February 2024 Monthly Letter

Dear Friends,

I hope this finds you and your loved ones safe and well.  I was looking over some of my previous letters.  Three years ago we were in the midst of a pandemic.  Seems like yesterday when you could walk into a bank wearing a mask and no one would call the police.  Ha.  Glad that’s behind us, but let’s not get complacent my friends.  It’s flu season, and there are a few different strains running amuck.  So still be mindful when you’re in public, especially if someone is sneezing and not covering their mouth.  And, of course, wash your hands.  That was my health reminder for the month.

The weather has been crazy everywhere and it seems as if the sun has taken a very long vacation.  I keep trying to sing “The Sun Will Come Up Tomorrow” but then I am reminded I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, so I’ll sing it in my head.

Here’s a factoid about Groundhog Day:  I heard that Staten Island Chuck has a better forecasting average than Punxsutawney Phil.  Chuck’s accuracy is 80% while Phil’s is 39%.  My money is on Chuck.  In either case, Spring is due on March 19th this year.

Besides Ground Hog Day, we also have Valentine’s Day.  I have mixed feelings.  As a writer of romance novels, I am sometimes ambivalent about it.  I know that sounds contrary but the reason I write those types of novels is because it’s the kind of romantic experience we wish we could have.  And who says we can’t?  If no one buys you candy this year, buy some for yourself.  Or buy yourself a new purse.  Something to treat yourself.  We shouldn’t have to wait for other people to do something nice for us.  That being said, in addition to signed books, this month’s contest will include a small box of four real, red preserved roses to share the love.  Also is a signed copy of THE WILD SIDE.  It’s an advance reading copy.  I believe I explained what that was in a previous letter, but just in case you missed it, the publisher prints a very limited edition of uncorrected proofs to be sent to reviewers in order to give them time to read it and review it before the book goes on sale.  In addition, it will include a copy of ROCK BOTTOM – #35 in The Sisterhood.  #35!  Wow.  I am amazed, so thank you for your continued support.

That’s all I’ve got for now.  Be well.  Be safe.  Be kind.  And keep your sense of humor!

All the best,

February 2024 Recipes

Here are a couple of recipes that will keep you warm and cozy until the tulips stick their head out.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Serves 6 –  Serving Size 2 cups

  • 1 pound bottom round beef roast, cut into 1-inch cubes, all visible fat discarded
  • 1 large russet potato, cut into 1/2-inch pieces about 2 cups
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 medium sweet potato, cut into 1/2-inch pieces about 2 cups
  • 2 cups thinly sliced carrots
  • 10 ounces frozen pearl onions
  • 1 14.5-ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • 1 14.5-ounce can fat-free, low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 10 ounces frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley


  1. Add the beef, potato, and flour to a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, stirring well to combine.
  2. Add the sweet potato and carrots to the slow cooker. Top with the onions, tomatoes, broth, water, thyme, and pepper.
  3. Cook, covered, on low heat for 10 to 12 hours or high heat for 5 to 6 hours. Quickly stir in the peas and parsley. Re-cover the slow cooker. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes.

An easy, healthy favorite: 

Pasta Fagioli pronounced Pasta Fa-zool

This is more like a stew.  If you want it more like a soup see below.


  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 cloves large garlic chopped
  • medium onion chopped
  • tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried
  • teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 16 oz. can of tomato sauce (I like Rao’s with basil.)
  • 8 oz. cans Cannellini Beans drained and rinsed
  • ¾ lb. dried small pasta shells (I like the shells because the beans get nestled in them and they hold the sauce better.)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Crushed red pepper – optional
  • Fresh chopped basil – for garnish


  1. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil
  2. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, broth, wine and herbs
  3. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add parmesan cheese and  pasta and cook another 20-30 minutes until pasta is tender
  4. Garnish with basil, more grated cheese and crushed pepper. This will last in the frig for a week and in the freezer for a couple of months
  5. Easy peasy

For soup:

add 2 chopped carrots and 3 stalks of chopped celery, and 16 oz. of vegetable of chicken stock – follow same directions

And of course what would a letter be without GRILLED CHEESE!!!!

Here are a couple of my favorites.  BTW, did you know you can substitute mayonnaise (the real stuff) instead of butter?  I recently discovered that many diners use it in place of butter.

  • Grilled Swiss Cheese, Bacon & Tomato – I like it on Rye Bread
  • Make sure the bacon is cooked first.
  • *Slather up two slices of bread with either butter or mayo. Place slathered side down on medium heat in frying pan.
  • Place 2-3 slices of swiss cheese on each slice of bread. When cheese starts to melt top with bacon and a slice of tomato.  Let melt for another minute.  Carefully flip one of the slices over and place on top of the other – cheese meets cheese.

If you want a little tang:

  • Sourdough bread
  • Provolone
  • Cheddar

*Same routine as above substituting cheeses

Even more tang:

  • Your choice of bread
  • Monterey Jack
  • Jalapeno peppers – as much heat as you can stand
  • *Same routine as above substituting cheese and adding peppers