Strawberry Jam #recipe from Coast Guard Courtship

Just in time for strawberry picking season—where I live always the first few weeks in May.

Strawberry Time

Strawberry Time


  • 1 quart ripe strawberries
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 34 cup water
  • 1 box fruit pectin (I use Sure Jell)
  • glass jars or plastic containers and lids


1. Jars/containers must be thoroughly clean—I boil to make sure. Then must be completely dry.

2. Rinse strawberries, pat dry, stem berries.

3. Crush berries.

4. Measure exactly 2 cups of crushed berries in a large  bowl. Add and stir sugar into mixture.

5. Let stand for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.

6. Mix water and pectin in a small pan. Boil on high heat, stirring constantly for 1 minute.

7. Remove from heat and add to fruit/sugar mixture. Stir constantly for 3 minutes till sugar is dissolved and not grainy.

8. Fill containers immediately to within 1/2 inch of top

9. Cover immediately with lids.

10. Allow to stand at room temperature 24 hours. Can be frozen for up to 1 year. Or left if fridge for 3 weeks (if your family doesn’t devour it before then). Thaw frozen jam in fridge before use.

Your homemade strawberry jam is now ready to use. You will never go back to store-bought again.

Happy jamming.jam3

For more recipes and photos from Coast Guard Courtship, visit



Eastern Shore Oyster Stew #recipe from Coast Guard Courtship


1 pint oystersoysterstew

salt and pepper

2 cups milk

2 Tbsp butter


1. In saucepan, melt butter and add milk.

2. Add oysters, salt and pepper (to taste).

3. Heat until almost boiling. Do not boil as milk will curdle. Watch for edges of oysters to curl.

4. Serve with oyster crackers or saltines.

Optional—can add fresh mushrooms—just cook separately and add.


For more recipes and photos from Coast Guard Courtship, visit

The Eastern Shore— a 5 minute Stress Break #video

Feeling stressed? Take a 5 minute break from your hectic day and enjoy some of the reasons why I love the Eastern Shore of Virginia. After watching this video of the tranquil simplicity of Eastern Shore life, you’ll be planning your next road trip.

And please . . . take me with you.

For more photos from Coast Guard Courtship, visit

Eastern Shore Smith Island Cake #recipe from Coast Guard Courtship

This is my husband’s favorite dessert of all time—Enjoy.



1 box cake mix

1 cup butter

4 eggs

2 cups milk

1 cup sugar

dash of salt

1 1/2 cups flour

Fudge Frosting—

2 squares semi-sweet chocolate

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla


1. In large mixing bowl, add cake mix, flour, salt and sugar. Stir and then cut butter into dry mixture.

2. Add eggs one at a time. Gradually add milk.

3. Put the amount of a large serving spoonful of mixture into each baking pan. Make 8 individual layers.

4. Bake at 350 degrees 10-12 minutes or until done.

5. Add all frosting ingredients to a saucepan. Melt chocolate squares and cook to a hard boil 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl and mix with electric beaters to thoroughly blend and thicken.

6. Allow cake and frosting to cool before spreading frosting between 8 layers and on cake.

smithislandcake2For more recipes and photos from Coast Guard Courtship, visit

Eastern Shore Crab Imperial #Recipe

Miss Jean’s Crab Imperial may be one of my favorite dishes on earth. Each Eastern Shore matron has her own special way of putting together this Eastern Shore treat. Here’s one version.



2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp flour

3/4 cup milk

pinch of salt

1 Tbsp mayo

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp prepared mustard

1 tsp horseradish

1 green pepper, cut very fine (I omit this, ’cause I hate green peppers)

1 lb. crabmeat

1 tsp Old Bay seasoning


1. Melt butter. Add flour and blend.

2. Stir in milk gradually and cook over low heat until mixture thickens.

3. Add salt, mayo, lemon juice, mustard, horseradish, green pepper, seasoning and crabmeat.

4.. Mix and place in greased casserole dish. Top with buttered bread crumbs or cracker crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees until brown.

crabimperial2For more recipes and photos from Coast Guard Courtship, visit


An Insider’s Look at Coast Guard Courtship

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The magnificent seaside world of the Eastern Shore of Virginia


Boats moored in the fictional Eastern Shore fishing village of Kiptohanock

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The road to the fictional Duer Fisherman’s Lodge

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The fictional Duer Fisherman’s Lodge—Is that Blackie or Ajax in the foreground?


Yacht Club Auxiliary Dance

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The abandoned village on the barrier island—hauntingly atmospheric



















For more behind-the-scene photos of Coast Guard Courtship, visit

Behind the Scenes with Coast Guard Courtship


Crossing from Virginia Beach to the Delmarva Peninsula on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel




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The real life inspiration for fictional Small Boat Coast Guard Station Kiptohanock

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The beautiful marshes, inlets and barrier islands of the Eastern Shore of Virginia

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An aerial view of Wachapreague—inspiration for fictional Kiptohanock


Corner Bakery Onancock, Va—You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten their Shore-famous pastries.


Charming Onancock, Virginia





















For more behind-the-scene photos of Coast Guard Courtship, visit

The Inspiration Behind Coast Guard Courtship

9780373879540The Eastern Shore of Virginia is a real and very dear place to me. Many of the businesses and landmarks in Coast Guard Courtship can be found in the real life hamlets of Quinby, Onley, Wachapreague and Onancock. Fictional Small Boat Station Kiptohanock is an amalgamation of Stations Wachapreague and Cape Charles. The bravery and courage of these Guardsmen make the Eastern Shore a safer and better place to live.

I visited the Eastern Shore for the first time at the age of twenty-one. The summer I lived there getting to know the wonderful people and unique culture of the Shore was transformational. I revisit this splendid and unique Tidewater destination as often as I can with my family. Like Amelia, here I find peace, tranquility and safe harbor in the Eastern Shore sanctuary of life.

For me, it was an incredible place of fun, nature’s beauty and firsts. Here this city girl first went fishing; first went clamming in a mucky tidal marsh; first learned to eat crab which is a labor-intensive endeavor; and fell in love with life attuned to the rhythmic cycle of the moon and tide.

Quinby SunsetHere, too, I took my own moonlight cruise—the first time I ever really saw the Milky Way—one night on the Chesapeake Bay.

The two main characters in Coast Guard Courtship, Amelia and Braeden, grapple with fears throughout this story. Sometimes things in our past make it difficult to love and trust others. Even God. Especially God. But this story is about learning to launch out hand-in-hand with God to the deeper waters where overflowing, abundant blessings await. Coast Guard Courtship is about a journey of faith.

Writers are often told to write about what you know. And for years, people asked, “Why don’t you write a story about the Eastern Shore?” Good question. Why didn’t I? So I did with Coast Guard Courtship.

I wrote this story as a tribute to people I’ve known and loved—who’ve known and loved me for almost 3 decades now. My Onley, Virginia family continues to welcome me back into the peaceful harbor of their beautiful Eastern Shore world.

Coast Guard Courtship is also to thank the men and women of the often overlooked United States Coast Guard for their dedication and sacrifice in serving this country on CG vessels and at CG stations. Retired United States Coast Guard Captain Jim Umberger and Chief Petty Officer NyxoLyno “Nick” Cangemi patiently answered this civilian’s seemingly endless questions about rank, rating and protocol. CG guys are the best.

I hope readers will enjoy Coast Guard Courtship. Maybe even plan a trip there. And, if they can, hug a Coastie to thank them for their service.

For more behind-the-scene photos of Coast Guard Courtship, visit

Fun and Romantic Summer Reading Picks

As a rule of life, I try to read anything I can get my hands on by these romance writers—

Always the Designer Never the Bride by Sandra D. Bricker




There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones





The Director’s Cut by Janice Thompson




• the Finders Keepers series by Catherine Palmer—I love, love, love Catherine Palmer romances.




What about you? Who are your favorite, go-to romance writers?