Friday, August 04, 2023

Grandma St.John's Banana Bread

I've made this banana bread for as many years as I've been baking. (That's a whole kaboodle of years.) It's a family favorite. Some even enjoy it for breakfast.

Note: For shortening, I usually use olive oil. I've also used butter, and occasionally I use half butter or oil and half applesauce.


1 3/4 c. sifted flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c. olive oil
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. sugar
2 eggs, beaten
at least 2 bananas, mashed leaving chunks
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp orange peel


5 1/4 c. sifted flour
6 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp salt
1 c. olive oil
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
6 eggs, beaten
at least 6 bananas, mashed, leaving chunks
2  heaping tsp cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
1 heaping tsp orange peel

Walnuts or pecans are optional.
I often add craisins and chocolate chips, but most of my family prefers it without.

Mix dry ingredients and liquid ingredients separately and then mix together quickly.
Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes to one hour.
If you use a mini-loaf pan, reduce heat to 325 and baking time to 25 min.

Wrap or bag while warm to keep moist.
Freezes great so you can bake ahead.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

FREE BOOK THIS WEEK: I Sorta Do, Cheryl St.John


Read an excerpt:

    Once again, her impulsiveness had landed her in a jam. Francie Karr rifled through a stack of papers on her gigantic wooden desk and picked up the letter for the tenth time that morning. The official confirmation of her obligation to attend the class reunion. She’d placed the irksome reminder on the edge just so, in case her cat took a notion to jump up on the desk and bat the paper into the wastebasket. He hadn’t. The traitor.

    She’d used the envelope postmarked Spencer, Colorado as a coaster for the better part of a week before piling invoices on top of it, but the return address still remained legible.

    No, the letter was still here and she hadn’t forgotten about the impulsive promise she’d made, so she guessed she was going to have to send the reunion committee an email about her arrival plans. She’d first ignored the group Facebook message from the planning committee requesting she be the photographer for Spencer High’s fifteenth class reunion. She’d asked if they didn’t have a local photographer, but the relentless social media members had been adamant it be someone from their class, so she’d grudgingly agreed.

    What had she been drinking? She’d known then, just as she knew now, that she wasn’t going to be able to attend the class reunion. She was going to have surgery that week. Or something else was going to come up. A debilitating sickness maybe. Perhaps even a death—her own would be convenient.

    The intercom buzzed her that someone was downstairs, and she walked distractedly to the panel, the wrinkled letter in her hand. “Yeah?”

    “Miss Karr, it’s Ryan MacNair. I’d like to speak with you for a few minutes, please.”


    He repeated his name and added, “We spoke last month. About the brooch you had appraised? You told me to call back at a more convenient time.”

    “Oh.” She glanced around the cluttered loft where she lived and worked. Photographs hung on every wall—some were even framed. Stacks of books teetered on end tables, and every pair of shoes she’d worn recently were beside the sofa. The place wasn’t going to suddenly become neat and organized, and the time never got more convenient, so she might as well let him in.

    “Come on up.” She jabbed the button that unlocked the security door and sauntered back to her desk.

    How hard could it be to fake her own death? She’d seen it done on TV plenty of times. She could assume a new identity and move her studio to Peoria under a different name.

    Francie flopped onto her office chair and grimaced at her own thoughts. No. YaYa needed someone to check up on her often and make sure the care center was doing a good job. Deserting her dear fragile grandmother was out of the question. It distressed the old woman enough to think Francie wasn’t married yet. Disappearing was a purely selfish thought. Self-preserving and really clever—but selfish.

    How on earth then was she going to get out of this dreadful class reunion? What was she going to tell her grandmother? YaYa was the only person in the world she was close to. The only person whose opinion mattered. But YaYa didn’t agree with Francie’s decision to choose a career over a marriage and children.

    A few months ago, to alleviate the old woman’s worry over her being alone, Francie had told her she’d gotten married.

    To a rich man.

    To a rich man with kids.

    To a rich handsome man with kids.

    How in blazes was she going to get out of this one?

    A knock sounded on the door.

    Francie crossed to open it.

    “Hi, Miss Karr—”


    “Francie. Thank you for seeing me.”

    She swung the door open wide and ushered a tall dark-haired man in a tailored navy-blue suit into her studio. “Would you like a soft drink? The coffee’s been sitting since morning.”

    “No, thank you.”

    “Well…” She wandered back to her desk chair and sank onto the comfortable cushion, her gaze immediately landing on the letter that still lay on her desk. Darn cat anyhow. Darn YaYa for thinking a woman couldn’t be fulfilled with her career.

    “I have an offer for you,” MacNair said. He glanced around, then moved a stack of manila envelopes from the seat of the chair opposite her desk to the only available spot on the floor and plucked the crease at the knee of his trousers as he sat. “Are you moving out?”

    “No, why?”

    “Um, no reason. Do you recall why I’m here?”

    Absorbed in her predicament, Francie tapped a fingernail against the edge of the desk. The reunion was less than two weeks away now, and she still hadn’t figured out what she was going to do.


    “What? Oh. No, I guess I’ve forgotten what it was you wanted to see me about.”

    “The brooch you had appraised at Grambs & Sons last month.”

    “Right. That pin was in a box of old junk that I bought at an auction. I buy things like that for my still life photography. The piece will make amazing shot in black and white, with maybe a pair of gloves. Kind of draping out of an old jewelry chest with a piece of lace beneath it.”

    “Several months ago, I put the word out to all the jewelers that I was looking for that particular item,” he said. “Grambs called me after you’d been in. That brooch rightfully belongs to my daughter. It’s her inheritance.”

    She’d found the perfect pair of old lace gloves. What had she done with them? “Uh-huh.”

    “It belonged to my paternal grandmother. Unfortunately, my grandfather’s will was contested, and the jewelry went to one of my aunts who only wanted what she could get out of everything. Just to be spiteful, she wouldn’t even let my father buy the pieces he wanted. I can’t even remember why she started the feud with my father in the first place. I’m not even sure she remembers.”

    “She sounds lovely.” Francie picked up a pen and doodled a sketch of her idea on the letter.

    He blinked at her. “She sold it all, and we’ve been trying to find the pieces to buy them back. My father had intended for that brooch to remain in the family.”

    Francie’s attention drifted to Peyton Armbruster’s scrawled signature on the page, and Francie knew she couldn’t stall any longer. She either had to come clean...or come up with a husband.

    “The brooch was appraised at five thousand dollars,” MacNair said. “Miss Karr, I’ll double that offer.”

    At his concerned tone, Francie glanced up into his grave features, and finally his words sank into her dilemma-drugged brain. He was as intense about the silly old brooch as she was about taking a husband to the reunion.

    For the first time she took a long assessing look at Ryan MacNair. His dark hair, bearing a distinguishing widow’s peak, was neatly styled and brushed back from a square-jawed face. Dark brows were divided by a V of anxiety that didn’t diminish his well-bred features. The dude was impressively handsome.

    He had a nice straight nose and an interesting mouth that could probably slide into a knockout smile if he’d loosen that tie and give himself a little air. His navy suit and cranberry silk tie were of the best quality and taste, and he wore them with ease and panache. He was rich. Not her type—if she had a type—but wouldn’t he impress the Spanx right off her classmates back in Spencer? And YaYa wouldn’t be able to stop smiling. She imagined her grandmother looking him up and down with approval.

    "You planned to use the brooch in some photographs," he said. Have you done that?"

    “Are you married?”

    He blinked, his warm brown eyes showing confusion over the abrupt change of subject. “I’m divorced,” he said finally. “Is that relevant to the discussion?”

    Actually, a discussion took two people, but she spared him that reminder, and let the ever-turning gears in her mind whirl with possibilities. “I’m just beginning to sympathize with your situation, Mr...”


    “Mr. MacNair. I’d certainly feel bad if something of my grandmother’s was sold off against my wishes.”

    He nodded, his brow still furrowed. “Then you’ll sell it to me?”

    “You really want this brooch, don’t you? It means a lot to you. And to your father.”

    Still his carefully guarded expression didn’t change. “Yes.”

    “So, I guess my decision carries a lot of weight.”

    “It does,” he admitted, though his aggravated expression showed his reluctance to do so.

    Francie smoothed the letter, refolded it and placed it inside the stained and warped envelope. “Perhaps we can negotiate after all.”

    He gave a shake of his head. “Money isn’t the issue here. The brooch has sentimental value. Ten thousand. Fifteen.”

    “No. Not more money,” she said with a flick of her hand. “In fact, if you agree to this idea, you can keep your money.”

    His frown deepened. “What idea?”

    “I’m in a predicament myself. I’m afraid I’ve done something—said something—impulsive, and now I don’t have any way out of it. Except maybe through you.”

    He raised one dark brow. “I don’t understand. What does your predicament have to do with me?”

    “I told my grandmother that I’d gotten married.”

    “And that’s a problem?”

    “Yes, it’s a problem. It wasn’t true. It isn’t true.”

    “You told her you were married?”

    She nodded.

    “But you’re not married. And you weren’t married.”


    “Then why did you tell her that?”

    The question was so simple. The answer was so complicated. “Because I’m not.”

    He stared at her.

    “It’s a long, boring story,” she supplied. “Maybe sometime we’ll go over the details, but for now I’ll just say I had my reasons.”

    “So, you lied. And now this lie is causing you a problem.”

    “Oh, yeah. A super-sized problem.” She stood and walked restlessly to the row of tall windows and gazed, unseeing, down on the street

    “What does your lie have to do with me?”

    She turned back. “I’ve been cornered into participating in my class’s fifteen-year reunion in my hometown. YaYa is expecting me. And she’s expecting me to bring a husband.”

    With a wary expression, he waited for her to speak.

    “You can have the brooch...”

    He leaned forward in the chair like his Spidey-senses were on alert.

    “...if you come to Spencer, Colorado with me as my husband for a week.”

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Abby’s Second Chance by Lyn Cote

Abby’s Second Chance

Book 2 of “The Preacher’s Daughters” series by Lyn Cote

Contemporary Christian Romance

Their chance at first love slipped through their fingers—now a second chance, will they let their attraction grow to true love?

Abby Kirkland, a successful fundraiser for a big city botanical garden, faces a life-changing decision. In order to make the right choice, she visits her beloved great aunt in Florida. Will she have to upend her life? Then unexpectedly she crosses paths with Dr. Marco De Palma. She knew him at university in Florida, almost a decade ago.

Marco never thought to meet Abby again. Even though now he is a MD, the chances of a lady like her falling in love with the son of immigrants from Santa Domingo still looks impossible to him. And besides, he has a goal he must achieve for the good of many and that needs all his attention. No time for love.

Yet as they work together on a charity project, they can't deny the re-igniting of their connection. Will old insecurities and mistaken perceptions keep them apart again? Or will they finally believe that they too have a right to a second chance at love?

An emotional sweet romance with the promise of a happily ever after you’ll savor by USA Today Bestselling Author of over fifty romances. Available to read free on Kindle Unlimited.


USA Today best-selling author of over 40 books, Lyn Cote writes award-winning contemporary and historical romance. Her brand is "Strong Women, Brave Stories."

Visit her website/blog at and sign up for her newsletter. Also look for her on Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Are We As Kind to Ourselves As We Are to Others?

DEFINITION: Nurture as a verb: care for and encourage the growth or development of. "Janet was nurtured by her parents in a close-knit family." (used with object), nurtured, nurturing, to feed and protect: to nurture one's offspring; to support and encourage, as during the period of training or development; foster: to nurture promising musicians. To bring up; train; educate. Nurture as a noun: the process of caring for and encouraging the growth or development of someone or something.

When we think of nurturing, we most often think of adults caring for offspring or a horticulturist looking after a new hybrid plant. It’s difficult for many adults, especially busy or career-minded ones, to consider how well they’re nurturing themselves. Most of us have become the nurturers. We’ve devoted ourselves to children, adult children, grandchildren and our aging parents. We take care of our homes, our lawns our pets. Sometimes nurturing ourselves only amounts to eating as healthy as possible considering our time and budget, or picking up the latest craft book and a new pen.

When we nurture others, we give the very best of ourselves. Our kids get thoughtful gifts, our time and energy, and we take our senior parents to visit the sites that bring them fond memories. But how are we nurturing ourselves with the very best support?

There are plenty of meaningful ways we can nurture ourselves, not only as artists, but as human beings. A well-rounded life is one in which you are as important as others. Buy yourself something impractical, simply because it brings you joy: A new purse, a pair of leather gloves, a teapot and a collection of teas. Splurge on new bedsheets and enjoy them every night. Order a music device and subscribe to music that makes you happy. Buy a sticker book and give yourself a fun sticker every time you take care of yourself. Buy something off your wish list simply because it’s fun or beautiful. Read a book you’ve been wanting to read  -- or read your favorite book again.

The older I get, the more I have learned to make use of the best things I own. Use the good towels. Wear the expensive perfume every day. Burn the pretty candles. Put out the good dishes. Buy the yummy coffee. Use the Colors of Kindness Crayons because they’re cool and you can.

Make a note in your planner to have lunch with a friend once a month. You’d be amazed how uplifting this is, and how you will come away refreshed. Call a parent, a cousin or an aunt or uncle every Sunday evening for a month.

And don’t forget this vital encouragement: Talk to yourself the way you’d speak to a loved one. “You missed the mark this time, but you can do it; Tomorrow is a new day; Sleep on it and start fresh; Forgive yourself; You’re doing the best you can; I love you and I care.”

If we don’t foster, encourage and support ourselves, how can we expect to flourish and grow? Each one of us deserves the very best self-care we can give ourselves.


In describing Cheryl’s stories of second chances and redemption, readers and reviewers use words like, “emotional punch, hometown feel, core values, believable characters and real-life situations.” Amazon and Goodreads reviews show her popularity with readers. 

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Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Stand in the Sun - Elle Stephens

Coming home was never the plan.

Lexy Cartwright has managed her social anxiety just fine since leaving her small hometown. But when she loses her job and moves back in with her mother, she finds it the same as the day she left: same places, same gossip, same panic-inducing people. Realizing it might be the only way to get her meddling mother off her case, she agrees to one tiny blind date. After all, how hard could an hour in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon be?

Smart, handsome, Simon Barnes, was the town’s most eligible bachelor, and Lexy’s high school crush. How was she to know he’d secretly had a crush on her too? Now, Lexy must choose between her secluded and safe lifestyle and navigating the relationship minefields to find the love, friendship, and family that she has locked out for so long.

"Emotional, smart, and at times laugh-out-loud funny"

"Elle Stephens takes troubled yet lovable characters through realistic issues with charm and wit. A thoroughly enjoyable read. Treat yourself to this story.             - Cheryl St.John

STAND IN THE SUN print is on sale for $5.69. 

That's a 53% savings.


ebook also available


Elle Stephens resides on a farm by a small town in North Central Kansas with her family and a myriad of animals.

Reading has always been an essential part of her life. She loves to write poems and journals and short stories. Now, in between taxiing her children to their various activities, and managing the family businesses with her husband, she writes contemporary women's fiction, romance novels, and fantasy.

Besides reading and writing, she enjoys several creative hobbies, including nature photography, drawing and painting, baking, gardening, and soap-making. She loves giving gifts and believes the best ones come from the heart. Whether a picture or a pan of cinnamon rolls, gifts made with love touch people in ways greater than anything purchased in a store.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Chasing Dreams - Cheryl St.John

I planned this new release after Christmas while a lot of people are still home and enjoying their holiday and possibly their new eReaders. This is such a busy time of year, and in my family we have birthdays from November to January, multiplying the gift giving, the gatherings and the cakes.

 Working to be outside the norm, we celebrated my granddaughter's 13th birthday last evening with Buffalo Wild Wings and a cake created from donuts. (She's a Stranger Things fan, so that's why you might not recognize the decoration.) Tomorrow is my daughter's birthday, so I'll be whipping up her favorite angel food. We will do anything for family, won't we?

The same goes for my character, Shaine, who has lost her sister, but now believes her nephew is still alive. The things Shaine dreams come true--and she has been dreaming that little Jack is still alive. She searches out the only person who can help her--but he has made a life for himself that doesn't involve searching for missing people. She is determined to find her nephew, so what's a girl to do?

A tormented man driven to seclusion…

A relentless beauty who won’t take no for an answer…

Shaine Richards’ sister and nephew were in a car that went off a bridge into the river. Maggie’s body was the only one recovered. Searchers said Jack could have been snagged below or washed up anywhere. But when Shaine dreams of the toddler, he’s alive.

Therapists advise her to let go.

She’s tried to let go. But the dreams won’t let her.

Shaine knows Jack is alive and something terrible is about to happen to him.

The only man who can help her doesn’t want to be found—or involved. Austin Allen is a man who knows and sees more than most people will in their entire lifetimes. His mountain sanctuary is key to self-preservation. His gift holds the answers she needs. She must convince the enigmatic man to help before it’s too late.

But there’s another dark and mystifying complication...

Shaine has dreamed of Austin as well.

Two more birthdays next week, and on to New Years. Hubby and I plan to stay home and chill. I'll read a book! How about you?

You can get a copy of Chasing Dreams at your favorite retailer.


Saturday, December 03, 2022

Winter Wonderland Inn: Merry Mayweather

Come visit the Winter Wonderland Inn and get wrapped up in the holiday season.

This will be Noelle’s first Christmas alone with her younger sister Adrianna. When the manager of the Winter Wonderland Inn says she can bring her sister to work for the season, she knows it will be a holiday that will heal her sister's tender heart.

Kristopher, with a K, wants to sneeze every time he hears the jingle of holiday bells. The self-proclaimed grinch would prefer to stay in the comfort of his home and eat prepared meals until people settle down from the holiday madness. The only thing that can pull him out of his house is a phone call from an ailing uncle.

Kristopher's grumpy heart doesn't stand a chance when he joins forces with Noelle to make it a Christmas worth remembering. She's hoping the small town holiday season will bring him a gift he'll cherish long after the calendar page is turned.



If you are looking for a feel-good, happily ever after, small-town experience, I have a story for you. When I write my romance novels, the characters are inspired by the people I see on a day to day basis. Up here in what I like to call the far, far north, people work hard, live fiercely, and love knowing that they have a community behind them. When I'm not writing, I'm testing out an adventure that will end up in a book or trying a character's favorite recipe.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Christmas in the Air, sweet, small-town romance

What if you told your innermost secrets to a guy you assumed you’d never see again?

Penelope Reid owns a toy business, and meets an elusive, handsome stranger on a plane trip to Hilton Head Island. Along the way, she confesses her problems and fears, her aspirations, and unrealized goals, while she believes the man is only half-listening. She is a single mother in her late 40s, readjusting to her life after a difficult divorce, and raising a challenging twelve-year-old son.

Two months later, she comes into direct contact with Jacob Williams, the new pediatrician in town, and the man she met on the plane. Jacob knows many facts about her life. Will he use his knowledge to embarrass her, or pursue her?

As Jacob and Penelope get to know each other, Jacob relates his story—his poverty-stricken childhood, his mother’s disapproval when he left the family farm, and his recent job.

She is touched and impressed by his new goals to forego his ambitions and help people. And she is a bit envious he has decided what he wants and is going after it.

Things can only take a turn for the worse when their romance begins to develop, all under the disapproving eyes of her critical son and the small, inquisitive community who thought they knew her.

Her son is begging for a snuggly puppy for Christmas. But is he ready to assume the responsibility? And does Penelope have room in her heart for a new romance and an adorable puppy?

If you like sweet romance movies and books, then you’ll love Christmas in the Air, brimming with heartwarming holiday cheer.

A Happily-Ever-After is guaranteed.

Wrap yourself up in the uplifting joy of Christmas and fall in love with sweet, small-town romance. This is the sixth book in the beloved 1-800 home-flipping series.


Josie Riviera is a USA TODAY bestselling author of contemporary, inspirational, and historical sweet romances that read like Hallmark movies. She lives in the Charlotte, NC, area with her wonderfully supportive husband. They share their home with an adorable shih tzu, who constantly needs grooming, and live in an old house forever needing renovations.

Sign up for her newsletter and get a FREE ebook on her website:

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Sealed With Courage: Laura Scott

Risking their hearts and their lives while protecting the innocent…

Will they find the kidnapped boy in time?

Sign language teacher Aubrey Clark feels responsible when ten-year-old Lucas goes missing. She’s determined to find her deaf student and knows more than she should from reading the lips of the man involved in the boy’s disappearance. Now she’s in the killer’s crosshairs too. Aubrey has little choice but to accept Navy SEAL Mason Gray’s protection, grateful for his help in searching for Lucas.

Mason’s last op as a Navy SEAL had gone sideways, leaving him deaf in one ear and hard of hearing in the other. But he’s not going to let his handicap prevent him and his K9 scent tracker, Bravo, from rescuing a deaf child. Mason has never balked at putting his life on the line for his country or to ensure the safety of women and children. But risking his heart? That wasn’t supposed to be part of the plan . . .

From USA Today Bestselling Author Laura Scott


Laura Scott and is a registered nurse by day and an author by night. She's written 55 books for Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense as well as several indie series - Crystal Lake, Lifeline Air Rescue, The McNallys and Security Specialists, Inc. Laura Lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her husband of 35 years.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

When Characters Don’t Do What the Author Planned by Lyn Cote

Whats the author to do? To think? Well, usually I smile because that means that my characters have become REAL. Once a reader said to me, You act like these characters are real.” And I said, Within the pages of the book, they are!”

If my characters do not behave like real people with minds of their own, I havent done my work right. And readers will shut the book sooner than later. -( I think it has to do with the working of my conscious and my unconscious mind not communicating till I’m actually writing!

Early in my writing career, I began a scene where are my heroine was to drive into town to visit her grandmother's grave at the cemetery. Imagine my surprise when she started driving toward the local nursing home to visit grandma. We wrestled with the steering wheel for a few moments and then I gave in. And she was right; grandma needed to be alive. She was a major mover in the story. But who knew? My heroine did.

For my latest story, Maviss Forever Christmas, I had provided a future hero for Mavis at the end of the previous book, Ellies Forever Family. But when I began to work on the new manuscript, Mavis rejected him. And insisted that she had someone different in mind. I was flummoxed. But I had learned by then just to give in to my character.

s Forever Christmas is part of a group series called 
Puppies for Christmas” novellas. Nine sweet romance authors wrote Christmas Novellas with puppies in them and we have released one a week from October 13 through the first week of December. 

(The stories are not connected —but each has a holiday romance and one puppy or more.) My book Maviss Forever Christmas comes out the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, the 22nd. Here is the scoop.

Is falling in love only for the young?

Never married, Mavis, a retired college librarian, has made a new life for herself near her adopted” niece Ellie. Over a year ago, John lost his wife, who was Mavis's best friend for nearly forty years. He has spent the months traveling with his trailer, trying to figure out this new life. But when his only daughter Ellie faces complications with a difficult pregnancy, hes pulled back to her hometown.

Helping Ellie brings Mavis and John close once again, and new feelings and attractions spark. Maybe falling in love isnt just for the young, but is it right? Or is it a betrayal of his late wife and her best friend? By a Carol Award-winning author, this emotional, small town, family drama will touch your heart. And an adventurous little puppy will make you smile. Heres the link to click Only 99 cents.

BTW, Ellies Forever Family is half price $1.49 through Nov 30th. Click here for more info.

And I hope youll take a look at all these wonderful holiday canine stories! Click here for Ellie and here for all the puppies! Happy Thanksgiving!—Lyn Cote