Monthly Archives: March 2012

Unexplained Coffee

Melissa has a great story for us about what happens when coffee has a mind of its own.  Personally, I think it’s her sparkly personality!

Melissa Groeling

So this universe is just too damn big to have an explanation for everything. Case in point: I went to Saxby’s—for those of you not familiar with Saxby’s, this is a coffee shop—the poor man’s answer to Starbucks but just as tasty. I purchased a delicious white chocolate mocha. Now don’t peg me for a liar. I know my tag line reads “Tea Drinker.” Just let it be known, for the record, that I do NOT in fact like straight coffee. But different flavored coffees I can get behind, hence the white chocolate mocha and seriously anyway? How do you say no to chocolate? White or otherwise?

So I purchased this beverage then proceeded to Target. Like any good shopper, I left my beverage in the car because I know myself too well that I would spill it on a clothing rack full of shirts. I browsed through the store, didn’t find what I was looking for so then trekked empty-handed back to the car. Upon sliding in behind the wheel, I noticed with shock that my beverage had somehow exploded all over my center console! The lid was half-off and there was white chocolate mocha EVERYWHERE! I was so dumbfounded, I just kind of sat there and gaped silently, eyes wide like an owl but without the cute hooting because clearly this was nothing to hoot about. Then logic cracked me upside the head and I jumped from the car, thinking that some moron had backed into my car, thus rustling the contents inside. I ran around the vehicle, checking and rechecking but…there was nothing. No dents, no dings, no scrapes.

I stood there for about five minutes, thinking, confused, looking around, growing even more confused. I couldn’t even get angry, really, because there was nothing and no one to get angry at. It didn’t make sense. After a few more minutes of fumbling and raking my hands through my hair as if that would help conjure up an explanation, I got back in my car and drove home. Every few seconds, I would cast uneasy glances down at the splattered coffee as if the dripping mess would reveal some kind of clue as to why and how they’d ended up OUTSIDE the cup instead of INSIDE.

Some things cannot be explained. Maybe someday….someday….

twitter: @stringbean10

Traffic Jam, a young adult novel, is coming out from Black Opal Books the end of May

Thanks for the giggle, Melissa!


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Bananas for Breakfast and other sexy ideas

Empi Baryeh is going to give us not only a WOW yummy recipe for Banana pancakes but also some fascinating information about Bananas.  HI Empi, welcome to our high plains home.  There’s not much wind today, so we’ll be eating out on the patio.  There’s a bright blue sky, and just a few clouds over South Mountain.


Hi Mona (waving) and thanks for inviting me over for brunch. I feel like I’m in the hot seat, because cooking isn’t my favourite thing. My idea of a great dinner is a bowl of cucumber, tomatoes, onions and garlic, chopped and mixed together. Add a fillet of fish on the side and a glass of red wine and that’s a good meal. It takes minutes to prepare, and it happens to be healthy!

But what I’d like to talk about today is banana (oh, get your mind out of the gutter; I don’t mean that kind of banana!).

My ex got me into reading Men’s Health magazine  and I remember an article I read in one issue a few years back (I tried searching for it to get the exact wording but it soon became clear that the search would take longer than I had time for). So, paraphrasing, the article said that the scent of banana (in the morning) releases endorphins in women that heighten their sexual appetite. I kid you not. The tip (no pun intended) was that men could have great morning sex every day by including freshly warmed banana bread with breakfast in bed.

I don’t know about the scent of banana in the morning, but I say “all in favour of their men bringing them breakfast in bed say ‘aye.’” (Thank you, Men’s Health)

So in honour of banana, I’ll share a pancake recipe I call “Empi’s Banana Pancake” because I mixed a couple recipes to get this one and it’s worked perfectly every time.

Empi’s Banana Pancake


  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 1 1/2 Banana
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 2 Cups all wheat flour
  • A dash of Salt.
  • 1-2 Tablespoon sugar, depending on how sweet one would want.
  • 1/2 Cup Butter melted
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Non-melted butter (or olive oil)


*  Separate the egg whites from the egg yolk

*  In a bowl, whisk the egg whites well with the milk, Bananas (blend them, or smash depending on what texture is intended), Vanilla extract.

*  Then, in another bowl, whisk the egg yolk well with the melted butter.

*  In a large bowl, put the flour, sugar, salt, pour both the mixtures and whisk it into a smooth batter.

*  Ladle the mixture into a hot pan, with a little bit of non-melted butter (or oil), so the pancakes won’t stick.

*  When the first side is cooked, flip over and cook.

*  Gently remove it from the pan and serve hot.

Simple enough! So next time your man asks you what you want for breakfast, go ahead and create some endorphins. I dare you! 😉




Empi Baryeh is an author of sweet and sensual African and Interracial romance. She lives in the city of Accra in Ghana, where most of her stories are set. She speaks French and a teensy bit of Spanish.

Her debut novel, Most Eligible Bachelor, came out in February and is available from Evernight Publishing and other online book retailers. Chancing Faith is her second novel, which comes out in Print and eBook on 31st March, 2012.

Visit Empi Online:

  Empi’s Blog

Empi’s Website

Empi on Facebook

Empi on Goodreads

Twitter: @empibaryeh




American ad exec, Thane Aleksander, doesn’t date co-workers either—until business takes him to Ghana, West Africa, and he meets Naaki. Now he’s at risk of breaking all the rules. Can he stop this headlong fall before it’s too late?


Naaki Tabika has a burning need to prove, to herself and others, that she’s more than wife and mother material. To do so, she’s prepared to give up everything for her job. Meeting Thane, however, makes her want to get personal. But falling for her boss could destroy her career. Will she be willing to risk it all for the one thing that can make her truly happy?

Two divergent cultures, two different races, two career-driven professionals, only one chance at true love—will they find the faith to take it, or will their hearts be sacrificed on the altar of financial success?



Thane knew he was in for it now. He could hardly believe he’d really done it…

He’d kissed Naaki. Kissed her! What the hell was he thinking? Thane tossed his jacket aside and yanked off his tie. Of all the stupid—

Raking his fingers through his hair, he muttered a curse. The urge to hit something assaulted him with a force that should have surprised him. The perfect punching bag would have been his own body, since it was apparent that he needed to pound some sense into his skull. Right now, the only thing pounding was his heart as it threatened to burst out of his chest, throbbing partly out of anger but mostly from his pulsing desire.

Damned if he didn’t still want her in his arms. She made him feel like a teenager—and not in a good way. Vulnerable wasn’t a desired state of mind as far as he was concerned. He sat down with the adjoining door in full view, still unable to comprehend how he’d dropped his guard. How he seemed so willing to let down his defenses around her.

He’d panicked in the elevator, allowed himself to be captivated. He’d worried about her, touched her as if he cared. She’d kissed him back, moaned against his lips and his knees had gone weak. He could have made love to her right there in the lobby. He could care about her, and caring was the last thing he could afford to do.

Dammit. Naaki wasn’t a woman you got involved with on a whim. He needed, at all cost, to avoid her—the woman who’d so easily brought him to his knees, who’d caused his body to come alive and made him want—

Just want.



Chancing Faith is available for pre-order at the following sites:

*Look out for Chancing Faith on Amazon and other online booksellers from 31st March



Don’t for get to leave a comment for a chance to win your choice of an e-copy of either of Empi’s books.


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Low Carb When you REALLY want Pasta

I knew going low carb would be difficult, especially during a time when I’d really like to be digging into some yummy pasta.  But so far I’ve stuck to my guns, and have even managed to avoid the deadly foods when I’ve had to do a drive through.  I generally order something that looks edible, and throw away the bun.  At my favorite Chinese restaurant I discovered the grilled chicken appetizers on sticks, and could pretty much forget Crab Rangoon and Singapore Rice Noodles.  Okay, can’t totally forget the noodles but can put them behind me for now.

What has helped immensely in this effort is cauliflower and kale.  Seriously.  As a straight up veggie, cauliflower has never done much for me.  But steamed and mashed, with butter and/or cream cheese?? It’s truly a comfort food, and can be used in a modified Shepherd’s pie, over some grilled chicken strips and peppers.  I “roast” the kale in a bit of olive oil (either in a pan or the oven) until it’s crispy, and use it as a base for eggs or maybe shrimp.

The other night I was really craving pasta, and fortunately found a spaghetti squash at the market.  Halved it, cleaned out the seeds, roasted it.  Then forked out the strands of squash, made up a home made marinara sauce.  I had intended to use some tomatoes with Italian seasonings but they had SUGAR in them.  What fool puts SUGAR in canned tomatoes??  As if they weren’t sweet enough on their own?  Fortunately had some plain tomatoes, so I threw out the seasoned ones, and set the extra can of those aside for the donation bag.  Add some grilled garlic, some Parmesan cheese, and pull out the immersion blender.  Yummmmm.

So far, cooking low carb for one is going well.  And finally the scale is beginning to show results!!!  Guess I can’t use the diet as and excuse not to get started on the next book, can I?  This one will concern the Atrahasis again, this time with a young woman orphaned when her parents died while visiting Earth.  She’s grown up a logical woman of science, no fairy tales for her.  She doesn’t believe any of that Gaia stuff, especially when she’s told she’s one of Gaia’s handmaidens.  Isn’t it grand to mess with your characters’ lives???

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Let’s Meet Alexa Martinez (with Leslie Wright)

Happy Thursday everyone!  What makes Thursdays so special?  Well it is one day closer to the weekend.  And this Thursday, Leslie Wright is joining us for an early cup of green tea and an introduction to Alexa Martinez.  Yeah, green tea–it’s all sorts of good for us, you know.  If you’re still getting your caffeine level up to bearable, pour another shot and sit back.  This is going to be fun.


Character Interview:  Alexa Martinez, the heroine in Basement Level Five: Never Scared

Blurb:  Alexa Martinez was raised to believe that murder, deceit, and lies were a part of life. A trained killer, she follows in her father’s footsteps, specializing in political assassinations for Martinez Security—contracted through the CIA. She thrives on the power, money, respect, and—most of all—the adrenaline rush.

Despite the danger associated with her profession, Alexa strives to give her children a normal life. But when her past catches up with her, they become pawns in a deadly game of revenge. Operating from a secret base five levels below ground, Alexa struggles to unravel the puzzle, uncovering secrets that will alter their lives forever. Now she must make a choice—is she willing to die to give her children a life outside the bullet proof glass?

Hello, Alexa!  Thanks for agreeing to do the interview!

Thanks for having me!  I don’t usually do interviews, but you asked so nicely…and I’m trying to be a little more open.

Give me two words to describe yourself.

Loyal. Stubborn.

If you could pick one person, who has had the greatest impact on your life?

I would have to say Daddy.  I’ve always been a Daddy’s girl, and his presence in my life has always been a constant.  It seems as though he’s always there…watching.  He definitely keeps me on my toes and he’s taught me EVERYTHING I know.  I always knew that I could count on him.  I remember when I was a teenager.  I ended up getting this ugly tattoo.  I cringe every time I think about it, even now.  Instead of punishing me for disobeying him (he always told me never to mark my body), he went and got a matching tattoo.  I knew it before, but it really cemented, for me, the fact that he would always have my back.

Let’s talk about Dro… When did you fall in love with him? What is it about him that attracts you to him?

Ummm… I think I fell in love with Dro shortly after I turned eight.  Lol.  Just kidding.  I’ve always loved him because he’s been a part of my life forever.  But I realized I was in love with him on my 17th birthday.  And let’s just keep it at that.  He’s a very attractive guy, but his spirit has always attracted me to him.  He doesn’t trust easily, but I love that he trusts me.  That attracts me to him even more.  And the fact that he is so smart and capable and strong…really turns me on.

What is your favorite part about being a mother?

I love every part of being a mother.  I never realized that motherhood would change me in such a profound way.  Being a mother and raising beautiful, intelligent children…it’s been more rewarding than anything in my life. It’s something to see someone grow from infant to tween to teenager.  I can see parts of myself and Dro in them and…it makes me proud…that I could be a part of such an exceptional life.  And my children make me want to be a better person.  There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them. 

What do you hope your children remember about you?

I hope they remember that their mom protected them to the best of her ability—that I loved them unconditionally—that I encouraged them to follow their dreams.

Cover Never ScaredRapid Fire Questions:

Favorite Song? Never Scared by Bone Crusher. lol

Favorite Movie? Believe it or not… My Best Friend’s Wedding

Favorite Season? Winter

Favorite Food? I don’t have one.  But I HATE beans

Favorite Vacation Spot? Puerto Rico

Any parting words? Not really.  It was fun, though.


About L. R. Wright:  I’m a devoted wife of many years and mother to 3 wonderful children who inspire and motivate me to follow my dreams.  In addition to writing, I love romance novels, fine wine, and hanging out with my friends and family.  I crunch numbers for a living, and plan events for fun.



Twitter: @LWrightAuthor


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Wednesday Brunch: Crepes with Bev Irwin In Paris

Bev’s not only giving us virtual yummies,  she’s also come up with a fantasy setting.  Let’s join her around the tiny table and watch Parisians stroll past.  I think I’ll have some roasted kale and seared shrimp, and pretend the cream sauce.


Hello, Mona

Thank you for inviting me to brunch today. I’ll just sit here and drink my French Vanilla Cappuccino and have a few crackers and cheese.

My alter ego is sitting at a cafe in Paris enjoying the sights and lapping up all that French culture and creme. Just watching and listening to the Parisian people and the tourists from all over the world is giving me goosebumps. The coffee is hot and the men hotter.

Come join me. If cappuccino is not to your taste how about a demitasse of expresso. Company would be wonderful.

After Paris, I’m on to Tuscany, and later to the French Riviera to droll over the gorgeous French men in skimpy bathing suits. I’ll swoon as they speak one of the most romantic languages in the world.

Sure you don’t want to come. I’ve just ordered some delicious crepes. There’ll be enough to share, or maybe not.

Do you know the history behind Crepes Suzette? This delicacy evolved by accident. Fourteen year old French sous chef, Henri Charpentier accidentally set his crepe sauce on fire while he was serving the Prince of Wales, Britain’s future King Edward VII. When asked what he called his creation, Charpnetier replied, Crepes Princess but the prince asked if he would dedicate the dish to the daughter of one on his guests. Voila, Crepes Suzette was born.

Oh, la la, my order is coming now. Doesn’t it look delicious?

crepes yummmmmmCREPES: 1 cup all purpose flour; 1 cup 2% milk; 1 teaspoon sugar; dash fine salt;   3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted;  2 large eggs; 1/2 cup beer

ORANGE BUTTER: 1 orange, zested; 1/4 cup sugar;       3/4 cup unsalted butter;  1/3 cup fresh orange juice

CREPES SUZETTE:   2 tablespoons sugar;  1/4 cup cognac; 1/4 cup orange liqueur


  1. Whisk all ingredients but beer until smooth (or blend in food processor). Let batter rest for 30 minutes. Stir in beer.
  2. Heat an 8-inch crepe pan or non-stick pan over medium heat and grease lightly (you may have to play with your heat adjustments for the first few). Spoon about 2 Tbsp of crepe batter into center of pan and swirl to completely coat the bottom of the pan. Place back on the heat and let cook for about 2 minutes, until top of crepe loses its shine. Flip crepe with a spatula (or be daring and toss it in the air!) and cook 30 seconds more. Slide crepe onto a parchment-lined baking tray and continue making until all batter is used.
  3. If preparing crepes in advance, wrap in plastic and leave at room temperature or freeze (never in the fridge!)

Orange Butter

  1. For orange butter, pulse orange zest and sugar in a food processor, to extract the zest oils. Add butter and orange juice and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl or shape into a log and chill until form.

Crepes Suzette

  1. For Suzette, arrange a platter with crepes, a small bowl with the sugar, the orange butter and the cognac and orange liqueur already measured. Have a spatula, a carving fork and a ladle at hand. It’s performance time!
  2. Place a large sauté pan over medium heat and melt orange butter – let it bubble for up to 5 minutes – it will thicken and become syrupy. Reduce heat to low and lay in a crepe, flipping it over to coat both sides. Fold the crepe into quarters (a carving fork works best) and move to the side. Repeat with remaining crepes.
  3. Sprinkle sugar over completed crepes. Pour cognac into the ladle and over the crepes and do the same quickly with the orange liqueur. Carefully tilt the pan toward the flame (if you wish) to ignite – take care to keep back as the flames can come up quickly. With the ladle, spoon the flaming sauce over the crepes until the flames subside, about a minute. Serve the crepes, 2 per person and spoon sauce over.

Maybe I’ll come back for lunch and desert.

After strawberries have been chilled, drain and reserve juice. (If using thawed frozen berries, drain and reserve juice. Add enough water to make one cup of juice.)Mix sugar, water and lemon juice together until sugar dissolves. Pour over sliced berries and refrigerate for at least four hours. Stir at least twice to distribute juices. Note: For this step, you may substitute frozen, sweetened strawberries that have been thawed.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the juice, zest and liqueur. Stirring constantly, reduce sauce to ⅔ cup. Add reserved berries and stir to heat berries, no longer than 15 seconds so that berries remain whole.

Very delicately add each crepe to the pan—one at a time—and coat it in the sauce. (We used a fork rather than a spatula for this.) Fold each one in quarters, and arrange three on each plate, repeating until each crepe has been dipped and plated. You may overlap them or arrange in a circle as we did in the picture above, with a scoop of ice cream in the middle and extra sauce over the top. Scrap up the extra bits of lemon zest and add extra strawberries as your garnish.

Oh, dear, I really want to go to France. I have my make-up bag with the Eiffel Tower on it all packed, a journal with Paris, and again the Eiffel tower, (and on every page inside) ready to record my journey, now I just need the plane tickets and a place to lay my head. I guess money to pay for all this would help.

So I’m visualizing my books being my ticket there. Do you think I have a chance? Anyone want to come along.

Here’s me, but you won’t see me in one of those skimpy bikinis.Bev

Award-winning author, Bev Irwin, lives in London, Ontario, with three assorted cats. One that hid in her car when she moved from the farm and two others dropped off by her daughter on two different occasions. Her three children have flown the coup, but her granddaughter, Jasmine, is a frequent visitor.

As a registered nurse, she likes to add a touch of medical to her romance and mystery novels. She writes YA, children’s, and poetry. She prefers spending time in her garden, writing, and reading to being in the kitchen.

Her debut novel, WHEN HEARTS COLLIDE, a contemporary romance, came out in December of 2011 with Soul Mate Publishing under the pen name of Kendra James. Her YA paranormal, GHOSTLY JUSTICE, will be released by Black Opal Books on April 14th, 2012. MISSING CLAYTON, a suspense novel, will also be published with Black Opal Books later this year.

He promised he’d be back by the full moon. But that was days ago and Jason Sharmon’s father hasn’t returned from his prospecting trip. Now the fourteen-year-old must battle the Ontario North and his own fears to find his father. He encounters several obstacles including a wolf encounter, a raging river, and a fall down a cliff. After finding and caring for his injured father, Jason learns to believe in himself and his own abilities. He and his father learn to accept their differences and mend a troubled relationship.

If you witnessed an accident on a lonely stretch of highway, would you stop or continue on your way? For nurse Molly Tanner the choice is clear. Risking her own life, she pulls the seriously injured driver and his young daughter from the car. When Pearce begs her to pose as his wife to keep Gracie from foster care, memories of her unhappy childhood rush back. But can Molly keep up the charade without her own secrets being discovered and her heart from being shattered?

Fifteen-year-old Daria Brennan doesn’t want to hear people’s thoughts. She doesn’t want to see ghosts or talk to dead people. And she definitely doesn’t want to help Amanda solve herforty-year old murder. But Amanda wants revenge, and Daria is the first human contact she’s had since the day she died. Now the killer is after Daria and her friends. Can they solve this Amanda’s murder in time, or will they become the next victims?

COMING SOON!   Release date April 14, 2012

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Sunday Dinner with the ‘lukis

Life has been complicated lately, and it seems like there’s never enough time to get everything done, in particular sharing with the blog.  Since it seems the other Black Opal authors are having the same issues, it looks like we’ll be chatting about my Sunday dinner with the Salukis.

Jason el GhafiriI’ve mentioned Salukis, or ‘lukis, before, and you might wonder what the heck they might be.  So glad you asked!  Salukis are one of those exceptionally old breeds of dogs.  We’re fairly certain they originated in the Middle East, but they might actually have come from ancient China, and I mean millenia ago.  We know Salukis are found in cave paintings in Northern Iraq and on Chinese scrolls, so the debate has support on all fronts.

Salukis have been part of my life for over forty years, I met Tom at a Saluki show and we shared all the highs and lows of raising dogs.  Tom’s favorite Just Hanging outSaluki visited with him whenever possible when he came home, and the Salukis were with us on that last night.

Our dogs eat what is officially known as a species appropriate diet, which means raw food.  So they’ll be munching on chicken and tripe tonight.  Not the white tripe that’s used for Menudo (something I just can not gain any appreciation for!) but ground green tripe) It smells kind of like a cow barn (guess why?) but it’s super nutritious for them, and they do love it.

Me, I’m having a chicken breast baked with salsa, and mashed cauliflower.  Steam the cauliflower (frozen works just fine) then mash with an immersion blender to get a really creamy texture.  Add some cream cheese and butter, and you have comfort food heaven for a low carb diet.  Yummmmm.  Yes, the Salukis like this also so I have to guard my bowl.

I’ve been taking a slight hiatus from writing, giving myself a break after finishing final edits on the next book, Teach Me To Forget. Teach Me To Forget cover The gorgeous cover is done, and they tell me it will be available as an e-book May 12.  YAAAAAAAAA.  In the meantime I’m back to writing again, this time another story of the Atrahasis, though Mykhael and Kendra will only have a short appearance.  And starting this Wednesday we’ll have more guests, so even more eating vicariously enjoying yummy foods!


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