Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tea Party Tuesday * Audrey Hepburn - A Woman for All Seasons

Welcome to Tea Party Tuesday! 

Let me pour you a nice cup of Constant Comment - a tea appropriate for our chat today. Milk? Sugars?

A dear friend uploaded a quote from Audrey Hepburn on Pinterest the other day and it caught my attention. A visit to my friend's board revealed numerous quotes from the well loved actress, and no wonder!

Surviving the Nazi occupation in her home country of Belgium left her undernourished for the rest of her life. Ironic that many of her admirers longed to have a figure like hers.

Please have a finger sandwich - I made them fresh this morning.

Perhaps playing the iconic Anne Frank had an effect on Audrey Hepburn's outlook on life. If you look closely, her quotes are right up there with Shakespeare in popularity.

More tea?

Hepburn's life was by no means perfect. She married and divorced. Cancer eventually took her life at the early age of 64, the same age another well loved lady passed away - Jacqueline Kennedy  Onassis, ironically from cancer as well.

After a life of unforgettable performances in  films, in the end Audrey Hepburn gave an important final quote - "As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands: one for helping yourself, the other to help others." And she did serving children in need all over the world as the ambassador for UNICEF.

Like heroine Jillian Bradley, Audrey Hepburn also had a Yorkie she named Famous. He traveled with her everywhere, just like Jillian's dog Teddy, and like Jillian's companion, he was well loved. I try to emulate people like Audrey Hepburn in my books - well loved figures who unselfishly contribute to others.

For dessert we have and Macadamia Feast Cake squares. I wonder if Audrey Hepburn would have shared a morsel or two with Famous. Here's the recipe. 

Macadamia Feast Cake

1-1/3 cups Bisquick
3/4 c sugar
3 T soft butter or shortening
1 egg
3/4 c milk
1 t vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a square pan, 8 X 8 X 2 inches, or a round layer pan, 9 X 1-1/2 inches. Mix Bisquick and sugar. Add butter, egg and 1/4 cup of the milk. Beat 1 minute medium speed on mixer or vigorously bt hand. Gradually stir in remaining milk and the vanilla. Beat 1/2 minute longer. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 35-40 minutes. Serve with Broiled Macadamia Topping.

Broiled Macadamia Topping:

3 T soft butter
1/3 c brown sugar, packed
2 T light cream
1/2 c flaked coconut
1/2 c chopped macadamia nuts

Mix ingredients and spread on warm baked cake. Set oven control at broil/and or 550 degrees. Place cake 3 inches from source of heat. Broil until nicely browned, about 3 minutes.


~Nancy Jill

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tea Party Tuesday * * * * * * Is Kindle Unlimited For You?

Welcome to Tea Party Tuesday, a weekly blog to share afternoon tea and talk about the world of books.

Let me pour you a cup of Darjeeling. Milk? Sugars? 

I'm serving Jillian Bradley's carrot cake today. It's one of my husband's favorites and mine too! I used to make double this recipe but now that there are only the two of us, I cut the original recipe in half.

The recipe is easy to make as long as you grate the carrots FIRST. 

I ran across a blog post on Pinterest regarding Amazon's new service called "Kindle Unlimited" that I found most informative. It's a monthly book service for $9.99 where readers can borrow up to 10 books a month. This is a little different than their Amazon Prime service where readers can borrow only one book a month. (But for free!)

If you're interested in what USA Today is saying initially you may want to read the link I've included at the end of our tea.

Sometimes I wish I could transport back to being just a reader -- that way I would have more time to indulge in reading all the tempting books being written. But alas, I must sacrifice for those who like my books. 

It's like cleaning houses for a living. When you come home, the last thing you want to do is clean house! There is a difference, though. With today's technology one can read on devices at hand, like the iPhone or iPad. That's what I do. 

What's the last book you read? Did you read a paperback or ebook version? 

The last book I read was "The Woolie Weegie" by C.L. Ragsdale. I read it on my iPad and wrote a review conveniently at the end. I would recommend all of the Reboot series by this author. I'd post the cover but it's a bit frightening. Here's the link:Books by C.L. Ragsdale


~Nancy Jill

Oh, you'd like the link to the Kindle Unlimited post and the recipe? Certainly! USA TODAY Kindle Unlimited

Jillian's Carrot Cake
Serves 9

Grate 1-2 carrots enough to make 1 1/2 cups. Set aside.

Sift together and set aside: 1 cup flour, 1/2 t. cinnamon, 1/2 t. allspice, 1/8 t. ground cloves, 1 t. soda and 1/4 t. salt.

Combine and mix well: 3/4 c. vegetable oil, 1 c. sugar, 1/2 t. vanilla.

Add, mixing well after each addition: 2 eggs.

Gradually add dry ingredients. 

Fold in 1 1/2 cups grated carrots, 1/2 small can crushed pineapple, drained, and 1/2 c. chopped walnuts.

Pour into an 8"X8" square pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until done.

Combine and mix with mixer until fluffy: 1/4 c. butter, softened, 2 cups powdered sugar, 4 ounces cream cheese, softened, 1/2 t. vanilla.

Fold in 1/2 c. chopped walnuts. 

Spread on warm cake.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tea Party Tuesday * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Fruited Iced-Tea and Cheesecake

From the Cheesecake Factory - Yum!
Welcome to Tea Party Tuesday! Since it's so hot here in Texas and other parts of the country I thought we'd have fruited iced-tea with our cheesecake today.
Jillian's Fruited Iced-Tea

For her garden club friends, Jillian Bradley would use this favorite recipe that's been in the family for years. 

 Fruited Iced-Tea

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 quart hot water
8 tea bags
1 quart cold water
2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice

Boil sugar and water 5 minutes. Steep tea in hot water 5 minutes. Add tea and sugar to quart of cold water. Add fruit juices. Stir, mix, and serve over ice. Garnish with mint and fresh fruit. (And don't forget the straws!)


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tea Party Tuesday * What to Wear for Tea

Welcome to Tea Party Tuesday! Does anyone remember "come-as-you-are" parties? We used to do them all the time. They were so much fun! 

One time our WMU (Women's Missionary Union) had a "come-as-you-are" breakfast at my house as a kick-off for a mission study.  I collected women in aprons stained with spaghetti sauce, in hair rollers (now I'm dating myself), and in pajamas. 

Just for today, I thought we'd have a "come-as-you-are" time together and comment on what we're wearing. As you can see by the above photo, this is someone's idea of what to wear if we were going out somewhere, but what about now?

I'm wearing a black tee-shirt, baby blue jeans, and tan leather flip flops. No make-up, and hair clipped back with a barrette.

What about you? 

If Jillian were going for tea, usually at a resort, she'd wear a skirt or slacks. She would not wear jeans, unless she was at a dude ranch - and then there probably wouldn't be any afternoon tea!

It's funny -- sometimes I get a review telling me descriptions of what Jillian and her friends are wearing are unnecessary, and then another reader will say how much they enjoy reading such details. All I can do is write from my heart, and my heart says to live in my books the way I like to live in real life.

What do you like best? Settings, scenery, interesting characters (including what they wear) or plot?

Thanks for joining me today. Now we can enjoy our tea! 

~Nancy Jill

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tea Party Tuesday * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Teatime in "The Ghost Orchid Murder"

Welcome to Tea Party Tuesday! It's lovely to share a cup with you. Please have a sandwich. Aren't these delightful? Oh and let's not forget a little fruit and cheese. We'll have cake later.
I love serving afternoon tea in my books. The ritual is such a nice way to share friendships, old and new. Jillian Bradley loves serving it not only to close friends but also to someone who needs someone to talk to - in this case a mother who lost her only son, one of the murder victims in Book 2 "The Ghost Orchid Murder.

Here's an excerpt -

"The Ghost Orchid Murder" 

At precisely four o’clock, there was a knock on my door. When I answered, Yvette stood in the doorway and smiled. Room service was right behind her. I motioned for her to sit down on the sofa by the fire as the server placed the tea tray on the table in front of her. I signed the bill and thanked him.
Teddy was yipping, trying to guard me from whoever entered his territory.
Yvette’s face brightened.
She looked surprisingly young for her age, which I judged to be about forty-five to fifty. Her firm handshake confirmed that she was self-assured. She sat straight on the sofa with her ankles crossed. Although she was pretty in a country sort of way, the lines around her eyes told of a difficult life, not one of privilege.
High cheekbones spoke of her French ancestry. Like many Europeans, Yvette wore no makeup, only a little lipstick and yet her color looked quite healthy. She wore her shoulder-length blond hair straight and simple. Her clothes flattered her medium built figure. I wondered if Rene had been like her.
Teddy was yipping in the bedroom, trying to guard his territory from the present invader.
“Would you like some tea?”
“Thank you, I’d love some. Just plain, please.”
I took my time pouring the tea and stirring in the sugar for mine. I offered her a slice of decadent chocolate cake or a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie. She took the cookie and white linen napkin. We sipped our tea and she told me again how much she appreciated the invitation.
“I would love to meet your dog, Jillian.” She placed her cookie on her saucer.
I walked over to Cecilia’s room and let Teddy out. He immediately ran over to Yvette and jumped into her lap.
She smiled and began to pet him.
“He’s adorable.” She rubbed his ears gently and stroked his fur. “I could never give Rene a dog because A.J. said we couldn’t afford one. Of course I regret it now, like so many things.”
“Is A.J. your husband?” I was glad Teddy was taking to her so.
“He was my husband. A.J. died when Rene was a teenager.”
“I’m so sorry. What did your husband do for a living?”
“He was a logger.” She sighed. “Six days a week he’d take logs from where they fell and load them onto trucks that took them to the mills. A.J. would work twelve hours a day and when he got home, all dirty and hungry, Rene would disappear into another room. The two didn’t really mix.
“A.J. and I would have a little time over dinner together where he recapped his day. Then to sleep…early…7 o’clock sharp every evening. The same routine started all over again the next morning.”
“He seems to have worked hard to provide for his family. I’m sure you miss him.”
Teddy licked her hand as if to say he was sorry she had suffered two deaths now.
“You’re a good dog, Teddy. Thank you.” She stroked his fur. “Please have your friend come in and have some tea. I feel like I’m encroaching.”              
I stood. “I’ll ask her if she’d like to join us.”
I introduced Cecilia. Yvette seemed comfortable sharing her personal life in front of her. I think she sensed I had her welfare in mind and trusted me.
She was hungry to talk to someone, so Cecilia and I listened sympathetically.
Yvette talked for some time, unfolding her life story as we drank tea together. I made sure her cup stayed full.
“I was the daughter of a common shopkeeper who had emigrated from France when I was only three years old. We had moved to Ocala, Florida, where our family ran a small grocery store. After my parents could no longer keep up with the work of running the store, I took over.”
Cecilia sipped her tea. “So you run a family business. That must take a lot of work.”
“Yes. I rarely get a break. We added a couple of gas pumps and turned the grocery part into more of a convenience store. Since tourists stopped by frequently on their way to the Everglades or Disney World, I put in a small gift shop section, and it did quite well.”
I was curious. “What type of merchandise do you carry?”
“The usual things—greeting cards, souvenirs, stuffed animals, T-shirts, caps, and I even sell books, you know, travel books and books about Florida.”
“Do you carry souvenir bells, shot glasses, things like that?”
“Oh, yes. I even carry a few porcelain teacups. I remember my grandmother having quite a collection.”
“I collect them myself. I think I’m up to forty-four, last time I counted.”
“That’s quite a collection.” She sipped her tea and took a small bite of her cookie.
“Yvette, would you by any chance carry any porcelain flowers, like Capodimonte flowers?”
“I think I know the ones you’re talking about. They’re flowers on branches, right? I saw one my friend had sitting on an end table in her living room.”
“Yes. They’re beautiful and distinctive. Do you carry anything like that?”
“I do have a few flowers, but they’re mostly local for the tourists. I carry a few roses because they always seem to sell.”
I watched her face closely. “Would you have any orchids for instance?”
Her expression didn’t change and she seemed unaware of any significance.
“Orchids? Of course. Florida’s full of them. Why do you ask?”
“I collect all sorts of porcelain. I’m really a soft touch for anything out of the ordinary.” Careful. Don't reveal the evidence. I’d promised Detective Noble.

Let me refill your cup. Would you care for a powder puff?

I hope you enjoy the Jillian Bradley mystery series as much as I enjoy writing them. Now, back to work on number nine - "Murder at Mirror Lake."


~Nancy Jill