Diane Sawyer, Blog #26, November-December 2015

Diane Sawyer Portrait

Hello to all my loyal newsletter readers. Welcome to my new readers, including several I met recently during a 9-day Caribbean cruise, including Thanksgiving Day. I hope all of you enjoy this November-December 2015 edition.

Fondly,

Diane Sawyer

Writing News

Montauk Mystery Montauk Steps Tomoka Mystery Cinderella Murders Montauk Cave

The latest news: Amazon’s marketing specialists have included the Kindle version of my first 3 novels, The Montauk Mystery, The Montauk Steps, and The Tomoka Mystery in their January Kindle Holiday Store Deal in the U.S. market place during the entire month of January 2016. Happy reading!

Additional news: My author page at Amazon can be found at https://www.amazon.com/author/dianesawyer

Previous news: My web site address is http://dianewsawyer.com (Note that the middle initial “w” must be included to avoid confusion with Diane Sawyer, the newscaster.)

Please visit my web site and share my enthusiasm for my friend Roy Baker and his expertise in setting up everything and including his gorgeous photo of a sunset at Lake Maggiore, near my home. All the previous blog/newsletters are there and this one will soon join them. The hardcover, paperback and e-book editions of my novels are available on Amazon and other on-line sites—and you can even get to them directly via my web site by clicking on the photo of the book cover. That Roy, my web designer, is so clever. Happy Reading!

 

This and That

Enjoy these signs that a friend of mine saw while traveling (thank you, Barry):

Outside a secondhand shop:
WE EXCHANGE ANYTHING – BICYCLES, WASHING MACHINES, ETC. WHY NOT BRING YOUR WIFE ALONG AND GET A WONDERFUL BARGAIN?

Notice in health food shop window:
CLOSED DUE TO ILLNESS.

Spotted in a safari park:
ELEPHANTS – PLEASE STAY IN YOUR CAR!

Seen during a conference:
FOR ANYONE WHO HAS CHILDREN AND DOESN’T KNOW IT, THERE IS A DAY CARE ON THE 1ST FLOOR.

Notice in a farmer’s field:
THE FARMER ALLOWS WALKERS TO CROSS THE FIELD FOR FREE, BUT THE BULL CHARGES.

On a repair shop door:
WE CAN REPAIR ANYTHING. (PLEASE KNOCK HARD ON THE DOOR – THE BELL DOESN’T WORK!)

 

Travel & Cooking

While visiting the island of Curaçao during the Thanksgiving holidays I came across an article entitled “Thanksgiving in Curaçao” in a newspaper intended for visitors. It said that although Curaçaoans aren’t familiar with grouping together turkeys, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie for a meal, they do celebrate a festival called Seú, and the purpose is to give thanks. Seú is celebrated on Easter Monday. Everyone comes to town to watch or participate in the Seú parade. They dress up in traditional clothing (beautiful bright-colored cotton clothing, judging by the photos). The Seú parade began as a thanksgiving celebration for the harvest. The workers, mainly slaves, sang and danced and carried part of the harvest to give thanks to God. An interesting detail: The musical instruments were made from the tools that worked the land. The author of the article notes that The American Thanksgiving shares the purpose of celebrating the harvest, and dates back to the first Thanksgiving celebrated in the New World, in present-day Massachusetts.

Some interesting tidbits: Many people now travel to Curaçao to see the Thanksgiving celebration, especially the parade. Many hotels in Curaçao now offer Thanksgiving dinner to their guests. Americans who live in Curaçao are able to buy turkeys at local supermarkets and can prepare the typical Thanksgiving dinner for themselves, friends, and family. My favorite touch: Pictured in the article were two pies, decorated with leaves and turkeys made from the dough along with the words “Give” on one pie and “Thanks” on the other, also made from dough.

Finally, the article noted that Canada celebrates Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October. The United Kingdom also celebrates with an event called the Harvest Festival. The U.S. celebrates on the fourth Thursday in November.

 

Travel

During the cruise that visited Curaçao, my husband and I also enjoyed Grand Cayman (22 miles long), one of the three Cayman Islands, part of the British Overseas Territory. We had been there before and enjoyed revisiting the waterfront areas, near where the ship docked, and watching the boating activities. (Cuaçao’s motto, as seen on their coat-of-arms says, “He hath founded it upon the seas”). I was hoping to spot several sea turtles, those green creatures which have been around since the days when dinosaurs ruled the earth. Sea turtles can weigh more than 500 pounds. When they reproduce, beginning at about age 16, they return to the beachfront nesting sites where their mothers and grandmothers gave birth. I didn’t see a single sea turtle. I assume the port is too busy and too dangerous and they prefer quieter more sheltered areas.

I didn’t see a blue iguana either. They are found nowhere else in the world—only Grand Cayman. It is the island’s largest native land animal, about 5 feet long, about 25 pounds, and lives about as long as humans. I read that you can visit the Blue Iguana Recovery Program that inbred iguanas from near-extinction until they increased to about 750 in the wild. I did, however, see photos online. Their shade of blue is just slightly darker and more vivid than sky- blue. Dazzling. Surreal. Eye-catching. There is also something called a Blue Dragon Trail, a series of 15 blue iguanas painted by local artists, set up around Grand Cayman. If you are curious about what these iguana look like, Google “Blue Iguana Recovery Program” or “Images of Grand Cayman Trail of Blue Iguana.” Wikipedia “Blue Iguana” is also a good place to find images. One look, and you will long remember their spiny spines, the wart-like bumps on their faces, their large throat pouches, and muscular bodies. Not exactly adorable, but definitely intriguing.

The other two islands in the group are Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, but they are too small to be visited by large ships. I did find brochures about them and read some interesting information about Little Cayman and iguanas (what else?). About 200 year-round residents live on Little Cayman, whereas 2,000 rock iguanas roam the island. The speed limit is 25 mph and iguanas have the right-of-way on the roads. That is a sight I’d like to see! Cayman Brac, 12 miles long and 2 miles wide, is known for its lighthouse, and the brown booby birds that nest along the Bluffs, the island’s famous cliff formations. No mention of iguanas. Darn!

 

Cooking Delights

During the holidays, I got into a muffin-making mania, baking blueberry muffins and cranberry muffins for breakfast. They were good, but in searching for variety, I came across an all-purpose recipe for muffin batter that you can adapt in many ways. It was given to me years ago. For one dozen muffins:

Ingredients: 2 cups flour, ¼ cup sugar, ½ tsp salt, 1 Tbsp baking powder; 1 cup milk, ½ cup canola oil, 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract, 2 eggs.

Preparation: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F; coat a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray, or line muffin cups with paper liners.

Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl; in a large bowl, beat remaining ingredients at medium speed for 1 minute. Add dry ingredients to the large bowl and beat just until combined. Do not overbeat. Before spooning batter into muffin cups and baking, see variations below.

Here comes the fun part. Stir 1 cup raisins into batter, spoon into cups, and sprinkle rolled oats over the tops of the muffins. Then bake.

Or you can fill the cups only 1/3 of the way up the muffin tin and then add to each muffin 1 tsp of any seedless jelly, such as orange marmalade, and top with more batter and sprinkle with slivered almonds or finely chopped walnuts. Then bake.

Or you can fill muffin cups and simply sprinkle muffin tops with a mix of 3 Tbsp sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon. Then bake.

Or come up with your own creative idea.

Finally, bake 18-20 minutes at 400 degrees F. (Tops should spring back when touched.)

Bon appétit!

Diane

@ Copyright 2015 by Diane Sawyer. All rights reserved.

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