Sheltering = cute food time! Guest Post: R. Cheadle’s Fondant Peonies


Staying home makes me hungry! How about you? And when I get hungry, my first thoughts are of sweets! Cute ones are all the more enticing…

South African author Robbie Cheadle hosts a blog, has an author page on Goodreads, and Tweets from Johannesburg. For all ages, she writes books and contributes to anthologies. There are her “Sir Chocolate” children’s books (co-authored with her son, Michael Cheadle), and her middle-grade “Silly Willy” series. And there is her preteen/young adult fictionalized bio about her mom’s World War II childhood in England, along with a book of poetry co-authored with Kim Blades. As Roberta Eaton Cheadle, she’s venturing into supernatural and horror stories for adults and young adults, the first titled, “Through the Nethergate.”

Robbie (Roberta) Cheadle writes, blogs, and videos for all ages from South Africa.
Robbie (Roberta) Cheadle writes, blogs, and videos for all ages from South Africa.

“How to make fondant (sugar dough/paste) peonies” by Robbie Cheadle

My husband’s birthday is approaching, and I wanted to make something special to mark the day, especially as we are likely to still be in some form of COVID-19 lockdown. I decided to make peonies in a dark pink and dust the outer petals with edible gold.

Making the peonies was quite a challenge, as I wanted to get the shape right. Peony petals curl inwards, which means that each layer must be allowed to dry completely inside a correctly sized bowl-shaped container. I made these containers out of tin foil, which I pleated and folded to fit the four different stages of the petals.

A fondant peony for Robbie's husband.
A fondant peony for Robbie’s husband.

You will need…

  • Fondant coloured dark pink
  • A large fondant rose cutter
  • A large and a small ball tool
  • Edible sugar glue
  • Peony petal cutters in three sizes (standard pack)
  • Edible dark pink food colouring powder
  • Edible gold dust
  • Two medium-sized paintbrushes
  • A flower veining tool or toothpick

Process

Mix a quantity of dark pink fondant and place it in a lock zip plastic bag. Take a small amount and roll it out as thinly as possible. Use a thin layer of cornflour on the surface of the fondant when you roll it out to prevent it from sticking. Cut out two rose shapes using your large rose cutter.A rose-shaped layer of fondant.
Use a ball took or toothpick to frill and flute the edges of the two rose shapes and use the flower veining tool or toothpick to texture the petals. Place in a small silver foil container pleated to round the petals. Allow to dry to the texture of leather.A silver foil container pleated to round the petals.

Roll a bud from fondant with a fatter base and narrower tip. Use a bit of sugar glue to attach it to one of the rose shapes. Paint a small blob of sugar glue on the bottom part of each petal on both sides and wrap the petals around the bud. Use a toothpick to separate the petals and create a rosebud shape. Use sugar glue to attach the enlarged bud to the other rose shape.Building the layers of a fondant peony.

Wrap the other shape around the enlarged bud. Leave to dry overnight.The other shape wraps around the bud.

Roll out more dark pink fondant and cut out six peony petals using your smallest peony petal cutter. Frill and flute the edges using a small ball tool or a toothpick. Use the toothpick for flower veining tool to texture the petals.Toothpicks help frill and flute edges.

Place them upside down in a sliver foil container and allow them to dry to the texture of leather.Outer petals take shape.

Dab sugar glue along the bottom half of both edges of the petals and place them around the bud, pressing them firmly into place with your fingers. When all six petals have been placed around the bud, place the flower into a piece of silver foil shaped into a cup. Leave overnight to dry. Your flower will look like this…Taking shape after several days.

The following day cut out six middle-sized peony petals and repeat the steps above. Place in a slightly larger silver foil cup and leave to dry overnight.Foil helps the shapes to hold while they dry.

Repeat the above process on days three and four, using the large peony petal cutter and slightly larger silver foil cups.Fondant peony, almost done!

Once the peony is completely dry, use a medium-sized paintbrush dipped into dark pink food colouring power, and smudge it into the centre of the peony. Dip a medium-sized paintbrush into edible gold shimmer dust and paint over the outermost petals until they shimmer and shine.
Your peony flower is now complete.

For step-by-step instruction on how to make more of our fondant artworks, for recipes, and for free audible readings of our free Sir Chocolate books, please visit our YouTube site.

Our YouTube site is a community service project that my two sons and I have started to bring readings of our free Sir Chocolate books and simple recipes to children and their parents to help keep children entertained during the Covid-19 pandemic. Our step-by-step creature videos can be made with children using playdough or fondant.

These are trying times worldwide — perhaps my other posts here and here and here and here and here and here and here will lift your spirits a bit?

Has your eating changed since COVID19?

Guest Blog Post: Benefits of Tea by Rhiannon Brunner


As a novelist, tea is one of my best friends. If I want a boost, to warm my fingers, something tasty and healthy yet free of calories (given how writing involves little physical energy), or during the moments I want to commune with others (making a story can be like cooking,  the ingredients being actually living).

Tea is infinitely varied — hot or cold, fruity or robust, earthy or sweet, and on and on — there’s a tea for everyone. Blogger Rhiannon Brunner lives in Vienna, Austria. She’s written a pile of books about subjects that interest her in German, which she’s planning to soon translate into English.

What’s your favorite tea? Here she describes hers…

Photo of Rhiannon Brunner
Author and blogger Rhiannon Brunner.

Tea offers extremely valuable properties. Many minor physical pains can be easily relieved with the right one.

If you take a look at my tea box, you will find some herbs that serve healing purposes. The classics (rosehip, chamomile, and fennel) are of course included. However, I would like to present here two varieties that I have long considered to be absolutely essential:

Damiana is a healthy and good tea.
Damiana is a healthy and good tea.

Damiana

Damiana tea tastes like dried hay.

Its positive effects include stress relief (it makes one slightly euphoric), relief of menstrual pain, and it has anti-inflammatory properties. 

Many people find it helps relieve stomach problems, acts as an aphrodisiac, aids sleep, and strengthens the heart and general circulation.

Bitter gourd is another great tea.
Bitter gourd is another great tea.

Bitter Gourd

If you don’t like the bitter taste, sweeten it with honey, because it tastes really bitter!

Above all, diabetics and health-conscious people enjoy its positive effects. If you want to lose weight, you are well advised to use it, since the usual diet does not need to be changed at all.  

I have experienced this on my own body — although I did not even intend to. It includes saponins, which helps the body to break down dangerous abdominal fat (visceral fat). Bitter gourd helps to get rid of the type of fat that not even the most restrictive diets can get to. To check the results, I asked a couple of friends to drink the tea as well. Their results were like mine.

Bitter gourd is rich in iron, calcium, phosphorus, copper, potassium and the vitamins A, B1, B2, and C. Therefore, it is optimally suited for a health-conscious lifestyle.

Caution is advised only for pregnant women and people with low blood pressure.

My personal favorite way to take bitter gourd is this one, Trà Khổ Qua. It is a combination that also contains Reishi mushrooms, which makes the bitter gourd less bitter, as well as additionally healthy.

I highly recommend anyone to engage in tea and be open to a variety of impressions.

Good tea is like a beloved friend. And so — let me say — it is tea time.

 

Alice is Rhiannon Brunner's lovely cat.
Alice is Rhiannon Brunner’s lovely cat.

Visit Rhiannon Brunner’s blog, where she discusses her projects, cats and daily life.

More about good tea.

Interested in the classical tea ceremony?

How’s your public library? by da-AL


How often do you use the public library nearest to you? Books are heaven to me (I’m in the middle of writing two novels!) — but here in Los Angeles, they’re not the only reason to I love them.

Photo of spaniel dog with his nose in a book, reading.
Photo by 2Photo Pots on Unsplash
  1. Any California resident can get a Los Angeles County Public Library card.
  2. All services are entirely free!
  3. Visitors can browse, and cardholders can borrow in-person or order online — materials from hard copies, audiobooks, magazines, music, movies, and more — to downloadable ones.
  4. Los Angeles County has nearly 100 libraries, including bookmobiles. Free of charge, they’ll deliver books from one site to another.
  5. Physically challenged people can have items delivered.
  6. Vocational and fun classes are available online and at their facilities — many online ones engage real teachers.
  7. There’s live online homework tutoring.
  8. Job seekers and business owners have lots of resources.
  9. Enjoy fun events — music, crafts, reading, and workshops.
  10. Over the summer, kids get free lunches.
  11. Lonely or just want to be cozy and quiet? Come on in!
  12. Meeting spaces can be used by groups and tutors.
  13. Get help obtaining a high school diploma.
  14. Wifi, computers, and printers are complimentary. Photocopying fees are nominal.
Photo of spaniel dog with his nose in a book, reading.
Photo by 2Photo Pots on Unsplash

Share about your public library and share this post…

Let’s Make Every Week Banned Books Week! by da-AL


Persepolis is discussed by a UK teen on youtube video about Banned Book Week.

Does the threat of a book being banned ensure that it’s among the finest books written? Check out the fantastic examples cited by the smart folks in this 29-second video (and pat yourself on the back if you smile when “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee is discussed — *see end of this post for why)…

Banned Book Week needs to be every week of the year! Started in the U.S., the now international event has been honored every last week of September since 1982.

* Whereas the girl in the video remembers the story as happening in South America during the 1920s, here’s how Wikipedia tells it: “The story takes place during three years (1933–35) of the Great Depression in the fictional “tired old town” of Maycomb, Alabama, the seat of Maycomb County.”

Once my novels-in-progress are published, I hope they’re not banned! How many potentially banned books have you read?

Guest Blog Post: What to Read When You’re Feeling Super Lazy by Orang-utan Librarian


Drawing of an orangutan reading a listLove + Compulsion… From as far back as I can remember, I had to learn to read! Once I started, I’ve never stopped. Now I’m writing two novels! Was Orang-utan Librarian reading over my shoulder?…

the orang-utan librarian

Hello again!! Yes, I’m actually posting twice in a week- you’re not seeing things! Oh you thought you’d seen the last of me for this month? Well sorry to disappoint 😉 I wanted to do a great “here’s what I’ve been reading this summer guys!” post- but let’s be real, I’ve not actually been doing much reading. Instead, I thought I’d give you an idea of what I’ve been reading/to give myself an idea of what I *should* be reading.

orangutan listLabels on food packets– ermmm yeah this is one of the things I’m actually reading at the moment- to be fair, it’s helping me practice another language, so it’s not cos I’ve become a food nut and I’m not totally weird (okay I am a little weird but you knew that already 😉 )

Road signs– same reason as above- it’s practice! (also directions probably count here, but…

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Guest Blog Post: American Grocery List by Elan Mudrow


1930s or so black & white photo of young woman typing
From Elan’s ‘about’ page.

Tired of taking food too seriously? Let blogger Elan Mudrow help…

Words Delight Our Senses by da-AL


Photo of woman looking at books on shelves
Courtesy Pixabay.com

Reading and writing are more than marks to on a page — they’re sensual!
My ears taught me what writing was. As my father would drive, my mother beside him, me squished in the back seat between two older brothers, they all would holler, “Yield!” and “Stop!” and “Hollywood and Vine!”
My father was in charge of money, handyman stuff, and ‘babysat.’ My mother cleaned, cooked, and tended the kids. Outside of the home, she also worked as a secretary.
Homemaking, mothering, and working didn’t interest me — but her secretarial accouterments enthralled me. That’s because they had to do with reading and writing!

Photo of old typewriter
Photo: Pixabay.com

Her spiral-bound green steno pads and click pens defined scholarly elegance.  Her dication machine, a table-top reel-to-reel tape recorder, was a whispery spooler and a boisterous reader. Pencils and ballpoint pens smelled of wood and plastic.
And paper! Bonded sheets for business letters were fabric-thick and textured to accommodate the erasure of typewriter mistakes. Tissue-thin onionskin paper was for international letters, to economize on postage.
Her typewriter, all ten ‘portable’ pounds of it, made music! There was the clacking of alphabet keys, the errp-errp-errp of sheets rolling in and out of the cylindrical platen, and the slap-ding of carriage returns. When I was allowed to hammer at the smooth plastic buttons, my fingers would twitch percussion in my dreams.
The process of my mother leaning into her typing with her brows knit, produced more wonders — a cigar box full of erasers: rectangular Pink Pearls that were worn oblong, round gritty pumic-hard wheels that featured jabby tangles of red bristles, blue and pink sweet-scented putties that were kneaded into gray wads. Hopeless typos called for alcohol scented white paint.

Photo of library and students
Photo by Tamás Mészáros from Pexels

Before I learned to read, my father would take me with him to the library. The front doors were a tall as a bank’s. Sun streamed into rooms as hushed as churches that were filled with readers, their heads bowed over their books.

What’s your first memory of reading and writing?

Guest Blog Post: A Self-Publishing Story by M. A. Lossl


Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

When fellow blogger M. A. Lossl said she just self-published yet another book, I asked her to tell us all how the process went for her. Here’s her post on it, plus some info on bee counting…

M.A. Lossl

Scenario

June has been UK’s national bee count month. You download an app, take pictures of bees (challenging!). Then upload the bee picture, with the number of bees of that type, you saw.

The fly in the ointment

Well, I managed a couple of days of blissful bee spotting. But, I had to self-publish my paperback.

The publishing train as requested by DA-AL

Back in March, I completed the easy task of  uploading my manuscript to Amazon KDP. I then proofed and published the eBook version of Betweenwhiles; A family between two wars – a true story of rebellion against Nasizm. I decided to release the illustrated version, in paperback.

This decision was informed by reaction to my first illustrated book. Mizpah Cousins: Love, life and perilous predicaments duirng the Great War Era, received great feedback. But, the pictures could sometimes be hard to view, on…

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Guest Blog Post: How to Get Your Book in Libraries by Kate


cartoon of red hair woman with braids, glasses, hat, and book

Self-publishers must do everything — and figure out h-o-w to do everything. Fortunately, Kate, a Minnesota public librarian and half of the blogging team at The Library Ladies, offers some advice…

The Library Ladies

We here at The Library Ladies are occasionally approached by readers with questions and suggestions about things that we could write about on this blog. While it’s true that reviews and reader’s advisory are some of the main points that we like to make here, we also try to keep up with current trends in the library world. Something that is becoming more and more prevalent within literary circles and realities is the concept of self publishing. Some authors decide to take the route of publishing and promoting their work on their own, and with more and more services cropping up it is becoming more and more common. One question raised is how do libraries factor into this newish trend? How can self-published authors get their books into libraries?

Okay, honesty time! I am neither a cataloger or a selector at the library that I work for, so this is…

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Guest Blog Post: How Blog Posts and Articles Can Promote Your Book By Angela


Photo of white lettering in sky
Awesome pic by Ryan McGuire of Gratisography.com

Self-publishing a book? Angela shares her experience…

Review Tales by Jeyran Main

How blog posts and articles can promote your book!

Want to increase readership and book sales, write an article or blog post?

Writing material related to a non-fiction is a no-brainer. Chances are you’re an expert and can easily expand or provoke further discussion on your book’s topic through a blog post or article. But fiction writers have a challenge and need to be creative. Here are some of the areas to explore:

  • Your book’s central theme(s).
  • The main location(s) described.
  • Expand on historical references and the era.
  • Your inspiration for writing the book such as an event or other trigger.
  • Backstory of one of your main characters and if based on a real person.
  • Any unusual practice or method you used to write the book.
  • Bonus material in form of background stories or information.

I was fortunate my last book “Suddenly Single Sylvia” about a newly divorced mature…

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