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Get writing, networking, and everyday tips from the Masters - Debra St. John, June Sproat, Terri Stone, Morgan Mandel, DL Larson, Rob Walker, Margot Justes, Austin S. Camacho, Tony Burton.
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1. Fresh Market by Margot Justes









A glorious Saturday morning, the temperature was mid 60’s, the sun was shining brightly, and I was finally able to visit the Fresh Market on King St. in Alexandria. An event that is held every Saturday, and is well worth a visit.

From the fall necessities like pumpkins and squashes, to vegetables and fruit. There were fresh breads, scones, jams and all the things you’d expect from the market, along with jewelry, local pottery, an author selling an illustrated children’s book, and artists.

One such artist, Len "Leonardo" Garon (www.LenGaron.com) even graciously consented to be photographed with his work. A versatile painter his work includes landscapes, monuments and dogs, among other scenes. The award winning artist displays his work right in the market, but his work is in the art collection of the White House, as well as other galleries. He is well established and I love the fact that he participates in the local weekly event.

It is a delight to walk through the market, and I hope to go every Saturday if possible. There is a coffee stand, and a few steps away, fresh scones and rolls are available for a quick al- fresco snack. Further down the way, a local bakery was selling artisan breads that would make your mouth water. The best part, it is walking distance from the apartment.

I continued on to the waterfront, and heard the Umbrellas of Cherbourg being played. I tipped the musician, we chatted briefly, I told him I haven’t heard that melody in years and it brought back many memories for me. I walked away, and heard Under Paris Skies, of course I stayed and listened. It was indeed a perfect morning. I came back to the apartment and started writing.

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com

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2. LIVE THE EXCITEMENT OF LOVE, WAR, AND MADNESS

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3. LIVE THE EXCITEMENT OF LOVE, WAR, AND MADNESS

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4.


Fall by Margot Justes






The summer disappeared, and now it’s practically the middle of October, and I wonder where the time went. Then I realize, I put a house on the market, sold the house, packed, moved to another state and  spent three weeks in Europe in July-that is where my summer went.

Now fall is upon us, the leaves are slowly changing color, it’s cooler, rainy,  a bit foggy in places, and actually it’s my favorite time of the year because for me it is also the beginning of the holiday season.

Friends are coming to visit for a few days next week, and then we’ll drive to Myrtle Beach. I’ll be back in time to get ready for a trip to Rome and my first transatlantic cruise; the cruise starts in Rome and ends in Fort Lauderdale. I’m still celebrating my retirement last year.

There are unique stops on this cruise, I’ll visit Livorno, Italy, the port for Florence, Italy and it will be my first visit to Florence-to say I’m looking forward to it would be an understatement. The stops also include Cartagena, Spain, Agadir, Morocco, and the Canary Islands. Then seven days at sea, where I hope to make a real dent in A Hotel in Venice. I would love to finish the manuscript by the end of this year.

In the meantime I’m looking forward to seeing the fall colors in Virginia, and how the holidays are celebrated here. I’ve been told that Williamsburg is beautifully decorated for Christmas, and it’s only a two hour drive. I’m amazed how much there is to see in this part of the country, and it is all relatively close.  

This morning I finally took a look at the pictures from the July trip, and will share some with you. I plan on writing a few blogs about the places I visited. The one that stood out by far is Malta-I want to go back and spend some time there, a week or two would be perfect.



Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com

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5. Fall by Margot Justes









The summer disappeared, and now it’s practically the middle of October, and I wonder where the time went. Then I realize, I put a house on the market, sold the house, packed, moved to another state and  spent three weeks in Europe in July-that is where my summer went.

Now fall is upon us, the leaves are slowly changing color, it’s cooler, rainy,  a bit foggy in places, and actually it’s my favorite time of the year because for me it is also the beginning of the holiday season.

Friends are coming to visit for a few days next week, and then we’ll drive to Myrtle Beach. I’ll be back in time to get ready for a trip to Rome and my first transatlantic cruise; the cruise starts in Rome and ends in Fort Lauderdale. I’m still celebrating my retirement last year.

There are unique stops on this cruise, I’ll visit Livorno, Italy, the port for Florence, Italy and it will be my first visit to Florence-to say I’m looking forward to it would be an understatement. The stops also include Cartagena, Spain, Agadir, Morocco, and the Canary Islands. Then seven days at sea, where I hope to make a real dent in A Hotel in Venice. I would love to finish the manuscript by the end of this year.

In the meantime I’m looking forward to seeing the fall colors in Virginia, and how the holidays are celebrated here. I’ve been told that Williamsburg is beautifully decorated for Christmas, and it’s only a two hour drive. I’m amazed how much there is to see in this part of the country, and it is all relatively close.  

This morning I finally took a look at the pictures from the July trip, and will share some with you. I plan on writing a few blogs about the places I visited. The one that stood out by far is Malta-I want to go back and spend some time there, a week or two would be perfect.



Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com

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6. Alexandria by Margot Justes











I have not been consistent with my blogs-nothing new there-having settled in Alexandria, I love playing tourist-the history here is simply amazing, and there is much to see everywhere you turn, and as a result I have not focused on my writing. Recently I have had readers actually ask when A Hotel in Venice will be out, and that was my impetus to get back to work and plan my days. I’m a writer I actually need to write.

Until I find a place to live, whether a condo or a boat, I have settled in a one bedroom apartment, talk about downsizing-I had to think twice about buying toilet paper at Costco because there is so little storage in the apartment. What I do have is a big walk-in closet, and guess where the toilet paper went. I call it my little ‘black hole’ everything goes in there.

I absolutely love it. Alexandria is at once urban and suburban. Filled with history, a quaint and charming old town packed with restaurants, boutiques, antique shops,  historical buildings and tourists, a gorgeous water front, easy access to DC, just hop on the Metro and you’re there in 15 minutes, or take a water taxi and 20 minutes later you’re at the National Harbor, MD. The Alexandria Harbor also boasts a converted torpedo factory that now houses about 24 artists, their studios/galleries are open to the public free of charge. It is heavenly.

I thought I’d miss the suburban life, I spent many years raising my daughters in the ‘burbs’- now I find the vitality of urban life, the sound of cars and sirens, the Metro going by, construction- all exhilarating and life affirming. There is soul pulsing in this city.

The National Science Foundation is building its headquarters here, along with NSF, new condos and apartment buildings are rising fast to accommodate the influx of new blood.

In the meantime this last week progress has been made in my writing, and I’m actively looking for a place to live on a more permanent basis. That being said, I have a trip planned to Annapolis on Tuesday. I have read that it is quite a beautiful place to visit, and only about 45 minutes from here.

I’ll post a few pictures from the area, and you can see for yourself what a wondrous place it is.

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com

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7. Settling In Temporarily by Margot Justes








The trip to Virginia was uneventful, just the way I like it. There was no rush, and it actually felt good to be in the car and do absolutely nothing but sit and relax. I did not drive, and once we left Illinois and Indiana the scenery greatly improved.

I found I like Virginia, at least what I’ve seen so far-that is to say-not much. Norfolk is delightful and packs one of the most wonderful museum I’ve visited. The Chrysler Museum of Art houses an extensive collection of American art, pre and post paintings from the war of independence, as well as a large collection of civil war pieces. Most artists were new to me, and it was a wonderful journey of discovery.

The most amazing collection is the L. C. Tiffany-a full gallery dedicated to Tiffany, as well as an amazing glass collection on the first floor. It was heavenly. I didn’t take any pictures inside-too engrossed in the exhibits, I didn’t even bother to ask if pictures were allowed in the galleries.

I stayed until closing, they were setting up for a wedding and I took one picture of the prep work, one of the assistants said they were booked for weddings and other social events for the balance of the year. A perfect place to hold an event.

Across the street there is also a small glass blowing facility, with visiting artists creating their magic-that is what I call glass blowing; it seemingly looks easy but it is not. I’m a huge fan of blown glass. There is a reason I set my third hotel book in Venice, and the intrigue in Murano-both share a long history of blowing glass, and for the most part the results are exquisite.

I also took a boat ride to tour the Norfolk Naval Base, reputed to be the largest in the world. The site was awe inspiring and seemingly never ending. The Nauticus, a naval museum and the permanent home for the battleship SS Wisconsin is not to be missed.

The ship is huge and many places below deck I found rather uncomfortable, massive machines, pipes and other accoutrement that are fully exposed tend to scare me. I’m rather skittish when surrounded by such equipment. The living quarters for the officers were somewhat livable, for the enlisted man not so much, but then it was not a luxury cruise, but a life risking endeavor.

The waterfront in Norfolk is delightful, and packed with tourists and locals alike. The restaurants offer excellent food, and the bars attached to said restaurants are loud and lively.

The best lunch I had was at A. W. Shucks, an old fashioned diner off the beaten tourist path. They had the best crab cake sandwich I have ever tasted. There is a fast food place at the National Harbor in Maryland that matched it, but I’ll save that for another blog.

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com


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8. Moving by Margot Justes



I thought I’d mention a few things about my move. Let me state up front, it is hard work, and seems never ending.

How on earth could I possibly have accumulated so much stuff.  It’s like Pandora’s Box, or Mary Poppins’ bag; the stuff just keeps appearing like a magic trick-seemingly out of nowhere. Boxes and boxes, covered in dust have been stored and never looked at for twenty eight years. No wonder people think twice about moving-it’s all the stuff we accumulate over the years that we can’t do without but never use.

Once the process is started, it has a deep cleansing effect-there will be fewer things to worry about, keep clean, fewer things to clutter my life.  

I’m keeping things that are significant to my family, the art pieces I have collected over decades, and frankly miss seeing because they are all packed; I have grown attached to them.

Boxes and bags have been donated to Goodwill, and sad to say many books went the same way...and still more to come.

The books were the hardest to part with, but I’m downsizing-a lot- and there won’t be much room to spread out. I went through all the books, some I have read decades ago, some were in French and I’d have a hard time reading them in English now, much less in French. Some were really old friends, well worn and loved-those I kept. It’s hard to say goodbye.

The one thing I soon realized is that you can’t save too many things to do for tomorrow, because all too soon you run out of time. It’s Thursday, and the PODS people will be here Saturday to load the them. There is still so much to do.

Using PODS seemed the most effective way to move, because the goods need to be stored until I find a permanent place to live. No packing, unpacking-the filled PODS will simply be stored until ready to ship. Rather efficient, and there is less chance of things being lost. It’s also less expensive going the POD route, at least in this instance.

Two PODS had been ordered, and when the order was placed, the company just asked how big the driveway was, and everything seemed sorted out. The end of this adventure was near. Not so fast...there is always a wrinkle-the best laid plans...

One POD arrived this morning, and the delivery man said he can’t put two PODS on the driveway-there is not enough room. The second POD was on the way, and there was no place to put it. Immediate panic ensued.

Neighbor and excellent friend came to the rescue, one phone call  and he agreed that one POD could be set on his driveway. The company was called and told where to set the POD. The wait was on for the second one. All was good.

POD arrived a few hours later, and the driver informed me that he needed a signed authorization from the owner before he could set the POD down. There is a slight glitch in this newest plan, friend is at work and could not be reached. It seemed like a comedy of errors minus the comedy.

After a bit of discussion, there is now a POD in each driveway. I’m ready for the next step, finish the never ending packing and wait for everything to be stored.

It is a rather exciting process, new adventures await me, but I’m also saying au revoir (loosely translated-see you later) so much better than saying goodbye.

I certainly am keeping in touch with them, and plan on visiting, and there will always be a spare bedroom wherever I wind up.

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com

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9. Lifestyle Change by Margot Justes



I have lived in the Midwest for the better part of my adult life, and now it’s time for a major change. 

A rather quick decision to move out of Illinois, and an even quicker sale of the house, forced me quickly to think about my future. What do I want to do? Travel was the immediate answer, but a small pied-a-terre is needed, somewhere permanent to hang your hat, as it were...

The answer was a relatively easy one. A small condo would do the trick, but then an another idea surfaced, one that would truly alter my lifestyle. Motor yacht living.

We lived in a trailer in South Africa for three months until our housing was ready. It was an experience I’d never care to repeat. Never.

I still would not consider trailer housing, but living in a tiny, compact space has a great deal of appeal. I’ve been assured, it is by no means trailer living, the water views are fantastic, and the community is rather a chummy one. Surrounded by water, and with fewer responsibilities, it would also be an ideal place for me to write.  

Adapting to new situations is nothing new for me, and as of September 1st, I’ll be living in a one bedroom apartment until a decision is made where exactly I’m going to wind up. Many people consider that unsettling,  I find it exciting. A new journey awaits.

The only sad part is that I’ll be leaving lifelong friends, more family than friends, but there is a flip side, there will always be a spare bedroom, and new and exciting places for them to visit.  I’ll visit as well.

Over the years we all accumulate ‘stuff’; at this stage of my life, the stuff is far less important. Garage sales are a wonderful way to meet people, and at the same time get rid of your stuff.  I’ve never done a garage sale before, but since the decision to move, I have a few under my belt, and they are a hoot. Whatever doesn’t sell will be packed and given to Goodwill. The important pieces will be stored, and the rest is going to new homes.

There are a few things that will be passed on to my daughters, and of course, space will have to be found for my art; pieces I have collected over many, many years, and cannot part with.  The walls are now bare in the house, and I truly miss my old friends.

I’m looking forward to new adventures.

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com

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10. Murano Glass by Margot Justes












A vacation always inspires me to write, whether it is in my current WIP, or a travel article, it doesn’t really matter, the inspiration is there. This time I visited some of my favorite places in Europe, chief among them was a stay in Venice...and what a visit it was.

The concierge at the hotel was able to arrange a private visit to a Murano furnace, the Schiavon Art Team. I have seen a working furnace before that was geared toward the tourists straight off the boat or the ferry, as it were, and I have stopped in many Murano and Venetian  glass stores.  For the most part the pieces are pretty similar in the shops, but this furnace had some spectacular pieces of art. I also happen to love glass, and Murano is famous worldwide for their glass.

I was totally unprepared for the sheer beauty and originality of the work, contemporary glass art work that came to life when properly lit.  I loved every piece I saw, they were not the common pieces sold everywhere you turned, but unique pieces with astounding colors and textures.  Terrific variation of African baskets with dark reds, black and tan deep opaque colors that if not touched would pass for a woven basket. The work is sublime.

Not only was I able to watch a master glass blower at work, I was also allowed to take all the pictures I wanted. Starting with the furnaces, the annealing area, polishing room and the galleries. Truly a memorable experience.

Most were custom pieces ordered by individual clients and businesses, but there were many pieces for sale in the gallery upstairs, as well as a gallery down the street from the furnace that is open to the public.

It was a unique experience for me, because A Hotel in Venice is partially set in Murano and deals with the intrigues of blowing glass, age old secret formulas and lack of new talent. It takes many years to become a master blower, and it is incredibly hard work. Try blowing through a tube and shape a piece of molten glass. If it’s your first try, your face will turn beet red-the effort is tremendous-but the master blower makes it look effortless. 

The visit was a most memorable and inspirational experience, one I will always cherish. 

As a side note, Blood Art will be free this weekend on Amazon. I want to introduce my favorite vampire Nikolai Volkov.  http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Art-Margot-Justes-ebook/dp/B00FWA8YMO

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com

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11. Afternoon Tea by Margot Justes


I’m a big fan of afternoon tea, it is relaxing, delicate and just plain fun. My first introduction to afternoon tea was in South Africa, many years ago and I have been a fan ever since.

I have three favorite spots in Chicago.

The Russian Tea Time restaurant, it is small, their particular Russian tea is aromatic, strong with a hint of fruit.  My favorite used to be Russian Caravan, a blend of Chinese teas, but it has now become so smoky that you can literally smell smoke while brewing the tea. It has ceased to be my favorite. The place is small and intimate but serves a delightful high tea, and the Russian food is good too. I’ve gone there for tea, lunch and dinner, and have never been disappointed.

The Drake Hotel is my choice for good old fashioned old age ambiance. Service is excellent and friendly. The food is standard but well prepared and beautifully served.

The best food can be found at the Peninsula Hotel. The hotel is elegant, modern, the food exceptional but service can often be inattentive.  The scones are always served fresh, and warm and the lemon curd is divine. I happen to love lemon curd.

What I thought would be a wonderful treat turned out to be a very expensive and great disappointment. The afternoon tea at the Plaza Hotel in New York fell far short of expectation. The recommended bold tea was anything but, served in a pouch, it was weak and pretty much lacking in flavor. The bread of the finger sandwiches had been cut and allowed to sit, because when served it had that cut and dried prepared hours ago feel to them.

The best part was the volcanic scone eruption.  I picked up my scone and tried to gently pull it apart, a scone will easily divide in half if not desiccated with age. This cone erupted, crumbled and tiny specs scattered everywhere. Rather like a crumbly volcanic fall-out.

Service was non-existent, when I finally was able to get the waiter to ask him for more hot water, to add to the bland and tasteless tea, I told him this was literally the crumbiest scone I've ever had,  his reply was, "believe it or not, it is very fresh." My reply, "Seriously?" He never even asked if I wanted another scone.  The price of that delight was $50.00 plus tip. Visit the hotel, the building is gorgeous, but for tea head to the Waldorf Astoria, I’ve been told their afternoon tea is terrific.

Waldorf Astoria is on my bucket list the next time I’m in New York, and as it so happens, the 2015 RWA conference is being held in New York City.

My most memorable afternoon tea was in Bath, England at the Pump Room. The service, tea, historic building and waiters dressed in period garb made it an absolutely amazing experience.  The scones were perfection as was the lemon curd; creamy, tart and not overly sweet. I’ve been known to eat lemon curd without with just a teaspoon, just like Nutella, the delicious cocoa and hazelnut concoction.  

My dream is to have a book signing in Bath, and revisit all my favorite spots.

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Fire Within
www.mjustes.com




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12. Mysteries of Leonardo da Vinci


 I posted this blog three years ago. I looked for anything ‘Leonardo’ once I began writing Blood Art. To this day his life, artistry and sheer magic continues to capture our imagination. I’m working on a sequel, and this blog brought back happy memories of my first attempt at a paranormal tale, and the mystique of the great master.

A potential Leonardo da Vinci sketch had been unearthed, more precisely an art historian thought that it was "absolutely Leonardesque" but that it was probably drawn by one of da Vinci's students.

An exam showed that the sketch was done closer to 1473-yes they could narrow it down to the year-amazing isn't it-what science can do? At any rate, Leonardo da Vinci did not have any apprentices or students until the late 1470's. That leaves the work as that of the master himself, or does it?

The mystery continues, the historian is convinced that he has the first portrait drawing  the master did.

Now, the fun begins, the research, the absolute proof-that yes-the sketch was done by Leonardo da Vinci. That would be lovely, but it is a long road to the absolute.

The paper is tested to check the properties and identify them as belonging to the era, they will test the chalk and pencil for the same reason. They were able to tell that both hands were used in that particular sketch, and it is known that da Vinci was reputed to be left-handed, but at the early start of his career he used both hands.

Would you believe that a reconstructed da Vinci fingerprint exists? It does. Another step that brings us closer to the ongoing search for knowledge about the great master.

Paper was expensive during the era and often re-used, and they found another drawing of an animal underneath the new sketch.  Leonardo was known to draw animal figures, and the style matched.

Much is known about da Vinci, much can be found using modern day science techniques to give us a rare glimpse into the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci.

There are art detectives who attempt to solve the mysteries of newly found masterpieces like the first portrait sketch attributed to da Vinci.

There is enough proof that the piece is probably the master's, but the final absolute is still a work in progress.

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com




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13. Amazon Only by Margot Justes



My books were out on Amazon, KOBO, Barnes & Noble, and all the other available venues. It was easy since my formatter did everything for me, but last week I switched to Amazon only.

I started paying attention to the e-mails I received from the other companies, advertising books for sale, and I noticed it was the same everywhere, all the bestsellers were being promoted, not a midlist author among them.

It was the same everywhere except on Amazon. I saw my books being advertised along with others. That is a brilliant and savvy move on Amazon’s part, because among those lesser names could be the next huge bestseller. Why is it that only Amazon recognizes that possibility? Where are the others? Why is Amazon the only one giving midlist authors a chance to build their readership?

I fully recognize that bestsellers make money, they sell large numbers of books, and this is a business, and as such must turn a profit to survive. But surely there is room for a different voice, a new breath, those writers that aren’t main stream but have something to say that may not be quite middle of the road, but may succeed beyond expectations. Surely that is how a business grows, and markets expand.

Amazon recognizes the value of smart advertising, and in reality it costs them little to add a few new writers to their ad campaigns. Why can’t the others do the same?

They made the decision for me, I have more to gain when I give Amazon my exclusive rights. Amazon offers KDP Select, Paid Library Lending, discounted or free promotion days; it’s up to me to decide how to market my books. I have plenty of opportunities to promote within Amazon, and with their resources I’m better off.

The issues about market and pricing control are complex, and many claim Amazon wants to control the market, currently the battle with Hachette is an example. In reality what company wouldn’t want to be in Amazon’s shoes?

From my perspective, as a small midlist author, I’ll stay with Amazon only, for growth and potential new readership, at least they give me a chance.

Cheers
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Fire Within
www.mjustes.com

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14. The Island of Delos by Margot Justes














This is one of the islands I’ll be visiting with my granddaughter this summer. I printed the excursions, and asked her to choose what she would like to see, and she picked Delos. I told her it is an island of ruins, and her reply was ‘I like ruins’-so we’re going to Delos. The tour is about four hours, and the 
rest of the time we’ll have to wander around Mykonos. I’m curious to see what her reaction will be.

Included are a few pictures of Delos, the stark solitary and almost eerie island, and the lively enchanting Mykonos.

About a thirty minute ferry ride from Mykonos, Greece is the island of Delos. And what an island it is. 

Uninhabited, that is not exactly true-there are approximately 25 people living there, but they are either archeologists or security personnel. Everyone else stops for a few hours and heads back to Mykonos.

The island is bare, there are no snack shops, no hotels, no restaurants, and the wind can whip up in a quick frenzy,  it is in fact quite desolate.  There is a museum where you can buy books and other Delos souvenirs, but that is the extent of the touristy trade.

What makes this island unique are the ruins. Amazing ruins. The whole island is a ruin. It is an immense site and one not easily forgotten.

Delos is said to be the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. Archeological traces indicate the island was inhabited as early as 3000 B.C. Some of the ruins are so well preserved that you can actually imagine what the structures looked like and how they were utilized.

From the Doric Temple of Isis to the Archaic Lions, and the mosaic floors the sites are truly inspiring.

Off the beaten path, I observed an archeologist crouched on a low portable chair, a pad and pencil in hand as he meticulously measured something on the ground and then put it on paper. I snuck up on him and watched as he quietly continued his research. Time stood still and the serenity on the island was disturbed only by the fierce wind.

If you ever find yourself in Mykonos, do take the time to visit Delos. I promise, you will not be disappointed, you will in fact be enthralled.

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com

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15. Cruise from Rome by Margot Justes











Rome has one of the biggest cruise ports in Europe, and that suits me quite well. It is one of those ancient cities that will take more than one visit to see, and many of the cruises start in Rome. I try to stay for two or three days before boarding the ship. You don’t want to arrive on the same day, especially if it’s an overseas destination, that is much too risky, and Rome is always well worth the extra time. There are many hotels that fit all budgets.

Even if you spend a whole day in the Vatican alone, it is not enough, and would also prove quite exhausting, if nothing else the huge crowds would do you in. They say about twenty five to thirty thousand people visit the Vatican daily. The best I can do is five or six hours at a time.

The treasures housed within that community are unbelievable, it is a Mecca for art lovers. Michelangelo and the Pieta and the Sistine Chapel are sites that once seen will never be forgotten, and must be seen again if at all possible.  The Chapel, a rectangular room in the basement is all Michelangelo, it is bare of furnishings. It is a place to pay homage to a magnificent artist and his immeasurable artistry. It will leave you breathless.

I have done independent tours to the big sites, but now I book a tour to the Vatican and the other special sites because of all the tourists, it is easier and faster to get in. You don’t wait in the long lines, and at my age it is well worth it.

For this upcoming trip I booked two tours through Viator; Vatican Walking Tour- this tour includes the Sistene Chapel, Raphael’s Rooms and of course St. Peter’s; after the tour I can wonder around on my own. The other tour I booked through them is the Ancient Rome and Colosseum Walking Tour.

I’m going with my grandchildren, and it’s their first visit to Europe-I wanted to make sure they would get a decent historical introduction to this magnificent city.

If the stop is part of the cruise, I book through the cruise line, for one excellent reason, if there is a delay, they will wait for you. It has happened where the bus was delayed for about an hour. There was a general announcement about the delay, and we departed once the bus returned to port. That is not the case if you book through an outside agency. For me, it is not worth the extra stress to make sure I’ll be back on time, especially true if the visiting site is a bit of a distance from the port....but I digress.

Ancient Rome offers the Forum, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, these are all places that must be seen, the age and history will astound. There is also the lively Rome, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, so tourist packed that you have to wait, and weave your way to get up close and personal. The outdoor restaurants, the entertainment at said places, where you’ll get a troubadour serenading you, and it’s best to have some change ready for a tip. Rome is a walking city, and, comfortable shoes area must, although I have seen a few Italian women wear heel; how they managed is beyond me. Just walking the old streets is a delight.

Then of course there are the espresso stops, I prefer to linger, the Italians prefer to stand and gulp theirs. It is less expensive to stand and drink your coffee, if you sit down there is a charge for that privilege. However by the time I need a coffee break, I also need a sit-down break to recharge.

I try and avoid the height of the tourist season, it is far more expensive, and overcrowded and prefer to go early Spring or late Fall. Sometimes that is not always possible, as in this trip the timing depended upon the kiddies and their activities. 

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Fire Within
Blood Art
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com


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16. Everyday Life by Margot Justes







Life seems mundane. You get up, brush your teeth, make coffee, drink coffee (a few cups to get started) and generally get ready for work. After work, you run errands, make dinner, if you have kiddies take care of their needs and the day is over. You go to bed, get up, and start all over again. It's hard work.

What does one do to relieve stress, and provide a form of necessary escape, albeit it for a brief span of time? I read and write, that is my escape.

I've raised my kiddies, delight in my grandchildren, and my work is now writing full time, but after I'm done with work, time is essentially my own.  I write romance stories, that is my love, escape, and obsession if you will.

Writing allows me to escape the everyday sameness. I can kill off characters I don't like. I can fall in love with the perfect hero; he's my creation, therefore he's perfect for me.

I feel a sense of accomplishment when I've finished a story. A sense of apprehension when I start, and a sense of terror when mid-stream, there is nowhere to go and the voices are silent, and finally a sense of dread that I'm on the wrong track.  I write-by the seat of my pants-I think-that is the correct cliché. I get an idea and run with it and see where it takes me.

That to me is the perfect adventure-I don't know where my characters will wind up. It's a surprise. I like that, and it works for me.

I don't quite get the same sense of nirvana when I read, but it's a very, very close second. I escape to another world, and sometimes another period in time, and I look forward to the happy ending.

I'm reasonably well read, but at this stage in my life I look to romance, mystery and humor for my escape; it is the perfect get away. There is a reason romance writing is a multi-billion dollar industry. I'm not alone.

Along with writing and reading, travel is very close to my heart. It enriches the soul, and as Mark Twain put it so succinctly. “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow mindedness...”

I have included a few pictures from Bath, England, one of my favorite places, and because A Hotel in Bath is a finalist for the RONE award. Shameless self promotion, but Bath really is magnificent.


Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
www.mjustes.com


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17. Travel Tips by Margot Justes





The pictures are from Le Cinque Terre-my favorite villages in Italy.

Travel can be exhausting, and I hear from many people how tired they are of packing and planning, and then there is the actual travel itself. I try to simplify my travel as much as I can.

I love the planning part, that is not a problem for me. There is a tremendous amount of information available on the internet. Yes, it does take time, but for me that is part of the fun of travel. The only part I dislike is the going to the airport and getting on the plane. It is no longer enjoyable.

For the upcoming trip to Rome and the Mediterranean cruise, I booked the cruise last year. It is easier to budget, if you can plan in stages. I check the prices weekly, and if there is a lower rate for my cabin category, I call the cruise line and ask for the lower price; it depends on availability and if indeed the price is lower for the cabin category.

An upgrade can be requested up until departure, however there are no guarantees. I’ve had reductions in price, but have yet to receive a ‘free’ upgrade. So far I have only cruised Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, they are sister companies. This one is a Celebrity cruise.

If travelling to Europe, I always spend at least two days in the port city. I look for hotels, and check to see if description meets my criteria-central in town, and easy walking distance to a few sites. I love to walk, and European cities tend to be walking cities. Generally I book through the hotel, there is a better chance of an upgrade. In some cases, places like Expedia might have a special price; it is best to check a few site on line, do your research.

I always request breakfast with room. This way I don’t spend time looking for a place to eat in the morning. It is easier and more expedient for me, and they tend to be a delight. A leisurely breakfast, usually accompanied by a terrific coffee is a wonderful beginning to a full day.

The next thing I do is book the flight, usually a couple of months before the trip. There is not much wiggle room. I watch the prices on a couple of airlines, and when they seem low enough I book them. I don’t gamble, but when booking a flight I consider it a crap shoot. They go up down minute by minute.

There are a few ways to save, your earned miles, or points through a credit card.
I have a credit card that gives me points on travel in general.  I don’t track my miles at all, because it is a hassle to book a flight using miles; at least for me.

I usually look for the most direct route if at all possible; the fewer transfers the better, the less chance your luggage will ultimately wind up in a different city.

I always check the various sites advertising lower rates, but they all quote similar prices to the actual airlines. Most airlines won’t give you miles if you book through a second party. The same applies to hotels.

Whenever possible, I like to arrange my airport transfer ahead of time. Rome is the perfect example. I’ve used RomeCab before. I just send an e-mail with the flight information, hotel information, and pick up time from hotel to port. They’re reliable, and I know they’ll show up at the airport with my name on a placard. It’s easy, and I don’t have to wait in a long line for a taxi. The price is about the same as a cab ride. There is no pre-payment involved, just a cash payment upon arrival in hotel, and I know up front what the price will be.

I’m all set for the trip, all I have to do is pack. I usually start a couple of weeks before the trip. I pack light, and set everything I think I’ll need on my office couch. By the time I’m ready for a suitcase, the pile is smaller, and ready to go in.

On a happy note, A Hotel in Bath is a finalist for a RONE award.



Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com


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18. Paris by Margot Justes












Periodically, and lately rather frequently, I get a hankering to go back to Paris. I spent a year in that incredible city, and have gone back a few time, but it always beckons me back. The city is my first love, it was a time of my youth and extreme freedom. It was the stuff of dreams.

I write about art, travel and romance. My novel A Hotel in Paris is set in the most romantic city in the world, and since summer and the travel season is almost upon us, I would like to offer a few tips to the city of light and romance that may be a bit off the beaten path.

By all means go to all must see places, and there are so many, but save some time for the other-must see places-go to the intimate and magnificent Rodin museum, it was his home, and his presence can still be felt in every piece exhibited, inside and in his gardens.

It is by far my most favorite museum that I have ever visited.  His work is passionate, ardent, and profound. Every muscle strained, every sinew defined. Agony, joy, and in the case of the Balzac work, arrogance masterfully portrayed.  Walk through the gardens, stop in the café in the garden and savor your brew in quiet contemplation.  

Don’t neglect a stroll in the contemplative Luxembourg Gardens, find the Medici Fountain and the reflective pool, sit down on a bench and ponder…

For a taste of local wonder, lose yourself in the back streets of the left bank, start with Rue De La Huchette off Blvd St. Michel, pick a narrow cobble stoned street and start walking-do wear comfortable shoes. Aromas from many ethnic restaurants beckon you in, you can explore one narrow street after another.

For a romantic stroll do take the time to walk along the Seine, right alongside and back of Notre Dame, and the books stalls. Do so in the early morning, before the crowds and the stalls open, just when the city starts to wake, stop in a café and enjoy a respite. It is so quiet and peaceful and so incredibly romantic. It is equally enchanting late in the evening as the bookstalls start to close; a pervasive hush comes with dusk.   

You will see a different Paris, an enchanting Paris; different from the hassle of the tour buses and the rush to get from one point to another without ever savoring the essence of the city. Take the time, and savor the city of lights.  Don’t be afraid to get lost, carry a map with you. Paris is a walking city filled with treasures, and you will always find your way back to the next monument.

I had to share with you my favorite work of art at the Louvre-the Winged Victory. 

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com



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19. The Island of Delos by Margot Justes




I wanted to be the first one to visit Europe with my grandchildren. Sydney will be twelve by the time we leave, and Anthony will be nine. Right now he’s more interested in the fact that the cruise ship will have a basketball court, and a swimming pool, and the gelato bar won’t hurt either.  He’ll go along with anything that is selected. So it’s up to Sydney to select the excursions, and pick what she wants to see.

Both kiddies are avid readers, but Sydney gets to choose. I loaned her a few of my travel books. One of our stops this summer will be Mykonos, Greece. For Valentine’s day I bought them a journal so that they could write about their  experiences. Anthony was excited, and actually picked his own journal.

I asked Sydney what she wanted to see in Mykonos. She looked through the guide book, and said ‘I’d like to see Delos.’ I explained that it is a live dig, not a touristy place, and that the only thing she’ll see were  ruins. Unbelievable ruins, but still ruins. I wanted to make sure she wouldn’t be disappointed.  Her reply was simple, ‘I like ruins

I’m looking forward to seeing it through their eyes. Delos is by no means a touristy visit. Below is a 
blog I wrote right after my first visit there three years ago.

I included pictures of Mykonos as well, it is a lively and lovely island.

About a thirty minute ferry ride from Mykonos is the island of Delos. And what an island  it is. There are approximately 25 people there, all either archeologists or security personnel.

The island is bare, there are no snack shops, no hotels, no restaurants, the only bathroom is on the museum, and the wind can whip up in a quick frenzy. The island is in fact quite desolate.  And absolutely stunning. 

There is a museum, that is the only modern accommodation for the tourist. Books and other Delos souvenirs can be bought there, but that is the extent of the touristy trade. The rest of the island is in ruins. Magnificent ruins. It is an immense site and one not easily forgotten.

Delos is said to be the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. Archeological traces indicate the island was inhabited as early as 3000 B.C. Some of the ruins are so well preserved that you can actually imagine what the structures looked like and how they were utilized.

From the Doric Temple of Isis to the Archaic Lions to the mosaic floors that are to this day in great shape. Truly inspiring, when you think about the age of those mosaics and remnants of ancient buildings.

Off the beaten path, I observed an archeologist crouched on a low portable chair, a pad and pencil in hand as he meticulously measured something on the ground and then put it on paper. I snuck up on him and watched as he quietly continued his research. Time stood still and the serenity on the island was disturbed only by the fierce whipping wind.

If you ever find yourself in Mykonos, do take the time to visit Delos. I promise, you will not be disappointed, you will in fact be enthralled. The terrain is rough, wear comfortable shoes, you will be walking in worn and uneven footsteps that are three thousand years old . It doesn't get better than that.
Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
www.mjustes.com




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20. Carnival Time in New Orleans by Margot Justes







Chicago’s winter this year has been brutal, and I was lucky enough to be able to escape it for a brief respite. A seven day cruise to the Bahamas first took me to New Orleans.

I thought Mardi Gras was only celebrated on the designated day-not so-the Carnival season starts the weekend before and carries on for a full week, ending the following Sunday. This year it started on the 21st of February.

I never thought I’d be anywhere near a place that celebrated Mardi Gras, not a big fan of crowds, but I couldn’t escape the beginning of the Carnival season in New Orleans.  I was there the first day of the festivities. That meant the first two parades that passed right on Canal Street, literally outside the main entrance to the hotel. How could I not participate and see the floats-after all-they’re legendary.

I joined the crowd on the street, young and old alike piled against the barricades along the street and waited for the fun to start. For me it started much earlier.  I walked on Canal, Bourbon, Royal and Decatur streets in the early afternoon, and the party was already in full swing.  Alcohol was freely flowing, as were the masks and various holiday accoutrements, from feathers, too-toos, beads and face paint. 

The parade started at about eight thirty in the evening, streets were closed making access difficult, if you were unlucky enough to want to go anywhere near the parade route. Carnival is big business in New Orleans. The floats are amazing, simply stunning, as are the costumes. The floats were colorful, garish and over the top, just perfect for the Carnival excesses. Marching bands, and of course the required political cars streamed along the street, one after the other. They were still going strong at midnight. I however was not. 

I’d never go out of my way to go anywhere during Carnival time, but this was an unplanned opportunity to see a bit of it, before it got really crazy on the actual day.  I was told Mardi Gras is absolutely nuts, but by that time, I was already on board ship. That being said, it was a wonderful opportunity to see a bit of the famed festival.

This was not my first trip to New Orleans, and I had fond memories of Café du Monde, so of course I stopped for coffee and beignets. The beignets were as I remembered them, absolutely delicious, the coffee I thought lacked strength and depth.  I remembered it as being more flavorful. Maybe my palate has changed, or maybe they’ve adapted the coffee to suit everyone. I do love my coffee on the strong side, but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  There is something to be said for going back, and still take pleasure from the experience.

This was a first time I tried the colorful King Cake, and I loved it. Purple, gold and green colors decorate the top, sprinkled liberally with coarse sugar. Filled with a light cream center, the yeast dough is moist, and every bite is truly heavenly. I was told there are many versions, but I only sampled the one the hotel had to offer. Between the beignets, the King Cake, a huge lunch at the Court of Two Sisters, a Muffalata sandwich at the French Market, and the Shrimp Po-Boy, I can say the food is yummy.

Surprising to see were the many art galleries that lined the streets. Everywhere you turned that was a gallery, or local art was sold in a souvenir shop. Since my time was limited, I took the On and Off Bus, it’s a wonderful way to catch a glimpse of the city.

The French Quarter has not changed, it is alive and well. Effects of Katrina are still evident in many places, but the tourist trade is doing well, and that helps the area recover. The spirit of the locals is amazing and gracious.

Visit Paris from your armchair, A Hotel in Paris, is on sale for only 99. through Sunday.
http://www.amazon.com/A-Hotel-in-Paris-ebook/dp/B007KLPEU8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1332155482&sr=8-2

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hearts & Daggers
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com



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21. Celebrations by Margot Justes






We celebrate occasions, birthdays, anniversaries, graduation, good news, when we need stress relief, we find a reason to celebrate. In reality, we try to find a reason to celebrate anything that is a bit special.  



How do we celebrate? In my case that usually means a get together with friends and family, a restaurant meal, or if it really is a significant celebration, if possible I take a trip. I’m not getting younger, and while my body still let’s me I want to see as much as I can. I  want to play tourist.



On my recent getaway from a really miserable Chicago winter, I took an easy cruise to the Bahamas, and in the process met a few people who were perfectly content to stay in their little town, or county.



One such person, did go on the cruise, but refused to get off the ship. He got ‘away’ and wanted to be comfortable in familiar surroundings. He wasn’t an isolated incident on this particular cruise.
Frankly, I found that to be incredibly sad. As Mark Twain put it so succinctly,  “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.”  If we don’t get out of our comfort zone, we’ll never learn about other cultures, society, or even something as simple as different celebrations.



Back to my point, I think I had one a minute ago...we take the time to celebrate, to spend time with friends and family.  I know we take pictures, and some even write about the happy times. We keep track of what we celebrated, we leave a trail of memories for others to follow.



I have been asked to combine my food(ie) tendencies and my love of travel. I’m not a foodie, I don’t really know what that means, but I love to try all types of different ethnic foods, and as the saying goes ‘I like to eat’.  I will keep a journal of the different restaurants I visit, or the few things I actually prepare at home, and will attempt to remember to take pictures of the food, before it is decimated on the plate. Hopefully, there will be a few blogs with pictures about Chicago area restaurants that I will post.



The first blog next week will be on Beograd, a Serbian delight, followed by my birthday ‘celebration’ at Chief O’Neill’s, an Irish Pub. I’m a sucker for a good meatloaf ,or Shepherd’s Pie. I also love the occasional Kiszka, a Polish blood sausage for breakfast. You’ll see pictures.  



There will of course be more blogs about travel. My next trip will be with my grandkids this summer. I’m looking forward to showing them a bit of Europe, and hope to instill in them the love of travel.



On that note, I’m delighted, and exceedingly happy to report that A Hotel in Bath was nominated for the In'Dtale Magazine "RONE" Award.



Cheers,
Margot  Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Fire Within
Blood Art
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com


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22. Beograd by Margot Justes




Chicago is a multi cultural city, and one of the wonderful aspects of that diversity are the ethnic restaurants.  I recently went to Beograd Cafe, a Serbian restaurant located at 2933 W. Irving Park Rd. Chicago Il 60618 (773/478-7575) www.beogradchicago.com

I posted the address and phone number, just in case you’re in the Chicago area, and want to try this restaurant. The food is positively scrumptious.

My next door neighbors and friends are Serbian, and I have had Serbian food at their house. I have also visited Split and Dubrovnik in Croatia, and the food is similar, so the cuisine as a whole was not a surprise, but it was well prepared, fresh and utterly scrumptious.

We started with the Shopska salad; tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, and feta cheese. Then we moved on to the Burek, a savory dish made with filo dough and filled with cheese and spinach, potato or cheese and meat. They have other fillings, but we sampled the three I listed. This is a huge round dinner plate size of goodness, and they didn’t skimp on any ingredients. I tasted all three and had no favorite. I’d go back just for the Burek. Next time I’ll order one to go.

We also ordered a meat plate, the Beograd special that included lamb, chevapchichi, a traditional Serbian sausage, pork sausages, pork chops, and Serbian style hamburgers, along with ajvar, a vegetarian spread made with roasted red peppers and eggplant that went really well with the warm and delicious hot bread.  

We didn’t skimp on desserts either, there were crapes, I tasted the Nutella version which was excellent, we also ordered a Dobosh Torte, seven layers of thin sponge cake, layered  with a rich chocolate cream, and a walnut torte.

To finish the meal we had Serbian coffee, very much like the Greek and Turkish versions but not quite as strong.

I found out they’re open for breakfast and I have plans to go back for breakfast, and certainly dinner.

If you try the restaurant, let me know how you like.

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com


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23. An Irish Pub by Margot Justes












It was time to acknowledge that I was a year older, and that meant going out to dinner with family to celebrate.  It’s a lovely tradition, and the birthday person gets to pick the restaurant.

My grandkids already picked their place. We’re going to tea at the Peninsula Hotel. They both love high tea.

For my birthday, I picked an Irish Pub. To clarify, I don’t drink beer, don’t like the flavor or the smell, however I love a good meatloaf, and even more, Shepherd’s Pie. The pub had both, and the Shepherd’s Pie was the best I have ever tasted.

Chief O’Neill’s is located on 3471 N. Elston, Chicago, IL 60618 773/583-3066 www.chiefonneillspub.com

We started with the Kerrygold Flatbread; caramelized cabbage, roasted potato and Kerrygold Smoked Cheddar. The combination was delicious. My grandson ordered the Bruschetta, because that is his favorite appetizer.

Next on the menu was the Corned Beef and Cabbage, along with a really delicious Guinness Infused Meatloaf-I finally found a way I like beer-in my meatloaf. The Shepherd’s Pie had ground sirloin and veal, along with peas and herbs, topped with browned mashed potatoes. Seasoned perfectly. The Corned Beef Burger was high, served with perfectly done steak fries.

For dessert, we shared a key lime pie, Crème Brulee, and a positively yummy bread pudding with vanilla ice cream.

I was told the beers were good, as was the cider, and Irish coffee.

I have to go back for their Sunday Brunch, and to try the Scotia Eggs; hard boiled eggs wrapped in minced lamb, coated in bread crumbs and fried. I make a simpler recipe at home, just slice the egg in half,  roll it in a breakfast sausage, and cook it in a nonstick skillet.  Makes a great appetizer, or a wonderful breakfast addition.

I loved the decor, a lot of beautifully carved wood, and stained glass. It was a cold day, and we were lucky enough to sit near the fire place. The place is cozy, and the parking was easy and free. Free in Chicago is rare.

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com

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24. Red Apple and Polish Food by Margot Justes









Once in a while I crave a bit of stick to your ribs and everywhere else type of home cooked goodness. Polish food, specifically the Red Apple restaurant in Chicago delivers the perfect meal. They are located on 6474 N. Milwaukee Ave, in Chicago. 773/588-5781. It’s a bit of old home for me, one of those places that bring back many memories.

As with most Polish restaurants, it is a buffet filled with potato pancakes, pierogi, sauerkraut, sausage, tongue, tripe, chicken, ham, roast beef, you name it, the buffet has it. Even a few things you won’t name unless you have an Eastern European background, things like tripe, tongue and gizzard stew-all delicious and worth a try.

I go there for the pierogi, sort of like an Italian ravioli, often filled with potatoes, (my favorite) meat, cheese, sauerkraut, plums, really any filling you prefer. The potato pancakes and tongue are my favorite dishes too, of course there is the schnitzel, sort of a elongated moist hamburger perfectly seasoned, along with the mushroom gravy that goes well with everything. The bigos, or hunter stew made with meat and sauerkraut is delicious too.

There is a salad bar with the usual selection, along with shredded beets and herring in vinegar sauce, cucumbers in sour cream, and many other choices. The sweets are wonderful too, from kolaczki to cheese cakes, to assorted cakes, and fruit. 

I imagine there are babcias (grannies) in the kitchen cooking the food, it does taste homemade, and really yummy. The atmosphere is bright and cheerful, and I could hear Polish spoken at a few tables. Like I said, many happy memories.

If you haven’t tried Polish food, this would be a perfect place to sample the cuisine, it’s basic, hearty and just plain good food.

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com


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25. Katic Breads by Margot Justes








This morning was one of those wonderful surprising moments. I went with next door neighbors and friends to a train station for a croissant and coffee.

The Palatine train station utilizes the space well, every second Saturday of the month they allow vendors to sell their wares. One such vendor is the Katic Breads Bakery, situated right next door to Starbucks, and they couldn’t be better positioned.  

They open at eight, we got there ten minutes before eight, and they were already busy. The plain croissants are superb, brought back memories of Paris for me, but they were sold out. I got an almond croissant instead, then went next door to Starbucks for my coffee. It was a delicious continental breakfast. A slice of heaven.

The croissant was flaky and moist, and you could actually taste the almond filling. I loved the idea of sitting in a train station enjoying a decent cup of coffee and savoring a delicious croissant.

The vendors are there every second Saturday of the month through May. In June they’ll be in my neck of the woods, at the Northbrook Farmers Market. I plan to be there for coffee and a croissant, and I’ll go back to Palatine in May.

I bought a baguette, a Kalamata Olive bread, and a whole wheat sourdough. I’ve tasted their breads before, and everyone was a success. I happen to love good bread, and as you can see will go out of my way to find it.

There isn’t a bakery you can visit, they travel to farmers markets, but contact information is 605 Plum St. Aurora, IL 60506 www.katicbreads.com. The website is worth a visit because they post their schedule, and you’ll get an idea of the passion the baker holds for a good product, and it clearly is reflected in the taste of the breads, and the brisk sales I saw today.

I loved my Saturday morning. Hope yours was wonderful too.

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com

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