5-18 Powell's City of Books, World's Largest Indie Bookstore by Judith Ashley and Sarah Raplee

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Powell's City of Books, World's Largest Indie Bookstore by Judith Ashley and Sarah Raplee

According to their website, "Powell’s City of Books is the largest used and new bookstore in the world, occupying an entire city block and housing approximately one million books. Located in downtown Portland’s Pearl District, the City of Books has nine color-coded rooms and over 3,500 different sections, offering something for every interest, including an incredible selection of out-of-print and hard-to-find titles. Dozens of acclaimed writers, artists, and thinkers visit each month to read in the Basil Hallward Gallery (located upstairs in the Pearl Room), and a one-of-a-kind Rare Book Room draws bibliophiles from near and far to browse an impressive collection of autographed first editions and other collectible volumes." 

They even offer guided tours on Sundays!

8 Things We Love About Powell’s
1.    Headquarters in Portland, OR, as is Romancing the Genres, so we have more than one location!
2.    Live events with authors.
3.    Friendly, knowledgeable staff who let readers know their favorite reads
4.    Buy back our books so we purchase more
5.    Places to sit and peruse selections
6.    More than just books. You can find Tarot Cards, games, magazines, t-shirts, and quirky gifts.
7.    If they don’t have it in stock, they order it for us.
8.    SELECTION – books on just about every subject imaginable can be found on the shelves
Guess what Oregonians say is the one thing not to miss?

"The ONE Thing You Must Do in Each U.S. State" (Huffington Post)


Friday, May 17, 2019

Marvellous May

Hi, I'm Pippa Jay, author of scifi and supernatural stories to engage your emotions. And welcome to marvellous magical May!
May has always been one of my favourite times of the year, significantly because of three things. The first of May marks Beltane, the pagan start of summer and usually the point where the British weather takes a marked change for the better...well, sometimes. This year the first of May was actually a glorious day sandwiched between two very wet, windy and cold days - one extreme to the other! And how terribly British to talk about the weather. :P

May also sees my wedding anniversary - 26 years! We celebrated at home with a proper takeaway curry (to make up for each of us sneaking a posh but healthy breakfast into each other's work bags, lol).
The 7th of May also marks my seventh anniversary as a published author with my debut novel Keir. Seven years ago I would never have believed I'd have 18 published works by now. 
Original cover,
seven years ago

The fact that Romancing the Genres also celebrates its Blog-o-versary just makes it all the more fun.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

8 of what????

Because it's our 8th anniversary we are celebrating with 8's...
I struggled with this.

Do I share the best 8 doughnuts? They all are.

My favorite 8 pastimes/hobbies? Ummm, I have a 7 year old I don't have pastimes or hobbies.

Eight authors I love to read? Just too many to try to list and it made my eye twitch trying to narrow down the list.

Or maybe 8 things that I refuse to gain the bandwagon on??? I don't watch Game of Thrones. Have never seen one episode.

It stressed me. I had to pause...I researched things...Like little known the way the dwarf shark is the smallest shark at 8 inches.

Traditional gifts for 8th anniversary - not a lot to blog about on bronze or pottery - just saying.

See the struggle is real!!

Then I decide you know what makes a relationship strong? Sharing the everyday things. And we - the bloggers and the readers - are in a relationship. So here are 8 random things from the last forty-eight hours of my life.

1. Day #4 of temp over 100 with fever reducer. Super sore throat ... dr said he had pus dripping from his tonsils (yup gross) and his ears are inflamed... this has been his normal pose for the last 48 we know how to have fun or what???

2. We just returned from an overnight adventure into Daniel Boone's habitat - a cabin with large gaps between the wood, no electric, no heat,  and no running water (which is probably why #1 is happening). 

3. My son gave me an air fryer for Mother's day and I have made these amazing things in it :-)
Mashed potato fritters

roasted broccoli 

Stuffed mushrooms

4. I read Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Peirce

5. I spent hours trying to decide on 8 amazing things to blog about ... and failed.

6. Spring has finally came and I walked 2 miles outside instead of on the treadmill.

7. I made diabetic friendly blueberry lemon scones and they were AWFUL but the diabetic friendly crepes were AMAZING.

sooo soooo bad

sooo sooo yummy

8. I finished edits on book coming out in October.

So what are some of the 'normal' things in your life the last 48 hours? Please share!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Andra's 8 Adventures

Congratulations to Romancing The Genres on their eighth anniversary!  A fabulous achievement.

Since we're celebrating 'eight', I thought I'd share eight adventures. The definition of an 'adventure' is an unusual, exciting or daring experience'. Not that my life is particularly exciting or noteworthy, but I've had some experiences that fit into one or more of those definitions.

1. A recent appearance on the Australian version of The Chase quiz show. I'm a quiz show tragic from way back and have a head full of useless information. It seems to get in there, and just stay, so when I saw a call for contestants, I thought I'd apply.  I had applied previously, passed the questions but never got a call. This time (knowing how it all worked) I was better prepared for the process, and got a call. It was a lot of fun and for whatever reason, I wasn't even nervous. All four of our team got through and we played a really good last round - and we beat the Chaser - and won $56,000 between us!

2. My heritage is Latvian and in my 20s I belonged to a folk dance group. Every year there was a Latvian cultural festival in Australia, in a different city each year. Our group performed (with groups from other cities) in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. My first trip on a plane was for one of these performances - yes,my first plane trip wasn't till I was 21!

3. In 2006 I went to the UK to visit my daughter who was working there. As part of my trip I hired a car from Bath to drive to Nottingham to visit a friend (who I met playing online Scrabble). I loved driving through the English countryside. It's so beautiful and green, the narrow roads with their hedges. Picture perfect. Easy driving, until I hit the main highways and got myself totally lost in Coventry. This was pre-GPS days and I didn't even have a map. I had the (unreasonable) fear that I'd just stay lost and wouldn't get to meet my friend. It got to the point where I just pulled over to the side of the road and had a good cry.

It was the best thing for me, got rid of all my stress.  I then stopped for fuel, told them my predicament and they told me the road I needed was just around the corner  lol  I got back on track and met my online friend for the first time - and she was just as lovely in person as she was online. We've been friends for over 15 years now.

4. Recently I've taken up house/pet in Melbourne, with a view to doing it overseas
eventually. It's such fun. I don't have pets at home at the moment, so this is a way to stay in a different house and 'borrow' pets while their owners are away. You can pick and choose where you 'sit' so it's like having a holiday, but without the inconvenience of being too far away from home. So far the 'sits' have been way on the other side of town to where I live, so it's great to get to know new areas. Had a lovely stay right in the city as well, in an apartment looking after an 18yo cat, and I loved it. Currently I have two 11yo dogs for company for 5 weeks (waving at Poppy and Mac). Don't know where the next 'sitting' adventure will be, but that's half the fun.

5. All my working life was spent as an Executive Assistant in the corporate world. When I lost my job (my third redundancy!) in 2012 I naturally sought another corporate position, but when I spotted a job for an Office Manager at a wonderful dog boarding kennel not too far away, I applied for it - and got it. Best job I ever had! Instead of a pencil skirt and heels every day I got to wear jeans and work boots. Instead of taking dictation and arranging meetings I took bookings for dog holidays played with the pooches. Instead of lunch at my desk I ate in the lunch room with my favourite dog for company or on hot summer days, down by the river with a swim thrown in. A massive change from what I was used to, but such a wonderful change.

6. I left the above fabulous job to take on another adventure, a long-time desire to become a house flipper - to buy a sad, tired house, renovate it and sell it for a profit. I think I've watched every renovation show on TV and while it was a financial risk, I enjoy every moment of a reno project. It was, and still is, a learning curve but taking a house that needs a make-over and making it sparkle is so fulfilling. It's a bit like writing, you take a rough draft, work on it, work on it, work on it - and you (hopefully) end up with something that someone will love.

7. My biggest ongoing adventure is this writing journey. It began in earnest when I first submitted a short story for publication in 2012  (and was accepted) and it continues daily. Writing is everything a real adventure should be. It's the great unknown in so many ways, from not knowing what I will put on the page every day to not knowing how something I've submitted will be received. It gives you highs and lows but mostly leaves you wanting to do it again. I've met (and continue to meet) wonderful like-minded people along the way, as you do on any worthwhile adventure.

8. I have no idea what my eight adventure will be, but I know there will be one (and hopefully more than one). I have nothing planned, but sometimes the best adventures are the ones that just come our way unexpectedly. It may be travel to somewhere on my bucket list. It may be another publishing contract, or a change in direction for my writing. Whatever the Universe sees fit to send, I know it'll be something to enjoy, something to learn from and something that will stay with me. Bring it on !

Find our more about Andra on her website. Sign up for her Newsletter for a free copy of The Biker and the Ballerina.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Crazy About Dogs

by Madelle Morgan

If you've been reading my posts, you know I love dogs. 

I grew up with dogs, but as an adult I had cats. Notice I didn't say I owned cats. Cat lovers will understand why. 

Cats are easier to care for when you have a job. Cats are self-sufficient while their human is away for long days or even a weekend. No walking is needed, and cats don't gobble up the day's kibble the minute the dish is filled.

For the longest time I enjoyed dogs vicariously by creating dog characters in my Hollywood in Muskoka series.


Mopette stars in Caught on Camera, a rom-com and first novel in the series. Mopette's a lovable white Maltese who is Trouble with a capital T. 

That lavender ribbon from the bridesmaid's bouquet in her mouth on the cover? The Black Moment is all Mopette's fault. After she clamps her sharp little teeth into the ribbons and drags the bouquet away where Rachel can't find it, all hell breaks loose.


Seduced by the Screenwriter's dog character is a retired German shepherd police service dog. He's based on a real canine hero named Titan owned by a Canadian police dog handler.

Catrina abandoned a career as a police diver after a horrifying case left her with PTSD. She relies on Titan. He's not only her best friend and partner in her security business, he's also her therapy dog.

When Catrina falls for Chett, a Hollywood screenwriter, he's quick to warn her that he is terrified of dogs, especially this particularly massive beast. She has to choose: it's either him or the dog. What an impossible quandary for Catrina!


Hollywood Hero, the third in the romance series, is in development, as they say in the movie biz. Meanwhile, readers want to know what happened to Mopette after the end of Caught on Camera. My arm was twisted to include her in Hollywood Hero as a secondary character, so I did! She has a trot-on role.

Hollywood Hero introduces an old Chesapeake Bay Retriever. She lives at Boondocks Lodge in Muskoka, which will be the setting for Hollywood Hero as well as the fifth in the series. 

For this book, I held a contest, asking subscribers of my blog at for name suggestions. The winner who proposed the name Brandy won a paperback copy of Seduced by the Screenwriter.

Brandy of Boondocks Lodge
Our family had two rescue Chesapeakes, Cindy and Taffy, at different times in my childhood and teen years. They were both gentle, intelligent females who were protective of us kids. They loved swimming at the Muskoka summer cottage.

And now for the big reveal

My husband has retired, so.....

A bouncy, energetic puppy joined our family on May 3!

Raven was born March 8. She's a hypoallergenic Australian Labradoodle, the smallest in a litter of 10 pups. She'll be 30 pounds fully grown.

Raven at 8 weeks

And guess what? Right now she's the size of a cuddly cat.

Happy spring!




Madelle's romantic thriller DiamondHunter is a free read in Kindle Unlimited.

Follow Madelle on  TwitterFacebookGoodreadsPinterest, and Wattpad. For giveaways and new releases, subscribe to Madelle’s blog at

Monday, May 13, 2019

Crazy Ates

By: Marcia King-Gamble 

So I thought I would put a different spin on this month’s topic Crazy 8’s, and talk about some of the craziest things I’ve eaten while traveling.  Hence, Crazy Ates! Most of you who have been following me on this blog, know that I’m crazy about world traveling; the more exotic the country the better. Nothing gets my adrenaline pumping more than a trip to some foreign part of the world.  If you are going to venture afar, you should be eating like the natives do.


The below picture is from my most recent adventure, arriving into the airport at St. Vincent (the mainland.)  Note the 'prop plane.' We're off the beaten path, folks.

This trip took place less than two weeks ago.  Unfortunately, it was a sad occasion. My dear uncle had passed away, and because of his prominence, a state funeral was his send off. I had not been back in fourteen years, and for another sad occasion; to bring my mother’s body home. It had been her desire to be buried in the family plot, in her native land and my birth place, St. Vincent, in the Southern Caribbean.

Foodie that I am, despite the sad occasion, I  looked forward to eating well. I grew up on foods like crab and callaloo, bakes (known as Johnny Cakes to some,) codfish and dumplings. Then there were delicacies like fried breadfruit with jack fish, and loads of fresh fruit with no preservatives.  Fruits like golden apple, plumrose, Bequia plums and soursop.  Because of this, most people are healthier than the proverbial ox, and not at all weight challenged. Walking is not considered an exercise here, it’s something that people living on small Caribbean islands do, whether they have a car or not. Roads are often narrow and winding, so why take out your car when you can get a breath of fresh air and your neighbor is a stone's throw away?  

While on the mainland of St. Vincent I consumed my share of callaloo soup (tastes like spinach,)  see picture below. This time there was chicken added to it and not the customary crab or pig’s tail. Bakes were served with freshly caught fish, and on the island of Bequia (the Grenadines,)   the owner of one restaurant, an enterprising young woman, decided I couldn’t leave without gifting me papaya (locals call it paw-paw) and a bag  of freshly picked Bequia plums.

The markets on St. Vincent offer up sapodillas, and newly hatched chickens for sale. As a special treat, when visiting an old friend’s home, I enjoyed a healthy serving of Pelau and buljol (codfish stew.)     See below.

In terms of more crazy ates, last October I had the pleasure of visiting Malawi, a city in Southeast Africa. I sampled Nsima, a staple made of ground corn, served with side dishes of meat, beans and vegetables. The country is also known for its fish or usipa which reminds you of sardines. Yum!

In my travels, I have eaten delicacies such as roasted iguana (which tastes just like chicken,) frogs legs that really are delicious, and turtle eggs, more flavorful than that provided by any chicken. Some might consider my choices crazy,  but I  believe when visiting a country, visitors should do as the natives do, and turtles are not considered an endangered species in these countries.

Another funny  discovery I made, was  KFC and McDonalds; food chains that I  normally would not patronize there or here, considering them such an American thing. But on the urging of a friend, I tried KFC on the island of St. Vincent.  Wow! What an experience. The unique Caribbean spices  made KFC  tastier than the norm. In fact, I went back in search of more, even putting up with lines that wound around the block. I'd had a similar experience at McDonalds in Frankfurt, Germany with burgers that tasted like they came from an gourmet chef.

All this to say,  when visiting foreign countries, don't miss out on an unbeatable culinary experience.  Step out of your cultural, comfort zone,  and experience the region's food. A crazy ate, is a dining experience  you're guaranteed to remember for the rest of your life.  And just might be food for the soul.

About Marcia King-Gamble

Romance writer, Marcia King-Gamble originally hails from a sunny Caribbean island where the sky and ocean are the same mesmerizing shade of blue. This travel industry executive and current world traveler has spent most of life in the United States. A National Bestselling author, Marcia has penned over 34 books and 8 novellas. Her free time is spent at the gym, traveling to exotic locales, and caring for her animal family.
Visit Marcia at or “friend” her on Facebook:
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Saturday, May 11, 2019

Ghost Cat,

I first wrote this post in 2014 for this blog. It is our 8th Most popular post of all time, so I'm reprising the post for our 8th Blog-o-versary! I hope you enjoy it...

The Ghost Cat visited our house again last night.

We've lived with this possible pussycat for five years. Doors on cupboards full of nice soft towels and blankets--exactly the sorts of places a kitty might choose to curl up in--seem to open when we're not looking, even when our alive-and-kicking cat, Freckles, is shut in 'his' room in the basement. When we're in bed for the night, sometimes what seems to be Freckles jumps on the bed and lies down--but when one of us reaches to pet him, poof--he's not there.

That's just freaky.

Would Ghost Hunters Jason and Steve from TAPS ) suggest that vibrations we don't notice affect the cupboard doors? Maybe we dream the cat-on-the-bed incidents--but why would two people dream the same dream, sometimes at the same time?

Tonight, we had a new experience. Freckles jumped onto the couch beside me, eyes dilated, tail swishing, and spent ten minutes playing with something that wasn't there. He acted exactly as though he were playing with another cat. He's never, ever done that since he moved in with us seven years ago.

At least whatever-it-is, is friendly.

And playful.

That's good, right?

~Sarah Raplee

Friday, May 10, 2019

Eight Crazy things, or are they?

by Diana McCollum

I decided to share eight 'crazy' things about myself you probably don't know. Things that might seem crazy to some people, but not to others.

During college I rode a baby-blue Honda 50. Now that is not a very big horse power, it can't go on the freeway.

1) My girlfriend, Peggy, and I decided to ride from Sunnyvale to San Francisco to check out a new coffeehouse. That is a drive of 60 some miles, not on the freeway, but on a frontage road. It took hours to get to the city. San Francisco is known for being hilly. My little Honda 50 could not chug up those hills carrying two teenage girls. So we ended up pushing the Honda up the hills and riding down. Needless to say, that was the first and last time we did that.

2) A couple years later I moved back to Guam and my dad had my Honda 50 flown over. I rode it proudly to the University  of Guam. I was the only girl riding any kind of motorcycle.

3) Riding that Honda 50 I wore my CA clothes. Black mini-skirt, long sleeved turtle neck knit shirt and knee high black leather boots. My Father was forever frustrated because I dressed like that in the humid 85 degree weather. I must say I have to agree with dad, it was a miracle I didn't get heat stroke!

4) Right about the time I left Guam to fly to MI to marry my first husband, I began thinking about writing a book. That went on the back burner when kids came along, several moves and life in general.

In my younger years my then husband and I, and our three young children lived on a ranch behind Mt. Hamilton in the Livermore hills of CA. We didn't have electricity, but we did have a generator so we could have lights in the evening and wash clothes or other chores which took electricity. My husband was gone to work in the city during the week so everything was left for me to handle.

During this time I had several things happen that might seem crazy.

5) Every evening I had to jump start the big generator with jumper cables attached to the truck. When we turned the last light switch off at night it turned the generator automatically turned off.

6) I killed three different rattlesnakes with two big rocks and a 22 bullet. I never knew I could kill one with a big flat rock, but I did, twice.

7) I had to drive our oldest forty-five minutes to the end of the driveway, through three locked gates, to catch the school bus. Forty-five minutes back home with the two little ones. Two hours later we'd head back to the main road, another forty-five minutes to pick Lisa up from the bus stop. Again, I started thinking about writing a book.

Fast forward to 8 yrs ago, and moving to OR after retirement.

8) Judith, Sarah and I published our first book an anthology together. Since then I've been included in two anthologies and have published my on paranormal novella , "The Witch with the Trident Tattoo".

Hope you've enjoyed walking down memory lane with me. Hm-m-m, I wonder if I'm ready for another Honda 50?

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Crazy Eights: What I’ve Learned in the Last Eight Years by Lynn Lovegreen

Romancing the Genres is celebrating its eight-year anniversary this month. Thanks to Judith and Sarah for keeping it going and monitoring us Genre-istas, which probably feels like herding cats at times. ;-)

I was about to be published eight years ago. I recall the steep learning curve of contracts, editing, and other nuts and bolts of getting published. But my most vivid memory is seeing the first book with my name on it—priceless!

I’ve experienced eight years of being a published author, and while I wouldn’t trade it for anything, there were a few things I had to figure out the hard way. Here are some tips for those of you who are new to this journey. 

  • Always keep the writing craft as your first priority. It’s easy to get distracted by the business of writing, but if you don’t have a first-rate book, there’s nothing worth selling. Take your time with revisions, and don’t rush to publish before the book is 100% ready.

  • Closely related to the above: Writers evolve and get better over time. Keep learning about your craft by taking classes or reading about writing topics. Work to refine your writing, even after you have several books out in the world. Use a critique group or partner to help you with the process.

  • Cultivate your group. Find writers who write similar books, and look for readers that like your genre. You can find them in writing groups (like RWA, SCBWI, etc.); also in social media, conferences, and events at your local libraries and bookstores. They serve two purposes: they’ll give you positive energy to keep you writing, and they’ll also be a good group to subscribe to your newsletter if you decide to go that route later on.

  • Be ready to roll with the punches. Things will come up at home or work that prevent you from writing. Publishers will be sold or go under, editors will change jobs, or sales will go down at some point in your career. (Or maybe all of these—it happens!) Keep faith in yourself, and regroup to plan your next move.

  • Above all, persevere. We’re pulling for you. You can do this!!!

Lynn Lovegreen has lived in Alaska for about fifty years. She taught for twenty years before retiring to make more time for writing. She enjoys her friends and family, reading, and volunteering at her local library. Her young adult/new adult historical romances are set in Alaska, a great place for drama, romance, and independent characters. See her website at You can also find her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

End Of An Era

Hi everyone! 

I am Young Adult and Middle Grade author Barbara Binns, writer of contemporary and realistic fiction for adolescents and teens. As my tagline says, I write Stories of Real Boys Growing Into Real Men - and the people who love them.  

This year marks the 8th anniversary of the Romancing The Genres blog. That makes it my 8th year of my nearly uninterrupted writing a monthly post for this blog. I've been a part of things right from the start.

2019 also marks the 21st anniversary of the Arlington Almanac. This journal is sent to residents of Arlington Heights and some surrounding towns. That means people in this predominantly white Chicago suburb gets to read diverse stories about people in Chicago written by me.

I have crafted short stories/flash fiction for the Almanac four times a year for the past eleven years. That means dozens of well received stories of diversity.  This was so important to me, that I have frequently found myself agonizing over a way to tell a new story in the space of 800 words or less only days before the magazine’s deadline.

Never again.

Just a few weeks ago I received this letter along with my quarterly check:
Hey Ms. Binns 
Hope all is good with you!
Wanted to let you know how much we appreciated all your stories that you’ve sent us over the years. We’ve decided that the upcoming Spring book will be our last edition.
The End of an Era for us.
For me too.

This is it. No more deadlines or letters of praise from Mindy and Jim, the publishers. No more checks either.

I met them a dozen years ago at a writer's group held at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library. Jim loves to write, and he is amazing at political satire. So biting and pointed is his satire, that his wife, the publication's senior editor, often refuses to publish one of his stories. They invited some of the other authors present to submit to their publication. At first, I thought it would be impossible. Over the years, I developed a love-hate relationship with the Almanac.  My first story was a memoir type piece about my daughter. That also generated my first piece of fan mail from someone who had had a similar experience with her own child. I have no idea how many stories I have completed for them since then.

Over the years, writing regular flash fiction has taught me  how to write tight. I can now do what I once considered impossible, tell a complete story, beginning, middle and end, in under 800 words. BTW, their limit was supposed to be 750 words, but they never got upset at me when I went over. I only had them refuse one story and that was more for being a little too political than for length. I've written about diverse characters, locations and situations. They told me they loved everything they wrote.

PS, I never confessed this to the publishers, but I guess it's okay to do it now. Those letters of praise meant more to me than the checks that came with them. I might have done it for those alone. From a letter last summer:

Hey B. B. 
Happy Summer, if it ever stops raining! I'm sitting at the Library where I met most of the writers who adorn our little book. Thank God for Libraries! And thank you for your summer story!
One thing I liked most was that the Almanac became a vehicle for me to introduce a largely white audience to diverse stories.  My 2018 holiday story covered a Chicago family celebrating Kwanzaa.  The 2014 story dealt with an overweight teen girl shopping for a baby shower present for a relative and being mistaken for a pregnant teen (An incident that really happened to my daughter once.)  I've given them stories about a child watching his father die of cancer, a white minister dealing with car trouble in the middle of the night while driving through "the ghetto", and my most resent story for the almanac, a black man in prison during a riot helping rescue a prison guard left behind the lines. I've never shied away from diverse stories, and my audience and my editors have always approved.

Not intending to be caught in a vise by another deadline, I had already sketched out the idea for my next story. It was going to be awesome, about kids dealing with the threat of bullying. Now that story will forever be an idea.

I wish Jim and Mindy the best. They are approaching seventy, and it's time for them to rest. It's just that I will miss them and the lessons they taught me, that I could do more than I ever thought I could.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Eight Dimensions of Me

To paraphrase the perennial classic, these are a few, well, eight, of my favourite things. Not eight discreet items, I’ve lived too long to have only eight favourite things. I do have favourite categories of things though, and after some thought, I came up with my top eight. In no particular order, here they are.

British TV:  I’ve always enjoyed British TV, from comedy (Monty Python, The IT Crowd, Blackadder), to game shows (Pointless, 15 to 1), to panel shows (Mock the Week), to drama (Shetland, The Bodyguard). Given the choice, I’ll stream something British on Netflix rather than watch my local cable TV.

Sweaters I’ve knitted:  I learned to knit as a child but paused for many years for other interests, like piano lessons and boys. I took up knitting again when I got married. I attempted to knit a pullover for Mr. S. but I ran out of wool halfway through knitting the second sleeve – I know! I took up knitting again when I had babies and haven’t stopped since.

Son1 in a cardigan knitted with the wool from failed pullover.
Desserts:  I always eat dessert after supper, a habit established in infancy – or at least as far back as my memory will stretch. Baking is my favourite way to unwind and I love trying new recipes. If you subscribe to my newsletter ( you’ll hear about my baking.

Bread:  A theme seems to be emerging – I like food. But I love bread, any flavour, any variety, from a chewy country loaf to a tender, buttery croissant. I could happily eat bread all day long.

Italian cuisine:  By far my favourite. Though I do enjoy the spices in Indian food – cumin, coriander, garam masala – and I enjoy a good stir-fry (check out for delicious versions and other scrumptious recipes), my true comfort food is pasta topped with a sauce of garlic, tomatoes, and fresh herbs.

Music:  As a kid, we always had music playing on the radio or on the record player. Mum listened to Englebert Humperdink, Dad listened to Chet Atkins, my brother blasted us with BTO (Bachman Turner Overdrive), and I enjoyed Bobby Sherman and the Bay City Rollers. I mentioned piano lessons in an earlier category. I studied classical piano for much of my childhood early teen years and managed to pass grade eight of the Royal Conservatory of Music. So there I’d be in the living room practising The Horseman, Op. 68, No. 23 by Schumann, and my brother would be in the downstairs rec room serenading the entire house with Foreigner.

Travel:  I love travelling – except for the long uncomfortable plane rides – and would gladly spend half the year exploring foreign lands. We recently returned from a few weeks of travel in Europe culminating in a stay at a friend’s house in Cyprus. I had no idea what to expect from Cyprus and I discovered a fascinating country that requires further exploration.
One of the many spectacular views to be found around every bend in the road.

I also enjoy reading travelogues, or fiction that incorporates travel in the story. One of my favourite authors, Elizabeth Peters, takes us through Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East in her Amelia Peabody series, which I re-read regularly.

Cats:  I’ve had at least one pet cat at a time since childhood. There have been a few breaks in feline dominance but never more than a year. Then the need for a furry friend becomes too strong to ignore and we hie off to the animal shelter to be chosen by our next overlord. We currently share the house with two cats – Bruno and Mogget.