Cowboys Herding Cats

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Downton Abbey Season 4 Finale

Like just about everything, Downtown Abbey’s Season 4 Finale is now available on Amazon. I looked forward to this season because it’s set in the 1920s. Bees Knees. I love the 1920s. And as Rose becomes more charming, I’m going to include her on a list of top flappers.

Downton Abbey is blessed with a costume designer of impeccable taste. Anything pre-1920 appears banished and the dresses sparkle like the optimism of the decade. In the twenties, for someone with ingenuity and determination, doors opened that had been shut before. Edith understands that she can make her own decisions and isn’t hampered by her father’s expectations. While still hoping that Michael is alive, Edith finds a way to bring her baby from Switzerland to Downton. The “pig man” will raise her without revealing her identity even to his wife. If the show continues for many seasons, I predict Edith’s fierce independence will bring the baby to the big house.

I still miss Matthew Crawley. While Tony and Charles seem likeable, I’m at the stage where they’re merely NOT MATTHEW. Sorry for shouting. I just think Mary and Matthew’s romance, and Tom and Sybil’s romance, made the show more compelling.

The juxtaposition between dying estate life and modernism carries through the season and crystalizes with the final exchange between Cora’s Mom and the Dowager. I’m paraphrasing here but Cora’s Mom explains that when she looks in the mirror, her world becomes nearer, and when the Dowager looks in the mirror, she sees a world growing farther away from her.

Here’s hoping that everything you want in the world is coming nearer to you.

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9 Lives to Live (Cool Cats Mysteries)

The cool cats who can solve mysteries without missing a nap are back in 9 Lives to Live:

Something sinister invades a shoe dealers’ convention where Grace hoped to pick up free samples. As quickly as her pumps can carry her, Grace investigates a conventioneer’s wife’s disappearance with help from Jack and their cool cats, Tatania and Zeus. The mystery leads them to an orphan train that carried New York street kids to California ranches, a switched identity, and beach caves.

9 Lives to Live(Magical Cool Cats Mysteries)

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From the Hotel del Coronado Cookbook by Beverly Bass

Smashing Citrus Cocktails

8 large oranges
6 cups chilled orange juice
8 oz. vodka
8 tsp. Grand Marnier liqueur
2 tsp. grenadine
8 strawberries, washed and dried

1. Cut a 1/2 inch slice off tops of oranges, scoop out pulp and discard. Cut a very thin slice off bottom of each orange, so it will stand upright.
2. In a pitcher, combine orange juice, vodka, Grand Marnier, and grenadine. Stir until well blended.
3. Pour into orange shells. Garnish with strawberries and serve with short straws.

Serves 8

Heart of Artichoke Salad with Walnut Oil Dressing


1 head butter lettuce
1/2 canned artichokes, drained
2 medium-size oranges
4 tbsp. minced walnuts
3 scallions (green part only), thinly sliced diagonally

Walnut Oil Dressing

1/2 cup walnut oil
1/2 cup champagne vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1. Wash and dry lettuce, then core and separate head into twelve leaves.
2. Cut artichokes into thirty-six slices.
3. Peel oranges, remove pith, and separate into twelve segments.

Whisk together all the ingredients.

Yields about 7/8 cup.

To Assemble:

1. Arrange three leaves of butter lettuce on the left side of each of four salad plates. Place nine artichoke slices on top lettuce leaves on each plate.
2. Place three orange segments on the right side of each salad plate. Sprinkle top of orange segments with minced walnuts. Sprinkle scallions on top of artichoke slices.
3. Drizzle Walnut Oil Dressing over salad.

Chocolate Souffle with Vanilla Sauce

Chocolate Souffle:
1/4 cup milk
2 oz. bitter chocolate
7 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. flour
5 egg yolks
7 egg whites

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Sprinkle inside of buttered 6-cup souffle dish (or 6 individual souffle cups) with a little sugar. Set aside.
3. In a small saucepan, combine milk, chocolate, and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Stir constantly over low heat until chocolate is melted. Set aside.
4. Melt butter in a medium-size saucepan. Remove from heat. Stir in flour and 4 tablespoons of sugar.
Gradually stir in chocolate mixture, then return to heat. Stir until mixture thickens and resembles a chocolate cream sauce. Remove from heat. Beat egg yolks into chocolate mixture, then transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
5. In a small mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff, but not dry. Add the remaining tablespoon of sugar. Beat for 30 seconds, the fold into chocolate mixture. Pour into prepared souffle dish and bake for 20 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and serve immediately with warm vanilla sauce on the side.

Serves 6.

Vanilla Sauce:
2 cups milk
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. butter
1 tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp. water

1. Bring milk to a boil; then add sugar, vanilla extract, butter, and cornstarch. Whisk over low heat until thickened.
2. Keep warm, then transfer to a serving dish before serving.

Yields 2 cups.
The Hotel del Coronado Cookbook by Beverly Bass is available at Amazon:
Hotel Del Coronado Cookbook, The

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Every Commenter is a Winner!

If you commented on the Hot Listens blog hop on this blog, you’re a winner! I’m going to send you free audiobook copies of Franklin Loves Lucy and Grace, Jack & Magical Cats Boxed Set Volume I.

Check your email. Thank you for stopping by to comment and thank you to for a great blog hop.

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Best Audiobooks of 2013 Blog Hop & Giveaway: January 1-15 is hosting a best Audiobooks of 2013 blog hop with the awesome grand prize of a six month membership to Visit for a chance to win the grand prize, read reviews, and find links to other blogs participating in the blog hop — with their own giveaways.
I was happy to find this blog hop because 2013 deepened my appreciation for audiobooks. And when I talk to people about audiobooks, it’s great to hear (no pun intended) that even with what seems like an insurmountably busy schedule, book lovers can find time to listen to a narrator tell a story — usually in the car. So never despair if it seems like you don’t have time to read because you can always find time to listen.

And here are my three picks:

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, written by James Thurber and narrrated by Ben Stiller:
Walter Mitty is a classic and timeless story about a meek man who fantasizes about being the equivalent of James Bond. Ben Stiller brings vitality to fantasy scenes and humor to reality scenes. He’s an awesome narrator.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is available at Audible:
Since this blog hop allows for picks that weren’t necessarily published in 2013, I also picked Winter Dreams and A Moveable Feast.
Winter Dreams, written by F.Scott Fitzgerald and narrated by Jay Kaplan.
From the moment a girl is described as “arrestingly beautiful” to the end of this short story, I was reminded that no one captures love as eloquently as Fitzgerald. Jay Kaplan’s narration carries the right emotion.
Winter Dreams is available at Audible:
A Moveable Feast: Restored Edition written by Ernest Hemingway and narrated by John Bedford Lloyd.
This is a restored edition of Hemingway’s delicious memoir about life in Paris during the 1920s with his first wife, Hadley, his beloved cat, Mr. Bumby, and some friends. F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Ford Maddox Ford, Gertrude Stein and Salvadore Dali are among his friends. With John Bedford Lloyd’s skilled narration, I felt transported to 1920s Paris.
A Moveable Feast: Restored Edition is available at Audible:
And I’m giving away audiobook copies of Franklin Loves Lucy, written by Mary Matthews and narrated by Lee Ann Howlett and Grace, Jack & Magical Cats Boxed Set Volume I, written by Mary Matthews and narrated by Sheila Book. This giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only. Just leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win. Wishing everyone a fabulous 2014!

Franklin finds me standing at my desk. Standing behind me, he whispers, “Lovely Lucy,” and his hands meet around my waist.
“You’re a thin girl.”
“Some would say I’m in reduced circumstances. I like to think of it as reducing circumstances.”

Lucy Mercer fell on hard times when her family lost their money. She took a job as Eleanor Roosevelt’s social secretary. Told from Lucy’s perspective, Franklin Loves Lucy is the story of a relationship that began when Franklin Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy and ended when he was President and took his last breath with Lucy by his side.

Never, ever did I feel more desired than I did during the hot summer days and nights with him. Our glorious existential world. Everyone deserves one great affair in their lives. Franklin was mine.
Franklin Loves Lucy is available at Audible:
Franklin Loves Lucy is also on Kindle:
Franklin Loves Lucy (Historical Romance Story)

Grace and Jack romp through the 1920s with magical cool cats, Tatania and Zeus, who solve mysteries without missing a nap.

In Splendid Summer, when Grace Wentworth loses her guardian and all her money, hot WWI flyboy and Pinkerton detective, Jack Brewster, gets the case. They meet on a romantic train journey from New York to California.

A white cat sat against his pillows, grooming a paw.
“Do you sleep with her?”
“No, we’re just good friends,” he replied.

In Emeralds, Diamonds and Amethysts, Grace, Jack, and magical cool cats Tatania and Zeus, race bootleggers to find an extraordinary jewel collection. Emeralds, Diamonds, and Ametheysts is about a code known only to women who fight for the rights of all women.

Grace looked at a ticket Helen held. It read: Good for one in a Pierce Arrow for the Suffragette March.

“I thought it was a march.”

“Bless your heart, Grace. When one can ride in a nice Pierce Arrow why walk? One can show one’s support from a luxury car just as well. Those with a chauffeur also serve.”In A Christmas Feral, Judge Scrooge won’t even heat his home for Christmas. Judge Scrooge says that when you pay the bill, you don’t feel the cold. When Judge Scrooge rules incorrectly in a cat dispute, magical cool cats, Tatania and Zeus, teach him the meaning of keeping Christmas and cats.

In Cher Ami, two people drop dead within minutes of each other. They appear unrelated. Grace, Jack, Tatania, and Zeus find the story of Cher Ami, a WWI carrier pigeon with the heart of a lion.

It’s not easy to get seven years of sleep in each year. Cats do their best. Since cats live seven years for each human one, naps are mandatory. Tatania, a fluffy white deaf Persian, and Zeus, a black and white with a little pink nose, were napping when the commotion began in Coronado Tent City. They sprawled across the bed’s middle.

Grace slipped on a sleeveless dress with a scalloped hemline.

“Feels a little chilly,” she said, rubbing her shoulders, “should I put on a sweater?”

“With the heat I generate, you won’t need one. Just stick close to me,” Jack said.

Grace, Jack & Magical Cool Cats Boxed Set Vol I is available at Audible:
Grace, Jack & Magical Cool Cats Boxed Set Vol I is also on Kindle:
Grace, Jack & Magical Cool Cats Mysteries Boxed Set Vol I

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God Bless America

The story behind “God Bless America” is so inherently beautiful and generous that I wanted to post it for the holidays. In the late 1930s, while Hitler gathered momentum in Europe, and Americans felt fearful for the future, popular radio star Kate Smith approached Irving Berlin. She asked if he would write a song to help restore America’s confidence and honor the 20th Anniversary of World War I’s end.

Irving Berlin told her about a song he’d written several years earlier: “God Bless America”. Irving Berlin’s family immigrated from Russia when he was a child to save their lives. Growing up in New York slums, Irving Berlin believed he could accomplish anything. Because he’d made it to America. He wrote one of the most played songs in history: “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”.

“God Bless America” resonated spectacularly with Kate Smith’s listeners and beyond. In the clip of Kate Smith introducing it above, you’ll also be watching an excerpt from the 1941 movie: You’re in the Army Now. At about 4:20, you’ll see a good looking young actor who became governor of California and then, President Ronald Reagan.

And Irving Berlin made an extraordinary decision. A gesture to love of country. He donated all the royalties to God Bless America to Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Forever. What did that gesture of love mean in monetary terms? Several million dollars.

Wishing you all the blessings of the holiday season.

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Cat Dance

While Grace, Jack, and their magical cool cats, Tatania and Zeus, race to find the guilty saboteurs, a 1920s Dance Marathon could turn deadly.

It was the kind of speakeasy where any woman who said she was alone by choice had credibility. Grace knocked on the door.

A slit in the door partiallly opened and revealed a metal grate.

“What’s the password?” A tipsy voice asked.

“Lucky Lindbergh,” she said.

She walked past men in groups that smelled like champagne and women with sparkling jewelry. And there she was, a magnificent white Persian mix, on a bar stool, paws up, lapping up a bowl of cream on the counter.

To download a copy of Cat Dance, just click on the image above or the link below:

Cat Dance

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FREE Audiobook — Charles Dickens’ Classic: A Christmas Hearth

What would Christmas be without Charles Dickens’ classics? A Christmas Hearth is the charming story of cricket who is a family’s guardian angel at Christmas. Audible is generously offering a free audiobook copy of A Christmas Hearth this holiday season. I love audiobooks that transport me to another world when I don’t have time to read.

If you’re not an Audible member, when you click on “Get it for Free” it will state “Get it for Free Without Membership” Just click on the link below for your free copy and a special message from Audible CEO Don Katz:

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Free Audiobooks Including One Narrated By Ben Stiller

Talented Ben Stiller narrates a free short story, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. James Thurber’s classic short story is about a shy, never looked at man who daydreams about being a hero. You can download it for free at
Here’s a trailer for the movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, opening on Christmas!

And you may qualify for a free audiobook copy of Grace, Jack & Magical Cats Cozy: Mystery Boxed Set Vol I ($19.95 value) You can go directly to Grace, Jack & Magical Cats Cozy Mystery Boxed Set Volume I at Audible by clicking on the link below: On the right you’ll see Free with Membership Trial and a link for Membership Details underneath it. You’re not obligated to stay a member. You may want to though! Audiobooks rock.
And you can also enjoy Franklin Loves Lucy, a Historical Romance Short Story:

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