Author Archives: NikeChillemi

About NikeChillemi

Nike Chillemi has a passion for crime fiction, particularly detective stories, police procedurals, and hilarious cozies. She writes literature that reads like pulp fiction, almost a journalistic style. She likes her bad guys really bad, and her good guys smarter and better. She is the founder and chair of the Grace Awards, a member of ACFW. She has judged numerous literary awards including the Grace Awards, Carol Awards, Inspy Awards, and the Eric Hoffer Awards.

Inspired Hostess/Bread and Butter Gifts ~ making merry

 

Coasters

I’m moving into a new condo and my mind is running to all things home/homey. Honestly, I’m NOT asking anyone to bring me a gift, but I am thinking of all of the holiday celebrations and house parties I can have in this larger home. As a teenager (in an era gone by) my friends and I spent a lot of time learning about etiquette and entertaining. At that time it was something girls/women learned (and I think it’s something boys/men need to learn). I’m often saddened by how little people think about customs and amenities. I think it’s important to preserve heritage and legacy. I still enjoy pouring over my cookbooks, especially the holiday ones, looking at table-scapes.

1 Peter 4: 8-9 [New International Version] ~ 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

On that note…it’s a good rule-of-thumb that unless you’ve been asked by the hostess/host to bring a food-item, such as the salad, always bring a small gift to dinner or to a house party. These have been called Hostess Gifts and/or Bread and Butter Gifts. This gift should be something the hostess/host can easily handle while performing all the duties required of him/her in making guests comfortable. My gal-pals and I have a ten-dollar limit on all gifts (birthday, Christmas, etc.). If you don’t know the host/hostess that well, shoot for $10 – $15. If you’re on a very strict budget, don’t turn down an invite because you can’t afford a gift. Go to Dollar General or an off-price store and purchase a gift that looks as if it cost ten dollars.

Coasters make a wonderful gift and are extremely useful to the person who loves to entertain. They can never have too many coasters.

kitchen utensils

Kitchen utensils are something everyone can use. They could be wooden, or plastic in bright colors, or in black/white. There are even whimsical ones. I’ve seen a salad spoon set with a bride painted on one spoon in non-toxic paint and the groom painted on the other. Super cute.

hand soaps

Hand soaps are practical and beautiful. I like both practical and beautiful. There are wonderful scented soaps and they come both in bars and in liquid form in pumps. These are readily available in super markets, drug stores, off-price stores. You could even throw in a scrub. A twist on this would be shower gels or environmentally friendly kitchen soaps.

herbed oil

Herbed cooking oil is terrific for the hostess/host know as a gourmet cook. You could add a container of Himalayan pink sea salt, or any other small gourmet item…and bon appetite!

A box of chocolates, the old stand by, is always fun. The hostess/host can open it and put it our for guests. More than a few people at the party will love chocolate.

Things not to bring, or to be cautious with.

Uncut flowers you get at the supermarket or other markets is not a good idea. The hostess/host will be in a better outfit. She/he will have to go find a vase that fits, or will have to cut the flowers to a vase he/she has and mix in the powder that comes with the flowers. This is messy and will take her/him about ten minutes. Bringing flowers in a vase is also not a good idea because someone may be allergic. Scented candles have the same problems with allergies. Be sure you know your host/hostess will use them.

Wine and liquor should only be brought if you know your host/hostess will drink it, and if you know what they like to drink. Don’t bring a $12 bottle of wine to a wine connoisseur. It will sit in the back of their wine cabinet for years.

Never bring dessert. Never. The host/hostess will feel obligated to put yours out and they won’t know what to do with the one they’ve made.

 

 

 

 

 


Whispering Hope by Peggy Blann Phifer ~ spotlight

Whispering Hope

What an amazing cover. I’m thrilled to spotlight Peggy Blann Phifer’s new release WHISPERING HOPE .

*****

1930 Chicago is no place for a Wisconsin country girl.

Virginia Hopewell visits her cousin in Chicago and gets caught up in a deadly gangster shooting at a speakeasy, barely escaping with her life. After learning of the tragic death of her father, brother, and sister-in-law, Ginny returns to Wisconsin and convinces her mother to reopen the resort her father had closed after losing everything in the stock market crash in 1929.

Ransom Blake, an agent with the Chicago Bureau of Prohibition, had been at the same speakeasy acting on a tip about the shooting. Rance is charged with finding the gangster responsible. He and his team are sent to Wisconsin where the man was reported being seen, and to investigate how illegal liquor from Canada is making its way to Chicago.

With the opening of Whispering Hope Resort, Rance registers as a guest and comes face to face with the lovely redhead he’d briefly encountered at the speakeasy during the shooting.

INTERVIEW:

Nike:  Were you good in English as a student? Did you enjoy reading and writing back then?

Peggy:  I like to think I was. That my mother was an English teacher certainly helped a lot. But I hated diagraming sentences I’ve always loved reading and could usually be found with my nose buried in a book. Writing not so much. I actually didn’t start writing seriously until age 50. Call me a late-bloomer.

Nike:  Do you read much? If so, who are your favorite authors? Do you read in only one genre and/or market, or do you “cross-over”?

Peggy:  My reading tastes are an eclectic mix. Everything from the old classics (Dickens, Tolstoy) and then jumped to James A. Michener and Leon Uris. Later on, I devoured Terri Blackstock. Some of my recent and current favorite writers are Kathi Macias, James Scott Bell, Harry (H.L.) Wegley, and–—ahem—Nike Chillemi.

Nike:  Do you have a presence on social media? If so, where do you interact with readers the most?

Peggy:  I use Twitter a lot, but my major presence is on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pegphifer

 

Pegg

BIO:

Author Peggy Blann Phifer, a retired executive assistant after twenty-one years in the Electrical Wholesale Industry, lives in the ‘boonies’ of NW Wisconsin. A late bloomer, Peg didn’t start taking writing seriously until age fifty.

Her debut novel, To See the Sun, a contemporary romantic suspense, released in January 2012. A second novel, Somehow, Christmas Will Come, contemporary women’s fiction with a touch of romance and mystery, released in November 2014, revised and re-released in late 2015. A new work titled Whispering Hope, an historical romantic suspense, set during the years of Prohibition, released in early May, 2018. Her work has also appeared in numerous anthologies over the past five years.

Peg is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. When she’s not writing, Peg enjoys reading, blogging, and sharing her home with her daughter, son-in-law, and a Border Collie mix dog named Rocky.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND PURCHASE LINKS:

Blog/website: http://whispersinpurple.blogspot.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pegphifer

Twitter: www.twitter.com/pegphifer @pegphifer

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/pegphifer

Google+: http://plus.google.com/+AuthorPeggyBlannPhifer/posts

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/pbphifer

Email: pbphifer@centurylink.net

Purchase link for Whispering Hope: https://amzn.to/2KURU8x

 


American Exceptionalism ~ a unique idea

Live Your DreamAmerica isn’t just a country with borders, it’s an idea. Not just a democratic republic and a political construct, but a philosophical ideal. America was born for the rights of the individual. In 1776 that was unheard of. In 2018, throughout most of the world that idea is verboten and the individuals who dare to think they should be freed are persecuted, even killed.

And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts. ~ Psalm 119:45 [New American Standard Bible, NASB]

America is on the forefront of individualism. Americans believe in the individual pursuit of happiness. We walk in that concept. And that idea actually has biblical roots. That life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are rights given by God. Furthermore, that no government has the right to take these rights away.

Culturally, Americans step out with boldness and reach for their dreams, they reach to find their purpose in life. In America, we ask young people what they would love doing in life. We ask them to imagine that and reach for it. That doesn’t happen in most countries on the globe, not even in 2018.

Traditionally, in Europe middle class and working class young people went into the profession their parents held. A baker’s son most always became a baker. Traditionally, the upper classes in Europe were college educated.

car, couple

As more and more young Europeans would pursue college careers they found it difficult to find a higher level job that utilized the degrees they’d earned. American middle class and working class college grads would hop into their second-hand car and boldly drive across the country to get the job they wanted. This is an example of American individualism we in the states often have taken for granted [but is not intended to minimize the difficulty American college grads have finding jobs]. In Europe, even today, working class youth tend to stay in the town or county in which their parents/family has lived for generations.

Beauty 2011-2

Beauty, my senior kittie and the biggest “mouth” of them all.

When I retired, I did my research, and found my place to live in my golden years. I drove by myself from Brooklyn to stay with friends in Jacksonville. I had every space in my SUV packed with large plastic bins which I put into storage. I made that trip (with the SUV stuffed) one more time. My husband and I rented a tiny place, but he passed away and I made the final trip down myself…with the SUB cargo space stuffed and the back seat with one small dog and three unhappy cats in carriers.

I am not unique. American retirees have moved in droves from the northern states to the warmer, southern states. In 2018 that trend is changing just a bit, many bold retirees are moving to Colorado, Idaho, South Dakota, Iowa, Virginia, Wyoming. Still, Florida remains numero uno and Arizona is high on the list. My point is that Americans get up and go at any age. That is part of the spirit of Americanism.

food truck

Local start-up companies are part of the spirit of American individualism. That’s not a put down of large box stores. In fact, I’m married to Walmart. Many retirees are. But my heart leaps for joy when I see an adventurous food truck with a new twist on finger-food. I eat at chain restaurants, like so many. But, I love the local hole-in-the-wall places. Love to talk to the woman who owns Bill’s Diner on the west side of Jacksonville. One day when her waitress had an emergency, she waited tables and cooked in the back. I’m addicted to Sonny’s BBQ. Can’t beat the home style cookin’ at Grammy’s. Clearing tables and working your way up to standing over a stove doesn’t require a pedigree. If you can cook, you’ll rise to chef. This to me is the real American dream…ordinary people just doing it.

Speaking of Americans getting up and doing it…what about all those ordinary folks who are renovating old, dilapidated houses with character and good bones, and then flipping them. They’re hauling refuse out of those old houses and knocking down walls. That is so exciting. The energy there is so American and it restores the history of neighborhoods as beautiful houses are restored.

There are so many possibilities for Americans. Just get out and do it!

 


Chicken Cutlet Alfredo with Spinach ~ summer cooking

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The temps in northeast Florida are hitting 95 and the ‘real feel’ is over 100 degrees…so natch, I don’t feel like cooking. Even with the a/c blasting, it seems people don’t want to turn the stove on.

So, here’s how to make a luscious Chicken Cutlet Alfredo with Spinach without turning the stove on. I’m a good home cook, not a gourmet chef…and I’m heavy on veggies. With my penchant for eating, I try to keep my weight down to a dull roar. Veggies help. I say, ‘home cook’ because in extreme heat, I’m totally okay with using quality prepared foods and this recipes uses them.

IMG_2745

 

 

I started with Perdue prepared cutlets because the chickens are cage-free, are fed an all vegetarian diet and they use no antibiotics. You can use whatever cutlets you like. There are other good ones out there.

IMG_2747

 

Then I assemble my other ingredients. I use as many organic ingredients as possible. When I was younger, my body quickly repaired itself, now I’d like to give it all the help I can to fully function healthily. So: Prepared Alfredo Sauce, frozen peas, frozen chopped spinach, jarred mushrooms.

IMG_2746

Then I heat a chicken cutlet in my microwave oven. I heat one cutlet just under 1 minute. You have to know your microwave. Just heat it, don’t cook it. Then set it aside. [This recipe easily doubles, triples. You can nuke two, three, or all four cutlets in the package. Don’t worry too much about proportions. If you have extra spinach mixture, eat it for lunch the next day.]

IMG_2748Next, for one cutlet, I cook frozen spinach and frozen peas together. I like lots of veggies so I cook a half a bag of frozen spinach for myself many people would use one quarter of a bag for one, then I add 1/4+ C frozen peas, salt and pepper to taste. Cook them in your microwave until done according to your microwave. In mine 2-3 minutes. Take them out and mix well.  Don’t over cook. Then add 1/3C Alfredo sauce and 1/4 C jarred mushrooms without any of the water. Mix well and cook in the microwave a minute or so. I eyeball stuff. It really doesn’t matter if your spinach to peas ratio isn’t like mine. I hardly ever use salt, but most people do, so I added it in the recipe. You can use an herbal salt substitute. This is not rocket science. It’s summer cooking in a microwave. It’s supposed to be relaxed.

Then remember the chicken cutlet you set aside? Place it on top of the Alfredo spinach/peas/mushroom mixture. Drizzle 1/4 C of Alfredo sauce on top and heat in microwave. The whole process takes about 15 minutes and doesn’t heat up the kitchen at all.

Dust with grated Italian cheese. I use a mixture of Parmesan, Romano, Provolone, and Mozzarella. Pour a glass of iced tea, or a glass of chilled white wine. Get your fork and eat. You might have to let it cool a bit. Things that come directly out of a microwave can be hot.

This can be served over cooked pasta mixed with Alfredo sauce, but the peas are enough carbs for me and I don’t want to boil water for pasta in summer heat.

IMG_2750

 


Sophie The Wonder Dog ~ to have surgery

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Soph on her fav perch, the back of my easy chair

When I first saw Sophie, she was in a cage in the small dog section at the ASPCA in New York City. She was so cute, but so unhappy. Those who wanted to adopt a little dog were drawn to her, especially their children. But as cute as Sophie was, she was also angry. She hated the cage, and she growled at a few people who approached. I thought no matter how appealing she looks, she’s not going to get adopted. So, I asked to hold her. At first the attendant was reluctant. She took Sophie out of the cage, but said she’d hold her. I gave her a “Nike look” and said, “No, I’ll hold her.” How else can I know how she will be? But I already knew, no matter how she was, she was mine.”

As soon as she was in my arms, she burrowed into me, plastered herself to me. I whispered to her, “I’m coming back for you.” Then I had to go downstairs, fill out paperwork, pay the fee, and wait a week for them to check references. When I came back to get her, I whispered, “I told you I’d come back.” That was seven years ago.

Sophie is HIGHLY allergic to flea bites. One bite will cause her to scratch and chew herself to bleeding. We’ve battled this for years. We tried Trifexis for dogs (flea med and heartworm med combined. I’ve heard it works miracles on some dogs, not Sophie. Then we tried Comfortis which is more expensive because you have to purchase the heartworm medication separately. It works better on Sophie, but not perfectly. Summertime is still gruesome for her and for me when I see her bleeding. We’ve tried Apoquel for dogs, a med for atopic dermatitis, that is supposed to stop her from feeling the allergic reaction. Several vets have tried to push this on me, but she doesn’t have atopic dermatitis (allergy to pollen, dust, etc.). Sophie is allergic to flea bites. Boy is she.

What does help is a flea and tick killing spray called Nature Care that Walmart carries. Chewy also carries this line of products. I use that in combination with Comfortis. I have sprayed carpet, upholstered furniture, and of course Sophie before she goes out. It not only kills fleas (which you will see before your eyes if one walks into a sprayed area), it also kills flea eggs. In addition, adult fleas don’t like the peppermint smell and it keeps them off a dog that is walking outside.

She also has had cataracts growing since I got her. They were not a problem, and now they are. She can’t see much any more. We’ve always gone for a 3/4 mile walk twice a day. We went down to a 1/4 mile walk twice a day for a few days. She trusted me completely to see that she didn’t run into anything outside. I’m her seeing-eye-person. But outside noises, such as a loud vehicle, unnerve her. She gets around very well in the house she knows so well. She jumps into my chair, then up onto its back…no problem.

After only a few days as her seeing-eye-person, I knew this would not do. I phoned the Animal Eye Clinic in Orange Park, Florida and Sophie has an appointment for a consultation next week. I’m slightly  concerned about Sophie going under anesthesia for the surgery. She is in excellent health at 11 1/2 years of age. She came  through a dental cleaning last year with her regular veterinarian with flying colors. I’m praying for cataract removal with no problems and that’s what I’m expecting. Please pray for Sophie in the next few weeks. Bless you.


Tipping Percentages ~ now a vehicle for shaming

tipA recent report stated millennial are the “worst tippers.” I’d heard this before and I’ve also read a large number of articles extolling raising the tipping percentage from the traditional 15% to the new 20%. The result being that some groups of people aren’t tipping at all, but they are being shamed. Even traditional 15% tippers are being shamed, which is ridiculous.

Why is tipping important? Well, how we handle money shows character. Does tipping 20% show better character than tipping 15%? Not in my opinion. However, in our culture where we all know service employees depend on tips, not tipping at all does show a lack of character. It’s common knowledge that in many cases your server might be a single mother supporting her children, or a student over-burdened with college debt.

Deuteronomy 15:7 ~ New American Standard Bible [NASB]  

If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, in any of your towns in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother;

Younger adults starting out in their careers as well as retirees have a lower income than middle-aged adults and so ‘have always’ tended to be on the lower end of the tipping spectrum. This should not be surprising and I can’t understand why a study was needed. What I don’t like is the shaming element in reporting this study to the public. It seems, in today’s accusatory environment, many perfectly understandable things get twisted and  reported in the media in a shaming manner. Then they go viral on social media…or vice-versa. Sometimes the shaming gets to be a fevered pitch. This is so unhealthy, so unnecessary, so unproductive.

Tipping is a perfect symbol. How we tip shows how we treat others, how we value their lives. It’s  not ‘they should do something about that’ or ‘there should be a program to fix that’. Tipping comes out of our pockets. It’s personal to us. It’s what are ‘we’ doing to show we value the other person? We have some skin in the game.

Contrary to unfounded popular belief, shaming doesn’t make the shamer feel super-duper. Quite the contrary, shaming others often leaves the shamer let down and in a state of anger, which is mentally and physically damaging.

And, of course, it goes without saying, shaming is extremely damaging to the one being shamed. Interestingly enough, both the shamer and the shamed are so preoccupied with their own behavior and feelings, they have little empathy for others. There is no win here. It’s a lose-lose.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 ~ New American Standard Bible [NASB]

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

 

 

 


Three Strand Cord by Tracy Krauss ~ new release

Three Strand Cord

Tracy Krauss is a wonderful and exciting Christians author who isn’t afraid to treat her themes in a fresh way.

Fate brought them together, but can their friendship survive the tangled web of danger and deception that threatens their lives?

Tempest. Stella. Cherise. ~~ When Cherise convinces Tempest to pretend to be her so that she can sneak out of the country to be with her dashing Italian boyfriend, she is inadvertently implicated in an international drug ring. An unexpected complication forces Tempest to prolong the charade and she finds herself attracted to the very man who might be out to cause her harm. Meanwhile, Stella’s high ideals are met with suspicion and disdain at her father’s Texas ranch, until she uncovers a dangerous secret that could put everything she holds dear in jeopardy. At the same time, her own errant emotions take over as she falls in love with two brothers at the same time. Things heat up when Cherise is kidnapped and the three friends must turn to one another – and God – to get out of harm’s way. Three Strand Cord is a story of intrigue and romance told from three different points of view, all coming together to prove that when it comes to true friendship, ‘a three strand cord is not easily broken’.

A Few Questions For Tracy:

Tell us something topical, interesting, funny, or something we would not expect about the writing of this novel.

I had the idea and then wrote the first draft as a ‘Nanowrimo’ project. Once it was polished up it sat with my agent for about a year. Eventually we went our separate ways when it wasn’t selling. It went through many transformations during that time and I must say I really appreciated the honesty of my beta readers. One asked, “Who is this for, anyway?” and I had to stop and take a good look at it and make some changes. The thing about writing ‘edgy’ Christian books is, you still have to keep in mind that it is for a Christian audience and make sure that you don’t cross the line in some areas.

Is this novel part of a series?

Yes it is the first in a three part series. I have the second book written but the third isn’t much more than an outline. However, I want to get them all out there this year… not sure it’s going to happen! Now that I have ‘retired’ from my day job and will be writing full time (my dream!) I hope that I can make this a reality. Anyway, BLOOD TIES is Book 2 and TEMPEST TOSSED is Book 3.

When did you start writing for publication? What drives you to write? 

I’ve been writing for more than thirty years but my first book came out in 2009, so I’ve been a ‘published’ author for almost ten years. In that time I’ve written eight full length novels, had nine of my stage plays published, two devotional books, one illustrated children’s book, and have contributed to several anthologies, short story collections, and magazines. I like the way you worded the question, “What drives you?” because I do feel driven. I can’t NOT write, so even if I never published another thing, I’d still be clacking at the keys. I do believe, though, that writing for me is a calling – a ministry. My work tends to be what some would call ‘edgy’, but that is what I think God has called me to write, so I do, whether it is the most popular or not. My goal is to reach people with the gospel, and as we all know, humanity isn’t perfect, yet Jesus hung out with the prostitutes and tax collectors anyway.

How did you go about researching for this novel?

The book takes place in several different locations: Boston, Los Angeles, a Texas ranch, and Rome. I have been to both Boston and L.A. but still relied heavily on the internet for some of my research. I had to pick the brain of a writer colleague who lives in Texas and then I asked my own daughters, who have been to Rome, if I got that part right. I try to keep it fairly generic if I don’t actually know how something looks or works. Hopefully, the story itself carries readers through any details that aren’t exact.

Can you give us a sneak peek or preview into the next work in progress (WIP) you’re working on? When do you expect to release it?

BLOOD TIES is the next in the series after THREE STRAND CORD. It picks up where TSC leaves off, following one of the main women from the story who didn’t ‘win’ at love. It follows the same formula in that it is written from three Points of View only this time, two of them are male – also people we met in book one. I won’t say much more or I might have to insert a ‘spoiler alert’ about which woman’s love life doesn’t work out…

Were you good in English as a student? Did you enjoy reading and writing back then?

My senior English teacher encouraged me to go to this camp for writers one summer but I didn’t go. I think I felt intimidated – like I wasn’t good enough. It certainly planted the seed, though. I read tons of books. I was super into Edgar Rice Burroughs at one point (Tarzan) as well as Science fiction. I still love Sci-fi, dystopian, or any type of speculative fiction as well a Christian romance and suspense. One of my all time favourites is still Frank Peretti and I love Ted Dekker’s

 

Tracy Krauss

About the author:

Tracy Krauss is a multi-published novelist, playwright, and artist with several award winning and best selling novels, stage plays, devotionals and children’s books in print. Her work strikes a chord with those looking for thought provoking faith based fiction laced with romance, suspense and humor – no sugar added. She holds a B.Ed from the U of S and has lived in many remote and interesting places in Canada’s far north. She and her husband currently reside in beautiful BC where she continues to pursue all of her creative interests. http://tracykrauss.com  – fiction on the edge without crossing the line –

Links:

Website:  http://www.tracykrauss.com

Blog: www.tracykrauss.com/blog

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Tracy-Krauss 

Connect on Social Media:

Google+  https://plus.google.com/+TracyKrauss

LinkedIn  https://www.linkedin.com/in/tracy-krauss-b3897722

Twitter   https://twitter.com/TracyKrauss

Facebook page   https://www.facebook.com/Tracy-Krauss-Author-139874439404453/

Goodreads      https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3492473.Tracy_Krauss

Pinterest   https://www.pinterest.com/tracykrauss/

YouTube   https://www.youtube.com/user/TracyKrauss


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