting a huge wholesale warehouse. Seriously that's the impression I get when I look at the impressive number of ebooks bundled together for 99cents. Why not give them free!

But Cotsco was successful in spite--or probably because-- of its cheap prices. And the box sets are reaching the bestsellers lists because of their99 cent price.

Are the authors making money? Not much, I can guarantee as I followed in the box set footsteps so to speak. Not much money, but a lot of visibility.

In August 20113, I bundled my medical romance novels. The box set sold a lot of copies, but the three individual books stopped selling. It makes sense, why buy each book, when you can have 3 for 99 cents.

DOCTOR’SORDERS Box Set Best Romance at Preditors&Editors award-winning,  Best Romance at Readers Favorite. Three medical contemporary romance novels, with passion, emotion and humor.  

A month later, I bundled the three books in my Holiday Babies Series, although we were still in September and quite far from Christmas.
HOLIDAYBABIES SERIES: a box set of three award-winning romances: Christmas Babies, Valentine Babies, & Mother’s Day Babies, with holiday theme, passion, emotion and humor. And twin babies. 

Both boxed set reached the Amazon bestseller lists.

Full of energy and enthusiasm, I joined a group of authors and we bundled 6 romance novels, all contemporaries. My contribution to the box is NEIGHBORS AND MORE.

THE ULTIMATE ROMANCE (6 romance novels from 6 bestselling authors for 99c) 
When a group of 11 authors wanted to 'do something' for Christmas, I offered to format and upload the 11 Christmas books while another author created a gorgeous book cover.

Bestseller #60 in Kindle

Main Street once was where everyone in small towns and even large cities congregated. This holiday season, you'll find the Spirit of Main Street alive and well in a wonderful collection of eleven holiday romances, the Christmas on Main Street Box Set. The Authors of Main Street have poured their heart into these books, all with holiday themes. With the spirit of Christmas guiding them, they have priced Christmas on Main Street inexpensively as their holiday gift to you. My contribution to the big box is: my latest novel, HER CHRISTMAS CRUISE.

Why stop now? I decided to bundle all my books.
A new box set was born. 
CHRISTMAS HERE AND THERE, 3 sweet romances, with emotion, humor, at the beach, on a cruise, or in Russia! 99c, 

And coming in a couple of days, a box set including the few orphan books left unbundled!

I changed the titles of some books. Her Greek Romance became Her Greek Tycoon,
French Peril became Her French Count, To Love A Hero became Her Russian Hero, and Neighbors and More stayed as is.

Come and meet the foreign lovers who fell in love with beautiful American heroines.

Would you consider bundling books?

Mona Risk