About Me

My photo
Texas, United States


Tuscany In The Texas Hill Country?


In an article listing their choices for the best summer vacation destinations, the New York Times shared with the world what those of us who live in the Texas Hill Country already know - we're number one. Citing the growing wine country, vibrant music scene, inventive cuisine and festivals, the author of the article declared that a visit to the Hill Country's rolling hills was like a visit to Tuscany. However, the author is far from the first to note the areas resemblance to the rich landscape and feel of Tuscany. And luckily for those who live and play here, we can experience la dolce vita daily, minus the exhausting international flight and poor exchange rate.

One of the main characteristics the Texas Hill Country and Tuscany share are their gorgeous landscapes. Wide-open blue skies and rolling hills mark the areas, with ever changing colors of the seasons. Spring brings green hills with splashes of colorful wildflowers, while fall emerges in golds and reds. The land itself is fairly rocky, and the vegetation as a result is hardy and capable of handling a drier, warmer climate.
 Also, thanks to the similarities in land, both areas share a terrain which is ideal for certain agriculture. In short, they both make fantastic wine countries. Both areas' rocky, well-draining soil, temperate climate and low humidity allow for ideal grape-growing conditions. Local wines reflect this in their rich and complex tastes. As a result, the wine industry in the Texas Hill Country is booming, with over 30 wineries in the immediate area I live in and over 180 scattered in the various wine regions in Texas that grow a wide variety of grapes.  Similarly, olive growers have started to take a foothold in the area, hoping to enjoy the success of the industry in Italy.

The Texas Hill Country gives visitors and residences a taste of much that is wonderful about Tuscany. And yet, it gives so much more by adding its own singular charm and traditions...and dialect.
Texas is one of the oldest wine growing states in the US, with vines planted here more than a hundred years before they were planted in California or Virginia. In the 1650s, Franciscan priests planted Mission vines in West Texas, near modern day El Paso. The vines were a necessity in the production of  sacramental wine. The horticulturist Thomas Munson used Texas vines to create hundreds of hybrid grapes and conducted significant research in finding root stock immune to the Phylloxera epidemic, which saved the French wine industry from total ruin. The advent of Prohibition in the United States virtually eliminated Texas' wine industry, which didn't experience a revival until the 1970s, beginning with the founding of Llano Estacado and Pheasant Ridge wineries  near Lubbock and the La Buena Vida winery in Springtown. The Texas wine industry still feels the effects of Prohibition today with a quarter of Texas' 254 counties still having dry laws on the books.
Map of Texas Winery's



Pass The Banana?

 I have no idea if all this banana info a friend sent me is true or not but since I love them and eat them quite often I thought I would pass it on.

A professor at CCNY for a physiological psych class told his class about bananas. He said the expression 'going bananas' is from the effects of bananas on the brain. Read on:

Never, put your banana in the refrigerator!!!
This is interesting.

After reading this, you'll never look at a banana in the same way again.

Bananas contain three natural sugars - sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fibre. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy.

Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world's leading athletes.

But energy isn't the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

Depression: According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.
Forget the pills - eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.
Anaemia :
High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of haemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anaemia.
Blood Pressure:
This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

Brain Power: 200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school ( England ) were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.
High in fibre, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.
One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey.. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.
Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.


Morning Sickness: Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.
Mosquito bites:
Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.
Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and chips.. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.
The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.
Temperature control:
Many other cultures see bananas as a 'cooling' fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand , for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood Enhancer tryptophan.
Smoking &Tobacco Use:
Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6, B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.
Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body's water balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be rebalanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.
According to research in The New England Journal of Medicine, eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!
Those keen on natural alternatives swear that if you want to kill off a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart, with the yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place with a plaster or surgical tape!
So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrate, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around So maybe it's time to change that well-known phrase so that we say, 'A banana a day keeps the doctor away!'



It Matters Radio Blog Talk Show....

It Matter's Radio believes in embracing humanity through music, entertainment, the arts, and open communication.

Host Monica Brinkman, along with co-host & author/psychologist Kenneth Weene bring you a show based on a variety of entertainment. You will find interviews with authors, activists, businesses, humanitarians and they will introduce you to fine musicians and their music each show.

"From child-abuse, the homeless, spirituality, and artists to simply fun shows celebrating special occasions, we are here to communicate. If it's meaningful or entertaining, we'll broadcast it."

I will be interviewed about my memoir Nov. 21st on the It Matters Radio Blog Talk Show. The show is broadcast live at 9:00pm EST on Thursday evening at the link below:

It Matters Radio

You may log in with your Google or Facebook account and comment in the chat room...or you can just tune in to listen to how nervous I might be. :)
I've never talked about my controversial memoir on a live interview before and  hopefully I can shed some light on why I chose to write and confess as much as I did. 


The Bone Seer Paranormal Romance Trilogy

I happened upon Aishah Macgill's series of novels and downloaded the first book, The Bone Thrower. I have always been interested in reincarnation and "past lives" and like to read other's thoughts about them. I found her first  book fascinating and also downloaded the second in the series. I also found it quite captivating and am looking forward to reading the third book in the series. It is due to be released in a few weeks.
They are all available on Amazon and you can find
them by entering either her name or the book titles.

A thrilling paranormal romance, with a twist! Or two!

Imagine if your past life came crashing into this one?

"A pretty young girl, sold into slavery by her parents and rescued in the nick of time, holds the fate of the world in her hands. Will Isabella and her family succeed? Or will the ancient dark forces make a comeback?"

Aishah Macgill

"Aishah considers herself a 'seeker of truth' which has taken her on travels to Nepal, India and Europe and fantastic inner journeys that are equally exotic.

However, she found that in the pursuit of the answers to life's big questions, she is merely confronted with even more confusing ones.

Aishah Macgill is an Australian, who now lives overlooking the ocean on the wonderful Sunshine Coast in Queensland. She has found her spiritual home there - for now. She describes her environment as "soothing, healing by it's very nature"."


"Cast No Stones"

"New York Times best seller listed, Cast No Stones is the extraordinary true story of a lonely U.S. soldier, an impoverished English rose from a slum in northern England, and the damaging impact their romance was to have on Kevin, their confused son. Dashing American GI, Harry met young English girl, Laura in 1942 while stationed in Britain during WWII. There followed a lengthy and passionate affair resulting in Laura giving birth to a son while Harry’s unit were preparing to land on the notorious Omaha Beach. Machell recounts the often sad, sometimes hilarious experiences of a “GI boy” growing up in a post-war British slum. He details his search for his long-lost father, their emotional first meeting in America and the dramatic twist that left Kevin and all around him in a state of shock. "

 Kevin Machell
"Machell was born and grew up among the many slums and terraced streets of immediate post war Salford in industrial Lancashire. He failed the 11 plus exam and attended a secondary modern school leaving with only a certificate of academic competence. The prevailing educational system denied him the opportunity of sitting any GCE examinations.
He began work as a Laboratory Assistant and attended colleges of further education on a day release basis where he gained 4 GCE O levels. In his early twenties he started working in the chemical producing industry and spent the rest of his working life at the same company. Beginning as a chemical plant operator he quickly progressed up the career ladder through quality control and ultimately to a senior position of Shift Production Manager, a position he held for over twenty years.
At the age of fifty, at the behest of and completely sponsored by his company, Machell enrolled at Salford University and over the next three years was to gain two post graduate degrees in management study and application. He was appointed to the Magistracy in 2000 and continues to dispense justice in the Manchester and Salford Magistrates Courts."

Below is part of an email I recently received from Kevin. I had contacted him on his website a while back to let him know how much I enjoyed his memoir. At that time it was only available as an eBook but is now also available in paperback on Amazon:

"I was delighted that you enjoyed my book so much that you took the time and trouble to email and tell me. Some of you wrote quite some time ago, while others only contacted me more recently. A couple of things have happened in the last few weeks that I thought you might be interested to learn about. At the beginning of this month my book was selling so well in the U.S. that it reached number nine position in the New York Times best sellers list for non-fiction eBooks!" 

Cast No Stones is available at the link below: I highly recommend it.