Christmas Fudge, a Hatch family favorite recipe

My daughter had an awesome 4th grade teacher named Mrs. Zimmerman, or Mrs. Z. She used to send home some of her favorite recipes for the children to try. Hers was the best fudge recipe I’ve ever had! No, this fudge has nothing to do with anything of historical significance.  I don’t even know when or where fudge was invented and right now I have too much holiday shopping to do some research.  But I love this fudge recipe, so I’m sharing it with you.  Without further ado, here is Mrs. Z’s Famous Fudge:

In large saucepan mix:

4 1/2 C sugar
1 12oz can evaporated milk
Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly. Cook 6 minutes stirring constantly.
In large mixing bowl place:
2 cubes butter (not margarine)
1  12 oz pkg MILK chocolate chips
1  12 oz pkg SEMI SWEET chocolate chips
2 tsp vanilla
Pour hot mixture over ingredients in bowl and mix with mixer 3 minutes on high. Add chopped nuts if desired and stir in by hand.
Pour into well-buttered 9 x 13 pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until fudge is cooled. Cut into squares and share only with those who deserve some :)
Hint: If you want to add a little holiday dazzle, you can top with crushed peppermint sticks.
Enjoy!

New Cover for A Perfect Secret coming soon!

APerfectSecret2

A Perfect Secret–new cover

APerfectSecret old cover

A Perfect Secret–original cover

A Perfect Secret is getting a new cover!! The old cover was lovely, but the male model, handsome as he was, didn’t look like Christian. The model was too rough-looking and too old.

In fact, at a book signing when I told a prospective reader about the book, she asked, “Is this the villain on the cover?”

Um, no.

So that propelled me to more actively seek a model who fit Christian’s description and didn’t look like the bad guy.  And, as you can see, I have enjoyed success.

You may ask why I settled for a picture that I didn’t love. Well, I’d spent months searching for images for the cover  and couldn’t find the right couple wearing the right kind of clothing (not to mention to right amount–you’d be surprised how many scantily-clad couples there are out there) . And I didn’t have the budget for a custom photo shoot. So rather than put off release date for an indeterminate amount of time until I found the right couple, I chose the image that fit the best and released the book.

Over the last year since the book’s release, I’ve been casually skimming pictures looking for Christian. Finally, I found my vision of Christian–young, blond, blue eyed, and so handsome that jealous brothers would call him pretty. I think this one is perfect, don’t you?

So don’t be surprised or confused when you see this new cover pop up.  Digital and print copies of the new cover will be available soon. In the meantime, you can still buy this book with the old cover on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and other online book retail stores.

Here is the book cover blurb:

APerfectSecret2Desperate to protect her father from trial and death, Genevieve breaks off her engagement with Christian Amesbury and marries a blackmailer. After a year of marriage, she flees her husband’s violent domination only to have fate bring her back to Christian. Just when she thinks she’s started a new life of safety and solitude, her husband tracks her down, stalks her, and threatens everyone she loves.

Still brokenhearted over Genevieve’s betrayal a year ago, Christian can’t believe she’s come back into his life–and worse, that she’s done it on the anniversary of his brother’s death, a death that haunts him. Though tempted to throw her back into the river where he found her, he can’t leave her at the mercy of the terrifying man she married.

When her husband torments Genevieve and puts the Amesbury family in danger, Christian will do anything to protect those he loves…anything except give Genevieve another chance to break his heart.

 

Glass Armonica

Although Benjamin Franklin was an American and therefore not part of my usual Regency geekiness, I have to admire his brilliance. It seems every few years I learn of another invention of his. This time, I discovered that he invented an unusual musical instrument called the “glass armonica.” No, it’s nothing like a harmonica–it’s more like playing wine glasses with a wet finger, only these glasses are on their sides, all attached, and the glass does the spinning.

According to http://www.glassarmonica.com/ Franklin originally named his invention the ‘glassychord’, but changed it to “armonica” after the Italian word for harmony.  The Armonica hit the musical scene in London in 1762, launched a tour of Europe, and captured the interest of both Mozart and Beethoven who wrote pieces to be played on this unusual glass instrument.

Below is a fascinating YouTube video of “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” on the Glass Armonica played by William Zeitler who is one of few musicians who have mastered playing this unusual instrument. It love the magical, almost ethereal notes of the glass armonica and hope you find this a fitting way to kick off a magical Christmas Season.

$300 Holiday Cash Giveaway

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The Things, Big and Small, for which I am Grateful

autum and ThanksgivingNot in any particular order, I’m grateful for these things…

Cats. They’re warm and fuzzy, and they purr when I pet them, which is strangely soothing and satisfying. And they can be entertaining in many ways.

Those roller tapey thingys that take cat hair off clothing.

Getting about 85% (so far) range of motion on my shoulder and now having very little pain.

Insurance that allowed me to begin physical therapy on my shoulder.

Chocolate–milk chocolate. You can have that icky dark chocolate, thank you very much.

Cheesecake. I’ve never had a bad cheesecake. They are alway yummy and I can’t hardly eat a bite without making moaning noises.

Zipper closure plastic baggies. I don’t know how women got by without them.

Being born into a country where I don’t live in fear of authority.

Computers.

Spell checker.

Cut/paste option in Word.

Search/replace option in Word.

Readers who like my books enough to buy and recommend them :)

GPS–because I take the phrase “directionally challenged” to a whole new level.

Mobile phones with text and voice-to-text.

Google calendar complete with alarms and reminders.

Cameras to capture those best moments with my family.

My children, and that they seem to like me okay despite countless “Bad Mommy” moments.

A husband who knows when not to speak and just offers a big hug.

A husband who understands me and likes me anyway.

A husband who thinks I’m beautiful despite bearing six children and the effects of gravity.

A husband who reminds me why love conquers all.

That the above-mentioned husbands are all wrapped up inside one man :)

The beach (if only it were closer).

My faith and how it sustains me.

If I gave it more thought, I could come up with several dozen more, but I’ll stop here.

What are some things for which  you are most thankful?

Medieval Music and Musical Instruments by Regan Walker

Regan Walker profile pic 2014Today, please welcome my guest blogger, Regan Walker, as she discusses medieval music and musical instruments.  Since I love music and I play the harp, I was especially interested in hearing about her take on the medieval predecessors to my favorite instrument. Take it away, Regan!

Regan Walker:

In my new medieval romance, The Red Wolf’s Prize, evenings at the manor at Talisand often featured music. Music was the chief form of entertainment of the people who lived during this time.

The oldest instrument, of course, was the human voice, and the oldest form of that was the plainchant, singing without instruments. It would be something like what we call A cappella today.

In my story, the Welsh bard, Rhodri, plays his small harp and the heroine, Lady Serena joins him in song, whether she is garbed as a servant in disguise or, later, as herself.

What kind of musical instruments did they enjoy?Medieval musicians

Well, if you happened to have a traveling minstrel on hand, it might be crwth, the ancient Celtic lyre, predecessor to both the harp and violin. The Oxford Companion to Music defines a crwth as:

“An ancient plucked and bowed stringed instrument which had a more or less rectangular frame, the lower half of which was filled in as a sound-box, with flat (or occasionally vaulted) back, the upper half being left open on each side of the strings.”

This is the instrument David played while tending sheep, as recorded in the Bible. It was used by bards beginning in the 8th century BC, then later in Rome where it was the lyra, the first European bowed string instrument. The number of strings varied, the original Celtic version having seven strings.

Celtic_Lyre_Harp
Harps became common closer to the 10th century when we find evidence of a triangular-shaped harp. It is the small, hand-held harp that the Welsh bard Rhodri plays in The Red Wolf’s Prize.

Medieval harps in general were small and portable. Travelling musicians often had to carry their instruments on foot or horseback, and the materials required to build a quality instrument were expensive. The shape and string material of harps during this time largely depended on what part of the world they were from. Welsh harps were often strung with hair; Irish harps with wire; Scottish harps with gut.

bard with a small harpMedieval music used many string instruments such as the lute, mandore and gittern (small lute like instruments), psaltery (a cross between a harp and a lyre with twelve strings), pipes and bells. They also might have a dulcimer, similar in structure to the psaltery and zither and predecessor to the pianoforte. It was originally a plucked instrument.

The lute remained almost unchanged from appearance, around the year 1000, up to the middle of 1500.

Medieval lute

Lest I forget, there were percussion instruments, too—drums of all kinds, as well as the pipe and tabor (pictured below). The pipe was something like the recorder today, wooden and flute like. And there were cymbals and tambourines.

Pipe and tabor Reading about medieval music is one thing. While we cannot know the precise sounds the medieval music conjured for the listener, we have their instruments so we can get close. It is a haunting sound that will definitely make you think of knights and their ladies.

To hear what medieval music might have sounded like, see this:

 

ReganWalker_TheRedWolf'sPrize_600x900The Red Wolf’s Prize

HE WOULD NOT BE DENIED HIS PRIZE
Sir Renaud de Pierrepont, the Norman knight known as the Red Wolf for the beast he slayed with his bare hands, hoped to gain lands with his sword. A year after the Conquest, King William rewards his favored knight with Talisand, the lands of an English thegn slain at Hastings, and orders him to wed Lady Serena, the heiress that goes with them.

SHE WOULD LOVE HIM AGAINST HER WILL
Serena wants nothing to do with the fierce warrior to whom she has been unwillingly given, the knight who may have killed her father. When she learns the Red Wolf is coming to claim her, she dyes her flaxen hair brown and flees, disguised as a servant, determined to one day regain her lands. But her escape goes awry and she is brought back to live among her people, though not unnoticed by the new Norman lord.

Deprived of his promised bride, the Red Wolf turns his attention to the comely servant girl hoping to woo her to his bed. But the wench resists, claiming she hates all Normans.

 

As the passion between them rises, Serena wonders, can she deny the Norman her body? Or her heart?

 

Twitter: @RegansReview (https://twitter.com/RegansReview)

To win a free copy of The Red Wolf’s Prize, enter here:

 

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Disclaimer: Although I know Regan to be a careful researcher and talented author, I have not read this book.

 

 

 

Today is Release Day!

My new Regency romance short story, A Christmas Reunion, the Gift of a Second Chance is available right now!!!

A Christmas Reunion new coverA Christmas Reunion, the Gift of a Second Chance

Heartbroken that her betrothed has wed another woman, Emily is determined to pick up the pieces of her life and enjoy Christmas with her family. ​

Newly returned from war, Bennett holds a secret and will do anything to ensure Emily, his only true love, never discovers it…even if it means losing her.

Fate reunites the star-crossed lovers and reveals the truth that will either unite them or drive them apart forever.

 The Gift of a Second Chance,  published by The Wild Rose Press, is available in digital format everywhere ebooks are sold.

Remember, books make great gifts! :-)

New Release!!

I’m delighted to announce the release of my newest Regency romance short story, A Christmas Reunion, the Gift of a Second Chance available November 5, 2014. You can pre-order it on Amazon right now!

A Christmas Reunion new coverA Christmas Reunion, the Gift of a Second Chance

Heartbroken that her betrothed has wed another woman, Emily is determined to pick up the pieces of her life and enjoy Christmas with her family. ​

Newly returned from war, Bennett holds a secret and will do anything to ensure Emily, his only true love, never discovers it…even if it means losing her.

Fate reunites the star-crossed lovers and reveals the truth that will either unite them or drive them apart forever.

 The Gift of a Second Chance,  published by The Wild Rose Press (where you can also order it) will be available in digital format everywhere ebooks are sold starting November 5, 2014. Remember, you can pre-order it today on Amazon.

My Love Affair with the Harp

by Donna Hatch

A reader recently made the astute observation that there is a harp, or at least mention of a harp, in most of the books and short stories I write. She guessed correctly when she asked if I play the harp.

harp 85 petiteI do play the harp and have loved it since I was a child. Here is a picture of my harp, a Lyon & Healy 85 petite.

I fell in love with the harp at the age of 12–sort of a love at first mention. I can’t remember ever seeing a harp before that moment, at least not in person, nor do I remember ever noticing a one being played. But when I learned that a harp teacher was willing to teach harp lessons to children at my school for free, I knew in every cell of my body that I HAD to play the that magical-sounding instrument.

So began a love affair that has lasted all my life. I don’t play professionally anymore. I do teach, but mostly I play for pleasure and occasionally in church. It does something for my soul. Nighttime seems to be the time I play most often. It helps me wind down and quiets the noise in my head.

I began learning to play on a troubadour harp, which is a small, lever harp. Lever harps are perfect for children and beginners but many professional harpists chose to stay with a lever harp for a number of reasons–portability being one of the major reasons.  I decided to go the classical route rather than sticking with more folk-style music, so I eventually ‘graduated’ to a pedal harp for each of playing accidentals and key changes, as well as having more octaves available.

Harps come in all shapes and sizes. Harpists choose their size and style depending on their’ preferences and budget. The full-size, concert grand harps you see in the symphony have a large soundboard that carries well enough to be heard in a concert hall. They also come with an equally large price tag. And you can even get them beautifully carved and/or gilded which adds to the aesthetic appeal and, of course, the cost.

My petite pedal harp provides the strings I need to play most folk and classic pieces without needed to make any modifications, and it’s more portable than a full concert grand. Since I seldom play outside of my own living room except for the occasional performance in church or Christmas parties, I don’t need a big, booming sound.

The big harps have not only larger sound boards to create a rich, resonate sound, as well as more volume, but they also have more strings–more octaves.

To change the string from natural to sharp or flat, the length of the string must be shortened or lengthened.  On a lever harp, this is done by moving a lever for each string that needs to be moved. On a pedal harp, the harpist moves a pedal which changes that note in every octave.

harp diagramHere is an illustrated diagram of a harp. What the diagram calls the foot is also often called the base. The larger harps have taller columns, more strings in both directions, and a larger soundboard. The soundboard is what gives it the sound. Generally, the larger the soundboard and body (the curved part behind the soundboard), gives more richness of sound and  more volume.

256px-Double_Chromatic_Harp_1890Some harps have more than one set of strings. The harp pictured to the left is called a Double Chromatic Harp. I found this picture on Wikimedia Commons. I have never actually seen one like this in person nor heard it played. I can only assume that one hand goes on each set of strings the way other double harps are played. I tried to find a video on YouTube of someone playing a Double Chromatic Harp but couldn’t find one listed. I did find someone playing a regular double harp, which has two sets of strings side by side. I can see some distinct advantages to having two sets of strings, namely not having to so carefully time the repeated playing of a note.

This Sunday, I’m playing my harp in church accompanying the choir. Two flutes will also be performing. We’re doing “The King Love My Shepherd Is” arranged by Mack Wilberg.

Here is a video of the same arrangement performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir:

Do you play an instrument? If so, how has it influenced your life?

Three beautiful, clean historical romances for a special boxed price

TTT Love Unexpected 3-DIf you’re looking for a great historical romance at a bargain price–I have a treat for you; how about THREE great romances for only 99 cents?

This week only, Love Unexpected: a Triple Box Set romance including the full version of my full-length Regency romance entitled THE STRANGER SHE MARRIED  is now availble for THIS WEEK ONLY at the promotional price of only $.99 .  This is available for all ebook readers.

Here’s a link to the blog featuring my book and two other great full length sweet historical romance novels:

http://tripletreatromances.blogspot.com/

For some reason it’s hard to find the Goodreads Page so here it is:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/129510-triple-treat-romance

Also, I encourage you to sign up for the Triple Treat Romance Newsletter so you’ll be the first to learn of new sweet (clean) romances. Here’s a link to the newsletter subscription:

http://blogspot.us8.list-manage.com/subscribe/post?u=46736ccb33664dcf09a969d31&id=a0ec1994c2

 

Hurry! This special deal lasts only this week. Then for the next two weeks, the price goes up to $2.99, which is still a great price. Normally, the price for this boxed set is $5.99. Remember, this is three full length historical romances that you are getting in one set and you can get it for any ebook reader format.

Happy reading!