11/11/16

An Open Letter to Sam Heughan


Dear Sam, 

We want to thank you for the irreplaceable part you play in bringing OUTLANDER to life. Not only is the story so special to us, but it has given us the opportunity to re-establish a friendship that had nearly fallen by the wayside in the chaos of everyday life.

This is the story of three girls - Amy D., Glenda, and Amy E. - whose journey began in the 1980s and continues to this day, in large part due to OUTLANDER.

A bit in the way of introduction… Amy D., Glenda, and Amy E. have known each other since elementary school. They were close all the way through high school. Then they graduated. They went to college… the same one, but still it was difficult to stay connected. Glenda went to law school and became a criminal defense attorney, climbing the ranks and eventually becoming one of four division directors for the Department of Public Advocacy in Kentucky. Amy D. and Amy E. went on to get married, go to graduate school, have three kids a piece, and start careers.

To say it was hard to keep in touch is an understatement.

In 2003, shortly after the birth of her second child, Amy D. read OUTLANDER. She was overwhelmed by the story - its beauty, its romance, its tragedy, and its triumph. As was her habit, she called Glenda immediately to ask if she’d read this amazing book. Glenda had not. So Amy D. passed the book on to her. And thus began their obsession with Jamie, Claire, and all things OUTLANDER.

Fast forward to 2014. After a divorce and remarriage, Amy E. had moved back to her hometown, where Amy D. and Glenda still resided. As the premier of the OUTLANDER television series approached, Amy D. and Glenda became more and more excited. They invited Amy E., who had not read the books, to watch the first episode with them, and instantly she was hooked.

And so, every Saturday evening became “girls’ night”. All week long, the three girls would text and plan the menu, deciding who would bring what dish to the party. And every Saturday night, after a meal prepared by friends, for friends, and shared with friends, Amy D., Glenda, and Amy E. would watch OUTLANDER together.

This tradition continued with the second half of season 1, and all of season 2, But not only that! In between seasons, the girls make the effort to find time to be together, to feed the friendship that had for so long been on the back-burner. In short, OUTLANDER has brought back together three friends who had been separated by the crazy schedules that accompany jobs, families, and the general circumstances of life.

We are Amy D., Glenda, and Amy E. We cannot imagine the pressure of playing Jamie Fraser, the man who millions of women have idolized and fantasized about for over 25 years. Your portrayal of the “King of Men” has been nothing short of perfection, and we are so happy that you are the one to bring him to life. 

In recent days, we’ve seen the ridiculousness of some “fans” (if you can call them that) who continually try to invade your private life, attack those you care about, and impose their own imaginings of what and who you should be onto Sam, because of their inability to realize that Jamie is fiction and Sam is a real human being. We are so sorry that there are idiots in the world. We hope you realize that even though these obnoxious people exist, the VAST majority of your fans and fans of the show are just like us… just women (and men, too!) who’ve been captivated by this story for years and who have reveled in seeing it brought to the screen. 

For the three of us, OUTLANDER could not have happened at a better time, as the stress of life… of sending a first-born son off to college, of watching the first-born daughter start to date, of working for a government agency fraught with red tape and redundancy… began to take their toll on us and make us forget what made us US.

So, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you. Thank you for being the face of Jamie Fraser and being a part of a story that we look so forward to each season and each episode. Thank you for being part of the show that brought us back together and made us realize that to STAY together we had to make the effort and the time.

Thank you, Sam. Your work on this show is more than entertainment… it is an affirmation of friendship… and it is part of the glue that keeps camaraderie and fellowship alive for us (and many, many others).

With much love and admiration,           
Amy Durham
Glenda Edwards
Amy England

7/20/16

THE HARD COUNT by Ginger Scott - 5 Stars ★★★★★

At first glance, when looking at the cover and reading the synopsis of THE HARD COUNT, it might be easy to believe it’s just another sports romance. Another football story. Another story about life in a privileged community.

But it’s SO MUCH more than that. And I couldn’t put it down.

It’s a story about pre-conceived ideas and stereotyping. It’s a story about hard-work paying off. It’s a story about unrelenting honesty and integrity. It’s a story about how things aren’t always what they appear to be on the surface. How the happiest family can be the most dysfunctional and the underprivileged family that you’re tempted to feel sorry for is happier and more content than you’ve ever dreamed could be real.

It’s like “Remember this Titans” and “Woodlawn” with a little bit of “The Breakfast Club” thrown in.

Through the turbulent football season at Cornwall Prep High School, the hero and heroine, Nico and Reagan, show us exactly what can happen when people shed their pre-conceived notions, stop placing so much value on appearances, and simply love and care about each other. 

Futures are secured. Personal obstacles are overcome. Families are healed. All because two kids from “opposite sides of the track” refused to give in to the idea that where you’re from or the ethnicity of your birth defines you… and instead just BELIEVED in one another. 

I loved this book. ADORED it. I was both humbled and challenged by the characters. We should all be more like Nico and Reagan.



BOOK BLURB

Nico Medina’s world is eleven miles away from mine. During the day, it’s a place where doors are openwhere homes are lived in, and neighbors love. But when the sun sets, it becomes a place where young boys are afraid, where eyes watch from idling cars that hide in the shadows and wicked smoke flows from pipes.

West End is the kind of place that people survive. It buries themone at a time, one way or another. And when Nico was a little boy, his mom always told him to run.

I’m Reagan Prescott—coach’s daughter, sister to the prodigal son, daughter in the perfect family.

Life on top.


Lies.


My world is the ugly one. Private school politics and one of the best high school football programs in the country can break even the toughest souls. Our darkness plays out in whispers and rumors, and money and status trump all. I would know—I’ve watched it kill my family slowly, strangling us for years.

In our twisted world, a boy from West End is the only shining light. Quarterback.

Hero.

Heart.


Good.


I hated him before I needed him.


I fell for him fast.


I loved him when it was almost too late.

When two ugly worlds collide, even the strongest fall. But my world...it hasn’t met the boy from West End.


Ginger Scott is an Amazon-bestselling and Goodreads Choice Award-nominated author of several young and new adult romances, including Waiting on the Sidelines, Going Long, Blindness, How We Deal With Gravity, This Is Falling, You and Everything After, The Girl I Was Before, Wild Reckless, Wicked Restless and In Your Dreams.

A sucker for a good romance, Ginger’s other passion is sports, and she
often blends the two in her stories. (She’s also a sucker for a hot quarterback, catcher, pitcher, point guard...the
list goes on.) Ginger has been writing and editing for newspapers, magazines and blogs for more than 15 years. She has told the stories of Olympians, politicians, actors, scientists, cowboys, criminals and towns. For more on her and her work, visit her website.

When she's not writing, the odds are high that she's somewhere near a baseball diamond, either watching her son field pop flies like Bryce Harper or cheering on her favorite baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ginger lives in Arizona and is married to her college sweetheart whom she met at ASU (fork 'em, Devils).

Connect with Ginger:
FACEBOOK
WEBSITE
TWITTER
PINTEREST
YOUTUBE
GOOGLE
GOODREADS


GIVEAWAY!

Click HERE to enter to win 1 signed copy of In Your Dreams, $10 Amazon gift card 
(Open International)



  • I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and it has been my absolute pleasure to read and review this amazing story.

7/17/16

Instant Pot Potato Soup

Tonight I tried my new Instant Pot for the first time. I've spent some time looking at lots of recipes, and I've found a BUNCH of interesting stuff. But for its maiden voyage, I decided to try something simple... something already a staple and well-loved dish in our home... Potato Soup.

The verdict: SUCCESS!

The soup was yummy, just like it is if I cook it on the stove top, but the cooking time was a lot less. It took the Instant Pot about 10 minutes to come to pressure, but once it did, the actual cook time was 5 minutes. Then, another 5 or so minutes to let the pressure off, and it was done. I liked that I didn't have to wait/watch for my potatoes to boil... didn't have to check them with a fork to be sure... didn't have to "reduce to simmer". I also love that the Instant Pot automatically goes to "keep warm" mode once the cooking time is over. This is SUPER handy!

This is the recipe I used:


10 medium potatoes, peeled & cubed
3 stalks celery, chopped small
1/2 a medium onion, chopped small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 TBSP seasoned salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
6 TBSP butter
4 cups chicken broth (or water)


Put all of the above in the pot and lock the lid on. Choose "manual", then use the +/- buttons to set 5 minutes of cooking time. (Hint - DON'T push "timer" and then set the time. The timer will run, but the pot will not start the pre-heat process. Just push "manual", then use the +/- buttons to set the time.) The display will read "On" as the pot pre-heats and comes to pressure. Once pressure is reached, the 5 minute timer automatically begins. (Trust me... the cooking time WILL begin once the pot is at pressure. I was worried, because for several minutes it looked like nothing was happening, but it WILL start cooking once the pot reaches pressure!) 

When the 5 minutes are up, do a "quick release" - move the pressure valve from "sealing" to "venting". The pressure will immediately (and abruptly!) begin to release. After a few minutes, the silver indicator next to the value will drop, letting you know it's safe to remove the lid. At this point, I used a potato masher to "semi-mash" the potatoes. This step helps to thicken the broth, but I always leave quite a few chunks of potato for a nice texture. Then, I stir in 1/2 cup of half-and-half (you could use cream or milk as well) to make it creamy!  Serve with bacon bits, shredded cheese, sour cream, or whatever else you like!