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        Port Hope by Clover Autrey



          Port Hope

          by Clover Autrey


            Giveaway ends January 09, 2020.
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A Book and a Cause

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A cruise, a cruise, we went on a cruise

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Going on a cruise has been something I've wanted to do for a while and it finally happened. My husband, two youngest sons and myself drove down to Galveston (only a 5 hour drive away) to get on Carnival's Valor. The entire process of checking in, moving down the gangplank, was new to us, and exciting.

We had a wonderful time, even though my men were not the funnest travel companions as they didn't quite stick with me. We pretty much met up for meals. But being the kind of person who enjoys my own explorations, I walked all over that ship, went to whatever show I wanted to see, wrote a little, and gained four pounds.

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Pat and I on deck
I'm an early riser so I went to breakfast by myself before the rush. It was awesome having time to myself while gazing out to sea, well, the Gulf of Mexico. Our ship went straight through the gulf down to Cozumel. We never made it to the open sea, but the gulf is so huge it looked like it. Felt like it too. Whoever told me that you don't feel the ship move was incorrect. We felt the sways, but I kind of dug it. Gave the experience a kind of not-your-everyday feel to it.

The ship was smaller than I expected, but I've since learned that the Valor is one of the smallest. It reminded me of being in a Las Vegas hotel, just on water. It had the same type of atmosphere...the gambling, the buffets, the entertainment, the extravagant decor. But better as there wasn't anybody waiting on the curb to hand out stripper flyers.
Carnival Valor cabin window
Sam in our cabin's window, looking out at Galveston
By far the highlight was scuba diving with Sam and Tate. They had never been before and Pat and I hadn't been for long time. We went through the short--extremely short--orientation. They basically went over the hand signs, how to clear your ears, and your mask...and off we went. But we were diving off shore at only 20 feet so all the depressurization stuff was a non-issue. We had a blast. As a mom, I was really enjoying watching my boys experience this new thing. They were great at it. And all too soon it was over. 30 minutes in the water was not long enough.
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First view of Cozumel
 Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing and sunglassesImage may contain: 2 people, people eating, people sitting, drink, food and outdoorScuba diving

Then we sailed back to Galveston and drove home, tired and refreshed and ready to do it again. Next time, I think I'll go with my sisters or girlfriends. I love my guys, but not the best traveling companions. November 2020 my writers group is going, which will be nothing short of awesome. Ha! A group of romance writers on a cruise together...grinning at the thought. In between I'm going to try and get my sisters on board. Sisters trip, yay!

Waiting at the Airport

People watching at the airport is an interesting thing. I get there early because I'm a nervous nelly and want everything to go smoothly so, of course, I have nothing to do for two hours but wait.

Parking myself in one of the starched seats is critical. I want to sit by myself. If there's several seats alone I'm drawn there, but that's risky. I try to find a couple empty seats between a few people where I can leave an empty seat between us. Bonus if I can find a person who already has their earphones and is engrossed in their tablet or phone. The universal I'm-not-here-to-chat sign. My people. We can ignore each other in peace even as we side-eye to see what has the other so engrossed on their tablet.

Then it's all about propping my feet up on my carry-on and watching people.

There's the mom on the layover with two kids. Her hair's in a messy bun, she has no make-up, and her eyes wander the area as she stands guard over her chicks who are sitting, playing video games and eating the bags of chips she has just gotten for them.

There's the entire family, mom, dad, a couple of kids and baby. They are a controlled unit unto themselves, the parents tag-teaming duties.

There's the business folks, computers out. There's the guys and gals, loose shorts, sandels, sloppy buns, tats, frayed backpacks, who look ready to step off into the wilderness. There's the young women dressed for success or the runway. Maybe on their way to a wedding?

There's the sweet old religious lady who looks like the typical grandma. She's even wearing a gingham dress. She's zeroed in on a younger woman whose expression I'm trying to gauge as grandma is sharing her religion. Does she want to hear this or is she held hostage by politeness? And being the awful person I am, I don't save the young woman. Instead I worry that I'm going to be stuck next to grandma on the plane. Will earplugs be enough to fend off a two hour sermon from someone who genuinely feels it's her duty to save all she can?

I'd rather sit by the dog-mama. Because yes, dog-mama has just sat down beside me with her little dog in a baby wrap against her chest. The dog is well behaved, hasn't made a peep. On second thought, no, I'm hoping I'm not next to them either. I say that, hoping I haven't just offended all dog lovers here. Not my intent and no animals were harmed in the writing of this post. But the truth is, I've had a deep seated fear of dogs since I was a young kid. It's never gone away. Sorry. I'm sure I could handle sitting beside a well-behaved dog for two hours, but the relief was real when I didn't have to.

Yep, as boring as the airport is, it's also fairly entertaining. I make two trips to the bathroom because I want that bladder as close to empty as I can get even though I could guzzled down a bottled lemonade. Who wants to make the I-didn't-go-while-I-had-the-chance walk to the back of the plane with everybody glancing up to see who is moving past them? I hate people looking at me, but it's more ick when they know where I'm going--literally going. Taking care of my business is nobody else's business, especially a plane full of people I don't know. No thank you.

I'll pull my big girl panties up, or down as the case may be, if I have to, but I'd rather not, so bathroom visits while waiting is key for me.

Then the boarding begins. We are a patient society, yet I can still feel the eagerness of getting on the plane even though that means we'll just be sitting in the same seat longer. Truth is, we all want to make sure our carry-ons get to be close to us. Turns out mine isn't close to me at all, but I stuck a big patriotic scarf on it that I can see once the overhead bins are opened. I feel better about that, even though if I saw it being grabbed, I'm not exactly going to hurdle over twenty seats to bypass everyone in the aisle waiting to get out.

As it turns out, I'm in the last seat, last aisle in the back. How did that happen? I checked-in a day early online. It's a window seat except there aren't windows in this aisle. Upside, I'm sitting by the two fashionistas who don't talk to me at all. Score! And the plane has movie choices. I have my earplugs and get to spend the entire flight watching Pitch Perfect 3 and the first half of Black Panther. Just perfect.

Authors in Bloom

7th Annual Authors in Bloom Blog Hop
Monday April 18th — Wednesday April 27th 2018
10 Days of Giveaways, Gardening Tips, Recipes and More!
Dianne Venetta_AIB Logo_2015

My awesome boss visited Ireland over the summer and brought me back this cute little recipe book. Did I tell you my boss is all kinds of awesomeness?

Inside I found this cute potato pancake recipe I thought I'd share today called Boxty

250 g/9 oz raw potatoes peeled
250 g/9 oz mashed potatoes
250g/9 oz plain flour
good pinch bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
225 ml/8 fl oz buttermilk plus extra if needed
butter, for frying

Grate the potatoes into a colander lined with kitchen paper.
Press another paper on top and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
Mix in mashed potatoes.
Add flour, soda, and salt. Mix in enough buttermilk to make a soft batter.

Melt butter in frying pan. Drop in large spoonfuls of batter and cook each side for about 3 minutes until golden brown.
Serve like a crepe with stuffing of your choice.

Highland Chieftain cover picture
Highland Chieftain

As it happens, my Highland Sorcery series came to a conclusion with the final book that came out last month. I am going to miss writing about this time traveling magical family. Okay, an Irish recipe doesn't have much to do with Highlanders, but I didn't have a a recipe book from Scotland yet.

Anyway, look for the complete Highland Sorcery series at these retailers

My personal giveaway for 3 peeps will be a book of your choice in that series.