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Food and Fiction

June 10, 2024 by in category Charmed Writer by Tari Lynn Jewett, Writing tagged as , , , ,

I’m working on a new romcom, and as the story unfolds, I realize that food plays an important role in all of my stories.

Not surprising as a former food columnist, and photo shoot ‘chef’. I raised three boys, four if you count Hunky Hubby, all who loved food. A lot of my life has been centered on cooking and planning menus. I think that in most cultures food is the center of family and friends. My childhood family sat at the dinner table together every night, and we did the same when we raised our boys. Holidays revolve around tables laden with foods, whether homemade, catered, or from a favorite shop or restaurant. And friends get together for Brunch, lunch, dinner…coffee.

So, as I write, I see and smell the food that my characters put on their tables. In the #HermosaForTheHolidays series, the main characters often meet at The Beach Break, a little coffee shop on the Hermosa Beach Promenade. The Beach Break is fun for me, because the owners are two brothers, who experiment with new recipes from time to time, which has me looking through my recipes, through my approximately 200 cookbooks (it used to be more, but I’ve culled each time I move), scouring the internet, and looking at restaurant menus for new ideas. This often sends me to the kitchen to try something new.

In Love and Mud Puddles cooking is the focus of the plot, and Hannah, the main character’s quest for the perfect Christmas Cookie. Hannah doesn’t bake, she doesn’t cook, her oven is another place to store things. But, Christmas cookies are so important, that she’s determined to learn…and maybe find love along the way.

You don’t’ have to be a chef, or even a home cook to love food, or to love romance!

If you’re looking for a summer beach read, I hope you’ll check out #FireworksInTheFog, part of the #HermosaForTheHolidays series to get you set for 4th of July, and summer romance.

And I thought I’d share one of my favorite summer potato salad recipes. I love it as part of a meal, but I’ll eat a bowl as a snack as well!

I’d love to hear your favorite summer foods, and feel free to share a recipe! And if you try this one, let me know how you like it.

Horseradish Potato Salad

1 ½  pounds red potatoes

1/3 cup mayonnaise (I use low fat)

1/3 cup sour cream (again, I use low fat)

2-3 tsp. prepared horseradish (not sauce)

¼ tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper (or pepper to taste)

¼ tsp. garlic powder

½ small onion, minced

2 stalks celery, minced

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and cook 15- 25 minutes, or until tender. Drain, and cool.

Add mayonnaise, sour cream, horseradish, salt, and pepper to a mixing bowl. Stir until well combined.

Dice the potatoes, leaving the peel on and place them in a large bowl. Add onions, celery and dressing. Stir gently, until combined.  Cover and refrigerate for 2- 24 hours to allow flavors to blend.


Makes 6 servings.

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The Dog Days of Summer, Birthdays, and Buttered Noses

July 13, 2023 by in category From a Cabin in the Woods by Members of Bethlehem Writers Group tagged as , , , , , ,

The Dog Days of Summer isn’t just an expression that indicates summer days so hot dogs are driven mad. It’s an actual astronomical event when, Sirius, the dog star rises in conjunction with the sun.  The Dog Days are listed as starting on July 3rd and continuing through August 11th.

In my family, the Dog Days of Summer marked the beginning of birthday season. I have three brothers and three sisters.  Then there are my children, nieces and nephews, in-laws (or as we insist out-laws) and now the grandchildren and grandnieces and grandnephews.  A significant number of them have birthdays in July and August.


Birthdays around our place were always a bit different. With so many relatives we seldom had friends to our birthday celebrations. We rarely severed cake but rather baked from scratch (including the crust) birthday pie. There were favorites – quite a few apple pies, pumpkin (made three days ahead of the feast and refrigerated to the proper coldness), lemon meringue, peach, and rhubarb for my mother.

And when my mémère (French for grandma) was alive, if it was your birthday, you got your nose buttered.  It was supposed to make you side through the year to your next birthday.

Now Mémère assured us this was an old French custom, but I never met any other family who practiced nose buttering–even the few friend of mine when we were growing up who also had a mémère and

Mémère and Pépère Hebert 1973

Buttered Noses

So, a few years ago I googled it. Sure enough, other families butter noses, but the articles I read listed the custom is either Scottish or Irish.  I suspect Mémère would be upset by these claims as she was very proud of her French ancestry even though the family arrived in the New World well before there was a United States. She and Pépère spoke French at home, and my dad and his siblings didn’t learn English until they went to school.

I must admit that she frequently got things wrong.  For example, she was also very proud of being born on June 13th and every year would tell us that she just missed being born on Friday the 13th (it happened to be a Saturday that year because it was a leap year).  But when she died my aunts found her birth certificate. She wasn’t born on June 13th, that was the day she was baptized.  She was really born two days earlier and forever celebrated her birthday on the wrong day.

Wrong day

My aunts were upset, but I would like to think Mémère would not have cared if she had ever noticed.  She was happy to have a pie baked by my mom, and she would laugh her head off when we would sneak up and butter her nose so she could slide through another year.

Does your family have different birthday customs? What are they?

Some of Marianne’s Short Stories are in the following books

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Hitting the Pause Button by Dianna Sinovic

July 30, 2019 by in category Quill and Moss by Dianna Sinovic tagged as , ,

How do you spell summertime? V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N. Sometimes it means a long weekend away, sometimes, several weeks—or more, if you’re lucky. Local or exotic, by the day or by the week, the time away from the daily grind is important not only for the fun or relaxation you plan to have, but also for your creativity.

This hit home for me after a recent vacation trip. I’ll admit it: I’m a work-a-holic, and the thought of taking time off, away from my desk and my plugged-in life, seemed a waste. I do take my weekends off (for the most part), so what more break did I need?

It turned out that the six days away—six days, to paraphrase Monty Python, of something completely different—were just what I needed to reset my mental stress levels. Instead of sitting at my desk, worrying about my next deadline, I was out on the lake in a wood-strip canoe or attending a lecture on the indigenous history of the Adirondacks or walking the woods with fellow birders as the sun rose.

On purpose, I kept my online activity to a minimum, and I resisted the temptation to check in with my team at work. I had committed to the time off and I was going to keep that promise!

Being in a different setting also sparked writing ideas. I wasn’t brainstorming on purpose—just letting the thoughts flow, set into motion by the act of doing something outside of my usual routine.

When I returned home, work was waiting for me—the emails to answer and the projects to complete—but the otherness of being away lingered. I continued to feel relaxed as the days spooled by. That restfulness won’t last, of course. But when it comes time to plan the next vacation, I won’t be as hesitant to pull out the maps and start planning.

What’s your favorite kind of get away to recharge?

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Trains, Planes, and my new Boldwood Adventure by Jina Bacarr

July 11, 2019 by in category Jina’s Book Chat, Writing tagged as , , , , , ,

I have a long history with trains.

Ever since I rode with my mom in a fancy private train compartment overnight (my dad’s company was paying for it) when I was a kid, I’ve loved train travel. The mystery, intrigue, the lulling clackety-clack of the train rolling down the tracks, taking you to a new adventure.

This time my love of trains is taking me on an adventure with BOLDWOOD Books. You’ll be hearing more about this fabulous opportunity in the coming months. Here’s my Author Page at Boldwood.

I’ve ridden on fast trains, slow trains, subways here and abroad, always enjoying the journey itself. So it’s no wonder I wrote a time travel where the heroine goes back in time aboard a train.

Travel back in time on the “Mistletoe Flyer”

I’m in the middle of finishing up the edits, so time is a bit scrunched this month, but I wanted to share with you this “blast from the past.” I believe I was on a Swiss train in the picture, but the only old train ticket I could find quickly was a ticket to Paris when I lived in Pisa.

Here is an Instagram post I thought you might enjoy.

And I’m participating in a promotion this month with Aileen Harwood’s Bookwrapt promos. Here’s where the planes come in: my novella in the book fair is COME FLY WITH ME about a girl who meets a guy at 30,000 feet on New Year’s Eve and sparks fly! Just 99 cents. Some fabulous prizes! CLICK HERE for info and to enter.

Gotta go back to editing…exciting times ahead!


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Romance Awareness Month and why you need romance in your life by Jina Bacarr

August 11, 2018 by in category Jina’s Book Chat, Writing tagged as , , , ,

Find romance in a romance novel and this hunky guy, too!

August is romance awareness month.

Not sure why someone picked this month when half the world is on holiday with the family or wishing they were. Not enough time for romance when you’re watching the kids in the pool or trying to wave down a taxi in London with a toddler in your arms.

To me, romance should be about cool breezes and fruity drinks on a sexy, tropical island with lots of down time, sarongs, and him shirtless. Ah, yes… (see below)

We all need romance.

The subtle flirting of a cocked eyebrow raised in your direction, a low growl from the back of his throat when he sees you in your bikini, cuddling together under a blanket and playing footsies. Mood changers, for sure. That certain connection that doesn’t come in a bottle. The “feel good” hormone. I talked to a woman in Starbucks recently waiting for her Internet date. When I asked her why she’d meet up with a guy she didn’t know, she said, “I wanted a little romance in my life.”


I so understand. However, the good thing is, if you’re between boyfriends or dates, you can pick your romantic destination as easily as picking up a romance novel. As writers, we get to experience both creating and writing about our heroes.

Works for me….


Here’s the shirtless guy I promised you…oh, yeah.

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