Friday, March 27, 2015

My Friday Love

Things I loved this past week...

Hart of Dixie. Farewell, Bluebell. Oh, how I'm going to miss you and your small-town charm.

I'm not ready to say goodbye to you and all the people in town. I love them all so much.

These people are my Friday night pleasure, my little piece of Heaven every week. They're like a popsicle on a hot summer day. Sure, they can be silly and stupid at times. But they are fun! They fill me up with sunshine and make me smile. They make me forget my troubles for an hour.

 So thank you, Zoe and Wade, Lemon and Lavon, George and AB.

It's been a pleasure watching you these four years. I'll miss you forever.

Kiss of Steel. So apparently I'm WAY behind the times because I'm only now reading Kiss of Steel, which was published back in 2012. I hate to say it, but I never considered reading the London Steampunk series by Bec McMaster because it's... Well, it's Steampunk. For some reason I've never enjoyed reading books in this genre. I don't know why. I love historical romance and Alpha heroes very much. Maybe it's because I'm more interested in real history than alternative history. *shrugs*

Anyway, I'm glad I picked up Kiss of Steel. Ohmygod, I love it!! And Blade!! He's my new favorite book boyfriend. *swoon* The story is amazing, too. It has fabulous characters, oodles of pulse-pounding action, and loads steamy sexual tension. I can't turn the pages fast enough! Seriously.

I can't wait to read the rest of the books in this awesome series.

What are you loving this week? Do share!
Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Five Ideas for a Victorian St. Patrick's Day

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! I don't do much for the holiday, except wear green in honor of my Irish ancestors on my father's side of the family. Oh, and indulge in a Shamrock Shake from McDonald's. I used to love those bright green, frosty treats from my childhood. Unfortunately, the last time I tried one --maybe a year or two ago--it just didn't taste as good as I remembered. So this year, I'll skip that old tradition and perhaps get a yummy drink from Starbucks or eat a St. Paddy's Day cupcake instead.

Here are five ways you and your family can celebrate St. Patrick's Day, the Victorian way.

Cameron Diaz in Gangs of New York (2002)

Did you know that the first St. Patrick's Day parade wasn't in Ireland, but in New York in 1762? Stationed in Boston due to the French and Indian War (known in Europe as the Seven Year's War), a group of Irish men serving in the British army marched through the streets of New York City.

Today, the largest parades are in Boston and New York, while the oldest continuous parade is held in Savannah, Georgia.

Nicole Kidman in Far and Away (1992)
During the Victorian era, St. Patrick's Day was (as it still is) a religious holiday in Catholic Ireland, its atmosphere comparable to that of Thanksgiving in America; traditionally, one would attend mass in the morning and feast with family and friends in the afternoon.

While the holiday fell in the middle of Lent --the 40 days of fasting that last to Easter-- the Roman Catholic Church lifted restrictions against eating meat for the day so the Irish communities could celebrate their patron saint. As a result, corned beef and cabbage became an extremely popular St. Patrick's Day dish. Other popular traditional dishes include Irish soda bread, baked potato soup and fruit tarts.

Read great literature aloud. Some of the best literature written in the English language was penned by the Irish between 1800 and 1914. Whether you want to read scary stories by firelight or act out a comedy with the kids, these Irish writers will give you what you need:

Leo DiCaprio in Gangs of New York (2002)
  • For a good scare: Introduce your teenage Twihards to real literature with Dracula by Bram Stoker (1847-1912), the first modern vampire novel.
  • For a good laugh: Pick up The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), a hilarious satire of the British upper class.
  • For magic, monsters and fairy maidens: Delve into “The Wanderings of Oisin,” a collection of  poems based on Irish myths (and featuring St. Patrick himself!) by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), who became first Irish writer to win the Nobel Prize in 1923.
  • For a realistic portrayal of Ireland, 100 years ago: Savor the short stories in Dubliners by James Joyce (1882-1941), who is often credited with “inventing” literary modernism
  • For a sing-along dramedy: Rediscover Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950). Shaw remains the only writer to have earned both a Nobel Prize and an Oscar for the same work–his stage play and screenplay for Pygmalion, which was later adapted into the beloved musical My Fair Lady. 

In the 1850's, the Industrial Revolution, well, revolutionized the concept of the greeting card, transforming it from an expensive, hand-made object d’art into a mass-produced piece of ephemera that one could purchase in an ordinary store.

When one thinks of St. Patrick's Day in the Victorian era, one can't evade the Irish potato famine, which lasted from 1845 to 1852, killing one million Irish men and women and forcing another million to leave their homeland. Caused and exacerbated by the British Parliament's mismanagement and neglect, the "Great Famine" prompted the rise in Irish nationalism and unrest that led to the war for independence in 1919-1921.

Today, historians refer to the famine as a watershed moment that initiated Ireland into the modern era--and as an event that need not have happened.

So while you feast on beef and cabbage and potato soup, there's good reason to take a moment to be grateful for simple things like the freedom to enjoy goofy, green-dyed food with your family and friends.

Courtesy of Elaine K. Phillips via
Monday, March 16, 2015


The Prince of Wales arrived in the United States in the 1920's and people were impressed with how quickly he could get into and out of his pants, which were equipped with a newfangled contraption -- the zipper. Zipper sales zoomed.

James D'Arcy & Andrea Riseborough in W.E. (2011)
Nine years later, a women's dress manufacturer out to spark business used zippers as a gimmick -- but it wasn't until eminent designer Elsa Schiaparelli put zippers on women's backs in 1936 that women could say, "Darling, help me with this, would you please?"

Elsa Schiaparelli evening gown circa 1935

Mad Men (2007-2015)
Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger
Saturday, March 14, 2015

Fun Fact Saturday: Medieval Meat Dishes

Meat played a key role in cookery in the 11th-15th century. There was a wide range of dishes made especially for the rich and nobles. In a typical lord of the manor's kitchen there was a provision for spit roasting and broiling of meats on a surprisingly large scale. Feasts and banquets often required many types of meat to be roasted and the castle kitchen had to be able to cope with this demand.

The White Queen (2013)

There was enormous variety of methods for the preparation and presentation of meat dishes and this reflected to class structure of the day. There were simple recipes as cooked by peasants who had limited access to meat and little space in which to cook it, to incredibly elaborate recipes cooked by teams of people in the  medieval castle kitchens of the rich and powerful.

Merlin (2008-2012)

Blawmanger was a common meat recipe using rice and minced chicken. Ground almonds were sometimes added. Simple but staple.

Broiled Venison was a dish reserved for the rich and a popular meat recipe at medieval banquets and feasts. Essentially, the meat was scored or parboiled and then larded before being spit roasted. A basting sauce of red whine and ground ginger, poured over the meat as it roasted on the spit, added extra flavor and richness.

Pork Roast with spiced wine basting was a similar type of dish. The basting sauce's ingredients were red wine and spices such as garlic and ground coriander. Pork was often treated in the same way.

Courtesy of
Sunday, March 1, 2015

March Releases


Highland Heirs, Book Three
By Paula Quinn
March 31, 2015


Known for her beauty and boldness, Abigail MacGregor must preserve her clan’s dangerous secret: that her mother is the true heir to the English crown. If the wrong people find out, it will mean war for her beloved Scotland. To keep peace, she embarks for London, unprepared for the treachery that awaits—especially from her wickedly handsome escort. He is the enemy, but his slow, sensuous kisses entice her beyond reason.


General Daniel Marlow, loyal knight and the kingdom’s most desirable hero, would rather be on the battlefield than transporting a spoiled Highland lass. But Abby MacGregor is unlike any woman he’s ever met, in a ballroom or in his bedroom. Captivated by her daring spirit and seduced by her lovely innocence, Daniel must choose between betraying his queen, or giving up the woman who would steal his country—and his traitorous heart.

 I just read the second book in this series and really liked it, so I can't wait to read Abigail's story.  Paula Quinn's books always have loads of action and romance.
What's on your must-read list this month? Do share!

Book blurbs from authors' website.