Archive for the 'Health and Well-Being' Category


Gardening Isn’t Fun When the Air Quality is Foul

Author: Meera, November 9, 2018

 

Hachiya  persimmons are delicious when they ripen to softness

Hachiya persimmons are delicious when they ripen to softness

 

 

I awoke today intending to collect some persimmons and gather in the ripe pomegranates from my garden But the news on my local TV station made me think twice about going outside to work.

 

The Bay Area air quality would be four times as bad as in Beijing (where many wear masks to avoid breathing the particulate). I’ve lived in the Bay Area since the 1970s and can’t remember suffering through such terrible air quality. Gardening was out of the question.

 

Our Bay Area air is so awful because of the “Camp Wildfire” that recently broke out up north. The inferno stoked by high winds was so fast-moving that it pretty much destroyed the town of Paradise (near Chico). Those winds also swept the smoke southward into the Bay Area. Although I live spitting distance from Mount Diablo, I couldn’t even see the mountain yesterday or today.

 

What I could see was a blood-red ball hanging in an opaque sky. Never saw the sun look like that.

 

Not only are wildfires raging on in Northern California. With Southern California’s Woolsey fire threatening Malibu and a section of nearby Thousand Oaks, I worry about family and friends in SoCal. Also, I am praying for those affected by the recent Thousand Oaks mass shooting. Not only are those folks grief-stricken, they now have to evacuate as fire threatens their community.

 

The rainy season in Northern California runs from November to April, but unseasonably warm weather (in the 80s F. last week and 70s F. this week) has been the norm. Fire danger remains high until the rains come.

 

I hope firefighters in our Golden State and everywhere else know how much their work and sacrifices are deeply appreciated.

 

Ripe pomegranates hang heavy on the trees this time of year

Ripe pomegranates hang heavy on the trees this time of year

 

The smell of smoke outside is overwhelming. So while nothing gives me greater pleasure than being outside working in my garden, I won’t today. Not when I can’t breathe.

 

 

 

 

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From here on the Henny Penny Farmette, I write nonfiction self-help books about health, wellness, and spirituality; and for fiction, I write mysteries that incorporate aspects of farmette life like keeping chickens and honeybees and growing heirloom fruits and vegetables.

 

Find all my books at Amazon.com, through Barnes and Noble, at Kobo Books, and elsewhere online or in traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

All available online and in bookstores everywhere

All available online and in bookstores everywhere

 

 

Anyone can find peace, clarity, and focus...all it takes is a moment

Anyone can find peace, clarity, and focus…all it takes is a moment

 

 

 

More than 150 rituals for sound mind, strong body, and meaningful connections to the people around you

More than 150 rituals for sound mind, strong body, and meaningful connections to the people around you

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Point of Departure When a Loved One has Passed

Author: Meera, September 24, 2018

After the news of the recent passing of my only sibling and the last member of my nuclear family, I moved an old chair beneath a plum tree on my farmette near the hives to  listen to the hum of bees and read the Georgics of Virgil.

 

For me, reading verse serves as a point of departure to an inward journey where I can find calm, utter silent prayers, seek forgiveness, spiral forth blessings, and come to terms with what has been left unspoken. In time, I find it is possible to surrender to what is and accept what cannot be changed.

 

 

The "Honor" rose...white blooming roses are beautiful under moonlight

Some plant flowers in remembrance of a deceased loved one. Pictured is the “Honor” rose

 

 

Beneath the dense canopy of the plum, I lost myself in reading the ancient verses of Virgil. The reclusive Roman scholar wrote his long poem of Georgics in four parts around 70 BCE. Virgil’s verses draw readers into pastoral landscapes where he describes nature, the seasons and their attributes, as well as the fullness and sadness of life.  I believe my brother would appreciate these verses  that show loss as an integral part of the natural world and our human existence. For me, Virgil’s poetry connects the mundane with the lofty.

 

 

Virgil’s verses speak to repetitive cycles–nature’s seasonal shifts occurring over the landscape, man’s domesticated animals going about their business, bees gathering pollen and nectar to bring forth honey. Some see these verses as primers on agricultural work and animal husbandry. What I derive from these poems is a loftier meaning: as much as change comes into our lives (whether through sorrow, suffering, loss, or war), the big picture is this–life goes on and there is sweetness for us to find.

 

 

A honeybee alights on a fountain for water

Bees need water (as most living creatures do) to sustain life

 

 

In Georgics IV about beekeeping, Virgil writes:

 

 

“First find your bees a settled, sure abode where neither winds can enter ( winds blow back the foragers with food returning home)

 

Nor sheep or butting kids tread down the flowers,  Nor heifer wandering wide upon the plain

 

Dash off the dew, and bruise the springing blades . . . .

 

The above is from another translation, but A.S. Kline offers a beautiful English translation from the Latin of Georgic IV, see, https://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Latin/VirgilGeorgicsIV.php

 

Virgil grew up in the rural Italian countryside where the peasantry lived close to the land. When the civil wars during Virgil’s lifetime caused many farms to go into states of disrepair and farmers to lose their land, Virgil’s family farm became a casualty of the times.

 

It’s believed that he subsequently regained his farm but the experience of loss had became indelibly imprinted in his consciousness because his writings deeply reflected the sadness of those who’d suffered loss. Perhaps because the reclusive bachelor and scholar did not enjoy robust health himself, Virgil wrote that the greatest wealth is health.

 

 

Finished jars reveal clear, light amber honey the bees made from springtime flowers

Honey is known as an ancient elixir for health

 

 

 

I thought about that as I sat listening to my bees and the sounds of nature around me. My brother had enjoyed good health before marching with other Marines through Vietnam’s fields of Agent Orange. In the last year of his life, health issues concerned him. But he didn’t dwell on that–farmers and soldiers seldom do.

 

I’m sure if he’d had a choice in the matter, he’d have preferred to breathe his last breath while fishing, surveying the expanse of a newly harvested field, or walking in the woods. Instead, he passed away while removing a sapling that a neighbor wanted pulled from her flowerbed. Death found him lying under an expansive sky on side of the road, the sun on his face, his breath gone, his heart still.

 

 

This angels in my garden serves as a visual cue to live life with gratitude

Angels cue us to live life with gratitude

 

Perhaps, he was ready. Fields and woods, rivers and streams, farms and fresh air have always called to me and my brother like some ancient voice in our DNA.

 

As kids during this time of year in late summer, we would race to the nearest watering hole to wade, throw rocks, or fish. Never uttering a word, we could spend hours sitting on a river bank in dappled shade, poles in hands, eyes on bobbins hoping for a nibble. Or, we would lie in a field of tall grain watching the clouds merge, split, and float across the expansive sky until they’d disappeared completely. It’s how I imagine my brother’s soul departed that fateful day–guided to the Great Beyond by a Spectacular Unseen Hand.

 

 

In the days ahead, I will take comfort in reading words written by my favorite observers of life like Virgil and philosophers of the world, both past and present.  I will read favorite passages in sacred texts. And I’ll refer to my own books on meditation and ritual. I hope the process empowers me to come to an untroubled, tranquil acceptance of the culmination of his life. What will be my destiny, too. May you rest in eternal peace my brother.

 

_____________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

More than 150 rituals for sound mind, strong body, and meaningful connections to the people around you

More than 150 rituals for sound mind, strong body, and meaningful connections to the people around you

 

 

 

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0719HHVRJ/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

 

 

Anyone can find peace, clarity, and focus...all it takes is a moment

Anyone can find peace, clarity, and focus…all it takes is a moment

 

 

 

http://tinyurl.com/y9vfw2t9

 

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How to Live a More Meaningful Life

Author: Meera, December 19, 2017

Since the dawn of civilization, humans have engaged in repeated, meaningful acts or rituals. Anthropologists who have observed and studied rituals across cultures point out that rituals vary greatly and are used for many reasons–from healing grief, reducing anxiety, invoking dreams, setting intentions, or enhancing confidence. See, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-rituals-work/

 

 

More than 150 rituals for sound mind, strong body, and meaningful connections to the people around you

More than 150 rituals for sound mind, strong body, and meaningful connections to the people around you

 

While social scientists have not fully addressed precisely how rituals work, research shows that they do work.  Whether it is the effort we put into the repetition of steps or the degree of commitment we have for doing the ritual, rituals add meaning to activities that we use to cope, feel confident, and mark milestones as well as passages in our lives.

 

From a personal standpoint, I’ve seen rituals of many cultures in my travels, and even participated in some. In Rituals for Life. my goal was to show how even the simplest act of awakening at dawn, for example, when yoked with a ritual (such as folding hands and facing the sun or spending a moment in mindfulness) can impart meaning and set the tone for a new day.

 

I used rituals that included declaration of intention, visualization, and other techniques to manifest my farmette and other elements of the ideal life I wanted–a life of living close to the earth, finding meaning in everyday activities, and writing books on topics I love.

 

In Rituals for Life, the complexity of the rituals in each chapter varies–some are quite simple; for example, practicing mindfulness as you drink a glass of warm water with lemon for your health. Alternatively, a ritual for embarking on a personal empowerment retreat has a few more steps. Instead of going through the motions of a daily routine without giving much thought to what you’re doing, adding a simple ritual can layer in meaning.

 

Whether you seek vibrant mind-body health, more gratitude, techniques for grounding, a sense of peace, financial security, or personal empowerment and  renewal, you’ll find chapters on these topics and others as well as sequences of rituals at the end of each chapter.

 

Rituals for Life is an easy-to-use, self-help book for anyone who desires a more meaningful and mindful way of living. This hardcover book is the perfect starting point for creating a fantastic new year or new life. To see more, click on the URL: https://tinyurl.com/yctdczpq

 

Surprise someone you love.  Tuck this little volume into the holiday stocking of a friend or loved one. Or, treat yourself.  Enjoy! –Happy Holidays to all, from Meera Lester

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In college, I often washed my then waist-long auburn hair with apple cider vinegar to keep the locks healthy and shining. And years ago, I discovered the decadent pleasure of a hot rosemary oil treatment and scalp massage that uses lavender oil.

 

 

If you grow your own herbs, making hair-care products couldn’t be easier.

 

 

Lavender is an old-time favorite herb that can be used in many beauty products

Lavender is an old-time favorite herb for homemade beauty products

 

 

 

The following are simple recipes you can make with home grown herbs and essential oils available in health food stores.

 

 

Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse Recipe: 4 cups of warm water to 1 cup apple cider vinegar. After you’ve washed the shampoo out of your hair, use the vinegar water as your final rinse.

 

 

Alternatively, you could add a couple of ounces of your favorite herbs like lavender, lemon balm, chamomile, or rosemary sprigs along with scented essential oils to impart shine and fragrance to your hair.  Rosemary is also good for promoting hair and scalp health.

 

 

Rosemary Rinse Recipe: 4 cups of boiling water poured over 2 ounces of rosemary springs. Let set overnight under a lid or cover. The next day,  strain out the rosemary sprigs and add to the liquid 10.5 ounces of apple cider vinegar and 10 drops of rosemary essential oil. Wash your hair, rinse, and as a final step pour through your hair the rosemary rinse.

 

 

For dry hair and scalp, create an oil treatment that you can do once every three weeks or a on a monthly basis. You’ll need rosemary, lavender, and a bit of tea tree oil (which possesses chemicals that may kill bacteria and fungus and reduce dandruff).

 

 

Hot Herbal Oil Treatment: 2 drops each of the following herbal oils–rosemary, tea tree, lavender–in 6 tablespoons of coconut oil. Thoroughly combine in a dark bottle, seal, and store. When you are ready for your hot oil treatment, sparingly apply the oil to strands of dry hair until all is lightly coated, not saturated. Cover with a hot towel for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the towel and wash with shampoo as usual.

 

 

 

 

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If you love all things natural, country, and homemade AND you enjoy a cozy mystery, check out my novels available online at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, and other retail outlets as well as in bookstores everywhere.

 

For my newest novel, A HIVE OF HOMICIDES, click on the link: http://tinyurl.com/ya5vhhpm

 

 

 

 

COMING Sept. 2017

Available NOW

The second book in the Henny Penny Farmette series

The second book in the Henny Penny Farmette series

First book in Meera Lester's Henny Penny Farmette series of cozy mysteries

Meera Lester’s debut novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series of cozy mysteries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Exciting News and Hot Deals for Mystery Lovers

Author: Meera, September 5, 2017

Welcome September! I’ve got lots of exciting news for this month. First, A HIVE OF HOMICIDES, the third novel in my Henny Penny Farmette series of cozy mysteries, comes out on September 26. I’ll be doing a giveaway on Goodreads.com. But there’s more . . . .

 

 

“Lester’s sensitive portrayal of Abby’s struggle with her wounded psyche raises this traditional mystery above the pack.”–Publishers Weekly

 

The newest offering in the Henny Penny Farmette of cozy mysteries

The newest offering in the Henny Penny Farmette of cozy mysteries

 

 

 

 

This month marks the launch of an  exciting Barnes & Noble/Kensington Publishing “BUY 3, GET 1 FREE” sale throughout September. And my novel, THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE, is among the cozies featured! And there’s still more.

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone who buys a Kensington cozy mystery from the B&N in-store display or any Kensington cozy mystery from BarnesandNoble.com between 9/5/17 – 10/5/17 and registers their purchase at http://sites.kensingtonbooks.com/kensingtoncozies/BN/ will be automatically entered into Kensington’s “Cozy Mystery Bonanza” sweepstakes for a chance to win a $300 value gift basket.

 

-        The grand prize ($300 value)

 

-        Kensington Cozies Digital recipe book

 

-        A STORY TO KILL by Lynn Cahoon

 

One grand prize winner will be selected after the sale has concluded.

 

 

 

 

The second book in the Henny Penny Farmette series

 

 

ABOUT QUEEN BEE: Murder claims the life of a free-spirited friend of ex-cop and farmette owner Abigail Mackenzie after a New Age Cult leader takes over an abandoned nudist camp in the mountains near Las Flores, California. Abby teams up with the dead woman’s brother to discover the killer’s identity even as an old boyfriend in Abby’s life shows up unannounced with a hidden agenda.

 

 

 

Murders at a N. California winery is a catalyst for ex-cop turned farmette owner Abigail Mackenzie

 

 

 

ABOUT HIVE: Abby suffers emotional challenges following the attempted murder of her friend Paola Varela and the death of  Paola’s husband. She seeks help from a new doctor in town while piecing together the clues to smoke out a killer. But as Abby attempts to heal and  help Paola  recover, she unwittingly places them both in the crosshairs of the killer.

 

 

See the full Publishers Weekly review at, https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-61773-917-0

 

 

The novel that launched the three-book Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries is BEELINE TO MURDER.

 

The debut novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries

BEELINE TO MURDER started theHenny Penny Farmette mystery series

 

 

 

 

ABOUT BEELINE: Abby is drawn into solving the murder of the celebrated pastry chef who buys her trademark lavender honey. The search for the murderer takes her through the lives of several of the town’s eccentric characters, exposing secrets along the way until she unmasks the killer among them.

 

 

Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to stock up on your favorite cozy authors books this fall with the exciting offers from Barnes & Noble and Kensington.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Peace and Serenity . . . Just When You Need It

Author: Meera, August 12, 2017

The mailman caught me by surprise yesterday. Standing and smiling at my gate, he hoisted up a box and balanced it on the wrought iron. I stopped painting the trellis supporting the bougainvillea clambering up the side of the house. I put the lid on the paint, laid aside my brush, and trotted over.

 

 

I actually welcomed a break; I’d been feeling a little stressed from the heat and wasp activity around a nest I’d pried from the porch ceiling. Opening the box, I examined the contents.

 

 

Cover of my new book (to be released Aug. 8, 2017)

Cover of my just-released book

 

 

Tucked inside were copies of my new book from Adams Media/Simon & Schuster. The first thing I noticed was the silky-soft, lovely lavender cover. Like a cherished devotional book, the size of MY POCKET MEDITATIONS is just right . . . it will fit into almost any purse, briefcase, or lunch bag.

 

 

There’s a handy little elastic page marker, too, to indicate where you left off reading or to easily find a favorite guided meditation. Nice touch. I made a mental note to thank the design team.

 

 

Thumbing through the opening text on meditation, I smiled as I recalled having to restrain myself during the writing of the book. I’d been tempted to include aspects of my personal journey into meditation. However, I had kept the opening simple. Here, though, a glimpse of my background might be appropriate.

 

 

In my early twenties, I made a trip alone to India where I learned about meditation through intense practice–many hours each day under the tutelage of a holy man, who had a follower who spoke English. By then, I’d left Missouri farm life and college to live for a time in Hollywood (actually, I rented a place not far from the Self Realization Fellowship temple that was established in 1942 by the Indian saint Paramahansa Yogananda).

 

 

The hospital where I worked was within walking distance of my home and took me right by the temple. I liked walking past that quiet temple–an oasis in the bustling city–but otherwise, for a country girl like me, Hollywood in myriad ways was a culture shock.

 

 

A year later, I moved to Northern California and began a new job with a large county hospital, put down new roots, and made new friends. I joined a meditation group where I met someone who had recently returned from India. Seeing his pictures of that country and of a holy man he’d met ignited a spark  of longing in me to go there. I wanted to see firsthand that land of intense colors, ancient architecture, cultural and religious diversity, and to meet that saintly person.

 

 

Within six months, I booked my trip. As lost as I felt in the city of Mumbai (formerly, Bombay) teeming with people, I found myself right at home in Gujarat (not a coastal town like Porbandar where Mohandas Gandhi was born but rather) in a farming village. There I learned meditation from the elderly Indian whom many locals considered an enlightened master of Kundalini Maha Yoga.

 

 

My yearning for spiritual awakening and evolution perhaps will resonate with others who similarly share a desire for self-exploration, whether their journey takes them out into our incredible world of diverse people, beliefs, and cultures or inward to the quiet places of the Self.

 

 

Meditation helps you focus, gain clarity, and generates many health benefits, too. Believing as I do that what blesses one blesses all, it is my sincerest desire for you to use this little book as a tool to find peace and serenity in your life.

 

To see more, click here: http://tinyurl.com/y9vfw2t9

 

 

 

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Perseverance with Portable Pauses Pays Off

Author: Meera, July 13, 2017

Just before Thanksgiving 2016, I was approached by my editor to write a nonfiction book about guided meditation. The deadline was extremely short (a few weeks). Still, I loved the subject and was up for the challenge. But there was a problem.

 

 

 

My Pocket Meditations

 

 

 

I had previously agreed to plan and cook Thanksgiving dinner for my family and my married daughter’s family. What happened next threw me entirely off my game. I’d never missed a book deadline, but I feared I might this time. Why?

 

 

My daughter was rushed into the hospital for emergency surgery even as her husband battled pneumonia. Suddenly, he, too, had to have emergency surgery.

 

 

Deeply concerned for them, I comforted their kids  and looked after their dogs even as I worked on the book, prayed for a positive outcome for both parents, and figured out what to cook for our holiday meal. It seemed impossible I could do it all, but brief meditations (taking portable pauses) during quiet moments helped me to focus.

 

 

When the drama finally ended, the two patients had returned home to recover from their surgeries, the kids worries had subsided, and I had put a traditional holiday meal on the table with the help of the kids who wanted an extra special Thanksgiving for their parents. We even whipped up some pumpkin pies.

 

 

 

Our pumpkin pies feature leaves made from pie dough, brushed with egg, and sprinkled with sugar before baking

Holiday pumpkin pie with a flourish of leaves

 

 

 

My understanding editor gave me three more days to finish the book . . . and I did. I felt bad about missing my original deadline, but I had plenty of reasons to give thanks.

 

 

MY POCKET MEDITATIONS is due to be released on August 8, 2017 from Adams Media/Simon & Schuster. If you have trouble finding time to meditate, this book will guide you into a quick meditation . . . even if you can find only a few minutes to dive deeply within.

 

 

If you purchase and read a copy, I hope you’ll post an online review. Here are some links to the book.

 

http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781507203415

 

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/my-pocket-meditations-meera-lester/1125160811?ean=9781507203415

 

https://www.amazon.com/My-Pocket-Meditations-Anytime-Exercises/dp/1507203411/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499966804&sr=1-1&keyw

 

 

 

 

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Thanksgiving Work Blesses the Giver and Receiver

Author: Meera, November 25, 2016

 

A trifle makes an elegant staple among Thanksgiving desserts when someone is looking for an alternative to pie

Even in the wrong bowl, a trifle makes an elegant offering among Thanksgiving pies

 

 

On Thanksgiving, our family is usually grouped in the kitchen working our magic on individual dishes for our communal feast. But this year, things were different. My daughter is recovering from emergency surgery and her hubby has been trying to get over a bout of pneumonia. Their twin daughters had just come home from college, so when my daughter asked me if I would mind planning and shopping for the whole meal and then cooking it, I jumped at the chance.

 

My enthusiasm was not dampened by the fact that I was working on a new book and writing it against a “slam” deadline. Though this deadline is tighter than usual, I enjoy the topic, so it’s not really work. Ah, but there are other things to do as well.  With the cold weather and the rain, I’m keeping a close eye on my plants, chickens, and bees. Still, Thanksgiving offered me a break from the norm. My daughter asked me to help make this holiday special and I wasn’t about to let her down. As it turns out, serving as the family chef lightened my heart and gave me the opportunity to be mindful of each special moment in our Thanksgiving day.

 

 

There is always a passion for pecan pie in our family

There is always a passion for pecan pie in our family

 

 

Although I intended to do the cooking myself and had already baked the pumpkin and pecan pies and had whipped up a layered trifle for dessert, I asked my beautiful, brilliant granddaughters for help. There were sweet potatoes to peel, green beans to prepare, cornbread to be made, herbs to chop, and the turkey to be stuffed and cooked.

 

By two o’clock, the table was set, the food laid out, and the feast begun. We offered thanks for our blessings and asked for God’s grace on others and especially family members who hadn’t made the trip this time. Then, we made a special request for good health. The twins and I had used natural ingredients imbued with love for our food offerings and so believed that our gifts would put their mom and dad on the road to health in no time.

 

Today–Black Friday–I’m back to writing my book and feeling confident about the direction I’m going as well as the hours and minutes I have left to get there. And honestly, I’d rather be writing than shopping.

 

 

Our pumpkin pies feature leaves made from pie dough, brushed with egg, and sprinkled with sugar before baking

Our pumpkin pies feature leaves made from pate brisee dough, brushed with egg, and sprinkled with sugar before baking; they’re attached after the pie is baked.

 

 

Tonight, we’re going to eat leftovers with the addition of a simple winter salad–seeds from a ripe pomegranate, sections of a tangerine or two, slices of blood orange and a ripe pear tossed into some fresh greens along with small chunks of goat cheese and walnuts–drizzled with a toasted sesame dressing. And best of all, I can pluck most of the fruit walking around the farmette after I check on the plants, the bees, and the chickens. There’s work to do–plenty of it. But the way I see it, I’m honored to do work that blesses both the giver and the receiver.

 

*          *          *

 

Enjoy reading about farming topics? Check out my cozy mysteries–A BEELINE TO MURDER and also THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE  (both in the Henny Penny Farmette series from Kensington Publishing).

 

These novels are chocked full of recipes, farming tips, chicken and beekeeping tips, sayings and, of course, a charming cozy mystery. For more info, click on the links under the pictures.

 

The books are available through online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books, and Walmart as well as from traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

See, http://tinyurl.com/hxy3s8q

 

This debut novel launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries and sold out its first press run. It’s now available in mass market paperback and other formats.

 

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

 

NEWLY RELEASED! This, the second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, is garnering great reviews from readers and industry publications.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Making Holiday Mandelbrot

Author: Meera, December 20, 2015

Before my husband passed away at 46 from complications after a heart transplant, he used to accompany our son and his boy scout troop to Dodge Ridge for an annual ski trip (depending on the snow levels). The mandelbrot (twice-baked biscotti) I packed for them was always a hit, and each year the scouts would request it.

 

Making this biscotti has become an annual tradition for me at this time of year. I usually make several batches, dividing the dough into equal size balls first and then molding them into logs for baking. Mandelbrot is a Yiddish word, meaning almond bread (“mandel” for almond, “brot” for bread).

 

 

Mandelbrot in a festive holiday box on on a pretty plate makes gift-giving easy

Mandelbrot served on a festive holiday plate or in a tissue-lined box makes a welcome gift

 

 

 

The pieces should be stored in an airtight container for gift-giving or for parsing out over the holidays with a hot cup of tea or mulled wine (my favorite mulled wine recipe relies on a ratio of 6-2-1 of claret, cider, and orange juice, plus honey and spices and citrus peel).

 

Our Family Favorite Mandelbrot

 

 

Ingredients:

 

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

3/4 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

dash of salt

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

1 cup coarsely chopped almonds (alternatively: pecans or walnuts)

 

 

 

The logs should be evenly spaced on the oiled cookie sheet

The logs should be evenly spaced on the oiled cookie sheet

 

 

Directions:

 

Set oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Spray oil over a baking sheet.

Cream together sugar, eggs, oil, vanilla, and almond flavoring in the large bowl of an electric mixer.

Add flour, baking powder, salt, poppy seeds, and nuts and blend well.

Divide the dough into three equal balls.

Roll each ball in your hands to make a long roll, the length of the cookie sheet.

Repeat the process with the remaining two balls.

Place the three rolls at least 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet (they’ll expand and flatten slightly during the baking).

Bake for 20 minutes (the rolls will appear golden brown)

Remove from heat and let cool while you make the topping.

 

 

Cinnamon sugar topping will give the biscotti its sweetness

Cinnamon sugar topping will give the biscotti its sweetness

 

Topping:

 

Whisk together 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon until thoroughly blended.

Sprinkle the rolls with the cinnamon-sugar topping.

Return the biscotti to the oven for approximately 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove and let cool.

Make 2-inch wide slashes on the diagonal.

Store the biscotti in an airtight container.

 

 

 

For more delicious recipes, farming tips, and a cozy whodunnit, check out my newest novel, available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online and brick-and-mortar stores.

 

 

The book cover for my debut novel, the first in the Henny Penny Farmette mystery series
The first cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette mystery series by Meera Lester, from Kensington Books

 

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Author: Meera, November 26, 2015

Up at seven o’clock today meant I caught the sunrise while letting the chickens out of the hen house to forage around the farmette in frigid temperatures.

 

 

Basted turkey is ready to slice

Basted turkey is ready to slice

 

 

I got a good head start on prepping the turkey today. I popped it into the oven by 7:30 a.m. before starting the other side dishes like cornbread stuffing, butternut squash with cranberries and cinnamon-spiced nuts, and the other vegetable and appetizers.

 

 

The pumpkin pie is made. I only have to make homemade whipped cream for a dollop on top. Last night, I whipped out two versions of cranberry relish–the traditional stove-top relish and the other made with fresh cranberries.

 

 

Cubes of butternut squash with dried cranberries and cinnamon-spiced almonds

Cubes of butternut squash with dried cranberries and cinnamon-spiced almonds and just a hint of honey for a little sweetness

 

 

 

The fresh cranberry relish was exceedingly easy to make–two small pippin apples and an orange right from my backyard tree, plus three cups of freshly washed cranberries. I washed the apple and orange, cored the apple and removed the seeds from the orange. Then I just pulsed everything together in a food processor, poured it all into a glass jar and put it in the fridge.

 

 

So all the food goes into the car around lunchtime. We’ll serve it at my daughter’s home where the rest of our family will gather together to give thanks for our blessings. We’ll pray for those far from home and those without a home and the less fortunate on our planet.

 

 

Some have ordered my novel,  A BEELINE TO MURDER, for me to sign. I’ll give them jars of lavender honey as a thank you.

 

 

God bless you, my readers. Happy Thanksgiving.

 

 

For more tips on farming and beekeeping, plus delicious recipes, check out my newest mystery–A BEELINE TO MURDER. See, http://tinyurl.com/p8d6owd

 

 

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