Oh, Sweet Lorraine

Fred and Lorraine Stobaugh were married for 75 years. Lorraine passed away not too long ago, and Fred poured his love into a song. He entered the lyrics into a songwriting contest hosted by Green Shoe Studios. In order to enter, he was supposed to upload a video of himself performing the song. But, you see, Fred is 96 years old, and he doesn't consider himself musically inclined.

The people at Green Shoe Studios were so touched by Fred's story and his heartfelt lyrics that they hired professional musicians to record his song.

I just bought Oh, Sweet Lorraine over at iTunes. You can too. It's only 99 cents. And if you want to see Fred's story, there's a video over at 22 Words.

I will warn you, though, pull out a few tissues before you watch. Fred is a lovely man who truly loved sweet Lorraine.

Top Ten States for Retirees

Based on bottom line items such as cost of living, access to hospitals and doctors, taxes, crime rates, and weather, here are the top 10 states to consider if you're getting ready to retire.

10. North Dakota – Lowest state taxes in the 48 contiguous states, many attraction (the Badlands, Fort Seward, the Black Hills, botanical gardens, and more).

9. Nebraska – Due to low cost of housing, groceries, utilities, and health care.

8. Alabama – Although the crime rate is a bit higher, the "things to do" (beaches and
Hiking trails and mt views put WV on the list
golf) put this state on the list.

7. West Virginia – Those mountain views can't be beat. Besides the abundant trout fishing and miles of hiking trails, this state has a lower-than-average cost of living.

6. Virginia – Mountains and beaches with a low crime rate and low cost of living with lots of amenity-rich universities and colleges.

5. Mississippi – Although the poorest state, the Magnolia State has beaches and warm temperatures.

4. Kentucky – Mild weather, low taxes.

3. South Dakota – Yes, there are cold winters, but the low crime rate and the high number of hospital beds makes this the third best state for retirees.

2. Louisiana – Great jazz, a mild 66 degree average temperature, and low taxes.

1. Tennessee – Access to medical care, low cost of living, and mild weather put The Volunteer State at number 1.

See the full list and all criteria on the Bankrate site.

Sweet Potato Soup with Ham and Leeks

Wow! It's been 10 days since I've made a post. And even longer since I've posted a recipe. Here's a good one! Let me know if you try it.

Sweet Potato Soup with Ham and Leeks

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
½ lb fully-cooked ham, cut into small dice (about 1 cup)
1 large leek, cleaned well and sliced (about 1 ½ cups)
3-4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes (about 3 cups)
1 can chicken broth (about 14 ounces)
1 cup water
1 small can evaporated milk (about 5 ounces)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Sour cream
Thinly sliced scallions

Put the oil in a pot and fry the ham cubes, stirring constantly, until slightly crispy on the edges (about 5 minutes). Remove the ham from the pot. Add leeks and cook until slightly wilted. Add the sweet potatoes, the chicken broth, water, and evaporated milk. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Place half the soup into a blender (secure the lid! and place a kitchen towel over the top to prevent splatters) and puree until smooth. Return to the soup pot and add the ham. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish each bowl with a tablespoon or so sour cream and a sprinkling of sliced scallions. Garnish is optional, of course. Enjoy!

Variations: Change up the soup by adding a half teaspoon or so of your favorite herb or spice. The amount of the herb will vary depending on the strength of the herb, whether it's fresh or dried, and your particular taste palate. Remember, start with a small amount and taste. You can always add more, but you can't remove it once it's stirred in. Suggestions: sweet basil, lemon basil, cayenne pepper, celery leaves, celery seed, cilantro, cinnamon, cumin, curry powder, garlic, lemon grass (simmer with the soup, then discard before eating), parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme.

It's Official - Reclaim My Heart Is A USA Today Bestseller!

It's been several hours now since I discovered
Reclaim My Heart on the 
USA Today Bestsellers List
and I think I'm calm enough now to 
type out the amazing news. 


Sorry. Didn't mean to shout. I guess I'm still a little excited.

Claiming A Spot on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iTunes Top 100? Yes, I Am!

This weekend, Reclaim My Heart, made the Top 100 Bestselling Lists for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iTunes iBooks. I am both boggled and overwhelmingly ecstatic. I want to thank all the readers who bought my book. I also want to thank all of you who have left those wonderful reviews.

Without my wonderful readers, I would be lost. Thank you for your continued support!

#9 on Kindle Top 100 List
#4 on BN Top 100 List
#9 on iTunes iBook Romance List
#13 on Kobo Contemporary Romance