Tag Archive | Family

The Love of Cotton Candy

Isn’t it amazing how a simple smell or taste can take you back to your childhood? Of course, some of those reminders might be bad, like the flavor of nasty-tasting medicine, or the odor that lingered when you accidentally stepped in a pile of doggy doo while out trick-or-treating. Yep, that happened to me!

However, I want to talk about a good memory!

When I was a child, my parents would take me to one of those home-town carnivals that came through town every year around the Fourth of July. The carnival was part of a community festival called Frontier Days. In addition to the carnival rides and games, there was also a parade. I’ve seen photos of me and my siblings dressed up as pioneers in a make-shift covered wagon. I was very young then, but it was memorable enough that I recall thinking we were pretty awesome.

Now, back to the whole smell and taste thing. The simple thought of that particular event immediately sparks memories of an assortment of smells: Popcorn, the sawdust spread on the ground beneath some of the stomach-churning rides, mud from the rain that always seemed to dampen the celebration every year, beer, and cotton candy.

Cotton candy.

My first memory of popping some of that fluffy confection into my mouth comes from one of those Frontier Day’s celebrations. I clearly remember my aunt, Judy, telling me the proper way to eat cotton candy. She said that in order to avoid getting completely sticky, you needed to pull off a small amount and literally pop it into your mouth, doing all you could to avoid touching your fingers to your lips and getting them wet. Putting your mouth directly on the spool of fluff was a no-no. Especially if you planned to share your treat!

I didn’t do such a good job instructing my grandson.

The photo is a little blurry, but you get the idea! I tried to teach him to ‘pop,’ but he dove right in!

Now that I’m older, I like getting sticky even less, but I still love cotton candy. Recently, I discovered a new kind of ice cream that has rocked my world! Kroger brand has cotton candy flavored ice cream called Mermaid Sparkle. It’s to die for. Best of all, you can eat it with a spoon and you won’t get sticky.

Sure, there are many foods I enjoy, but I can’t think of any others that produce so many wonderful memories. Our lives are a patchwork of memories, and I feel it’s important to cherish all of them. I’ve learned a lot from my past. Not only how to properly eat cotton candy, but after my other experience, I know to watch where I walk on Halloween.

Life is a journey, and I want to thank you for sharing these memories with me!

God bless!

Becoming Our Parents

I’m sure you’ve seen the great commercials on TV about people who are becoming their parents. I laugh at the ads because I can completely relate to them.

I don’t know when the transition takes place, but it definitely happens. Not only in the things we do, but for me, I see the transformation in the mirror. So often, my mom smiles back at me. I have many of her mannerisms, and when we talk on the phone, we frequently sound alike. We have the same vocal tones, and we oftentimes sigh or laugh at the same time and sound identical.

So, there’s the physical transformation, but what about the mental transformation? When do we start behaving like “old fogies.” Even that dated term validates what I’m saying. When I was young, I felt so up-to-date and “in-the-now.” When my parents did something silly or forgetful, I’d just chalk it up to their age. Now I’m the one doing ridiculous things and forgetting what day of the week it is.

I suppose it has everything to do with the brain. As we age, we process things differently. And, we considerably slow down. We wake with aches in our bodies that we can’t explain and groan with that first step we take out of bed.

I guess what surprises me the most is my change in attitude. Things I used to think were funny or entertaining on TV, I see now as dumb. I get frustrated when I drive down the road and have to listen to the loud thumping of the music coming from the car next to me. As a youth, I likely would’ve thought it was cool. So, yes, I’m becoming an old person. Sigh . . .

On the bright side, I have so many stories to tell. With all the years I’ve lived, (boy, I’m really sounding ancient!), I’ve accumulated massive amounts of life experiences. I feel I’m capable of giving my children and grand-children advice from all that life-lived knowledge. The same kind of advice my parents gave me. I may have thought some of the things they told me were foolish, but I’ve come to realize that they were usually right. (And if you’re reading this now, Mom and Dad, don’t gloat!)

I’m blessed that my parents are still living. I can go to them when I need to talk, and I continue to listen to their advice. They’ve inspired me time and again! I pray that I can do the same for my children, and that they’ll always turn to this “old person” whenever they need me. Besides, I count on them to help me manage all the difficulties I face with every new-fangled gadget that’s released. I’m still learning new ways to fully use my phone. It took me until about three years ago to part with my flip-phone. (Should I be hiding my head in embarrassment?)

The photo above is me and my dad at the zoo in 2019, and the one to the right is my Mom at her 80th birthday celebration in 2018. Unfortunately, they live a great distance from me, but in that respect, I’m grateful for my new-fangled phone. We can talk as long as we want and we don’t have to incur hefty long-distance charges! If you’re as old as I am, you’ll remember the days when it was cheaper to call after 7:00 p.m. It’s nice not to have to worry about the time of day when making a call.

Going back even farther in time, do you recall the days of party lines? No, they had nothing to do with politics! Households had shared telephone lines, and you could pick up your phone and hear your neighbor talking to someone. Of course, if they knew you were on the line interrupting their call, you’d get fussed at. Rightfully so!

I appreciate the advancement in technology, but I often miss the good ol’ days. The new phones have great benefits, but it makes me sad to see so many people with their faces glued to their phones. They’re missing out on the real world before them. So, please, take it from this old fogey. Put your phone down and look at what’s around you, and if you’re in a restaurant, talk to the person you’re there with, not the one on your screen.

From someone who loves to write historical fiction, take the time to enjoy the simplicities in life. A walk in the woods, a picnic by a lake, watching the sun set (or rise), or enjoying a board game with your family. (The old-fashioned, non-electronic type).

We’ve seen our share of frustrating times this past year, but never lose hope! Life is good!

God bless you all!

Free Download! Forsaken by Love

During this ‘stay-at-home’ time, it’s nice to be able to virtually travel to another time and place.

I’m happy to say that today thru Wednesday, you can download “Forsaken by Love” for FREE from Amazon! I hope you’ll enjoy Vern’s journey. The book is based on a true story that one of my friends graciously shared with me. When she told it, I knew I had to write it! I’m thrilled she allowed me to tell it.

 

Appreciating the ‘Simple’ Things

I’ve lost count of how often I’ve said, “We’re living in crazy times.”

For anyone who has lost a loved one from this virus or is currently ill with Covid-19, I’m sure the words to describe it would be much harsher than ‘crazy.’

We’ve all experienced loss. As it is with this new virus, sometimes it’s unexpected and tragic, other times, it comes from a lengthy illness or simply because we’ve reached the age that our bodies shut down. But even when we have the chance to prepare ourselves emotionally for the moment we’ll have to let go of the person we love, we’re never ready. We don’t want to lose anyone we cherish.

Life never guarantees another day. That’s something else I’ve heard and said for as long as I can remember. The older I get, the more I appreciate the wisdom in being told to appreciate the simple things and enjoy every moment with the people I love.

Since there’s more than enough gloom and doom in the media, I don’t want this post to be about the negative aspects of what we’re facing. I want to express the good I see in being alive every day. In addition, I’d love to hear from you and know what you enjoy the most in your day-to-day living.

I love that first sip of coffee that’s waiting for me the instant I walk into my kitchen. I’m grateful for the electricity that continues to flow through my home, even when I’m sleeping, so that my automatic coffee maker comes on at the right time. And speaking of electricity–that alone is something to cheer from the rooftops!

I have hot water for my shower and to readily wash my hands umpteen times each day. Electricity powers my laptop, so I can continue to write, and it recharges my phone, so I can stay in touch with family and friends. It keeps my refrigerator cold, so my food doesn’t spoil, and it keeps the food in my freezer frozen for the long haul.

I have a sweet husband who’s happy to go out and do the grocery shopping and other necessary tasks like picking up the mail. As for me, I stay comfortably at home, writing. And what a blessing that is! I still get to escape with my characters to other times and places, and I’m graced with wonderful emails and messages from readers who thank me for taking their minds off the current issues. If that’s not a good reason to smile, I don’t know what is. Thank you, readers!

I have a loyal dog who gets me moving when I’ve been sitting too long. We may only go out into the yard, but at least I’m getting out of the house for a few minutes. He’s been overly happy lately, because I never leave him.

I bought the ‘Stay at Home Dog’ shirt months before this virus came to be. At the time, I thought it was simply cute, but now, it’s fitting. He loves being at home, and I’m thankful he’s here.

I have word games on my phone to entertain me when my brain needs a rest from writing, and jigsaw puzzles that I love to put together. The bigger the better. I even dug out some puzzles that I’ve had since I was a little girl. The photo at the bottom of this post is one of them. I try to challenge myself by not looking at the picture while I’m working them, but I still like to start by putting the border together. My son says I shouldn’t do that. He’s trying to get me to work them from the middle out, but I have yet to try that. With one exception… I found a border-less puzzle that not only didn’t have a border, it also had five additional pieces, just to throw me off! It was called an “Impossible” puzzle, but I’m happy to say that I mastered it. Such fun!

I’ve been taking the time to experiment with new recipes, and I’ve also cooked things that I hadn’t made in years. Like old-fashioned tapioca pudding. It’s so good when it’s hot off the stove! And if you want a wonderful treat, cook up some stove-top chocolate pudding and put it over vanilla ice cream. It’s delicious. Even better than hot fudge.

I’m grateful that I’ve not lost touch with my church friends. I sing in the church choir, and we’d been practicing for an Easter cantata, but of course, that didn’t happen. Still, we meet once a week on Zoom. We don’t sing, but we lift each other up in prayer and share how our lives are going. Eventually, when we can get back together again, we’ll sing the cantata. Easter should be lived every day of our lives, so even though the date might not be the ‘right’ one, the message always is. God is gracious and still in control, and though we might not understand why we’re going through these troubled times, He knows. His love never leaves us.

Maybe we all needed the opportunity to take a deep breath and slow down. Even so, I hate to see anyone suffer. I’d like everyone to be able to get back to work and doing what they love.

So, tell me what makes you smile, and what you love the most! We’ll get through this together and be stronger for it.

For the Love of a Chihuahua

I got my first furry pet when I was in elementary school. Second grade, I think. She was a solid black cat named Midnight, who I found on the school grounds and brought home. Originally, Mom insisted she stay outside, but when the first rainstorm rolled in and Midnight pawed at the back door, Mom’s heart melted and she brought her inside.

From that day on, we had cats. Lots of cats. We did what we could to come up with the most unusual names for them. After Midnight, we had Precious, (not so odd), Googey, Silmarillion, (my sister is a Tolkien fan!), Sarazar, Lithwaite, and Smokey. There were a few others, too, but these stood out the strongest in my memory.

Even after I left home, I continued to have cats. Luna was a big favorite. She was a beautiful Himalayan who went to live with my mom when I moved across the country. Upon arriving in the south, I had a cat adopt me. Spooky (another black cat) showed up on my doorstep on Halloween. Coincidental? Probably.

Spooky was a very cool cat, but three years after my arrival in Tennessee, I met my current husband. A man who is severely allergic to cats! Dog gone it! When we got married, Spooky went to live with a friend of mine. Sandy, my friend, had a pet hedgehog, and soon, Spooky and the hedgehog became best buddies.

Many years have passed since then, and for a long time, I was utterly petless. Then, my son left for college, and my husband and I became empty nesters. I never thought I would be affected by the quietness of our home with just the two of us in it, but it hit me hard. Because of my blues, my husband brought home Sophie, a sweet black Labrador. Eventually, Sophie had a litter of puppies, and we added Misty and Dusty to our home. They are the yellow Labs in this photo. Cute, huh?

I discovered I was a dog person, and I finally felt content giving up my love of having a cat in the house. My new big babies eventually weighed over 90 lbs. each, but that didn’t stop me from cuddling them. Labradors are incredibly lovable. They enriched our lives for over thirteen years, and when they died–all within a year of each other–my heart broke.

I decided I wasn’t going to go through that pain again.

BUT . . .

Odd how things change. A friend told me she was looking for a home for her Chihuahua. I never thought I’d like a little dog, after becoming so fond of the big ones, but Jax changed my mind and my heart. He has wormed his way in deep! This little guy has brought abundant joy and love into our home. He’s my companion when I write, and he does a great job of getting me off my rump every hour to take him outside. It’s easy to get caught up in my stories and lose track of time, and I used to set an alarm. Otherwise, I’d sit for so long, my legs would fall asleep!

Because of Jax, I’m moving a whole lot more, and I have no need for the alarm. He has his daily routine, which includes getting up at 5:30am. I don’t mind. He starts my day with joy, and in the evenings, when I’m relaxing and watching TV, he curls up on my lap and keeps me warm. His disposition is generally good, but he hates my telephone and gets jealous if I’m talking on it or playing games. (I love playing word games!) He wants the attention and whines when I give it to anyone or anything else. Maybe I’m spoiling him, but one thing’s for sure. I’m feeding off his unconditional love.

I still like cats, but since I can’t own one any longer, I’m grateful to have discovered the love of a Chihuahua. He’s about the size of cat, so maybe in that way, he’s a better substitution than the Labradors. He’s definitely easier to cuddle.

I heard that petting an animal can lower your blood pressure and reduce stress. I totally agree!

 

Free Download – Whispers from the Cove!

June 20th thru 24, “Whispers from the Cove” is available on Amazon for a free e-book download! If you have not yet had the opportunity to read it, what better time to grab it?

And if you have read it, loved it, and want to tell all your friends about it, please share this information.

Enjoy!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZYYY5WK

Whispers from the Cove

Smoky Mountain Secrets Saga, Book 1

Lily Larsen has never been afraid of anything, yet the effects of the war are wearing her down.

Her beautiful home in Cades Cove, Tennessee, lies deep in the Smoky Mountains. For decades, her family has farmed and lived peacefully, until the soldiers came and made every day a struggle to survive.

Whether they wear gray or blue, the men in uniform arrive unexpectedly and take whatever they want. Not only do they steal food and livestock, but some believe they can help themselves to anything they desire. Lily now has something to fear.

Caleb Henry is running from his own battles, bleeding and broken. He seeks refuge in the cove and literally runs into Lily. Because he’s injured, she shows compassion and sneaks him into her cabin, trusting her folks to tend him.

But there’s more to Caleb than they see on the surface. His arrival changes their lives, and what happens going forward can never be undone.

 

 

 

Breaking the Rules

I love sharing the work of my talented friends, and today I want to tell you all about the newest release from Emma Leigh Reed, “Breaking the Rules.”

This is contemporary women’s fiction at its finest!

Isabelle’s home-life is troubled, to say the least, and she has definitely hit rock-bottom. But this inspiring story will have you cheering her on as she comes to grips with the truths about her life and allows herself happiness–something she believed she never deserved.

Here’s a little more about the book:

Isabelle LaFayette tries to end her own life. Her failed attempt haunts her, along with her other past regrets and the inability to forgive herself, for what her mother calls a selfish act.

Jack Riley comes into Isabelle’s life and makes her feel alive, but believing she doesn’t deserve to be happy, she pushes him away. She must find the inner strength to confront the true source of her pain, or she’ll never be released from the bondage she’s encased herself in.

Isabelle needs to give herself permission to heal and break the rules that have been imprisoning her. It is the only way for her to find ultimate freedom from the past and piece her heart back together again.

 

 

The Smoky Mountain Saga Continues!

You asked, I listened, and I’m so glad I did!

Thank you readers for all the emails asking me to continue my Smoky Mountain Secrets Saga. I had originally intended for the series to be just three books, but you changed my mind.

Yesterday, book four, “Rumors of the Renegade,” was released. It’s currently available in e-book only, but the paperbacks are coming soon. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H7R7357

I had so much fun going back to Cades Cove. Not just in the written word, but actually visiting there. We took more than one trip to the mountains over the last six months, and every time I go into the cove, I feel like I’m stepping into a familiar world as well as into the past. It’s easy for me to envision the Larsen family sitting on their front porch sharing tales, or simply watching the fireflies dance.

There’s something serene about the cove that puts me at peace.

“Rumors of the Renegade” tells Lucas Larsen’s story, and also continues on with the lives of Lily and Caleb. I haven’t yet decided if there will be a book 5, but I’d love your input! You swayed me before, so you could very well sway me again.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for traveling these old roads with me. As long as my fingers can type, and my mind stays sharp, I intend to keep the journey going.

In the Footsteps of the Past, We, too, Shall Walk…

 

 

 

Getting to Know Lucas Larsen

If you’ve read my Smoky Mountain Secrets Saga, you already know Lucas Larsen. And if you haven’t read any of the Cades Cove books, this is your opportunity to get to know a little about the obnoxious, red-haired brother who gives everyone in the family grief.

Born January 9, 1852, Lucas was Buck and Rose Larsen’s first son. When he came into the world squalling, his two older sisters didn’t know quite what to think of him, but they did all they could to learn how to love him. Lucas didn’t make it easy.

When he got old enough to understand the importance of working the farm, his pa had already been teaching Lucas’s oldest sister, Lily, how to run things. Violet, his other sister, paid no mind to working outside and spent her days doing women’s work alongside their ma.

Lucas became bitter, feeling no one paid him the attention he deserved. He wanted to be the one at his pa’s side, working the land, but it seemed there was no place for him. He grew to hate the farm and everything associated with it.

His ma birthed several more babies after him–some of which died–but eventually, he was given two little brothers, Horace and Isaac. Lucas enjoyed having someone younger to boss, and he took advantage of tormenting his brothers whenever he could. He teased them relentlessly, to the point they started to fear him. But, Lucas liked it that way.

He learned how to cuss at a young age and frequently got scolded for it. His family was active at the Baptist church, and his ma oftentimes quoted scripture. She claimed God didn’t like cussing, but Lucas had never heard Him complain, so he couldn’t understand what the fuss was all about.

When the war came between the North and the South, Lucas wanted to fight, but was too young. He believed soldiering would be a perfect fit for his aggressive ways, not to mention, get him off the farm. He was one of the few people in the country upset when the war ended. He’d never gotten his chance to fight.

Regardless, Lucas managed to cause other kinds of trouble. He carried out some despicable things, and hurt those closest to him. You can read his entire story in the three-book saga, starting with “Whispers from the Cove.” https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZYYY5WK

I appreciate the many readers who have asked me to continue this saga. And, truthfully, Lucas himself has been pestering me to tell the rest of his story!

His many inner demons continue to haunt him. His story continues in book four of the Smoky Mountain Secrets Saga, “Rumors of the Renegade.” This book is still being written, and I hope to see it released in early August. So, stay tuned!

If you’d rather listen to “Whispers from the Cove,” it’s also available on audible.

https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Whispers-from-the-Cove-Audiobook/B07B3GFRYP

Book two, “Hushed into Silence” is currently in production.

I’m thrilled to be able to share my love of Cades Cove with you all! I hope the Larsen family has worked their way into your hearts, just like they have mine.

And please, if there are others in this series who you’d like to hear more about, please tell me!

Happy reading!

 

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway! Whispers from the Cove

In celebration of my newest release, “Whispers from the Cove,” I’m giving away 5 signed copies through a Goodreads Giveaway! Now thru June 19th.

Whispers from the Cove

Smoky Mountain Secrets Saga, Book 1

Lily Larsen has never been afraid of anything, yet the effects of the war are wearing her down.

Her beautiful home in Cades Cove, Tennessee, lies deep in the Smoky Mountains. For decades, her family has farmed and lived peacefully, until the soldiers came and made every day a struggle to survive.

Whether they wear gray or blue, the men in uniform arrive unexpectedly and take whatever they want. Not only do they steal food and livestock, but some believe they can help themselves to anything they desire. Lily now has something to fear.

Caleb Henry is running from his own battles, bleeding and broken. He seeks refuge in the cove and literally runs into Lily. Because he’s injured, she shows compassion and sneaks him into her cabin, trusting her folks to tend him.

But there’s more to Caleb than they see on the surface. His arrival changes their lives, and what happens going forward can never be undone.

You can enter, by clicking below. Good luck!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Whispers from the Cove by Jeanne Hardt

Whispers from the Cove

by Jeanne Hardt

Giveaway ends June 19, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway