Author Archives: Reader Service

Love Inspired Reader Luncheon Coming to Florida in January!

Love Inspired Reader Luncheon Coming to Florida in January!

Calling Love Inspired fans: Harlequin is excited to announce that our first Love Inspired Reader Luncheon will take place on January 30 in Tampa, Florida! This exclusive event will give you a chance to meet Love Inspired authors and learn about great new books you won’t want to miss—and, yes, there’s still time to get your tickets! (more…)

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Summer Salads

Dear Friend,

Summer is my favorite time of year for trying new things.  With all sorts of fruits and vegetables in season, it’s a great time to try new food.  On hot summer afternoons and warm evenings when the smell of barbequing fills the neighborhood, I get an urge for salad. And I like to try making the usual just a little bit different. Getting creative with a salad can be quite fun and surprisingly tasty.  

My summertime favorite is Caesar Salad with a Twist

  • 1 head Romaine Lettuce
  • 2 cups Fresh Basil Leaves (torn up or whole)
  • 2 cups Croutons
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • ¼ cup bacon bits (optional)
  • Your favorite Caesar dressing.

The fresh basil leaves adds another dimension to the salad that is surprising and tasty.  Perfect as a side dish or add grilled chicken breast for a complete meal.

Another favorite at our house is Chickpea Salad

  • 1 can chickpeas  (rinsed)
  • 1 tub (500 ml) mini bocconcini balls
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 1 handful of fresh basil
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small to medium clove garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Surprisingly, my kids love this salad. It’s nutritious yet yummy.

We’d love to hear from you. If you have a favorite recipe that you’d like to share, please post it here.


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Pioneering with Dorothy Clark

Dear Friends,

Read about the history of pioneering from author Dorothy Clark.

I have always been fascinated by the history of the settlement of America. But it was not until my husband and I first drove across the country, following as best we could the Oregon trail, that I gained a true understanding and appreciation of the hardship and dangers faced by those who settled the American west. Those first, brave souls to push onward into new, far western territory did so in wagons with no roads to travel on and no maps to follow.

To be a pioneer took courage, determination and stamina. The pioneers left family, friends and all of civilization behind, most never to return. They braved the unknown, crossed towering mountains and wide, raging rivers while faced with harsh weather, accidents, starvation and sickness, poisonous snakes and other deadly animals, hostile Indians and daily hardships such as eating bacon raw because there was no wood for cooking fires. When they reached their destination, after the dangerous, months-long journey, there was no surcease of toil, no time to rest. They were surrounded by wilderness and, often, Indians who did not want them settling on their land. They had to quickly build homes for protection against the weather or attack, and prepare fields and plant crops to ward off starvation in the coming year. For many years, there was no military to come to the rescue if things heated up and hostilities broke out. The western pioneers were completely on their own.

What utter, awe-inspiring courage and strength of character was needed to undertake such a journey. The pioneers of the west were true heroes and heroines. As were those who traveled on, braving the incredible hardships and harsh elements of the weather of the far Alaskan frontier.

- Dorothy Clark

Gold Rush Baby is available now! In July, don’t miss Frontier Father.

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Family Game Night!

Dear Friends,

Do you have a family game night?  In our house we have Family Friday Game Night! It’s a special evening that we all look forward to at the end of a long and tiring week. The computers, television and phones are off while we play everything from Charades to Trivia Pursuit and anything in between. A favorite in our house is Cribbage. If you’ve ever played, I’m sure you know just how fun Cribbage is. If not, it’s never too late to learn.

Traditionally, it’s played with a Cribbage Board and a standard deck of 52 cards with the jokers removed.  Players cut for first deal. She who cuts the lowest (ace is the lowest card and counts as one) gets to deal first.  Dealer shuffles and deals the card to each person (or team) one at a time. For two players (or teams) each is dealt 6 cards. For three or four players, each is dealt five cards. In the case of 3 players, a single card is placed face down in front of the dealer to start the crib.

Once the cards have been dealt, each player keeps four cards and discards the remaining cards face down to form the crib and is later used by the dealer so a good strategy is important. At this point, each player and the crib should have four cards.

The player on the dealer’s left cuts the remaining deck, and the dealer reveals the top card, called the “starter”, leaving it face up on the deck. If this card is  a Jack, the dealer scores two points for “his nibs”.

Players each have two pegs that mark their current and previous scores. All scoring is done by moving the back peg ahead of the front peg.

The play starts with the player on the dealer’s left and continues clockwise. Each player lays one card in turn onto the table so it’s visible stating the cumulative value of the cards played. (For example; the first player plays a 3 and says “three”, the next plays a 4 and says “seven” and so on…) Face cards are worth ten and aces are worth one. Play must not exceed 31. A player who cannot place a card without bringing the total over 31, passes. The other players continue to lay cards in turn without exceeding 31 until no cards can be played. The last player to lay a card scores two points if 31 is reached saying “31 for two”, otherwise one point is scored for anything other than 31, known as “one for the go”. The count is then reset to zero and play resumes, with the player to the left of the last card played. Players with cards remaining repeat the process until all cards have been played.

In addition to scoring one or two points for the last card, players score points according to the following rules:

  • fifteen-two
    • two points for a cumulative total of exactly fifteen (“fifteen for two”)
  • runs
    • three points for completing a run of three cards, regardless of the order in which they are laid (a 6, then a 4, then a 5 is a run of three even though they were not laid in order)
    • four points for completing a run of four
    • five points for completing a run of five
  • pairs
    • two points for laying a card of the same rank as the previous card, thus completing a pair
    • six points for laying a third card of the same rank (a “pair royal” or “trips”)
    • twelve points for laying a fourth card of the same rank (a “double pair royal” or “quad”)

If a card completes more than one scoring combination, then all combinations are scored. For example, if the first three cards played are 5s, the third one scores eight points: two for making 15, and six for a pair royal. Card combinations cannot span a reset; once the total reaches 31 and counting has re-started at zero, cards already played cannot contribute to runs or pairs.

Once the play is complete, each player in turn receives points based on the content of their hand. Starting with the player on the dealer’s left, players spread out their cards on the playing surface and calculates their score based on these four cards and the starter card:

  • fifteen-twos
    • two points for each separate combination of two or more cards that total exactly fifteen
  • runs
    • three points for a run of three consecutive cards (regardless of suit)
    • four points for completing a run of four
    • five points for completing a run of five
  • pairs
    • two points for a pair of cards of a kind
    • six points for three cards of a kind (known as a “pair royal”, comprising three distinct pairs)
    • twelve points for four cards of a kind (a “double pair royal”, comprising six distinct pairs)
  • flush
    • four points for a flush, where all four cards in the hand are of the same suit, with an additional point if the starter card is also of that suit. It is only a flush in the crib if all five cards, the four in the crib and the starter card, are of the same suit.
  • nibs
    • one point for holding the Jack of the same suit as the starter card (“… his nibs”)

The dealer scores his hand last and then turns the cards in the crib face up. These cards, in conjunction with the starter card, are scored by the dealer as an additional hand. The rules for scoring the crib are the same as scoring a hand.

Players can maximize scoring by strategically playing each card based on scoring scheme.

The first player to reach 121 wins the game.

Have fun!

We’d love to hear from you. Post a description of your family’s favorite game.  Next month we’ll post another fun game.

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Keeping your furry friend’s teeth healthy and strong

Did you know that dental disease is one of the most common health problems for cats and dogs? Poor oral hygiene in pets is associated with a number of health risks. Unhealthy gums can result in loose or sore teeth and difficulty eating. Gingivitis is a bacterial infection that, when left untreated, can move under the gum line and infect the teeth at their roots causing; bad breath excessive drooling, loose or missing teeth and much worse if left untreated.

Tips to keeping your furry friend smiling:

  • Feed them dry food.
  • Avoid feeding them people food.
  • Make tooth brushing part of your pet’s weekly routine.  Working toward 3 – 5 times a week is ideal.
  • Use pet biscuits to help reduce plaque build-up

If your pet is stubborn like my dog and cat, Charlie and Jack, who refuse to let me brush their teeth; there are special products that can be added to their water which can help reduce plaque build-up. Visit your veterinarian or local pet store for products and information on keeping your pet’s teeth healthy.

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