2 Blondes, 1 Redhead & a Reviewer

Archive for the category “Welcome”

My favorite things….

I’m a loyal person. If you’re my friend, I’ll go to the matt for you.  It’s just who I am.  That said. I’m loyal to certain products.  Mr. Clean for one.  I think I’ve had a fantasy about a bald guy with an earring.  A pirate, in my then, young eyes.  So this is my top five product, movie and gadget loyalties


Mr Clean.  Lysol (old school here, nothing works better on bacteria) including the blue toilet bowl cleaner. It gets out hard water stains.  End dust; Cleans and shines with less elbow grease.   OxyClean or dishwasher detergent, I can get any stain out with that stuff.

Personal grooming products.  L’Oreal color is the tops and I’ve tried all on the public market.  All.  I won’t mention the professional stuff, since you cannot buy it without a license, but know there is a difference.  It’s why you pay more to have it done in a salon.  Add to this list Bare Essentuals make up.  It feels like nothing on your face and in the deep south, ten minutes on a hot day and it’s a total waste of makeup except for BE.  Hempz body lotion. Yes, its made from cannabis, an untapped resource, imo.  It’s the bomb for moisturizing. I can feel the lotion still working when I’m in the shower!  I’ll be trying the shampoo and conditioner this week.  The last two are Nectafirm.  It’s a dermatologist product and I wish it came in gallons.  It firms and smoothes the neck better than anything I’ve tried.  City Lips. It’s a lip plumping and it works, but bet prepared for the price tag.  $35 in some places.

Gadgets: my Electronic cigarettes.  I haven’t quit completely but I have cut down to about 5 cigs a day. I had quit. Actually I’ve quit four times, but don’t let anyone tell you the E cig will help you quit smoking. It won’t.  I could go right back in a heart beat and its only will power that keeps me on the electronic and breathing easier.  My advice, try a disposable for a couple weeks to see if you like it.  Then, get some cartridges and refill with the liquid.  it won’t be economical without refills.  the market is raising the prices.

My new Hamilton Beech Scoop coffee maker.  It makes super hot coffee in ninety seconds.  Can’t beat that.  No K cups, no stagnant water in a tank and cleans up easily.   I’m a coffee snob, so it’s the best for me.  I’m not into making more trash just for a cup of Joe.

My washer.  I know I know, a stupid choice but I have a large capacity Kenmore and if you need to beat clothes clean like my husbands, this is the machine.  It has three agitators.  One tip; I bought the display model that had a dent in the side for $400 less than its sale price.

Google Nexus.  I received on for Christmas when I could not get a book I wanted to read in print.  That just angered me too much and Bob gave me the Nexus. It’s fun to play on but for anything more, not so much.  Reading a digital book is the same as reading a print one, the pages clear and turn with a swipe.

Soda Stream. Yes, that one.  It’s great. Every flavor you can imagine and it works well.  We no longer have bags of cans for recycle and that you can make any flavor is just fun. They have a diet Orange like Crush but all the SS diets sodas are made with Splenda.  A huge plus too me.  I can’t have aspartame.  It makes my joints hurt.  My son Zack just likes the fizzy so he has a blast.  They also have a pink grapefruit that tastes like Fresca.

When it comes to favorite top movies, I had to think about this.  What movie will you watched repeatedly?  For me it’s The Goonies, Dead Again, Kingdom of Heaven, Practical Magic and just about anything Supernatural.  I was a Stephen King fan in my younger years so I think his work instilled that love of the weird and strange for eternity. Thanks Stephen.

Got a top five?


And the Oscar goes to…

I can’t give an accurate prediction simply because I haven’t seen the movies.

So.. cross my palm with silver, booblishkah, and I will give my predictions.

Best picture—Agro.  I love Ben Affleck and his movies.  Also I’m pissed at the Oscars for not nominating him for Best Director.

Best Actor—Daniel Day Lewis or Hugh Jackman will get it, but I feel Bradley Cooper deserves it.  Silver linings playbook hasn’t been done 20 times in film already.   I could die happy without another remake of Les Miz….

Best Actress—Jennifer Lawrence.  I want her to win simply because she’s down to earth and adorable.  But I’m betting that French actress Emanuelle, who has never won or been nominated in her 50 year career will get it for those reasons alone.

Best supporting actress—I’d love to see Sally Field win.  Yes! We still like you!

Best supporting actor—Alan Arkin.

Best Director— Spielberg  for Lincoln


Now blog readers….if you’re out there–what are your predictions?

My Bucket List


Don’t have one and never really thought on it long enough to get weird about it.

But if forced– top on this list would be to visit Ireland and India.   Ireland, for the simple fact I’ve written a half dozen books set there and have never seen it.   I’d like to match up the places I created from research to the real thing.  And for once, stand in a spot I’d had a character stand.  That would be just surreal.  Of course, spending a night in a castle or manor would add to the mystic of the land.

As to India, I’ve always wanted to visit.  I’m talking for 25 years at least. I don’t know what draws me but I want to learn more and being there would, in this writer’s opinion, do it.  But the need is not so pressing and that could be because the reality of it is slipping away.

I’m not a writer who feels I must take a research trip to write a book. Mostly because I was never paid enough to do that and I’m far too practical.   My advances went to pay bills and help buy our house, so giving up thousands for a trip for a book just wasn’t in the cards.  I could always find something we needed as a family as opposed to what I needed as a writer.  And let me say right here, no writer needs a research trip.  I’ve never been to Ireland but have written about the land and customs.  (Ask me anything about the1169 Invasion) I received a letter from a young woman who was from Donegal and she praised me for bringing her part of Ireland to life so well it made her homesick.  That was one of the greatest compliments I’ve received.  Job done.

I have things I’d like to do but not Bucket worthy.   At this moment, it’s to write a great book.  Not just a good one, but one that evokes controversy, new thoughts, debates… a memorable book.

With that in mind, I’m off to write it.


Are you THAT star??

No, I don’t think I resemble any TV or movie star.  However, after returning to the US of A after six years on Okinawa on a flight in California, I was wearing a beautiful fur coat my husband had given me.  I didn’t trust it to be packed and shipped, so I had little choice. (Let’s not get into a fur coat in the tropics. I won’t wear it unless the temps drop below 40) In the airport, rushing ahead to get a luggage cart, people started pointing and some followed me. I grab the cart and am heading back to my young family when three people rushed forward, asking if I was Sigourney Weaver.  Really, I thought.  She’s six feet tall.  I’m five three and that’s pushing it.  She’s an Amazon; I’m short and slightly dumpy.  Granted I was wearing heels that made me appear taller, but I wanted to ask if they’d seen a photo of the star lately.  They didn’t see the two little boys with me?  Or my US Marine husband in uniform?

It occurred a couple more times, once on the street and another in a restaurant.  The only similarity I could see was the red hair, maybe the face shape and perhaps that I was wearing that Norwegian blue fox fur and looking a bit more glamorous that the average mom who’d just spent 13 hours on a jet with two antsy boys. Tourists want to see the stars and made me fit the bill.  And they stretch that fantasy to include me.  Still amuses the heck out of me.  By the way, my husband was clueless as who they meant until I mentioned the Alien movies.  Then he just laughed.


Merry Christmas, y’all Amy

Good Teacher, Bad Teacher

I’ve had a few, like everyone else.

Bad teacher was Miss Cauble in the third grade.  She was the worst teacher I’ve ever encountered. She left a lasting impression and not a good one.  While teaching multiplication she would say ‘Two Times Two.’  I was learning to tell time and kept looking at the clock, confused.  If she had said multiply, then my 3rd grade mind would have eventually understood. But she used two different terms and the ADD dyslexic child could not understand.  So instead of explaining it right she called me stupid and put me in a room between classrooms.  She yelled at me (though teaching was HER job) called me dumb and actually spanked me when I didn’t understand her points.  I was scared. What had I done to make her angry and talk to me this way? The entire class saw it, and when I was released from my prison, I refused to go back.  I hid behind the door and just cried, feeling and thinking I was stupid.  A boy, David Davenport found me behind the door, comforted me and told me that she was wrong.  He was my hero but I was so ashamed that I walked home in tears. Never told my parents either since I thought I’d be blamed and the teacher was right. Thirty years later my father heard the story and nearly cried.  He was furious.  That was a comfort but I struggled through school and even more because I had that black cloud from one teacher.

For years it hung over me, so when you think what you say doesn’t impact a child, you are dead wrong.  To this day, I wish the woman ill.  And I love the 5th grader, David Davenport for just being my hero of the moment.

That said, the great teachers… there were two. Mr. Bemiss my high school history teacher.  He was the type that injected personal story of the players in history into learning and that made me want to know the people of history, not just the facts.  We played games, and once in a while he dressed the part of a historical character.  To this day, history is my first love.

The other was my English Lit teacher, Mrs. Striker (not sure of that name, folks, I’m old) but she managed to make Dante’s Inferno fun and exciting.  Her own love of English Lit was hard to ignore and like Mr. Bemiss, she injected the life of the writers into her lessons and the motivation behind their written words.  I was already a closet Stephen King fan, in the closet because I didn’t think my strict Catholic parents would like their child reading about demons and vampires.  I hide the books.  Yet Mrs. Striker opened another door to historical documentary. I know, a real snoozer, right?

In the beginning of the year she assigned a term paper on a historical character and I chose Vlad Teppes, Count Dracul. Yes, that one.  I was the only student who turned the paper in on time and I received an A minus. The minus because the last sentences were my opinion and this was a study, no personal opinions allowed.  I can look back and see my interest in creating the world of Vlad Teppes for the reader, my teacher.  As a student, I made A’s in three classes, Art, History and English Lit.  I squeaked through math and science but its history and English lit that let me graduate.  I swear.

And yes, that Miss Cauble crap hung over me even then. I feel I would have done better in school without her words ringing in my ears all the time.

Not unlike my writing career, I was stunned someone wanted to read something I wrote and then terrified they’d find out I wasn’t smart enough to be a real writer.   This is after writing non-fiction for three international magazines, two newspapers, and publishing fifteen books!  To this day I like surrounding myself with people who I feel are smarter than me.  I love learning.

So for those two teachers who enlightened me, thank you. I’m forever grateful for your inspiration. Your direction sent me down this writer path.

For Miss Cauble, I hope you’re suffering in school hell because I’m certain I wasn’t the only little kid you traumatized for life.



I know everyone is either cooking or preparing to cook.  In my house this year, its a southern Thanksgiving.  That means Fried Turkey ( I capitalize because it is SO good) instead of roasted, along with he classic southern sides, potatoes salad, cornbread, mac’n cheese.  Good thing for me, less work!

Now, for your celebration next year, here is the best recipe for Sweet Potatoes.  Its almost a dessert, looks good on the table and beware, this makes fairly generous portion.   It’s my mother, Kay Castellana’s recipe and its always a big hit.


3-4 cups sweet potatoes

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

1/2 cup chopped pecans or raisins (or both!)


1 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup butter

1 cup pecans (chopped)

Cook potatoes and peel, blend till smooth.  Mix with all other ingredients, except topping and spoon into a 9 X 13 pan.  In a bowl, add brown sugar, flour, and softened butter, cut with pastry cutter until crumbled.   Toss with pecans.  Spread topping, bake at 350 for about a half hour, until the edges bubble.  Mangia!

Freezes well, uncooked.  Thaw completely first.    Unless I’m cooking for a crowd, I always freeze half in small foil pans.

A tip for peeling sweet potatoes: after they are boiled, drain and toss a dish towel over the bowl and just wait a few minutes for them to cool.  The skin will separate and all you have to do is pinch the end and it will literally shed right off, whole.  no handling, no burn, no yuk.  Now blend away!

Happy Turkey day, y’all!




We’re almost there!

All our boxes are packed and we’re just about ready to make our move.  We’ve got a few more tweaks and we should be up and running next week.  Just for fun, tonight I’m trying the photo option, so selfishly, here’s my cover:

Ahh, another mountain climbed.

Hello world!

Welcome to the new home of BabesinBookland!  We’re just getting up and running but we’ll be introducing ourselves (and reintroducing ourselves to those of you who’ve moved with us) as soon as we figure out how to work all the bells and whistles.

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