Harbor Porpoises are Back!

We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB

Welcome to the first 2021 installment of We Are the World Blogfest!

On the last Friday of every month, bloggers from all over the world gather online to post hopeful, inspirational, and heartwarming stories to counter all the bad news we come across every day on our computers, televisions, radios, and in print.

As you may know if you’ve been following my blog for a while, I try to post #WATWB stories that spell good news for the environment. And the stories I choose to share in 2021 will be no different.

Good News for the Environment

The story I’m sharing this month comes, as it often does, from the Good News Network. You can click on this link to be redirected to the story, but here’s the gist of it:

A gillnet is a fishing net that works by snaring fish gills on small fibers attached to the net. While such nets work well for fish, they also trap sharks, otters, seabirds…and harbor porpoises.

California communities began banning gillnets in 1987 and now the state is seeing a remarkable rebound in the number of harbor porpoises in its waters.

Click here to read the whole story.

Join Us!

Your cohosts for this month are Sylvia McGrath, Simon Falk, Shilpa Garg, Mary Giese, and Belinda Witzenhausen. And if you want to read more uplifting articles, please visit the WATWB Facebook page here or the Twitter home page here to find links to other stories.

Want to participate? Click this link to sign up and help spread some happiness!

Until next time,

Amy

Reading Round-Up: January 2021

It’s a brand new year and I’ve promised myself to read 61 books in 2021. If you’re part of Goodreads, have you signed up for the 2021 Reading Challenge? If you’re not part of Goodreads, hop on over to goodreads.com, sign up, and join the challenge! There are no winners or losers—just people who love to read.

Christmas Cow Bells

Christmas Cow Bells (A Buttermilk Creek Mystery Book 1) by [Mollie Cox Bryan]

I was so happy to start off the year with a five-star read by Mollie Cox Bryan. What a great way to end the holidays and kick off 2021! Christmas Cow Bells (a Buttermilk Creek Mystery #1) is the terrific tale of a dairy farmer who has recently moved to a small town in Virginia to live and build her cheesemaking business. With a staff of three lovable cows, Brynn is determined to make a success of her cheeses and her involvement with the local CSA (community-supported agriculture) members to bring a healthy organic and agricultural revitalization to the area. But there are members of the community who prefer to dwell in the past…can they make enough trouble to force Brynn to up and move? Are they willing to resort to murder to do it? You’ll have to find out for yourself in this wonderful Christmas mystery. Read my review here.

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The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain

The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain by [Elaine Faber]

The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain, by Elaine Faber (see her guest post from last week here), is a page-turning read that I found most interesting because it’s a story I could see happening in real life (with the possible exception of the paranormal element, which Ms. Faber handles extremely well). I figured out whodunit (at least for one of the crimes), but still enjoyed going along for the ride as the main characters figured it out, too. You can read my review here.

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Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries

Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet by [Sally Cronin]

I read Sally Cronin’s blog frequently and I find that the array of topics she covers is mind-boggling. She has interests in everything from music to nutrition to travel to holiday customs to…you name it. I have found that her writing style is easy to read and fun-loving—it’s just like you’re having a conversation with her over a cup of tea in the back garden. That’s why I knew I would enjoy Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries, and Ms. Cronin didn’t disappoint. I didn’t just enjoy it—I devoured it. The book is comprised of poignant short stories and beautiful, descriptive poetry. You can read my review here; I’m excited that Sally will be on the blog to discuss the book in February.

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The Art of War

The Art of War illustrated by [Sun Tzu, Lionel Giles]

This book, The Art of War by Sun Tzu, was written in the sixth-century B.C. and has been read by countless military leaders, business leaders, politicians, and regular people down through the centuries. Though is may have been written as a military treatise, approaching its lessons with an open mind proves that it holds relevance today in situations we all face. It proves to me that people twenty-six centuries ago are not all that different from people today. We may look different and act differently, but our hearts remain the same. Read my review here.

What have you been reading?

Until next time,

Amy

Interview with the Pooper Scooper

My guest this week is Elaine Faber, author of The Black Cat Mysteries, the Mrs. Odbody Mystery Adventures, and now, her newest release, The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain. I’ve read and enjoyed the book, featuring protagonists Lou (short for Lulu Jane) Shoemaker and Nate Darling (I haven’t had time to review it yet, but I will). I thought it would be fun to have Elaine interview Lou and Nate so you can get to know them a little.

The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain by [Elaine Faber]

Welcome, Elaine, Lou, and Nate!

Questions for Lou

How did you come to own a sewer truck called The Pooper Scooper? This was my husband’s business, but he died in a car crash a little over two years ago. I had to learn the business, get a Waste Management license, and learn to drive a stick shift pretty quickly. In a rural community like Lockleer Mountain, the homes have wells and septic tanks. With all the bells and whistles on the sewer truck, it wasn’t too hard to learn how to operate and clean septic tanks. It may not be a very ladylike occupation, but it keeps the roof over my head and my two cats in Kitty Crunchies. We make it work.

How familiar are you with the Native American reservation near Lockleer Mountain? I know many of the Native Americans and many are my customers. Chief White Feather has been a family friend for years. He told us the legend of the Spirit Woman when we were children. The story line includes a Pow-Wow on the reservation where a shocking event occurs. He also told us that a White Man was selling drugs to his teenagers and if the tribe caught him first, we’d never see him again! Oh my!

As a recent widow, how did you know the time was right to seek love again? I’m only twenty-three. As much as I loved my husband, Steven, life goes on. As it happens, I’ve also known Deputy Nate Darling for years. He was my husband’s best friend and helped me following my husband’s death. When his sister disappeared three months ago following a motor vehicle accident, I was able to help him grieve. We grew closer with our shared grief, and friendship turned to love.

Do you think the Spirit Woman is a real person or just a legend? When our troubles began, folks started to see the mountain lion and glimpses of a woman, sightings that resulted in helpful circumstances. We all know the legend of the Spirit Woman coming to help the community, and with the recent unrest in town, it’s not hard to believe she came to lend a hand. When strange gifts from the forest begin to turn up in my friend’s yard, questions arise. Is the Spirit Woman leaving the items, or is someone from town playing tricks?

Questions for Deputy Sheriff Nate Darling

As a deputy sheriff, are you concerned about the community unrest regarding the government’s plans to build an undisclosed facility and infrastructure near Lockleer Mountain?  Recent news of a mysterious government facility being built nearby, with a big box store and a housing tract has the town in an uproar. The merchants fear the competition will ruin them, and what will happen to the charm of our small town? Threats have been made. I have to take them seriously, but how can we fight the government, already moving forward with their plans without even consulting the city fathers?

How do you feel knowing that someone in town is selling drugs to the teens on the reservation? As if we didn’t have enough problems, my heart sank when White Feather announced drugs being sold on the reservation. I told the sheriff I wished I had about 90 days of vacation time on the books, which I don’t.

Do you believe in the Spirit Woman, or is the mysterious woman in the woods with the mountain lion really your sister, Suzanna? We’ve searched the mountain high and low for three months since Suzanna’s disappearance. I’ve seen the mountain lion and glimpses of the woman. I’m sure it’s Suzanna, suffering from amnesia. I’ve heard the legend of the Spirit Woman, but spirits don’t leave footprints. On the other hand, how could Suzanna survive for three months in the forest…with a mountain lion? Friends say it’s not Suzanna. So, does that mean they think a Native American spirit has become real? What am I do believe?

I guess for the answers to these and other questions, you’ll have to read the book. The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain is available in e-book and paperback at Amazon.  http://tinyurl.com/y82t4xsh

Elaine’s Bio

Elaine Faber lives in Elk Grove with her husband and four feline companions. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Cat Writers Association, and Northern California Publishers and Artists. She volunteers at the American Cancer Society Discovery Shop in Elk Grove. Her short stories have appeared in national magazines, have won multiple awards in various short story contests, and are included in at least 16 anthologies. She leads a critique groups in the Sacramento area.

Elaine’s Mrs. Odboddy and Black Cat Mystery series’ have won top awards with Northern California Publishers and Authors annual writers’ contests. Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey’s Diary and All Things Cat, an anthology of cat stories, won 2018 and 2019 Certificates of Excellence with Cat Writers’ Association. Elaine enjoys speaking at public author venues and clubs sharing highlights of her novels and her writing experience. She is currently working on two fiction novels to be published in 2021 and 2022.

Elaine’s Books

Black Cat Mysteries: With the aid of his ancestors’ memories, Black Cat helps solve mysteries and crimes. Partially narrated by Black Cat, much of the story comes from a cat’s often humorous and poignant point of view.

Mrs. Odboddy Mystery/Adventures: Elderly, eccentric Mrs. Odboddy fights WWII from the home front. She believes war-time conspiracies and spies abound in her home town. Follow her antics in these hysterical, historical novels as a self-appointed hometown warrior exposes malcontents, dissidents and Nazi spies…even when she’s wrong.

The Spirit Woman Mystery/Paranormal/Adventures

The Native Americans believe the legendary Spirit Woman ‘protects the community.’ When Govt. demands create social unrest in a small mountain town, and drugs threaten the lives of their youth, the Spirit Woman and her mountain lion companion come to their aid.

Black Cat’s Legacy: http://tinyurl.com/lrvevgm

Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer: http://tinyurl.com/q3qrgyu

Black Cat and the Accidental Angel: http://tinyurl.com/y4eohe5n

Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey’s Diary  (NCPA Cover and Interior Design Silver award 2019): http://tinyurl.com/vgyp89s

All Things Cat (anthology of short stories): http://tinyurl.com/y9p9htak

Mrs. Odboddy-Hometown Patriot (NCPA 1st Fiction 2017): http://tinyurl.com/hdbvzsv

Mrs. Odboddy – Undercover Courier (NCPA 3rd Cover and Design 2018): http://tinyurl.com/hdbvzsv    

Mrs. Odboddy – And Then There Was a Tiger (NCPA 2nd Fiction 2019): http://tinyurl.com/yx72fcpx

The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain: http://tinyurl.com/y82t4xsh

Thanks to all my guests today!

Until next time,

Amy

Working Without Play?

Do you have a hobby?

Something you love to do in your spare time? Something you have a passion for? Something you love to share with other people?

I have lots of hobbies. I know I’ve mentioned here on the blog that I’ve recently taken up quilling, which is the art of paper filigree. I’m still an amateur, but I love to do it and I find it relaxing and a great way to let my mind wander. I also like to do counted cross-stitch, a hobby I’ve had since I was young. And you all know I love to read and cook. I also love to make gift tags.

There are other things I love to do, too, but these are some of my favorite ways to spend free time.

What do you love to do?

I’d love to spotlight some of my readers’ hobbies. Do you paint? Draw? Write poetry? Swim? Do Pilates? Play the ukelele? Do you do some other cool thing that I haven’t even thought of?

This year I’d love to start a series of blog posts about hobbies. We all learned in 2020 that having a hobby not only helped pass the time when we might have been out doing other things, but it could also mean the difference between happiness and depression.

It doesn’t have to be something that costs a cent. It doesn’t have to be something that requires a membership or a bunch of fancy equipment. All that a hobby requires is that it’s something you can do in your spare time that makes you happy.

Once a month, I’d like to write about a reader’s favorite hobby. If you’d like me to interview you, that would be great. If you don’t want me to mention your name but still want to introduce people to your favorite hobby, also great.

My hope is to introduce readers to things they might never have tried.

Will you join me? I’d love to hear from you! Please let me know in the comments below or email me at amymreadeauthor[at]gmail[dot]com and tell me about your favorite things to do!

I’ll leave you with some photos of quilling projects I’ve done since August, when I started the craft.

Until next time,

Amy

First Tuesday Recipes: January 2021

Happy New Year! I’m eager to begin sharing some of my favorite recipes with you for the next twelve months! As many of you know, I share three recipes on the first Tuesday of each month. I welcome recipes from readers, so if you have one (or more) you’d like to share, please email me at amymreadeauthor[at]gmail[dot]com and I’ll be happy to include your recipes (with credit, of course).

What would you like to see?

And speaking of sharing, if you have any suggestions for posts you’d like to see, please let me know either by email or down in the comments below. My goal is to make this blog as responsive as possible to reader wishes, so any and all input is welcome and appreciated. I do a reading round-up on the last Tuesday of each month and a worldwide blogfest of good news on the last Friday of each month, but otherwise my Tuesday posts are yours to help create. So reach out and let me know what you’d like to see!

Let’s Get Cooking!

The first recipe I’m sharing this month is one I serve my family every New Year’s Day. It’s chock-full of flavor and calories and always gets the new year off to a delicious start. If you’ve resolved to lose weight, well…it’ll have to wait until January 2nd. The loco moco is a Hawaiian comfort dish often served with a scoop of macaroni salad. You can (actually, you should) start making this dish a day or two in advance. There’s very little hands-on work.

Kalua Pork Loco Moco

Lots of servings

5-6 pound pork butt roast

1 T. Liquid Smoke

1 T. salt

hot cooked rice (I make this a day or two ahead of time and reheat it)

eggs (1-2 for each person)

brown gravy (I also make this ahead of time. You can use your favorite recipe or just a mix or jar from the grocery store—we use a mix)

Place the butt roast in a slow cooker. Pour Liquid Smoke over roast, then sprinkle with salt. Cover and cook on low for 20 hours (this is not a typo), flipping about halfway through cooking. Shred with two forks and return to slow cooker.

Prepare 1-2 eggs for each person. They can be prepared any way you like, but we like ours over easy.

Place 1-2 scoops of hot cooked rice in a shallow bowl. Scoop desired amount of pork over the rice. Top with the egg(s) and pour brown gravy over the entire thing. Serve with a side of macaroni salad, if desired.

The leftover pork is great in omelets and/or sliders and/or tacos.

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If you eat the loco moco on January 1st as we do, then you’re going to want something much lighter after that. My suggestion? A salad that checks the boxes on flavor, ease, and nutrition.

Spinach Salad with Pears and Walnuts

4 servings

3/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 c. sherry vinegar

1 shallot, minced

1/2 t. honey

salt and pepper to taste

8-12 cups fresh baby spinach

4 firm, ripe pears, cored and chopped

1/2 c. walnuts, coarsely chopped

bleu cheese crumbles (optional, but I always add them)

Combine oil, vinegar, shallot, honey, and salt and pepper in a medium-sized jar with a lid. Shake dressing vigorously.

In four shallow bowls, divide the spinach. Top the spinach in each bowl with 1/4 of the pears, then with 1/4 of the walnuts. Crumble bleu cheese on salads, if desired. Shake vinaigrette again and pour the desired amount over each salad. Store the rest of the dressing in the fridge.

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The last recipe for January is another comfort food that goes well with vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals. It’s especially good with curry, no matter you like your curry. And it’s even good as a dessert—just sprinkle it with a handful of chopped mango.

Sticky Rice

2 c. Arborio rice

1 1/2 c. canned unsweetened coconut milk (not coconut cream!)

1/4 c. brown sugar

1/2 t. salt

Cook rice according to package directions. Shake coconut milk very well before measuring. In a small saucepan, warm coconut milk, brown sugar, and salt. Stir until sugar and salt are dissolved. Add milk mixture to rice and stir gently. Serve as a side dish or dessert.

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Remember to email me or comment below with recipes and suggestions for blog posts! I’m eager to hear from you.

Until next time,

Amy