Monday, August 24, 2015

Fall is crafting time!

Yes, I like to craft characters for my stories, but I also like to flip an old worn out item into a sensational piece of furniture or decoration.

For the past week some friends from the armpit of Indiana visited our northern climate. Carol is a wonderful floral designer, so when we get together we merge both of our loves (mine is painting and metal decor art) to create sometime memorable.

During this visit we converted a chair into pumpkin decorations.

At a yard sale I purchased a chair like this for $1.00...
It was broken and had water stains on all of the legs.

Tom (Carol's husband) dismantled the parts.
We took the legs and added a stem to the top.

Then I painted pumpkins on the slats.
I wanted mine to be framed inside...I'll change it out to have a Christmas Tree...

Carol wanted hers to take up the entire back of the chair frame. I'm adding a photo, but you can't see it very well...and I didn't get a better shot before she left. You get the idea though...

I hope you like the pumpkins...we carved...for this fall. We had a nice visit and the crafts are beautiful.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Daisy Banks... Christmas Carols

Christmas Carols Blog Tour.

Thank you, jj, for your kind offer to help me celebrate the release of my new book Christmas Carols, published by Liquid Silver Books on the 10th of August.       
I know readers might think it a little odd to be thinking about Christmas in August but in Victorian England, where my story is set, people were used to starting their Christmas preparations early. One of the things I love about this era is the ingenuity of so many of its entrepreneurs.
The Christmas Card is one of those things designed and produced in this era. First used by Sir Henry Cole and illustrated by John Callcott Horsley in London on the 1st of May 1843 this proved to be a money spinner for generations of illustrators, poets, designers and producers. Cole had introduced the Penny Post in the UK. With the Christmas card he gave people a reason to use it for more than letters.
Victorian Christmas cards are often sentimental and the best of them in my opinion are self-made. This is a tradition which is delightful to follow. You send your friend not a bought card with a print out of the family’s doings in the last eleven months but a personal greeting card. You can, of course buy templates for cards but the very best ones are those with original designs and messages. If you intend to send many cards and don’t want to have to buy them I would suggest you start early.  I love the snowy street scene as a basis for a card because the possibilities of making it all your own are endless.
Being in mourning Alice Broadbrace, my heroine in Christmas Carols doesn’t send cards. It would be unseemly for a widow to celebrate anything. As can be seen from this excerpt, Victorian life as a widow often proved an obstacle course to avoid scandalizing the community.

“Mrs. Broadbrace!”
She turned and smiled at the vicar. “Good evening, Mr. Francis. Do you wish to speak with me?”
“Indeed. A splendid recital, don’t you agree?”
“Oh, yes. Thrilling.”
“I want to thank you, Mrs. Broadbrace, for your work with the floral displays. They have been superb.”
She smiled. “I’m glad you approve of them. You are quite happy with the accounting from the wholesaler?”
“I am. The committee agreed last night it is a modest sum to pay for such exquisite work. They have also charged me to inform you they wish to offer you a quarterly sum in recompense for your efforts.”
“Oh, that is gratifying, sir. I’d be most grateful.”
“Indeed, but we’ll keep the information to ourselves, we don’t want any tittle-tattle about it.”
She sighed. Every aspect of her life seemed tinged with the threat of gossip. “Of course.”
“Are you on your way to take tea?”
“No, sir. Not unaccompanied. I’m afraid it might raise eyebrows.”
“Then, Mrs. Broadbrace, join me as my guest for tea.”
“That is kind of you, but I think I’ll make my way home now. I’ll be back here tomorrow, sir, and leave you some of my suggestions for the seasonal floral displays.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Broadbrace. Good evening.”
“Good evening.” She made her way to the church door and out into the darkness. The streetlamps flicked and the November wind, brutal as any bully, shoved at her skirt and scoured her cheeks. All the way home, as she trod the low-lit street, she hummed snips of the music that had lifted her heart.
What a wonderful evening. Next week, she would attend again.

Stephen Grafton, the blind organist at Holy Trinity Church, is gaining a reputation for his fine playing and compositions. Alice Broadbrace’s initial venture back into society after years in deep mourning brings her to the notice of the talented organist, and he offers her the opportunity to sing a solo carol to his accompaniment. His courage convinces her to find her own, while her charm entices him into thoughts of romance. A difficult walk in a snow storm is only the beginning of Stephen and Alice’s journey to happiness. Enjoy this sweet Victorian tale of talent and love blossoming.

Thanks for reading
Daisy Banks

Find Daisy Banks here
Twitter @DaisyBanks16

Buy Links
Barnes and Noble

Daisy Banks is the author of
Soon to be available with Liquid Silver Books Serving the Serpent
Christmas Carols
Marked for Magic
To Eternity
A Perfect Match
Valentine Wishes
A Gentleman’s Folly
Your Heart My Soul
Fiona’s Wish
A Matter of Some Scandal
Daisy’s books are available here
Daisy Banks writes a regular monthly story in the Sexy to Go compilations.
Attribution for Snowy Street scene

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Dog Treat Recipe

As I sit on my front porch I see nothing but rain I'm going inside to bake some treats. People food for dogs…yep. I have some healthy dog-treat recipes for you.
Since many dog treats are inferior, and it continues to rain every day in the mid-west, I’ve been baking my own dog treats. I’ll share two recipes with you…my Sheltie gobbles both of them. Our little Riley doesn’t like the ultra healthy carrot bites. She’s more of a junk-food-snack-food type dog. Do all rescue dogs prefer people food? Maybe because they survived by eating table scraps? She enjoys the Snicker-Poos listed below.
1 ½ cups oat flour
1 ½ cups rice (or rye) flour
2 t cinnamon
1 egg
¼ cup honey (I used raw because our Sheltie has allergies and raw honey helps).
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup water
Wheat Germ
photo 2
Preheat oven 375F. Combine all ingredients together and mix thoroughly in a large bowl. Spoon mixture out(use an ice cream scoop for consistency) and roll into balls, place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with wheat germ, then flatten with a fork, which will also add decorative lines. Cookies can be placed close together as they don’t expand. Bake 18-22 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely on a wire rack, then store at room temperature in a loosely covered container.

Canine Carrot Cookies (Katie Merwick recipe)
2 cups carrots—boiled and pureed
2 eggs
2 Tbsp minced garlic (next time I’ll use less, this was very strong)
2 Cups unbleached all purpose flour (or rice or rye flour)
1 cup rolled oats
¼ cup wheat germ
photo 1
Combine carrots, eggs, and garlic. Mix until smooth. Add dry ingredients. Roll out on a heavily floured surface and cut into bars or desired shapes. Bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes or to desired crunchiness. The centers will continue to harden as they cool.
Note: Brush with egg whites before baking for a glossy finish.

There you go. Please let me know what you think of the recipe.
Warning: The Snicker-Poos smell so good people might eat them if they are not labeled.
jj Keller
Fantasies with spice and humor.
Last Chance at Love (coming soon)

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