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Texas Photography

I met Chris Munson through Abandoned Texas Facebook Group. His photography captured my imagination. Chris graciously agreed to let me share his photographs and reflections with you. His pictures are from Pilot Point, Texas.

Chris said in his post.. “I once helped to keep perishables in the community fresh”. “I once provided fuel to the vehicles that passed this way”. “I once held the funds of the citizens here”. “I once promoted a product”. “I once served as a watering hole….”And so each of these structures and signs remain, not as monuments, nor as historical markers, but as reminders yet, as testaments to a different time and place….Where they served needs no longer essential, nor sought, nor practical, as those who had need for them have also passed….and all are at rest. Pilot Point Texas, 9/11/21

Farmers and Merchants bank, built 1899, closed in 1929 at the Great Depression and never reopened as a bank. Current usage unknown.
Fuller long shot of bank.
The back/side view of former bar.
This is an odd building behind the “bar”. It’s use/former purpose is completely unknown.
Assuming this was a service station at some point, simply because of its design. The building to the right has an open door which goes into a small room with many electrical conduits, but nothing else.
Love this original advertisement, unfortunately the angle of the sun cast an unavoidable shadow.
Unknown buildings, once used as a gathering place.

Thanks so much Chris for sharing your thoughts and photographs with us today. I look forward to seeing more of your work.

Devon Delaney Author of Double Chocolate Cookie Murder

Today I’m delighted to welcome Devon Delaney. I’m confident you’ll enjoy getting to know her.


Thank you so much for having me! I’d love to answer some questions so that my readers and potential readers may get to know me a bit better. First, let me tell you a bit about my new release.

The latest book in my cooking competition mystery series, Double Chocolate Cookie Murder, deals with the consequences of a character’s past actions. Think of the countless brushes you’ve had with people throughout your life and how the interactions may have affected the path of your life. Throw in the possibility that moment in time will come back to haunt you and you have a snippet of the book’s premise. A cook-off is, of course, central to the mystery. There are milestone family decisions to be made and a murder to be investigated. Come with a full belly when you read the book, only because you will leave hungry if you don’t. Lots of food, fun, and hometown family spirit shape the foundation of my writing and make the task of putting words to paper a joy. My goal is to entertain.

Do you have a pet? 

I had a Jack Russell terrier for sixteen years and that’s the breed I chose to feature as my main character’s pet. The active, possessive breed isn’t for everyone, and I pride myself for having let Frosty train me to be a great companion rather than the other way around. Our partnership was one a feel blessed to have had. Now I have an equally wonderful Standard Poodle. How lucky can a girl get?

How long have you loved to cook/bake? 

To be honest, I’m not the greatest baker. I do bake a mean cookie. And a great muffin. I don’t love to bake as much as I love to eat baked goods. I have a free-wheeling style in the kitchen and having to measure every single ingredient in order to keep the chemistry perfect stifles my creativity. On the other hand, I have competed in the Pillsbury Bake-off three times. The difference being, at their bake-off the cooks begin with a boxed mix or a prepackaged dinner starter, a good jumping off point. Your creativity and imagination take you to the finish line where you collect a prize or not. That’s the style of cooking I love.

Main courses and side dishes are my forte. I’ve been sous-cheffing since I was about six or seven. My dad had a few recipes he prepared over and over, like Ceasar salad and chicken stir-fry. He was methodical about the prep and instructions, so I felt very comfortable knowing my role, whether it be crack an egg or chop the chicken. Looking back, I built my confidence in the kitchen under his tutelage and spread my wings after I was married and had a captive taste-tester. 

Do you follow a recipe?

I prefer not to, but I admit I do occasionally follow a recipe if I’m looking to learn a new technique or a new piece of kitchen equipment, such as my daughter’s Insta-Pot. That’s more of a rarity. Playing a game of “Chopped – Home Edition” each night at five o’clock is more my style. Whatever ingredients my family hasn’t scarfed down over the last twenty-four hours is my springboard to parts unknown on our dinner menu. My goal is to make the dish my own and put the “Devon twist” on the recipe, for better or worse. Making mistakes teaches me as much as finding success, when it comes to creating contest entries. Many a time I take a tried and true recipe of mine and, rather than follow the steps exactly, I substitute new ingredients to test out a new flavor combination.

What’s your favorite meal to prepare? 

My favorite dish to prepare is my Grilled Ranch Steak Bruschetta in the summer when the tomatoes are fresh and I’ve purchased a fresh baked country bread. The recipe won me a contest sponsored by Cooking Light magazine:

Ranch Steak Bruschetta Salad (Devon Delaney)

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons ranch dressing

1½ tablespoons prepared horseradish

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons ground coffee

1½ teaspoons ground cumin

1½ teaspoons ancho chile powder

4 (4-ounce) beef tenderloin steaks, trimmed (1 inch thick)

Cooking spray

¼ cup chopped shallots

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

¼ cup chopped bottled roasted red bell peppers

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

6 cups loosely packed arugula

12 (1-ounce) slices French bread, toasted

Preparation:

Combine dressing and horseradish in a small bowl; cover and chill.

Combine black pepper, coffee, cumin, and chile powder. Rub both sides of steaks with pepper mixture; let stand 10 minutes. Heat a nonstick grill pan over medium heat. Coat steaks with cooking spray. Add steaks to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove steaks from pan; let stand 7 minutes.

Combine shallots, basil, bell peppers, juice, and tomatoes in a small bowl; toss well.

Arrange 1 cup arugula on each of 6 plates; top each serving with 2 toast slices. Cut steaks diagonally across grain into thin slices. Divide steak evenly among toast slices; top each serving with about 2 tablespoons tomato mixture. Drizzle each serving with about 1 tablespoon dressing mixture. Serve immediately. Yield: 6 servings.

Do you have a dish that’s won multiple contests? 

I have used a particular theme a few times but you can’t use the same recipe. Once the recipe is submitted to the contest, whether it wins or loses, the recipe then becomes the sponsors property. Ingenious marketing plan, right? The sponsoring company receives many new recipes for their products from the entrants and it’s a win-win for them. Technically, a recipe can have three major changes from the original to be called a new recipe and that’s not hard to do. So, I have taken a theme, such as a surf and turf burger and made a few significant changes in order to freshen it up.

Have you ever created something you thought would be delicious and it completely flopped? 

Simple answer: more than I can count.

Do you prefer the beach or mountains?

Mountains. I’m a hiker and a skier. I did grow up in Long Island, NY so I spent plenty of time at the beach. Too much, my dermatologist would say.

Cats or dogs?

No one else in my family likes cats but I love them. I love dogs. I am an animal nut, actually. We joke about moving to a farm to have lots of animals, but I might be too lazy.

Paperback or ebook? 

I have never read an ebook in my life. Can you believe that?

Haha, that’s amazing, Devon.

Sweet or salty?

Popcorn, chips and soy sauce. Can’t get enough! I get a lot of exercise, so my body loves salt. I don’t hate a great piece of chocolate cake, though!

Devon, thanks so much for spending a little time with us today.

Friends, Double Chocolate Cookie Murder is available now. You can learn more about Devon and her fascinating live at her website. http://www.devonpdelaney.com/

National Beach Day

August 30 is National Beach Day. It’s about more than having fun though. We also need to focus on safety and preserving our beaches.

HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalBeachDay

Tybee Island Beach

A few safety tips include”

  1. Only swim in designated areas.
  2. Never swim alone.
  3. Whether you’re in the ocean, a lake or a river, watch the currents.
  4. Don’t swim longer than you’re capable.
  5. Learn CPR

Learn how to survive a riptide. Don’t swim against the current. Relax. Swim parrallel to the shore until you leave the riptide.

Provided by the National Weather Service

You can also organize a group to clean a section of your favorite beach. If you don’t have time for that, you can pick some trash up on your own.

I hope you are able to enjoy your favorite beach soon.

Ice Cream for Supper

We recently had family visit, and after one really hot day, the kids asked if we could have ice cream for supper day. We did, and it was fabulous!

Today is National Banana Split Day. Just in case you don’t know what this is, you take a peeled banana and slice it in half, lengthwise and place it in a bowl. Between the slices, you add three scoops of ice cream. Traditionally we’ve used vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.

Next each scoop of ice cream gets a sauce. Chocolate, pineapple, and strawberry are the sauces traditionally added. To finish off this delicacy, add whipped cream and a cherry.

It’d be fun to hear your variations on the banana split. Or do you have a favorite place to go for this treat?

Today is another hot South Carolina August Day. August is probably why someone created Banana Split Day. I encourage you to have fun today and treat yourself to a banana split. Tag me on social media if you do.

Banana Split Day 2021

National Simplify your Life Week

This is National Simplify Your Life week. Who knew such a thing existed?

Life gets hectic, and it makes sense to simplify. I’ve got a few suggestions to simplify.

  1. Step away from your phone for a period of time.
  2. Declutter. I personally feel better when my kitchen island isn’t full of purses, mail, phones, and all the many items that seem to land there.
  3. Start and end your day with a healthy routine. Find time to be quiet.
  4. Listen to music or a podcast while tackling a few projects at home. You’ll be entertained while simplifying.
  5. Hang out with uplifting people who encourage you and avoid toxic people.
  6. Determine the most important things and focus on them.

What are some ways you’ve found to simplify your life?

One of My Favorite Bakers

Because cozy mysteries and baking are a popular combination, I’d like to introduce you to one of my favorite bakers, Brooke. (My other favorite baker is Brooke’s sister, Allie.)

Brooke and her teacher.

Me: Brooke, why do you enjoy baking cupcakes?

Brooke: I enjoy cupcakes because they can be fun and creative, or you can make simple cupcakes. There is no right or wrong rule when it comes to cupcakes. Plus, this is an art I’m good at.

Me: Do you prefer to create cupcakes or eat them?

Brooke: I prefer to create. You can make fancy cupcakes or monster cupcakes, and it’s a lot of fun.

Allie in the background: I’d rather eat a cupcake.

Me: Do you prefer cakes or cupcakes, and why?

Brooke: Cupcakes because I can create more flavors, and I can add fillings.

Me: What kind of fillings?

Brooke: Crushed cookies and sprinkles are two of my favorites. But the cupcake needs to be cool enough or else it crumbles.

Brooke recently participated in Cupcake Wars. The kids were put in groups of two, and Brooke and her partner won. Congratulations, Brooke.

Isn’t this so cute with Cookie Monster eating a cookie?

I asked Brooke how she felt about serving her creations, and she told me it was fun to serve the cupcakes and watch people’s reaction. It makes her happy to give people fun food that tastes good.

Maybe in a few years Brooke and I can team up and write a cozy mystery with a theme of baking cupcakes. I’ll keep you posted.

Brooke, thanks so much for spending time with us and sharing your thoughts on baking!

Cozy Mystery Author Kim Davis

I’m delighted to introduce you to another cozy mystery author, Kim Davis.

Kim Davis

Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Jackie! I’m celebrating my new release, cozy mystery Framed and Frosted, along with settling into having a new puppy in our home. While we doggie-sit our grand-doggie, Piper, several times a year (note: Piper is the dog model for my Cupcake Catering Mysteries covers) she’s now six years old and has a comfortable routine that works for me being able to sit at my computer and get work done. Now that we have Missy, a four-month-old mini Goldendoodle, I find that I’m chasing her around to keep her out of trouble almost all day long. My fitbit will attest to that fact! When I do find a moment for myself (i.e. she decides to take a nap) too many other chores and responsibilities crowd out my writing and blogging time. I also had a grand vision of Missy curling up next to me each evening while I read (generally to catch up on books to review for my blog) and sip a glass of wine… boy was I delusional, lol! It seems to be her super active time and by the time she crashes for the night, so do I.

That said, Missy is a treasured part of our home and as I was finishing up final edits for Framed and Frosted, I decided I just had to make Missy a part of the story and have her continue on in the series alongside Piper. It was too late to add her to the cover but I’m already dreaming up ways to include both Piper and Missy in the design, along with ways for them to keep my protagonist cupcake caterer Emory out of trouble! Now to only find the time to get those dreams down onto paper 😊

How adorable is Missy? And she’s grown so much.

Framed and Frosted, the third book in the Cupcake Catering Mystery series, finds cupcake caterer, Emory Martinez, working at a Laguna Beach society Fourth of July soiree, with her sister and their new employee, Sal. With a host who seems intent on accosting both catering employees and guests alike, things go from bad to worse when he accuses Sal of murdering his long-dead son.

As the crescendo of exploding fireworks overhead becomes the backdrop for cupcakes and champagne, a deadly murder occurs. Can Sal and Emory explain why the cupcake the host ate, after shoving a trayful of buttercream-frosted cupcakes onto Sal, resulted in his death? Or will the detective and guests alike believe that Sal is a murderer? Emory and her octogenarian employer, Tillie, whip into action to find out who framed Sal after he was frosted by the victim.

Includes recipes!

Friends, you can find Kim on her website and other forms of social media. https://kimdavisauthor.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Kim-Davis-Author-1532277473479031

https://t.co/H79DalpNwk?amp=1

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20202599.Kim_Davis

Kim, thanks so much for taking time to visit with us today.

Cozy Mystery Book Club

They Cozy Mystery Book Club has monthly discussions on You Tube hosted by Angela Maria Hart. Each month on the channel Books Are My Hart Angela and a guest host discuss a cozy mystery.

This month’s discussion is June 29 at 7:00 PM EST. Farm to Trouble by Amanda Flowers is this month’s book.

https://angelamariahart.us12.list-manage.com/track/click?u=2cd5ecb83fde59b7ea1d463ab&id=618a87a399&e=cec789ac4c

Angela can also be found on Instagram and Twitter where she supports authors and readers in fun ways.

Farm to Trouble

Recently, Angela held a Twitter Chat for cozy mystery readers and authors. I was selected to participate, and it was a blast. I enjoy meeting readers, and this was a great opportunity.

Angela is generous with her time and devotion. Here’s a link to get to know Angela better. https://t.co/FJPk4FXuUs?amp=1

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to see you at the next livestream Cozy Mystery Book Club on YouTube.