Tag Archives: Jane Austen

Holidays With Jane: Trick or Sweet: Favorite Sweet Treats

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Halloween is all about the costumes and candy, right? Well, here are some of my favorite (and pretty easy to make) sweet treats!

Probably my favorite treat to make is lollipop ghosts! In my Persuasion story in the Holidays With Jane: Trick or Sweet collection, I actually have Anne Elliot make quite a few of these things. (If you’re participating in the blog hop scavenger hunt, this is one of my clues!)

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You’ll need your favorite lollipops (I usually use Tootsie Roll pops), tissues or tissue paper, rubber bands or twisty ties, and markers to decorate. Take a lollipop and wrap the tissue over the top. Use a rubber band or tie to cinch the tissue just below the head of the lollipop. Then decorate at will! These ones are drawn with markers, but googly eyes are also pretty fun!

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Another fun treat is eyeballs!

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You’ll need vanilla wafers (or your favorite cookie) and icing in whatever colors you’d like. Frost the vanilla wafer and then put a big dollop of a different color in the middle.

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Bones are also fun to make!

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You’ll need pretzel sticks, marshmallows, and (if desired) icing. Stick a marshmallow on each end of a pretzel stick. These ones have melted icing on them (but it can make the pretzel soggy if you don’t plan on eating them right away).

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And a piece de resistance for your party: graveyard brownies!

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You’ll need either pre-made brownies or to make your own, frosting, gummy worms, crushed up oreos, and any other ghoulish thing you’d like. You can do this in the pan or cut up the brownies (like above). Frost the brownies and then drop the crushed oreos everywhere. This should look like dirt. Then place the gummy worms all over, maybe even sticking them in the brownies! Here we’ve decorated with some skeleton hands (non-edible). If you want to get really creative, make little headstones!

So what are you favorite sweet treats for Halloween? Let me know in the comments. And be sure to check out Anne Elliot making lots and lots of googly-eyed lollipop ghosts in my Holidays With Jane: Trick or Sweet story!

Behind “Holidays With Jane”: Lionfish Festival

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In my latest Jane Austen adaptation, “No Vacancy at Mansfield Motel,” a modern Fanny Price is an aspiring marine biologist tasked with keeping tabs on a local coral reef. On one of her dives, she notices that a group of lionfish have made her precious reef their new residence.

Fanny reached on to the platform at the back of the pontoon boat and grabbed her waterproof clipboard and pencil. She dove again, ready this time with her scientist’s eye. Before she reached the reef, she was already counting the numbers of snook and sheepshead fish swimming around. She noted that a new tube sponge was growing on the far side of the reef. And there, unfortunately, were a few lionfish that had come to stay. She’d have to come back out with the spear and take care of them before they destroyed the reef.

For those of you who haven’t ever seen a lionfish, here’s a good-looking fella:

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They can be a very beautiful fish and collectors frequently like them in their aquariums, but they can also be very dangerous.

Lionfish

See those spines on the top of his head? They contain venom that isn’t usually lethal to humans but will cause a lot of pain and crappy symptoms for a few days. For the fish that live on the coral reefs, the venom is deadly. Most fish have learned to stay away from this predator.

Lionfish are also dangerous to coral reefs because they are what’s called an “invasive species.” That is, they are not native to the east coast of the United States, so they have virtually no predators. Without predators, the lionfish are able to reproduce and take over. This can be devastating to the delicately balanced marine ecosystem.

lionfishlogo-1024x651Enter Lionfish Festivals! In recent years, local communities in South Florida (and other places along the east coast and gulf coasts) have started taking matters into their own hands. In my own hometown, we have an annual festival, a 24-hour period where individuals and teams try to catch as many lionfish as they can. There are prizes for the most fish caught, for the biggest and smallest fish caught, and even for the best lionfish dish! (Once you remove the venomous spines, the fish itself it safe to eat.)

What do you think? Would you like to hunt some lionfish? Or maybe you’d just like to read about Fanny Price? You can get your copy of the newest Holidays With Jane collection right here.

Behind “Holidays With Jane”: Artificial Coral Reefs

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One of the main elements in my Mansfield Park adaptation for the latest Holidays With Jane collection is an artificial coral reef that Fanny considers her second home.

As Fanny swam up to the surface for a breath, she wondered what this part of the ocean had looked like sixty years ago when her grandfather had first sunk the concrete blocks that formed the base of the flourishing reef she cared for today. It must have been a barren, sandy patch without much life around it. And now it was a vibrant ecosystem. Fanny was proud that Uncle Thomas had trusted her to watch it while he was away.

Coral reefs are some of the most sensitive ecosystems on the planet. Even small changes in ocean temperature or chemicals in the water or even an increase or decrease of salt in the water can have devastating effects, leaving the entire ecosystem out of balance.

Coral can look like rocks, but they are actually huge colonies of tiny animals. As the animals grow and die, they leave behind small deposits. In this way, the reefs grow very slowly. So any trauma they suffer can set a reef back many, many years. Knowing that building the bulk of the reef is a big obstacle to building reef health, people all over have started sinking artificial reefs to help the coral along.

Boulder coral

Boulder coral

In my story, Fanny’s grandfather has sunk some concrete blocks. But artificial reefs can develop virtually anywhere! In my hometown area, we have reefs built out of concrete blocks, sections of old bridges, old barges, and even old railroad cars!

Have you ever visited a coral reef? Share your story in the comments! And make sure to get your copy of Holidays With Jane: Spring Fever here.

Behind “Holidays With Jane”: Goliath Grouper

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In the newest collection of Holidays With Jane stories, my Fanny Price is an aspiring marine biologist in charge of observing the family’s little patch reef.

Fanny Price runs Mansfield Motel, the family business in sunny South Florida, mostly on her own. But she dreams of following in her Uncle Thomas’s footsteps and becoming a marine biologist. She plans to talk to her cousin Eddie about her dreams when he comes home for Spring Break. But when he brings along Henry and Mary Crawford, trouble starts to brew. Fanny watches her precious future begin to slip away. With everything on the line, will Fanny finally speak up for herself? Or will she be stuck running Mansfield Motel for the rest of her life?

Fanny loves tallying the creatures and keeping her eye on the residents of the reef, including the nosy Goliath grouper, Mrs. Norris.

As if she was jealous of the attention Fanny was paying to the other fish, Mrs. Norris came swimming lazily out of her hole to say hello. The fish had certainly earned the name “Goliath grouper” at nearly twice the size of Fanny herself. She’d earned Fanny’s respect, though, by keeping her watchful eyes on the reef and scaring away many of the predators that might have destroyed the fragile balance.

A Goliath grouper is a huge fish–sometimes over 8 feet long and 800 pounds–that likes warm water and dark holes. They can be pretty nosy, too! When I was thinking of characters from Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, I knew I had to have Mrs. Norris in there somewhere…and this seemed to fit perfectly!

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And, as you’ll see when you read the story, Mrs. Norris plays a pretty big role in what eventually happens…

Have you ever been up close with a big fish? Tell me about it in the comments! You can get your copy of Holidays With Jane: Spring Fever here.