Some may consider it a serous character flaw but I’m simply not that fond of chocolate. Oh sure, I once in awhile crave the taste of some good dark chocolate. And I’m not opposed to a piece of rich chocolate birthday cake but chocolate for the sake of chocolate. Meh. I can take it or leave it.

Unlike my hubbie who thinks anything is better with chocolate. Chocolate milk, chocolate cake, chocolate cookies, chocolate-covered almonds/raisins…anything. So when I found this recipe I knew he would be eternally grateful. Chocolate at hand and no preservatives or additives. Win win. 


Combine in saucepan:

1 cups cocoa

2 ½ cups sugar

2 cups water.

Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, cool slightly, and add: 1 tsp. vanilla

Store in a jar in fridge. Use on ice cream, or in hot or cold milk for hot chocolate. Use as a sauce on anything that someone thinks would be improved by adding chocolate to it.

If you’re a chocoholic you might want to try this.

But be honest with me. Are there other people out there like me who can manage without chocolate?

Posted in chocolate, recipe | Tagged , | Comments Off


Excuse me. I meant no insult. But did it get your attention? Good. That’s what I wanted.

Today I want to introduce you to me African Grey parrot named Scotty.


He’d be a handsome bird if he would stop picking his breast feathers out.

Oh wait. He is a she as we discovered when he/she laid 3 eggs a couple of years ago…at 27 years of age. (late bloomer?)

He is very protective of his cage and was even more protective when there were eggs involved. Littlest granddaughter was just beginning to toddle around and grabbed the bars of his cage to pull herself up. Before I could rescue her, Scotty had bitten her finger. Screams (from me as well as the baby), blood and 3 stitches. At that point I did not like Scotty one little bit.

However the bird has proved amusing over the years. He says a lot of words. Jerk, which is why I titled this blog that. He calls ‘supper’ when I’m in the kitchen (or when the smoke detector goes off. lol). He can say, ‘I love you,’ calls ‘here kitty, kitty.’ He loves to sing and whistle and dances to ‘Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer.’

The first magazine article I sold was about purchasing Scotty as a baby.

jan 2015 010

I got paid what I thought was a very nice sum for the story. The pictures accompanying it were in black and white.

jan 2015 011





Somewhere in the cavernous cupboard in the basement I must have copies of the photos in color but I’m not going to look.

Pets are always a good subject for an article or secondary characters in a story.

Even when they call you jerk.

Posted in parrot, pets | Tagged , | Comments Off


Hello. I’m back. Between Christmas and a fried mother board in my computer, I’ve been absent a few weeks.

Christmas was fun and full of activity. It’s over and I can hunker down…cocoon in. It’s what I like best about winter.

Christmas 001


Yes, I admit it, there are things I like about winter. It is beautiful and restful, serene and quiet. Resting as it waits for spring.



The soft blanket of snow that wraps the world outside my window in blessed quietness.

heavy snow fall mar. 5 001

Sometimes a storm blows in, full of danger and fear but inside, a warm, crackling fire and a favorite hot drink are comforting. I am safe, sheltered and content.heavy snow fall mar. 5 005






Iheavy snow fall mar. 5 011t’s a time to slow down, enjoy the moment while assessing the past and  planning for the future.

I need winter in my life. A time of rest, renewal and relaxation. Yes, there may be storms, maybe even loss and sorrow but even in the midst of such there are moments of peaceful calm.  Banff in July 010

A cocooning around a comforting fire, perhaps with a good book.

hawaii 2008 136







A quiet visit.october 27 snow 006






A leisurely reading of a Bible passage with time to let the words settle into my soul like a soft snowfall so when the storms rage, I have an inner calm.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14.27

Time to work on projects.

stephansson's desk






I don’t expect many will say they like winter but have you considered the necessity of a winter day in your life? How would you spend such a day, or hour or moment? Do you find blessings about the winter season?

Posted in snow, winter | Tagged , | Comments Off


christmas present


This week I got some early Christmas presents.




First, my February release has been reviewed by RT Magazine and I got 4 1/2 stars (out of 4)

big sky homecoming

This what the magazine says about the book:

RT review










Then I got a peek at the cover for my April release.

wagon train reunion

Isn’t it gorgeous?

I really like the way the red dress pops from the picture.

This is the story of a hero and a heroine in the first Oregon Wagon Train from Missouri in 1843. It is the first in the 3-book continuity ‘Journey West.’ I think the series is exciting.

I had to do a lot of research for the story and learned a lot. I was especially impressed by the bravery of all these people headed west without any real idea of what lay ahead. They were pioneers in the truest sense of the word.

To complete the week, I started work on the third book in a series to be released in 2016. There are no official names yet but the series is about 3 young men whose mother was a Lakota native fleeing the Battle of the Little Bighorn. The main characters are already named…thank goodness. I spent the better part of the afternoon finding pictures to represent the hero and heroine. I need this for my own sake as well as for the people who design the covers.

Christmas presents come in many shapes. In a few days, I will share presents with my kids and grandkids. The best present will be their presence.

Enjoy your Christmas. May joy fill your hearts as we remember the birth of God’s Son, our Savior.

Posted in books, Christmas, covers, research | Tagged , , | Comments Off


Christmas is a time for children and family. I attended a concert this week for two of the grandchildren. Seeing a 5 year old play handbells was really sweet and I’d share a picture except I picked up the wrong camera and took one that didn’t have a memory card. Doh. However, I stuck in a card so that won’t happen again though I expect there will be other fails throughout the holidays. After all, isn’t that what makes a day or a season memorable?

Instead, I am going to share a few pictures of Christmases past. I have not named the children in the pictures but they are mine….years ago when they were much youngers.

Christmases past 002

Christmases past 003

Christmases past 004







And one of a granddaughter. She isn’t performing in a Christmas concert but she is performing and entertaining us.

 May you enjoy Christmas and especially the children. tats 5 years old 030

Posted in children, Christmas, family | Tagged , , | Comments Off


My Feb. book is available for preorder on Amazon. I love the cover on this book.

big sky homecoming

What do you think?

This is the third and final book in the Montana Marriages series—the story of the three Bell sisters.

There’s even a Valentine scene. How much more romantic can you get than a cowboy on a beautiful horse against the backdrop of mountains and then picture him with a valentine.

Unfortunately it’s not out until Feb. Sigh.

Posted in news, westerns | Tagged | Comments Off


There’s nothing like a stay in a 4 star hotel to make me feel spoiled.

I spent a few nights in Gaylord Opryland Hotel while I attended a writers retreat. It’s basically 4 hotels connected by 9 acres of indoor gardens with 50,000 tropical plants.

chilibris retreat in Nashville 032

chilibris retreat in Nashville 006






Everything is contained in atriums—convention center, restaurants, shops, rooms, etc.

There were lovely murals depicting historic scenes.

chilibris retreat in Nashville 106

chilibris retreat in Nashville 105





The Christmas lights and displays were awesome both inside and out. There was a life-size nativity scene but I only saw it from a distance and didn’t have time to get a picture.

chilibris retreat in Nashville 117

chilibris retreat in Nashville 002





chilibris retreat in Nashville 099


chilibris retreat in Nashville 033





The lobbies were beautiful on their own.

chilibris retreat in Nashville 015

chilibris retreat in Nashville 029







The service was excellent.

It was a wonderful holiday. But you know the best thing about it all? I didn’t have to make any meals or take care of any chores for a few days.

What’s the thing you enjoy the most about staying in a hotel?


Posted in Christmas, filling the creative well, Nashville, the writing life | Tagged , , | Comments Off


The title of this blog is a little deceiving because, although I did go to Nashville, I saw very little of the city. I attended a writers retreat and we spent long days in our hotel sharing and learning.

However, my roommate and I arrived early and decided to tour the Belle Meade plantation. For those unfamiliar with French, it means beautiful meadow.

chilibris retreat in Nashville 053

The founders started out in a log cabin and as they established their horse farm, they built the mansion. We had a tour of the interior but pictures were not allowed. Too bad as there were some wonderful period displays.

Belle Meade was the premier thoroughbred horse farm, From their original breeding stock come race horses such as Seabiscuit, Secretariat and in fact, every horse to race in the Kentucky Derby since 2003 can trace bloodlines back to Belle Meade.

The buildings were beautiful. Here is the carriage house.

chilibris retreat in Nashville 059

chilibris retreat in Nashville 068


chilibris retreat in Nashville 039



We were free to wander around on the grounds but there was a bitter cold wind blowing. (Don’t let the sunny fall colors fool you.)

Porch sitting for a nicer day. The stone building is their dairy.

chilibris retreat in Nashville 040chilibris retreat in Nashville 052  





chilibris retreat in Nashville 045

chilibris retreat in Nashville 048






The low window-less building is a mausoleum no longer in use.

It was fascinating to get a glimpse into the lives of a southern plantation family.

Posted in autumn, filling the creative well, history, Nashville, research | Tagged , , | Comments Off


I considered doing a blog about where I’m going to be next week. (At a writers retreat in Nashville. Staying at this lovely hotel.)

gaylord opryland resort


It’s a huge hotel (almost 3000 rooms and all under a dome. Several atriums joined together.) I can’t wait.


But next Tues. is Remembrance Day and after recently having had two soldiers killed by terrorists on Canadian soil, I would be remiss not to honor our veterans and soldiers.

Here is the memorial page from the Canadian Virtual War Memorial http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/canadian-virtual-war-memorial

On it you will see the information on one Quinten Grierson, my mother’s brother. It will be on display again in July.

memorial page

This information is also given:

In memory of
Flying Officer
Quinten Thomas Russell Grierson
July 29, 1944

Military Service: Service Number: J/26315
Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force
408 Sqdn.
Additional Information:


Our freedom, peace and security have come at a high price.

May we never forget.


Commemorated on Page 322 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance.

Posted in Nov. 11, Remembrance Day | Tagged | Comments Off


Yes, it’s November already. Already?? Yup.

I like November. Here are some of my reasons.

1. The yard and gardens are ready for their long winter sleep and no longer require large amounts of time and energy. What’s not to like?

2. Oven meals. I don’t feel guilty about turning on the oven and throwing in a casserole, or baking potatoes and meatloaf. In fact, everyone in my house loves carrots cooked in the oven (in a casserole.) Oven meals are ready and waiting when I’m done work in my office and the clean up is minimal. What’s not to like?

3. Writing challenges from writing a novel during the month to creating a new idea every day for a month to boot camps, the internet is full of encouragement and help. What’s not to like?

4. The beginning of Christmas celebrations. Our little town really puts a lot of effort into the season. Today, there is a showcase of local artisans’ work. Can’t wait to view it.

5. Remembrance day is especially poignant this year with two soldiers having been slain by terrorists on Canadian soil in the line of duty. Our hearts are both broken and proud.


6. Frosty mornings especially enjoyed through the window while sitting in a nice warm room. But is there anything prettier than a frosty winter scene? (except a summery scene of green?)

7. A writers’ retreat. I have not spent time with fellow writers for a couple of years so am really looking forward to talking about my imaginary friends and talking to real friends.

There are many reasons why I like November (can’t say as Movember is one of them, however). What are your favorite things about this month?

Posted in Christmas, creativity, gratitude, the writing life | Tagged , , | Comments Off