Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Gallery of English Bloopers, Oddities, etc.


Unexpected Insert:

My blog complete and ready-to-go, I was taking a peek at Facebook on Saturday morning (12/31/22) when I saw a video posted by my daughter which I absolutely had to add. Evidently, she and the girls were driving home last night when they spotted a bear walking toward their house (the one with all the Christmas lights.) She whipped out her phone and began to record. To see Susie's video, click here.


 Gallery of Bloopers, Oddities, etc.

For all the English-lovers out there - or those who enjoy a language-related joke - this week's blog is a compilation of some of the most spectacularly awful, or just plain weird, pics I've accumulated over the years since I began this blog in January 2011. I'll begin with a new one - not found on Facebook but sent to me by my son, who took the photo at a fast-food restaurant in a Connecticut suburb (which shall remain nameless).




Photographed by my son in Hartford, CT



When you drop the comma before "and," sometimes the results can be really misleading.




And lest you forget, a timely warning label for your child's clothing . . .

 If you didn't find any of the above amusing, see below . . .


Grace note:  To compose the above, I used less than half the Language-related pics I've saved. Guess we'll have to have another set of Bloopers & Oddities in the future.

~ * ~

 A quick plug for my contemporary novels, most written during my years of living on Florida's Gulf Coast. Three have international settings, with major scenes set on the Connecticut Coast, where I also lived for more than a quarter century.

Romantic Suspense:

Shadowed Paradise (Venice, FL)

Paradise Burning (Venice, FL)

Hidden Danger, Hidden Heart (CT to Spain to FL)

Orange Blossoms & Mayhem (FL to Peru to France, back to FL) 

Limbo Man (NYC, CT, Colorado, FL, Siberia & Iran)


The Art of Evil (Sarasota, FL)

Death by Marriage (Venice, FL)

Florida Wild (Orlando, FL)


~ *~

For a link to Blair's website, click here.

 For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page  click here.


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)



Sunday, December 18, 2022

BIG NEWS, Gallery & Garlic-Olive Bread Recipe



Cassidy & Proud Papa


Cassidy's "Big News"

On Friday,December 2, our extended family was summoned to an impromptu party at my daughter's house to "reveal news about one of the girls." (Since Cassidy had told me about her AFJROTC* application, I guessed this was the only thing big enough to drag everyone out on 90 minutes notice.) And yay, hurray, I was right. About 4:30 that afternoon her father got a call from Cassidy's colonel to say she was one of 300 in the whole U.S. to be chosen for an 8-week training program next summer, all expenses paid. At the end of the program she will have earned her private pilot's license! (To say we are thrilled is putting it mildly.) But Cassidy was at work and did not get home until around ten that night, as we all tried to keep our normal faces on and let her father break the news. 

*Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps

Before clicking on the video link below, you should know that Cassidy's colonel gave her the "handle" "Ramen" because of her curly hair.

To see Cassidy's reaction and a close-up of the remarkable cake her father Mike and cousin Lionel made, on almost no notice, please  click here.



Warning:  this bread is a two-day process as it must chill overnight.  

3/4 cup warm water (105-115°)
1 package active dry yeast
½ cup milk
2 TBspn sugar
2 TBspn butter
1 tspn salt
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup grated Asiago cheese
4 cloves of garlic, minced

2½ cups all-purpose flour
Cooking spray or  olive oil
1 egg
2 tspn water 

Day 1:

Crumble or grate cheese, if necessary. Mince garlic. (This can be done up to 24-hr ahead & refrigerated until needed. Allow to come to room temperature before using.)

In a large bowl stir together the 3/4 cup water and the yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan heat and stir milk, sugar, butter & salt. When milk mix is warm, add the cheeses & the garlic. Stir.
Stir in flour. (Dough will be sticky.) Lightly coat a medium bowl with cooking spray; transfer dough to greased bowl. Lightly coat a sheet of plastic wrap with cooking spray; cover bowl with greased plastic wrap and chill overnight.
Day 2: 

Using a dough scraper or spatula, carefully loosen dough from bowl and turn out onto a floured surface. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let stand for 30 minutes.

Grease a baking sheet; sprinkle lightly with cornmeal. Gently shape dough into an oval loaf. Using a dough scraper or spatula if necessary, transfer bread to baking sheet. Cover and let rise in warm place until nearly double in size (about 1 hour).

Preheat oven to 400°. In a small bowl whisk together egg and the 2 teaspoons of water; brush over loaf. Bake about 25 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in loaf registers at least 200°. If necessary, cover with foil during last 5 minutes to prevent overbrowning. Remove from oven; cool on wire rack. 

Loaf may be frozen. 



 Our choir's annual Lessons & Carols was on Saturday, December 10. Below, chorus and orchestra & close-up of choir. I'm middle row, right, next to the lectern. Susie is the second person to my left.She did a great solo on "Sing Noel."


Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, 

Happy Whatever Holiday You Celebrate

and and an Outstanding New Year!


Family photo taken at Central Florida Chorus Concert

Susie was singing in that concert too. (Would you believe she's the same person as muddy Susie seen sitting on a boulder on the cold coast of Kent, displaying her fossiling tools?)

~ *~

For a link to Blair's website, click here.

 For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page  click here.


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Holiday Bread Recipes

Next Blog - Sunday, Dec. 18

Olive-Garlic Bread & Gallery

 ~ * ~

Below, Susie in the cold, rain and mud on the beach in Folkestone, Kent, UK, where a fellow fossil-enthusiast (met online) showed her where to find ammonites - after pussy-footing her way over ground strewn with boulders. (Like all enthusiasts, sometimes you have to be a little nuts.)

Fossiling in Folkestone
Find of the Day (Ammonite)

In the dire days of Winter 2021, Susie & I ventured out to a Gem & Mineral Show in Sanford (they were taking everyone's temperature at the door). And we shared the purchase of an ammonite that had been split down the middle and polished (never dreaming Susie would ever have the chance to find one in the wild). Alas, the light for my photo wasn't right to highlight the shining red streaks in the ammonite, but it truly is a spectacular shell. Below, my half of what we bought that day.



While Susie was in Europe, I broke my rule about not buying any more Recipe magazines. (I was tempted, as I so often am, by a magazine displayed at the checkout counter at Publix.) Sigh.

I made the Sausage Pesto Ring first, which is more of an entree than a side dish. It's not only tasty but it freezes well. I will get several meals out of it over the next few weeks. And then I did the Cranberry Buttermilk Bread. I ate two slices without stopping and quickly froze the rest, to be thawed as a new addition to our upcoming Thanksgiving dinner. (Yes, it was that good.) So here they are. Enjoy!



 PREPARE AHEAD: Melt butter, rinse cranberries ahead of time & give them time to dry. [If using frozen cranberries, measure while still frozen. Thaw slightly & chop while still icy. Fold into batter as directed.] If you cannot find jars of tangerine or orange zest in the spice section of your store, you will need to grate your own before starting this recipe. (I have treasured jars of dried orange & lemon zest which I bought years ago and which still do their job.)

2 cups all-purpose flour 
3/4 cup sugar
2½ tspn baking powder
¼ tspn baking soda
¼ tspn salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
6 TBspn butter, melted
1¼ cups fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup roasted, salted pepitas (or pistachios)*
2 tspn tangerine or orange zest**
2 TBspn sugar

*I used pepita nuts & they added the perfect touch.

1.  Preheat oven to 375°. Grease bottom and ½" up sides of an 8x4-inch loaf pan. In a large bowl stir together flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda & salt. Make a well in the center of the mixture.

2.  In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, buttermilk & melted butter. Add egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in cranberries, ½ cup of the pepitas & the zest.

3.   Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan. Coarsely chop remaining ¼ cup pepitas. In a small bowl combine chopped pepitas and 2 TBspn sugar. Sprinkle evenly over batter.

4.  Bake about 55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (If necessary, to prevent overbrowning, cover loosely with foil the last 5-10 minutes.) Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan & cool completely.

Grace note:  Yes, the bread froze well. I let it thaw overnight in the fridge, then on the counter in the kitchen for several hours before our Thanksgiving feast.




I have made a number of pull-apart breads over the years, but this one is definitely easier as you do not have to slice the biscuits into smaller pieces. Repeating what I said at the top, this can be an entree or a party snack. And like so many things made with Pillsbury Buttermilk Biscuits, it is really tasty.

5 TBspn butter, melted
2 16.3 oz pkg. refrigerated biscuits
    (16 biscuits total)
1/3 cup purchased basil pesto (or homemade)
1/3 cup cooked & crumbled bulk Italian sausage*
1¼ cups shredded Italian cheese blend (5 oz.)**
Fresh snipped basil or parsley
*I always used Jimmy Dean as it is pure.
**Because of my allergy to preservatives, I shred my own cheddar & add organic grated parmesan to the mix.
1.  Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 10-inch fluted tube pan (Bundt) with 3 oz. of butter. (*See Warning below.)
2.  Top each biscuit with 1 tsp pesto, 1 tsp sausage & 1 TBspn cheese. Stack four biscuits, press down gently. Turn stack on its side & place in pan. Repeat (4 at a time) to create a ring. Drizzle with remaining 2 TBspn melted butter.
3.  Bake 30 minutes. Sprinkle bread with remaining ¼ cup of cheese. Cover with foil & bake about 5 minutes more or until a toothpick comes out clean, top is golden brown, and cheese is melted. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Sprinkle with fresh basil or parsley. Serve warm. 

*WARNING. I found using butter to grease the pan was the LEAST acceptable of the various means I've tried for other pull-apart bread recipes. Strongly advise a heavy coating of cooking spray or lathering on Crisco. Fortunately, the ring still tastes good, even if comes out of the pan in chunks. But for company . . . ixnay on greasing with butter.

~ * ~

For a link to Blair's website, click here.

 For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page  click here.

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Why I Enjoy Editing

 This week's Gallery starts with a true eye-opener, a "would you believe" for all my readers who have watched my grandgirls grow since they were toddlers . . .


 The girls' parents just spent 10 days in Europe - part vacation, visiting Mike's cousin in Spain - but essentially due to Mike running tech for a big convention in London. Below, behind-the-big-screen pics of what Susie dubbed, "Mission Control."


And from Facebook . . .

If anyone knows if this truly exists & where . . .

 Don't miss this one! Sent by my politically like-minded son in Connecticut.

The quote that went with it:

 "She got quite a bump on the head.
We kinda thought there for a minute she was gonna leave us."


~ * ~



 As most of my readers know, I retired from giving advice on Writing and Editing after publishing a compilation of all my "how to" blogs since 2011 under the title Making Magic With Words. But every once in a while I feel the need to keep my hand in, so as I edited Chapter 14 of my latest Regency Gothic, Menace at Lincourt Manor, I was inspired to dust off my editing advice column and say a few new words. 

"Editing is torture. Why would anyone enjoy editing?" 

I suspect the majority of authors would agree with the above. I do not. I not only like it; it gives me great satisfaction. "Why?" you ask . . .

1.  First and foremost, it gives me a chance to "see what I've got." Do my words make sense? Are they strong enough to keep a reader's attention? Does the chapter pass muster, even though it needs work?

2.  Secondly, editing gives me an opportunity to add all the things I left out in my rush to move the action forward.

Grace note:  although my editing almost always consists of additions, other authors might find they need to make deletions. Never forget that author styles of writing are as diverse as snowflakes.

What are some of the many things I look for while editing?

1.  Missing descriptions (both background and people), bad transitions—did I make a leap too far from one paragraph to the next?

2.  Major plot point flubbed—a hint too vague; perhaps too much, too soon; or no set-up at all for a major event to come

3.  Those old bugaboos—typos, words left out, repetitive words, a sentence that simply does not say what you thought it said.

4.  The sudden need to name a character who was simply "a friend, a maid, an acquaintance," but you realize the story would be better if this person were not completely anonymous.

I could go on and on, but I absolutely love to pounce on my omissions and find a way to make my story more vivid, more colorful, more understandable.

How should you go about editing?

Again, the answer to this is as varied as the number of authors currently struggling over their manuscripts. As far as I am concerned, until somewhere around Edit Four, I edit hardcopy. For me, having an 8½ x 11 page in front of me makes sense. I can scribble changes in pencil, erase them just as fast as something better comes to mind. I can scrawl long inserts in pen on a legal pad, crossing out 2 or 3 versions perhaps before I find the exactly right words. (If editing on screen, such major changes can easily become confusing.) 

Yes, I have to type in these edits at a later date, but it couldn't slow me down very much if I'm currently working on Book 52!

[As stated in previous blogs, my style - not necessarily yours - is to edit after every chapter, again after every 5 chapters. A 3rd edit, starting from the top; a 4th, and hopefully final, edit online after converting my Word Perfect draft to Microsoft Word.] Don't groan! Only a few authors manage to get satisfactory copy from anything less.

For the novices among my readers . . .

Do not forget to run Spell Check! But do NOT depend on it. It will not find the word you skipped, the word you typed by accident, the phrase you accidentally deleted. Only careful reading of your work will help you avoid catastrophic mistakes. (And yes, even after four or five edits, I still have typos in my work, I admit it. I found somewhere around nine when proofreading the paperback copy of The Secrets of Stonebridge Castle. Believe me, none of us is perfect!)

It's been a long while since I tried the technique below. Using the first draft of Chapter 14 of Menace at Lincourt Manor as an example, here is an excerpt from page one with the additions indicated in red. Deletions, an unusually high number for me, are listed below the excerpt.

Chapter 14

    I would like to record that my visits to the farms and dairy were a grand success, establishing a comfortable rapport between the Manor and our tenants. Truth was, whatever good impression Julian and I might have made on our initial visit had been seriously eclipsed by the odd manner in which I had located Betsy. And now, despite my attempt to play gracious-lady-of-the-manor, I had the feeling that the moment my back was turned every hand would be contorted into the “keep away, evil-witch” gesture Lottie had shown me.
   There was little I could do but hold my head high, keep a smile on my face, and hope time would lay the matter to rest. With determination in my soul and hope in my heart, I returned to list-making; this time, a compilation of the names of all our tenants, their children and employees. I would become a proper chatelaine for Lincourt Manor! When I had doubts about managing the role of chatelaine, I consoled myself with recollections of tales about Medieval ladies who held their domains for years on end while their husbands were on crusade. Then again, whispered that niggling voice in my head, I doubted any of them had a staff who thought the lady of the house a witch or put dishes of smoldering sage in the main rooms of their castles.
   I received a hasty scrawl from Julian: Violet, you disappeared without a word. Explain, if you please.

 Deletions to the above paragraphs:

I would be fortunate; the role of; alleviated even a small modicum of their wariness; even Betsy, after once again expressing her abject gratitude, contorted her hand; Nonetheless, I was back to list-making; What happened?

Grace note:  it was the extent of the edits in these opening paragraphs that prompted me to write this blog. Even after all my years of experience, "it ain't easy."

Summary:  If you are not editing multiple times, you are headed for an amateur presentation. Concede you are not Nora Roberts, Lindsay Buroker, Jeff Wheeler or any other of the handful of authors who appear to churn out words with nary a stutter. READ your work, make it better. REPEAT as often as necessary to make it sing. Or at least be the best you can do at this stage of your career. DO NOT insult your readers by giving them pages tossed off in haste, pages you believe to be so "perfect" you cannot possibly make them better. Cuz for 99.999 percent of us, it just ain't so! 

Go forth, write, then edit the @#$% manuscript!

~ * ~


For a link to Blair's website, click here.

 For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page  click here.

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)


Saturday, November 12, 2022




Another week of storm prep, hunkering down, constantly watching radar & TV reports, carrying a lantern around while hoping for the best, and . . . once again lucking out, while many here in Florida were hit hard. For the second time in six weeks. This time, not by a Cat 5 hurricane like Ian but by the incredible tidal destruction of the barely Cat 1 Nicole. 

While I sat high and dry on my little plateau in Longwood, giant trees toppled over 15 miles north in Sanford as Lake Monroe flooded over ground already saturated by Ian, turning the soil to mud. And much worse, along the coast 15-25 ft waves pounded ashore onto dunes already severely eroded by Ian and swept away sea walls previously damaged by Ian. Some 49 structures along the beaches in Volusia and Brevard counties (the Space Coast) have been declared uninhabitable. Many of these are towering condominiums, not simply single-family houses. A number of homes fell into the sea, and condos were left "on the brink," the ocean lapping at their foundations. 

For a link to one of the many videos of the damage to homes in Wilbur-by-the-Sea (Volusia County), click here.

On top of all that, of course, this was election week, Floridians who left their vote to the last day had to endure a succession of cloudbursts as Nicole's outer bands approached us from the Bahamas. All in all, a week we're all glad to put behind us.

We've truly earned our lighter moments! Hopefully, you'll enjoy the variety of photos below. 


In this dramatic week, we did not forget to celebrate Veterans' Day.


In honor of our fallen heroes


* * *

Below is a link to a Facebook video showing a construction of 10,000 dominoes biting the dust - the most elaborate domino-stacking I've ever seen.

For a link to the fall of 10,000 dominoes   click here.

* * *


Fabulous photo found on Facebook (no attribution)

From long ago - Cassidy & Bear

Can't have a Gallery without a Cat Photo . . .


From Facebook

My daughter has been posting all sorts of fabulous photos from Spain, but this is the one that really struck me - taken at the dinner table of Mike's cousins.


And then there is this marvelous poem, found on Facebook this morning . . .


And to close, this truly remarkable post-Nicole photo taken by Seminole County friend, Sharon Studenc . . .


~ * ~

Please remember The Secrets of Stonebridge Castle is now available in paperback.

For a link to Secrets on Amazon, click here.

For a link to Blair's website, click here.

 For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page  click here.

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)

Friday, November 4, 2022

Democracy at Risk

 Last week the famed Thunderbirds were at an air show at Sanford International Airport. Naturally, the Reale family was present, giving Cassidy an opportunity to meet and receive advice from some of the pilots present.

Photos by Susie Reale


 I don't know if the deterioration of American politics (and most of the other nations allied against Hitler in World War II), began with:  

a) a cabal of Nazi survivors determined not only to revive fascism but to spread the concept of dictatorship to the most powerful nations in the world; 

b) a conspiracy of the Elite determined to hang on to the concept of an all-white "right to rule";

c) the determination of the all-powerful super-wealthy to reign supreme;

d) too many nations becoming so prosperous and "fat cat" that, like the Cloud People in the movie Wally, we sat back, overindulged ourselves and our children, and let the values that got us to the top slide.

Most likely, it's e) all of the above.

Whatever the reason, we are at risk of being overwhelmed by the Rabid Right. Of losing all that "Democracy" stands for. Of losing the Freedoms our ancestors fought for, the Freedoms that beckoned so many immigrants to our shores. 

Grace note:  Although I use Florida's governor and senator as examples below, the principles involved apply to just about every one of our fifty states.)

At the top of the list of Scary People are Florida's governor, Ron DeSantis, and Florida Senator, Marco Rubio. DeSantis because he does too much, overstepping the purview of his office by a thousand miles or so, and Marco Rubio, who does too little—in fact, "nothing" would be more like it. 


I'd like to dismiss Marco Rubio as a lightweight do-nothing—I mean, as a Senator, he's nothing more than a vapid smile. And for that reason alone, he needs to be replaced. Florida deserves ACTIVE participation in government from its Senators. But Rubio has to go for another reason. As long as he opposes abortion, even for rape or incest, he is a menace. And since his opponent is the dynamic, intelligent, well-spoken, and politically active former Police Chief of Orlando, VAL DEMINGS, how can you consider voting for Rubio, the invisible man, unheard from except in his campaign ads?

Rubio, NO.   Val Demings, YES, YES & YES! 



Ron DeSantis is so scary I hardly know where to start. He has all these campaign ads boasting about the "Freedoms" he's given to the residents of the State of Florida. Right. Here are some of his Freedoms:

1.  The "freedom" not to wear a mask during the height of Covid, thus ensuring our Freedom to die and pass along the virus to others so they can die with us.

2.  The "freedom" to visit our relatives in Nursing Homes during Covid; results, ditto.

3.  The "freedom" to worship without masks; results, ditto.

3.  The "freedom' of parents to tell teachers what to teach; resulting, among other things, in a white-wash (pardon the pun) of our history and the by-passing of the LBGTQ community.

4.  The "freedom" to tell schools which textbooks they can use, what books can be in their libraries. (All things that should be decided by educational professionals, not by politically minded Power Groups.)

And Ron DeSantis has granted the following "Freedoms" to himself:

1.  The right to declare doubts about the efficacy of vaccinations, while promoting the latest cockamamie ideas from a hopelessly unscientific State Surgeon General (after firing the highly competent previous Surgeon General).

2.  The right to threaten Disneyworld, because it demonstrated a few "woke" ideas and refused to be intimidated by Gov. DeSantis.

3. The right to do nothing about Gun Control, even though the Parkland school shooting was one of the worst in the nation.

4.  The right to spend $600,000+ in taxpayer money to send a two planes to Texas to "borrow" immigrants* and drop them in Martha's Vineyard, promising them jobs at the end of the Summer Season when even local residents were being laid off. (A purely political move intended to garner attention on a national scale but which, happily, back-fired, just about everyone horrified by this politically scheming high-handedness.)

*A ruthless necessity designed to make a political point with no thought for the immigrants' welfare, as beyond an occasional overloaded boat from Cuba or Haiti, Florida does not have an immigrant problem.

4.  The right to run again for governor, when everyone knows he'll be spending most of the next two years campaigning for nomination as President, Florida and its citizens no more than an afterthought.

I could go on and on, but surely that's enough. Nip this "more dangerous than Trump" candidate in the bud. Do not give him the power of a governorship to support his campaign for the White House. 

Ron DeSantis, NO.  Charlie Crist, YES!


Whatever your decision,


~ * ~


Please remember The Secrets of Stonebridge Castle is now available in paperback.

For a link to Secrets on Amazon, click here.

For a link to Blair's website, click here.

 For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page  click here.


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)