Monday, December 31, 2007

The Blog Tour for Small Town Secrets

Every Small Town has a multitude of gardens. Sometimes one woman's garden holds secrets that no one else knows...Come find out what secret Chaneeta's garden may reveal.
Won't you please join me and the wonderful people who will host my blog tour this entire month below are the dates, names, and blog sites of those involved. Come along and join us. Everyone who comments will get a PDF copy of The Small Town Secrets cookbook titled The Golden Kettle Cafe - so be sure to leave your email address.
Billie A. Williams
Printed Words Blogger/author of Small Town Secrets

Blog sites:
Joyce Anthony-

January 1

Marvin Wilson :
January 5

Nina Osier –
January 6

Ron Berry – and

January 7

Sandra Cox –
January 8

Bryn Colvin –
January 9

Nikki Leigh –
January 16

Elaine Cantrell –
January 20

Janet Elaine Smith http://www.janetelainesmith.blogspot. com
January 31

Vivian Zabel - blogs: and
January 26

Pamela Thebideau –
January 25

Angela Verdenius -

Beckie Joki -

Karina Fabian
January 21 & 22

SK Hamilton, (Pee Wee)
January 30

Mary Emmons

Kim Richards (waiting for link)
January 28 & 29

Bob Blackburn (waiting for link)
January 23

Dawn Mork (waiting for link)
January 14

Sunday, December 30, 2007

One of the Things My Garden Grows

One of the things my garden grows is mystery fiction. I am a mystery suspense author with well over two dozen books published. Today I want to announce the upcoming release of my brand new book SMALL TOWN SECRETS. I've set up a blog tour, schedule available on my web site, which consists of a series of interviews with other bloggers all over the web. Please feel free to join in the fun - participants could win a cook book of recipes from the Golden Kettle Cafe that is a prominent feature in Small Town Secrets.

EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!
Constable Dusty Rhodes mauled by a grizzly in the Colorado Wilderness area where he was vacationing.

(That is only the smoke from the fire that rages in tiny Nettlesville.)

Nettlesville is on fire
Who is that deputy new hire?
Is s serial arsonist doing the crime
As buildings burn, one at a time.
They wonder

Chaneeta Morgan’s secret past
Undoing the Town Chairwoman fast
She wonders

Is she destined to pay for an imagined sin
Will Olga’s vengeance allow her to win
The coveted Town Chairwoman post
What growing Evil does Nettlesville host?
They wonder

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Small Town Secrets
by Billie A Williams
ISBN 978-1-59705-766-0 (print)
ISBN 978-1-59705-283-2 (electronic)
Available January 1, 2008
From Wings ePress, Inc or your favorite bookstore.
Readers Guide available free at
Contact: Billie A Williams
P O Box 134
Amberg, WI 54102

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

This and That Now that Christmas is Over

This And That Now That Christmas Is Over

One Woman’s Garden
By Billie A Williams © 2007

You’ve finished with the Christmas tree and you know that you should decorate it with bread tied to its branches — pretty yarn and string bows, that will serve as nesting material in the spring – and perhaps some pine cones filled with peanut butter and bird seed for the suet eating birds like the black capped chickadee and the nuthatch. You can stand your tree in a snow bank or a bucket of sand until the feast has been eaten by the birds. You can lay it on the ground as a natural hide away for rabbits. Your feathered and furry friends will appreciate it.

But what do you do with all that sugar left over from the candy making you did for Christmas. It isn’t quite time for hummingbirds (they get 1 part sugar to 4 parts water— you remember- and food coloring isn’t necessary – as long as the container has a little red to attract them initially – they’ll find it.)

So how about some uses for that left over sugar.

1. We’ll think ahead to your lawn use it to remove gasoline spots by sprinkling a mix of six cups gypsum and one cup of sugar over the area and watering frequently.

2. You can use it to trap insects. Create a sticky mess by sprinkling a flour and powdered sugar combination on plants before the dew dries in the morning.

3. You can use sugar to get rid of nematodes by tilling in three pounds of sugar per acre of soil in early spring and late fall.

4. Or you can make a fertilizer for strawberries and rhubarb by combining ½ cup of sugar with five pounds of dry garden food.

Oh and while you are visiting your local hardware store—you know your favorite pastime—looking for new gardening tools, be sure to look for a Bricklayer’s pointed trowel. Why, you ask?

Well silly think of it as an all purpose knife. Think of it as a planting, or harvesting tool. You can use it to cut apart and lift petunias, tomato, pepper and other plants from the flats when setting them out. You know how they never seem to release easily. You can also use it for gathering and trimming head lettuce, cabbage, kohlrabi etc. The blade is thin and sharp on both sides – why didn’t I think of that sooner, you’ll say the first time you use it. Your neighbors will think you are so clever.

Spring can’t be that far away when you start receiving those garden catalogs in the mail. Get out your pencil and paper and plot a garden – stick these hints in your note book and the howling wind and falling snow won’t seem so daunting.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Red, Pink and White Christmas

Winter Reds, Pinks and Whites with Poinsettias
by Billie A. Williams

Euphorbia Pulcherrims, better knows in lay terms as poinsettias. This is the time of year you will see them everywhere in shades of the always popular red to pink to white. In The American Horticultural Society’s A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, it is mixed in with other cactus-like plants. This should give you a clue to its care and habits. But then, it’s a bloomer, it has a natural resting time that forces the color to the leaves—the part we think is the flower—much like the Christmas cactus it needs its hours of darkness. So, how do we care for them?

The poinsettia should be placed in a warm sunny window to receive maximum beauty. Do not, however, allow the leaves to touch the glass. As with all cactus, water thoroughly when the soil is dry to the touch. Do not let the plant become soggy. Poinsettia do not like wet feet, as we say in the plant world.

At some point leaves begin to fall, or you have had enough of the winter beauty and are ready to make room for spring plants. You’ve become attached to this beauty from the cactus world. Can you save it for next year? Certainly!

According to Jerry Baker in his book Great Green Book of Garden Secrets, you should stop watering the Poinsettia, when the leaves begin to drop off store it in a cool dry place [like you did the summer geraniums you hoped to winter over].

In the spring, you can begin to water it again after you’ve severely pruned it back to about 6 inches in height. If you keep the stems pinched back as new leaves begin to form, you will have a compact, bushy, beautiful poinsettia in time for next Christmas. From early October until blooming starts in late November or mid December, place the plant in a dark closet for 12 hours a day and then place it in a bright sunny window for the other 12 hours each day. You should see your plant return to its former gorgeous self.

Please do remember that poinsettias are one of those beauties that are also toxic to children and pets. So do keep this in mind when you place the plants around your house.

*A TIP: from Jerry Baker about bugs and house plants: Bugs won’t take up residence in the soil of your house plants if you sprinkle the shavings from your pencil sharpener onto the soil. If you don’t have a pencil sharpener in your home, ask your child or a friend’s child’s teacher if you might have the contents of their pencil sharpener occasionally. “Waste not, want not,” my parents used to say. Organic gardening is all about recycling whatever we can whenever we can.

Permission to use as long as you include this resource box:
Billie A Williams
Small Town Secrets (available January 2008)
ISBN 978-1-59705-7660
Fire rages across the tiny town of Nettlesville. Someone is bent on burning it down to the ground one building at a time. Can Chaneeta Morgan and Olga Corn bury their rivalry long enough to stop the arsonist before the town is nothing but ashes, or will Chaneeta’s secret past destroy her and possibly the town?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Plant it! Harvest It! Then What?

If you plant them you have to know what to do with them and only one of the things you might want to do with them is cook. (If you want the answer to more types and their uses go to the Cooks Thesaurus at or

The Cook's Thesaurus is a cooking encyclopedia that covers thousands of ingredients and kitchen tools. Entries include pictures, descriptions, synonyms, pronunciations, and suggested substitutions.

What a fascinating place to visit. You can learn so many trivium, but also some pretty neat stuff. For instance here is just a tiny bit of what you’ll find on the lowly onion.

So which are best for cooking? The most common opinion is the yellow onion. Before we explore how to cook it. Let's look at a little trivia.

Why do onions make us cry?

You've probably noticed that when you cut up a raw onion, your eyes start to tear. A common problem for every onion chopper, this happens because of the enzymes in an onion. Since the onion is being chopped, the cells are being broken - allowing the enzymes to be released. The enzymes in an onion are called allianases (I find this funny nearly alien even) and they react to the sulfides in the onion-chopping environment to create a sulfuric acid gas. This gas is immediately composed and released into the air, therefore reaching your eyes. Our eyes' nerve endings are irritated by sulfuric acid, therefore inducing uncontrollable "crying."

When I think of the smell of sulfur – such as that emitted from striking a match, or from whatever the paper mill did when it unloaded a sulfur rail car a block from our home – the air became unbreathable—and the lowly onion creates sulfuric acid — would that be considered the same but in a less potent dosage?

Cooks Thesaurus recommends chilling onions first to avoid tearing. "If you're prone to crying while cutting onions, try chilling them first, then peeling them under running water.

How to cook them? — Always cook onions over low or medium heat, since they become bitter at high temperatures."

The yellow onion is a favorite for cooking because it is higher in sulfides; unfortunately, this is also what makes you cry when you cut into it. Yellow onions turn a rich brown and become sweeter and milder when cooked. Many people find them too pungent to eat raw.

5 medium onions = 1 lb=2 cups chopped=3 cups sliced

1 small onion = 1/2 cup = 1 tsp onion powder = 1 Tbs dried onion flakes

Substitutes: Spanish onion OR white onion

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Winter Magic

Up here in the north it's a season of whiteness unless you are lucky enough to have the beautiful bayberry - the red twig dogwood or some other ornamental shrub that adds some color to the starkness of the snow.

When you plan your landscape in the North part of the world you'll want to consider adding some plants that add whatever you need to add color and interest to your world a bit in the long days of Winter (not that winter sun shines long, just that the days begin to seem endless - and cabin fever sets in.)

One bleak February when my grand daughter was a tiny baby - I had just picked up her toys from her playing just before we tucked her in bed. I was in writing course at the time and we needed to write poetry in different meters etc. So as I sat looking at these silly squeaky toys and rattles we give our children, tired, suffering a bit from the winter doldrums - I created what follows .. I hope you enjoy it without thinking me mad. LOL {smile}


Turquoise blue dog
Stares silent at a January 20 below

Apricot orange monkey
Squeaks curses at crystallized snow

Wide-eyed pink elephant
Winks reminders of New Year’s Eve

What a macabre pattern they all weave

Bright yellow lion in a clown’s cap
Sits grinning strangely on green frog’s lap

Odd yellow giraffe with blaze orange spots
Stares blindly at north wind gusting at 40 knots

Skinny brown bear in beanie and necktie
Cabin feverish gleam in his crossed gray green eyes

Fluorescent pink rabbit
Frozen stiff in patent leather shoes
A martyr to post-holiday blues.

Furry gray mouse
Scurries out of his house

February smiles valentine’s candy
Ha ha January …We’ve survived you just dandy.

I think!

The Capricorn Goat--January Flannel

Join the bookclub and read a chapter a week of a new novel written by Billie A Williams,

Go to and sign up. It's all Fr** - check it out.

Thanks! and until next time

Happy Garden Planning up North - and happy gardening elsewhere.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Garden Writing

Whether you are a horticulturist or a people horticulturist (nurse), writing is an important way to share your craft, your life, and your expertise. While a garden will nourish and care for your soul and your sustenance, the nutritional value of what you plant can be a boon to your health. Traveling Nurse Epi Larue makes sense of some of it in her blog at

Planting a garden sometimes is like unraveling your family tree or a good mystery. Who gets along with whom (companion planting); who dunnit? (Insect pests); solving the crime (Organic Solutions to garden pests and weeds.); editing your work (tilling and enhancing your soil); marketing and promoting (What to do with all that zucchini or abundant harvest) once your work is finished. and or .

In a garden, you discover peace, you don’t wage wars you correct imbalances. You organically remove what refuses to coexist with your plants. Manifest destiny and gardening co-exist. A victory garden is about peace, about winning the war over high prices and contaminated foods. Just as war affects human lives war in your garden is not waged successfully by spraying the whole garden with weed killer, or some heavy duty insecticide that is also harmful to people and pets not to mention birds and the environment. Plant gardens, send seeds not missiles.

My garden continually amazes me, calls me to exercise, get out in the sunshine, smell the flowers, commune with nature if you will. Look at that rainbow after a storm. It’s a promise. The harvests are mental, physical and nutritional. Finding peace and harmony in a garden nurtures your whole being. . Sun shine for plant growth and human growth.
When you have down time, when it rains or there is snow on the ground it’s an excellent time to read. You could find author interviews and book reviews help you learn what others already have found out. or Answers about gardening or about some other interest you have are only a click away, into day's connected world. Checking an author’s pass times you may find they are gardeners also with advice you can use.

So grab that garden catalogue and begin planning and/or grab your pen and start writing.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Book Club Invitation

Are you ready to experience a brand new Book Club? Go here have a look see - and if you are so inclined click on the link to join up.
You will be getting a whole book for free --written by me-- it's my early Christmas gift to you - The Capricorn Goat -January Flannel (Working Title) being written while you watch - one chapter a week - get started now at go to the website and click on the book club link at the top of the page - do as it tells you and before you know it -- you'll be reading = ) Absolutely Fr**! You will never pay anything ever!
The Novel should end up at around 80,000 words, you’ll get about 2,000 words or so a week.
I hope you enjoy it,
Billie A Williams

Monday, December 3, 2007

A Foot of Snow Makes Gardens Grow

Well, that may not sound really true, but when you’ve had a very dry summer it means a lot to have a good snowfall. Trees, shrubs, especially flowering shrubs, need the added moisture a good snowfall will bring to them.

I think people can live longer without food then they can without water. Our vegetation is no different. The soil can lack nutrients but not water. Matter of fact some of the nutrients the soil needs can come from minerals in the rainfall/snowfall. Which brings me to the next topic — in the winter, around here, people use wood as a secondary source of heat. It has multiple benefits only one of which is in your garden. So, let’s take a look at using wood ashes in your garden.

Wood ashes are valuable for your garden. They are soil builders. If you don’t burn wood yourself, look for a neighbor who does. He will probably give you enough for your garden for free.

Unleached wood ashes (those that are not left out in the weather) contain 5 to 7 percent phosphoric acid. Calcium compounds of 25 – 30 percent, which will help build good sturdy root systems another benefit of wood ashes.

There are differences in the woods burned that will make the ashes contain different benefits. For instance Hardwood ashes contain more potassium than softwood ones. However, much of their value as a soil enhancer will be lost if they are allowed to sit out in and be affected by the weather (leaching). This causes the soluble chemicals to leach out. Keep your ashes covered until you are ready to use them.

When should you apply wood ashes to your soil? The best rule of thumb is some time in advance of planting, but don’t mix them with manure or any high nitrogen containing materials (new grass clippings for instance). An average application would be 5 to 10 pounds per 100 square feet of garden area. Scatter the wood ashes on a freshly dug or tilled surface and then rake it into the soil. Wood ashes are not recommended for lawns or any acid-loving plants.

So be happy if you are in a snow belt, it’s the equivalent of many gentle rains and you have all those wood ashes.

Imagine the marvel of burning wood. It warms you at least four times. Once in the cutting, twice if you need to split it, three times when you haul it to the wood shed to rest until you need it, fourth when you haul it in to the fireplace or wood burning stove.

It will warm you again, when you burn it as you are pouring over your gardening catalogs plotting next year’s crops. Then you get the benefit of those ashes to spread on your soil to enrich the level of certain minerals. Gives you a great new respect for the tree and the snow doesn’t it?

Happy Gardening,

NOTES; [Coal ashes have very little value except to loosen clay type soils. But it is worth mentioning here because of their value as a drainage medium. The screened coal ashes are sometimes used in green houses under potted plants to ensure good drainage. If you have coal ashes use them at the bottoms of borders or beds to protect roses or other moisture sensitive plants from getting “wet feet” in poorly draining soil.]

You may feel free to use this article as long as you include the resource box.
Billie A Williams

Sunday, December 2, 2007

While You Are Planning...

While you are planning next year’s garden, why not allot some space for the forgotten cole crop, Kohlrabi? Its name means ‘cabbage turnip.’ Its easy to grow and pretty much disease and pest-free.
Incidentally, if you leave them in your garden after harvesting what you want to use, and are in a rural setting the deer will provide you with delightful entertainment as they much on the tops.

Kohlrabi purchased in the supermarket is usually tough, fibrous and bitter. You are better off growing your own. It isn’t hard. There are a variety of choices. I prefer Early White Vienna, but there are others equally as good. Most varieties mature in 55 days, so you can plan accordingly.

A soil that is rich in organic matter, retains moisture, yet drains readily, such as is preferred by other cole crops, is ideal for Kohlrabi. If you have sand and manure-enriched compost, incorporate as much as you can spare into the soil for your kohlrabi for best results.

To plant directly into the soil (You can start them indoors early) plant them in two foot blocks, spacing plants six inches apart each way, or sow two seeds per spacing and thin to the strongest seedlings when they’re about 2 inches tall.

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, mulching is key to producing prize-winning Kohlrabi. Start when the plants are three inches tall with a layer of clean straw or shredded leaves. Throughout the growing season you should keep the soil consistently moist, but not mucky. All you do is sit back and wait to harvest them.

What do you do with these jewels of the cole family? Start harvesting them when they are about two inches in diameter, somewhere between golf ball or billiard ball size. This is when the flavor and texture will be at its peak.

Pull the bulbs or cut them at the root just below ground level. Strip off the leaves from those stems to use as collard greens.

Now for the Kohlrabi bulb: you can grate it for slaws, sliver it for salads, peel and slice it into coins for cheese or onion dips, my favorite is to peel and eat it raw like an apple. You can also cook them as a creamed or augratin dish. Add them to soups and stews. If you like Chinese dishes stir fry them to add to those. Steamed (either sliced or cubed) served with herbed butter or combine with carrots and peas for a beautiful and delicious side dish.

To freeze, peel and dice, blanch for 90 seconds cool in ice water and package for freezing.
The bulbs will store for several weeks in the refrigerator or root cellar.

Nutritional facts: Kohlrabi has about twice the vitamin C content of orange juice and is an excellent source of vitamin A, several B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron and other minerals.

German and Hungarian cookbooks usually have some extravagant Kohlrabi recipes.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Four to Six Inches of Snow Predicted

We are in a winter storm watch. It started snowing about a half hour before the weathermen thought it would. Does that mean we are done gardening?

To me it means drag out those gardening catalogs that come earlier and earlier every year and start planning for next year. Those delightful blooms and veggies, fruits and shrubs are sure to get your happy spirit up. Personally, a warm fire, a toasty mug of herbal tea and a stack of paper to plot, plan, and scheme are my respite from any storm.

I learned while I was researching cyanide poisoning for one of my mysteries that the lovely privet hedge shrub is deadly. [and so too is the Pink Lady Slipper wild orchid that was featured in "The Pink Lady Slipper"] Now that was a frightening thought. Apparently our systems, the liver to be specific, can deal with cyanide rather effectively unless it is in large doses. The apricot pit is laced with cyanide, as are apple seeds and any plum type fruit. The good news is that unless ground, chewed, or deliberately ingested like the Apricot Kernels sold at health food stores a while back--they are not lethal to you. Whew!

Remember too that those beautiful poinsettia plants are poisonous to your pets.

So I will continute to let my privet hedge divide my property into neat they and me space.

Get out those catalogs and begin your dreams for next year. I hope that they may all be productive and colorful. Oh, and after you are done with your Christmas tree this year, be sure that you hang bread cubes and peanut butter pine cones on it and stand it in your yard for the birds -- our feathered insect repelents.