We’ve been planting for a few weeks now. Just added some zucchini, lemon cucumbers, more tomatoes, and some pumpkin seedlings that my dad gave me. Had to zap the zucchini and the cucumbers with organic bug spray (sounds weird, right?); hoping it works because I’m tired of my veggies getting eaten.
But before I show you the garden, here is my bulb bed – very happy with how it turned out!
The bulb bed…
The iris area the newest up. The daffodils are gone, as are the tulips; the freesia (red, in the foreground) seem to hang around the longest, and are definitely the most fragrant.
A spider daffodil (?).
Aren’t these sweet?
The hubs snuck some dainty tulip bulbs into my bed…pretty, isn’t it?
Here, though, is the star of the garden – the first to be picked for consumption, and the first to be done for the year.
Yep – it’s artichoke season!
See the baby artichoke, right below the bigger one? Yeah. We’ve got nine artichoke plants. Nine. That’s a lot of artichokes…
Below are the pumpkin plants my dad grew from seed. Not giant pumpkins, just regular ones – it’s gonna be interesting to see if we actually get some pumpkins this year!
Dad’s pumpkins, planted too close together. Oh well!
When they start vining, we’ll train the vines out into the yard.
The potato bed. Yum!
Potatoes are the easiest thing to grow. Once a potato in your pantry (or fridge, or wherever) starts budding, cut it up so each bud gets a chunk of potato, and toss them in the ground, bud side facing up. I planted these about a month ago.
Here’s a mixed bed that we planted last fall – kale to the left (the insects leave the kale alone), boysenberry in the back (though Tom tried to dig that out, it’s hard to dig berries out all the way), and beets in the front. Almost time to pull the beets, the berries haven’t started flowering yet, and I’m cooking with the kale right now.
So, that’s the highlight of the garden. What do you think?
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Wine Friday is mostly about the bargain. I’m always on the lookout for wines that are tasty, easily available, and won’t break the bank. Below is my honest opinion of the wines I buy and drink; they are all available for under ten dollars, unless specified. (My rating system is at the very bottom of this post.)
Today, I’ve got two whites, for the white wine lovers in the crowd (and I know there are many!).
Creme de Lys Chardonnay 2012 Sonoma, California Alcohol Content, 13.5% by Volume. $7.99 on sale at Vons
On the Label: “Slow down, exhale and enjoy this rich, creamy Chardonnay. You deserve it! Our Winemaker chose California vineyards that yield incredibly lush flavors of tropical fruit, baked apple and citrus. Sur lie aging gives this wine its soft, creamy style. Aging nine months, primarily on French oak, adds hints of vanilla and creme brulee on the finish, making this wine the perfect reward at the end of your day.”
My Take: For those of you who love the new “naked” Chardonnays, i.e., a Chardonnay that doesn’t have that big, buttery 1990s flavor, relax. Even though this wine is aged in French oak, it’s got a nice richness to it that does not harken back to those big, buttery days. As well, those of you who MISS those big, buttery Chardonnays, take heart. This has the creaminess that many of the newer, “steel” Chardonnays could never have. A little bit of the old style in a new, creamy flavor. Excellent with chicken, or a creamy pasta.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable Plus ~ It’s not quite up to my Very Drinkable standard, but it will definitely fill the bill when you need a white wine for dinner OR for sipping. It’s versatile and very mouth-friendly. Enjoy!
Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc, 2013 Napa, California Alcohol Content, 13% by Volume. On sale for $6.99 at Vons.
On The Label: (Front) “Our historic winery is perched on a hillside overlooking the picturesque vineyards beneath Geyser Peak Mountain.” (Back) “Founded in 1880 by pioneering winemaker Augusts Quitzow, Geyser Peak Winery became California’s 29th bonded winery, and sits in the heart of Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley. Our Sauvignon Blanc, with fresh fruit character and balanced acidity, comes from a diversity of rugged, coastal-influenced growing regions. We seal our Sauvignon Blanc with a screwcap to ensure all of the delicate aromatics and flavors captured at the winery are delivered to you in the bottle – enjoy!
“Taste profile: Crisp and refreshing, with flavors of lime, grapefruit, honeydew melon and lemongrass.
“Suggested pairings: Fantastic with Asian food, especially Thai and sushi. Also great with salads, oysters, shellfish and grilled seafood.”
My Take: Whew. That’s a label that says a mouthful, plus tells you not only how to taste it but what to serve it with. Kinda pushy, don’t you think? Or maybe that’s just me. Anyhoo – despite the pushiness of the label, I really enjoyed this wine with the crab quiche I’d made. It’s definitely crisp and clean, and I wouldn’t hesitate to take it to any spring or summer party. Definitely prefer it with seafood.
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ And at that price, stock up on a few bottles. You never know when you’ll need a terrific wine.
What are you drinking? I’d love to know. Until next time – Cheers!
My Rating System: Undrinkable; Barely Drinkable; Drinkable; Very Drinkable; and the ever-popular “Stay Away! This is MY wine, you Slut!” All opinions are my own. You’re welcome, lol.
I’ve been tagged by the fantastic Jami Gray to participate in this blog hop that introduces you to writers you may not know, and gives a little insight into each person’s writing process.
Jami is the author of the Kyn Kronicles, tales of the supernatural hiding in the shadows of the mundane world. I was supposed to tag 3 more people, but I couldn’t find any who hadn’t already participated and/or were already doing too many blogs, so there’s that…but you can check out Jami, and the other two writers that she tagged – Michelle Miles and Julian West.
Here are the four questions I was given.
What am I working on?
Whooo boy, that’s a doozy. I’m currently working on a YA novel set in the world of ballet; a contemporary romance series built around the StarTide Agency, straddling the music world and Hollywood; plus another series that hasn’t yet been accepted. Oh, and I really need to get book 3 done of the paranormal romance Caine Brother’s series. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. And this doesn’t even touch the plays I’m working on!
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
What makes any one book different from another? The author’s voice. I like to think that even across genres, when you pick up one of my novels, you can tell it’s my voice that wrote it.
To retrieve his soul, she’ll become fire…
Why do I write what I write?
I write paranormal romance because I can let my imagination take flight (and it can get pretty dark in there, lol). I write YA because I love teens, and I can tap into my own teen years with no problem whatsoever. And I write contemporary romance because I’m a total sucker for happy ever after – and yes, I do believe in it. I’ve been escaping into books since I was a child, and reading Harlequin romances since my early teens. Having a writer as a father and a storyteller for a mom, writing my own books seemed to be the best thing in the world.
How does my writing process work?
I am a pantser (I write by the seat of my pants) with a pretty solid idea of where I’m going in the story. While I don’t plot the whole book before I start, I usually know what I want to happen, plus some of the highlights (and low points), and the ending – though sometimes the ending can be foggy until I get there. First chapters are critical and in my first novel, Demon Soul, I rewrote that first chapter probably ten times after the book was finished (a couple of times, that meant a rewrite of the first three chapters to get details to have the right continuity). So, I have to say my writing process is as messy as my desk. Which is pretty messy.
Thanks so much for dropping by. Hope you have a terrific week!
I swiped this from Kat’s website!
I am thrilled to have Kat Martin on Writer Wednesday. Kat and her husband, Larry, have been friends with my parents for many years, so it was of particular wonderfulness to be able to go see them and have lunch with them last month.
Left to Right, Julia Blake, me, Kat, and Tonya Plank – a lovely lunch!
Let’s jump right in to the interview, shall we?
CA: They say every writer remembers when they got “the call” (or the letter) for publication. Would you share your story?
Kat: I was sitting in a restaurant with my hubby and my 3 best friends. Agent called. Said I had sold my book. She said I got 4. Since I had been turned down by every other publisher in New York, I assumed that meant $400.00 I didn’t care. As far as I was concerned, my career was launched. Later I found out it was $4,000! Which was a whole lot better since we really needed the money!
CA: Wow! That’s totally awesome. What is the hardest part of writing for you? Characters? Story? Sagging middle? What’s the easiest part?
Kat: There is no easy part. Characters seem to take care of themselves, so that isn’t tough for me. I worry about saggy middles. I worry about making all the pieces and parts come together in a way that makes sense. I don’t relax until I reach the end and know I actually have a book.
CA: Wow – I was so hoping for an easy part! What was the best decision, writing-wise, that you ever made?
Kat: Remains to be seen. I’ve changed publishers, agents, editors, many, many times. Always with the idea of moving forward, moving my career ahead. They were all tough decisions and there is no real way to know if they were the right ones. At least not yet!
CA: So maybe it’s continuing to write? What was the worst decision, writing wise, that you ever made?
Kat: Probably leaving Pocket Books. They really wanted to make me a star and they had the power to do it. Trouble was, they were really difficult to work for. It was affecting my health and my creativity, so I moved somewhere else. Lost a great chance.
CA: But you have your health, and your creativity, so maybe you didn’t lose anything?You’ve written and had published over 60 novels, many of which landed on the NYT Bestseller list. Is getting on the list still as exciting now as it was the first time you hit it?
Kat: It’s just as exciting for sure! And you never know if you are going to hit so it makes you edge-of-your-seat nervous. Thrilling when it happens.
CA: Do you have a ritual that you do before you begin writing each day?
Kat: As with most women, my ritual starts with coffee, showering, make-up, hair, and getting dressed. Then I do my email, check in on Facebook, then start working on my novel. I go over what I wrote the day before and charge forward.
CA: I guess what I’m really asking is, do you ever procrastinate from writing, or do you just jump right in?
Kat: No way to procrastinate if you have a contract. You don’t get paid if you don’t deliver, so if you plan to pay your bills, you go to work, just like any other job.
CA: Well, yeah, that’s totally true! You live part time in California, and the rest of the time in Montana. In five sentences or less, what are the highlights of both places?
Kat: I live in the two of the best places in the world. In California, it’s all sunshine and blue skies. I live on one of the harbor channels so I get to watch the boats go in and out all day. Seals come up to our dock. In Montana, beautiful mountains, rugged landscape. It’s a hard life, nothing like the beach. 70 mile round trip to the show. But the wilderness is exhilarating. Lots of wildlife, eagles, deer, Osprey. You can be in the high mountains in about 5 minutes. Whoops, that’s more than 5 sentences!
CA: Oh, that’s okay – like I’d edit you, lol! So, do you go to writers’ conferences, readers’ conferences, or both? Why or why not?
Kat: I go to both. I don’t like to fly or I would go to more of them. I do it, but don’t like it. My husband goes with me. We usually hit RT, RWA, Western Writers of America. I love Thrillerfest but its usually close to RWA, so I try to alternate.
CA: How big a role does social media play in your marketing strategies?
Kat: Since I don’t understand how to use it, not a lot. I have a Facebook page. I’m on it. I don’t understand the likes and all of that. I don’t have any idea how that works.
CA: LOL – well, I can aim you at classes in Facebook if you want! So is marketing your novels now much different than when you first started?
Kat: It’s totally different. We traveled the country talking to book buyers. There were 1200 at the time. Now there are about 5 and you can’t get in to see them. And digital plays a new and extremely important role.
CA: Wow, I had no idea. Do you feel the marketplace is now more open for new writers, or is it more difficult, with the advent of self-publishing?
Kat: Way more difficult for newbies and for writers published in print. New authors are buried in the hundreds of thousands of old and new books (particularly in romance) that are being put up as e-books. Established authors have a thousand times more competition.
CA: Ouch. What do you wish someone had told you when you first started writing?
Kat: Nothing anyone said would have mattered. I would have just kept on going, even if someone told me how hard it was going to be. It’s a calling for some of us…a compulsion that seems to have no end.
CA: Oh yeah, I totally resemble that. So what is your favorite genre to read?
Kat: Romance is my fav. I read across a lot of different genres, though. A good book is a good book. Period.
CA: Can you read fiction when you’re in the first draft of a novel, or do you stick to non-fiction? Because “they” say you shouldn’t read in the category you’re writing in while you’re writing…
Kat: I constantly read. Anything and everything. Little things pop into my head as I move through a story, things the author is doing that remind me of things I need to be doing. Movies, TV, books. All are great for ideas.
CA: Awesome! Okay, now for some quickies…
Cake or pie? Pie!
Seafood or beef? BEEF!
Coffee or tea? Coffee
Hugs or kisses? I love kissing, but it depends on whose doing it! Hugs are almost always good.
Potatoes or dessert? Rice
Peeps or Cadbury Eggs? Cadbury.
CA: Anything else you want to talk about?
Kat: A little advice? If you want to be a writer, keep writing and don’t let anyone stop you. Persistence is the key.
Find me at:
My website ; Facebook ; and Twitter is @luvromance.
A novella, only 99 cents!
Against the Heart, a novella is out in e-book only for $.99 cents.
Devil’s Prize, historical, just re-issued with a gorgeous new cover.
AGAINST THE WILD, my next Against novel, is out May 27th
I’m so GLAD Kat could stop by! I’m hoping she’ll hang out today and answer questions, if you’ve got them for her.
Until next time – happy reading!
Hey, all! It’s been a long time, but Wine Fridays are back! I’m always on the lookout for wines that are tasty, easily available, and won’t break the bank. Below is my honest opinion of the wines I buy and drink; they are all available for under ten dollars, unless specified. (My rating system is at the very bottom of this post.)
Belle Ambiance Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 Manteca, CA Usually $9.99, on sale for $6.99 at Vons; Alcohol 13.0% by Volume
On The Label: “Belle Ambiance is a beautiful spot nestled in one of our family vinehards. During our 80 years of winemaking, we’ve enjoyed many perfect moments here under the shade of its ancient oak tree relaxing, watching the sun set, and basking in the moment with friends and a glass of wine. We created this luscious, rich, indulgent Cabernet Sauvignon to share that feeling with you.” BelleAmbianceVineyards.com
MyTake: I liked that the label wasn’t too into wine-babble; it struck me as a family-friendly label, lol. However, this was a meh wine to me. Either it hasn’t reached its peak yet (being a 2012), or it has passed its peak; it wasn’t memorable for being big and rich, nor was it past its prime. This is a new wine to me, and maybe I just need to try it again. For the price, and maybe for a second bottle at dinner, it’s fine and won’t upset anyone; but it’s nothing to brag about, either.
They’re owned by the Delicato Family Vineyards, and have a raft of wines under $10: for more on them, go here.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ Though there are other, more enjoyable wines out there for the same price.
Rosenblum Cellars Vintner’s Cuvee XXXV Zinfandel Sonoma, CA Usually $13.99, on sale $6.79 at Vons; Alcohol 14.5% by Volume
On the Label: Zinfandel is our signature wine, and with rich and layered flavors, it’s an excellent introduction to the Rosenblum Cellars style of wine making. We designate an anniversary number to each Zinfandel Cuvee blend, honoring our history with ‘America’s Heritage Grape’. Kick back around the table and enjoy this wine’s intense and robust flavors. Notes of blackberry, wild raspberry and cassis make it a delicious complement to hearty pasta and barbecue dishes.” rosenblumcellars.com
My Take: This was a lovely Zinfandel blend that perfectly accompanied the honey-balsamic pulled pork sliders I made last weekend. Its richness cut through the sweet-sour of the pork, and worked well with the purple cabbage Asian slaw side dish. It is most definitely a wine you want to sip with dinner, or at least with snacks, either in front of a fire (for those of you buried in snow back east) or while watching the sun set (for us west coast types). It feels young, still, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it ages. (Ha! As if I can keep a bottle that long…!)
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ Especially at this price (which I’m guessing won’t be long, since it’s such an odd price point)! As soon as my paycheck clears, I’ll be grabbing a couple more bottles of this, just in case we grill some steaks this weekend.
What are you drinking these days? Does the weather outside change what you’re drinking inside? Sound off, and let me know.
Until next time – Cheers!
My Rating System: Undrinkable; Barely Drinkable; Drinkable; Very Drinkable; and the ever-popular “Stay Away! This is MY wine, you Slut!” All opinions are my own. You’re welcome, lol.