Beach Treats

Beach Treats

When I was growing up, my family would spent some time every summer at the Jersey shore. Living in Philly, the beach was about a two-hour drive. My grandparents had a place in Cape May, and they nicely let us use it. (A post for another day will be all of the Victorian houses there, some of which you can tour. So much fun!).

As the calendar gets closer to Summer (I’ve been in countdown mode since Christmas), I always check for beach weekends so I can get at least one dose of Vitamin Sea. Days at the beach are one of my most favorite things. I’m definitely a summer baby. Give me sun, sand, and salt water, and I’m a happy girl.

I’m also a giant baby, so the amusement rides at the boardwalk (we usually would drive to Wildwood) weren’t my favorite thing. But going to the boardwalk meant we got to have a special, once-a-year treat: salt water taffy.

(photo credit: Shriver’s Salt Water Taffy: https://shrivers.com/)

I grew up thinking that salt water taffy was a Jersey shore thing. But apparently it is a coastal thing (and like everything else, you can buy it online if you can’t get to the beach. I’ll link to some places at the end of the post). The story goes that it originated Atlantic City, New Jersey with a man named David Bradley. He had a taffy stand on the boardwalk, and it was damaged during a bad coastal storm in 1883. The next morning, he was in a bad mood about the damage, so when a little girl asked for some taffy, he sarcastically called it “salt water taffy”. The catchy phrase stuck, and “Salt Water Taffy” was born.

Salt water taffy doesn’t have ocean water in it. I’m sort of sad about that… (It actually has hardly any water at all, and only certain flavors use a bit of salt).

And it doesn’t taste salty either. I guess the closest thing I can compare them to are Starbursts. But these are better. Way better. Promise. (That may be my nostalgia talking, but hey…)

Traditional Flavors include: Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry, Grape, Peanut Butter, Licorice, Banana, Molasses, Molasses Mint, Orange, Lemon, Lime, Peppermint, Wintergreen, Teaberry, Spearmint, and Cinnamon.

(photo credit: James’s Candy. https://www.jamescandy.com/)

Even now, the sight of the box instantly transports me back to lazy, sunny, carefree days and the magic of summer. My grown-up self appreciates that they now make sugar-free versions too.

(photo credit: James’s Candy. https://www.jamescandy.com/)

A few places you can get it (that will also ship it to your door):

Shriver’s in Ocean City, NJ and James’ Candy Company in Atlantic City, NJ.

Let me know if you’ve tried it, like it, or what’s your favorite beach food (vacation food).

Not so patiently waiting for summer,

Clothes to match your mood

Clothes to match your mood

If you google color theory or the psychology of color, you’ll find tons of articles on the subject, from how companies choose colors for brands, to how a color palette can influence a room, and how you can enhance or improve your mood simply by changing your hue. I’m a total nerd when it comes to things like this, and today is my day to chat about clothes so come along while I geek out. Color psychology is the study of hues as a determinant of human behavior, but more than one expert and researcher has stated that color preference is highly subjective, so while the below colors and emotions are connected, that may not be your experience, and your association with specific colors may vary.

But that being said, let’s play anyway. 🙂

Here’s a list I’ve created from searching various sources:

If you need a boost of confidence, say if you’re giving a presentation, wear red. It demands attention. It’s also good for motivation, and feeling strong and grounded. Purple, the color of royalty, can give you a feeling of power as well, and confidence, and some suggest feelings of worthiness. If you’re stressed and need to feel calm, choose blue. Green also works for tranquility. Yellow is sunshine and happiness. Bright pink is playful and optimistic. Pale pink is romantic and compassionate. Orange is warmth and ambition. Black for elegance and authority. Gray is stable, but can also be depressing. White is innocence and freshness. But remember, just as different experts can have differing opinions on what each color represents (and, you guys, there so are), your feeling on a color may be completely different than what is listed. While color can have an influence on how we feel and act, these effects are subject to personal, cultural, and situational factors.

If I’m feeling sad, I will choose something bright to wear because that does help me feel happier. I’ve designed my office in pale blues and white because calmness and tranquility was definitely missing in my life when I moved into the new space.

I figure that any type of edge helps, right? So if pulling on that bright pink shirt when I need a pick-me-up on a Monday morning, or the yellow raincoat on a drizzly day, or the purple, aqua, and lime green sneakers (they are fabulous!), I’m going to do it.

What are your thought? Do you dress to suit or boost your mood?

Sounds from the Stage

Sounds from the Stage

I grew up watching musicals, raised on Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Andrew Lloyd Webber. You name it, I watched or listened to it. My mom loved them (my dad… not so much). And the soundtracks, whether original cast recordings or special guest stars, were magical. I have a ton of them in my collection and they turn my car into my own personal stage. You can’t be in a bad mood or get annoyed with a traffic jam when singing along with “By Jeeves” or “Love Changes Everything”. 🙂

Les Misérables accompanied my high school years. The drama and feelings were real when singing along with “On My Own”. (My absolute favorite Marius was Michael Ball. That man can sing anything at all and I will buy it.)

And then, and then, came Phantom of the Opera. “Think of Me”, “The Music of the Night” (Can we all just take a moment to appreciate Michael Crawford’s voice there?), and “All I Ask of You”. O-M-G. Love.

Cats, Aspects of Love, Chicago, Sunset Boulevard, Rent, Evita, Wicked, Avenue Q, A Chorus Line, Hamilton, the list goes on and on, I could talk about (read: gush over) music and lyrics F-O-R-E-V-E-R.

With growing up watching people in movies and in plays randomly breaking into song, I’d like to end this post by saying that I was pretty disappointed when I realized that most people in real life — aside from my theatre-loving friends — did NOT do that too. I still think this should be a thing that everyone does. 🙂

Super Salsa for the Super Bowl

Super Salsa for the Super Bowl

So, my Philadelphia Eagles are going to the Super Bowl! *barely can contain my excitement*

It’s time to talk party food for the big game. If you’ve read any of my posts in this Servings category so far, you know that I’m all for spending the least amount of time in the kitchen as possible, being as healthy as possible.

Well, I’ve found a recipe that fits both my requirements: let me introduce you to Rainbow Salsa.

I found the recipe on Gimme Some Oven, and if you like healthy recipes, that’s a great site to check out.

This is only supposed to take ten minutes to make (depending on how fast you can chop everything up). It makes 10-12 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 roma tomatoes, cored and diced (I’d try substituting with beefsteak tomatoes, to me, they have more flavor than roma tomatoes, or go with sliced grape tomatoes)
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers, stems removed, seeded and diced (add more/less to taste). (I’m not a huge fan of super spicy food, so I’d substitute with a regular green bell pepper).
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 large orange bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can organic black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can organic whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, loosely-packed (I’m not a cilantro fan, so I’d leave this out or only use 1/4 cup)
  • 2/3 cup chopped red onion (about half of a small red onion)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juice (about 1 large lime)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

Combine the tomatoes, jalapeno, bell peppers, black beans, corn, cilantro and red onion in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the lime juice, garlic powder, cumin and salt until combined.  Add the juice to the bowl of salsa.  Then toss everything until combined.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 48 hours.

Serve with chips: I suggest Garden of Eatin yellow corn tortilla chips (recommended with the recipe on the blog site) or Late July tortilla chips (regular or sweet potato).

There you have it: fast, fun, and festive.

Go, Eagles!

Tying Myself in Knots

Tying Myself in Knots

Winter weather means bundling up against the elements. I’ve just received a blanket scarf as a gift. But, while I want to be warm, I still want to look cool. And I’m hopeless at being creative with how to tie this thing. So, I turned to the experts on youtube and pinterest for the perfect ways to tie a scarf.
You guys, I had no idea there were so many ways to do this! (One graphic I found numbered 40 ways. My head hurts just thinking about that many…). So, as a nod to the holiday season, and the twelve days of Christmas, here are twelve ways to fashionably wear that wrap:
The loop, the bandana, the body wrap, the standard, the cape, the pull-through, an off-the-shoulder wrap, a three-point wrap, the hooded warp, the belted poncho, the throat-warmer, and the mini-cape.

I get cold pretty easily, and will walk around the house with a blanket draped over my shoulders (or in a “borrowed” hoodie from my husband), so this blanket scarf is a nice way to keep warm when I have to leave the writing cave, say at a lunch or coffee date with a fellow writer, when I don’t want to keep my coat on the whole time.

I’m usually a two-layer girl, and sometimes even that isn’t enough, so the huge scarf is a huge help. But I digress…

No matter how you wear it, the most important thing is staying warm and toasty. Layer, layer, layer, and then layer some more.

Dreaming of warmer weather (and, yes, wearing that scarf as a cape),

Have Yourself a Merry Little Cocktail

Have Yourself a Merry Little Cocktail

The holidays are here, and celebration season is upon us. Can I pour you a festive drink?

Perhaps a Cranberry Mimosa?

Perfect for a holiday brunch, this recipe (from delish.com) is easy and festive.

Ingredients:

1 lime, halved

2 tbsp sugar

1 cup sweetened cranberry juice

1 bottle champagne

12 fresh cranberries

4 small sprigs of fresh rosemary

Make it:

  1. Rub rims of champagne flutes with lime and dip in sugar. Pour 1/4 cup cranberry juice into each glass and top with champagne.
  2. Use a toothpick to poke a hole through cranberries. Thread rosemary skewer through cranberries and garnish mimosas.

 

How about an Eggnog Martini?

A must for any holiday party, this recipe (from mccormick.com) takes only five minutes to make.

Ingredients:

4 ounces light cream

2 ounces white chocolate liqueur

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp rum extract

Make it:

  1. Fill cocktail shaker two-thirds full with ice. Add cream, white chocolate liqueur, nutmeg and rum flavor; shake until well mixed and chilled.
  2. Strain into a martini glass. Serve immediately.

 

And, one more. A cup of cocoa. Or in this case, Candy Cane – Kahula Hot Chocolate.

Sip this (recipe from delish.com) while dreaming by the fire, with visions of sugarplums dance in your head.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 candy cane

3 tbsp sipping chocolate

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 ounces Kahula

whipped cream

candy canes

Make it:

  1. In a saucepan over low heat, warm whole milk and heavy cream.
  2. Add 1 candy cane and stir until melted.
  3. Stir in sipping chocolate and vanilla extract.
  4. Remove from heat, stir in Kahlua, and pour into glass.
  5. Garnish with whipped cream and candy canes.

 

Whatever you’re drinking, let’s raise a glass, and toast the magic of the season.

Cheers!

A Taste of Susan Scott Shelley’s Fighting For More

A Taste of Susan Scott Shelley’s Fighting For More

Hey guys, hockey season is in full swing, so today I’m giving you a taste of one of my newest hockey romances. Fighting For More is book 2 in my Buffalo Bedlam series, and I had a blast writing this story.

Hockey enforcer Leo Brennan knocked out the Buffalo Bedlam’s star player. Now, he’s been traded to their team. Life can’t get worse… until he falls for his injured teammate’s sister.

The Buffalo Bedlam arena was the most unfriendly rink in the league. The ice wasn’t giving or forgiving. The fans were loyal and loudly voiced taunts for the opposing team. And, the Bedlam players were getting under Leo Brennan’s skin. Knocking them into the boards and onto their asses throughout the game had been a pleasure.
Leo hopped over the boards and onto the ice. Clutching his stick, he joined the rush. The Sea Lions were down by four goals with ten minutes remaining in the game. His team needed a fire lit under them, and his job was to provide the spark.

Skate hard, hit harder, and, no matter what, make sure he was the last one standing.

They needed a win to close out the abysmal mid-February road trip. Then they could leave cold, snowy Buffalo and get back to warm, sunny Los Angeles and the Sea Lions fans, who loved the team through highs and lows and everything in between.

Cold air rushed over his face as he flew up the ice. Two Bedlam players chased the puck into the corner with two Sea Lions at their backs. The glass rattled as the players collided into the boards.

The puck shot out to center ice, and right onto Dylan Fraser’s stick. The Bedlam’s talented captain was responsible for three of his team’s goals. No way in hell would Leo allow him another one. He adjusted course, gunning for Dylan, the blue jersey a target on a field of white. They were nearly matched in height, but he outweighed Dylan by a good thirty pounds.

Focused on the goalie, Dylan raised his stick for a slap shot.

Leo lowered his shoulder, braced his body, and slammed into Dylan’s side. The captain fell like a domino.

Target eliminated.

Securing the puck, Leo skated in the opposite direction and fired the puck at the Bedlam goalie. The goalie skated forward, knocking the puck aside and then kept coming.

What the…

The whistle blew, and Leo turned to see why the play had been blown dead and why the crowd had grown silent.
Dylan lay unmoving at center ice, and the ref and linesmen were breaking up fights all around him. Bedlam players on the bench climbed onto the ice, as the trainer and doctor rushed to Dylan’s side.

Mouth dropped open, Leo stared and skated closer. A blunt force slammed into his back, knocking him forward. The ice rushed up to meet him. Cursing, he turned his head. The goalie, Rod Fraser, loomed over him. Eyes heated, Rod ripped off his mask and dropped his gloves, and then his hands formed fists. “What the hell? You knocked out my brother.”

Oh, shi–. Leo pushed to standing.

Glaring, Rod charged, his fist flying forward. It caught Leo’s jaw. Pain exploded, radiating as his teeth knocked together and his head snapped back.

Rod’s fist came at him again. The right hook was as precise as one Leo would have thrown. Leo blocked him, countering with his own. Anger didn’t flare, it couldn’t, not with the concern for Dylan tightening his chest. He’d react the same as Rod if someone had hurt one of his brothers. Hell, he’d gotten into more fights than he could remember trying to protect Ryan.

Another jab caught his cheek.

Enough.

Leo barreled forward. “I gave you that first one. No more.”

“You think so?” Rod came at him again.

Players flew in from every angle, a blur of Bedlam blue and Sea Lions white. A wall of white jerseys formed around Leo as his teammates pulled him away from the irate goalie and toward the Sea Lions bench.

Worried about Dylan, he searched through the throng of players scattered across the ice. Dylan still lay motionless. Was the man conscious? Could he move his limbs? Rod knelt beside his brother, face creased in concern. Emergency personnel crossed the rink, carrying a backboard.

Not a good sign. Not at all.

The deafening silence of the arena, the fans’ harsh glares and anxious faces, magnified Leo’s guilt. He stood by the bench and forced himself to watch the replay on the Jumbotron. His skates hadn’t left the ice when he’d lunged at Dylan, and he hadn’t struck Dylan in the head. The hit was legal. Clean. He didn’t play dirty. Never had, and never would.

But seeing Dylan’s helmet fly off his head mid-fall, and then Dylan’s head hitting the ice, sickened his stomach. The helplessness and fear on Rod’s face as he watched his brother clawed at Leo’s heart. Again, Ryan came into his thoughts. That helplessness echoed what Leo had felt after finding his baby brother beaten up in a park after the previous year’s Pride parade in Philly.

He shook his head to clear the memory. His teammates’ words of comfort and the taps on his back in support seemed far away. He wouldn’t be welcomed if he skated to Dylan’s side to offer an apology. Words were weak anyway, they couldn’t make up for what had happened. He knew that better than anyone. Still, he’d have to find Dylan’s number somehow after the game, and try to express his regret.

Gaze glued to Dylan being wheeled off the ice, he struggled to shift his focus back to the game. Coach Brown ordered his line back to the bench. Leo sat beside his line mates, trying to ignore the fans behind the glass and their screamed insults. Of course, they were worried about their captain. And of course, they were angry at him. Accidents happened. Injuries happened. But maybe by some miracle, Dylan would be completely fine by the next day.

Cold liquid splashed the back of his neck. Startled, he jumped and twisted around. An empty cup clattered to rest beside his skate. The yeasty scent of beer surrounded him.

Behind the glass, two fans smirked at him. One raised his cup in mock-toast. The other flipped Leo off.
Beside him, McSorley stood, and his line mate glared at the fans. “What the hell? They’re throwing sh*t at you?”

Coach Brown hurried from his position at the center of the bench. Shaking his head, he placed his hand on Leo’s shoulder. “Let it go. Leo, head to the locker room.”

“But…” There were still eight minutes left. Not that he’d be able to concentrate on playing.

“Now.”

He grabbed his stick and ambled away from the bench. As he headed into the tunnel, more trash rained down from the fans. Beer, sodas, and an entire container of chicken wings accompanied a chorus of boos. Fighting the urge to rush into the stands and go after the jerks, he wiped splatters of red and brown from his visor and lumbered through the hallway.

The game couldn’t end fast enough.

The sooner he got away from Buffalo, the better.

***

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://a.co/0QbQCU9

iBooks: http://apple.co/2jSHJHZ

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2wNtHZC

Nook: http://bit.ly/2wcp8IU

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2fGfDeE

 

Coffee, Coffee, Everywhere

Coffee, Coffee, Everywhere

 

So, you know how people visit a new city (or country), and one of the first things they want to do is check out the local cuisine, or the food the city is known for? Yeah… I’m not one of those people.

BUT… I will totally want to check out their coffee shops and get my taste of local flavor that way.

Anyone on a restricted diet can tell you that going out to eat has the potential to be a stressful event, and so for me, coffee is a way around that. I know I’ll be happy with a cup of java, so the stress is gone, and I can just enjoy the rest of the experience.

 

Sitting back, hands cupped around a warm mug, and people-watching: there’s nothing better.

Often, my writer’s brain will start crafting stories for the people I see. The baristas, the customers, and the passers-by.

National chains are a good backup, but I always seek out the small shops first. I like experiencing the different decor, and talking to the baristas about the different types of coffees they’ve selected. And, the added bonus is that I get to feed my caffeine habit.

So, coffee shops are a must-stop on my travels. I’d love to hear about any must-stops you have.

 

Writing to the Beat

Writing to the Beat

Whenever I start a new writing project, I select a new playlist. After spending months with my hockey and baseball players, I was returning to my rock stars.

But when it came to the music, I was coming up empty. I didn’t have a playlist.

Aaahhh! (Cue the panic button.)

Usually, selecting music for my playlists is easy. (Often, it’s a single song on continual repeat.) But I couldn’t find the right mood. I know a lot of that had to do with other events in my life that were draining my energy and pulling at my attention. And writing under those conditions is super hard. I needed some inspiration–FAST.

And so, I turned to Youtube.

In this book, my rock stars are going on tour, so I searched out some live concert inspiration. And here is a sample of what I found:

Have you heard Babymetal singing with Rob Halford (of Judas Priest) at the 2016 APMAs? Dude, it’s awesome. I love everything about it.

I am enjoying the Foo Fighters’ new Concrete and Gold album. And I so loved this clip, from the 2017 Summer Sonic festival, where they brought Rick Astley on stage:

And then there’s Guns N Roses from their Not In This Lifetime tour, singing with Pink:

And one more. This one’s a little older, but I love it. A duet with Amy Lee from Evanescence and Lzzy Hale from Halestorm:

I’m happy to report that these, along with countless other live performances, helped a lot.  This book’s playlist is pretty eclectic, but it’s rejuvenated me along the way. Music has the power to inspire and to heal, and I’m grateful it did both.

I’d love to hear your suggestions on other bands I should check out.

 

Show Your Support

Show Your Support

I received my first Phillies hat when I was six years old. And my first Flyers jersey when I was fourteen. As I write this post, I’m wearing an Eagles T-shirt (having just finished watching them beat the Redskins. A week 1 win, baby — we’re off to a great start!). And, I’ve just purchased a new Flyers hat, in prep for the NHL season which opens on October 4th.

On any given Sunday, any football team can potentially win the game. And on any given Sunday, countless people across the country don hats, shirts, jerseys, and jackets in support of their favorite teams.
There’s nothing like being in a football, baseball, or soccer stadium or a hockey or basketball arena, wearing the same logo as twenty-thousand other people as you all root for the same side. Or pulling on your jersey as you settle in to watch the game at home.
There’s nothing like being on vacation in another city (I once saw someone wearing a Phillies T-shirt in Buffalo, NY) or country (my friend saw someone wearing a Baltimore Ravens jersey in Greece) and seeing someone else wearing a shirt or hat in support of your hometown team. In those moments, it’s completely acceptable to call out a greeting (“Yo, [insert team name]!” works), or give them a high-five. It’s a slice of home, a touch of the familiar that can serve to remind you that you aren’t alone.
But what to do if someone pokes fun at you in your team gear? Like a “They’re not paying you to advertise their logo.” and “You do realize you aren’t ON the team, right?”
To that I say, Oh, Please. And, get over yourself.  And *Insert eye-roll here.* 🙂
Sports bring us together. Sometimes they can be a distraction when other parts of your life are falling apart. (That was true for me.) They’re fun. When you have an appreciation of the game and an affinity for a particular player, wearing the gear is an extension of your support. All of the players (from every sport) say that they love seeing (and hearing) the fans in the stands. They feed off of our energy.
So be loud and wear your gear proudly.