Monday, December 9, 2019

Westminster Abbey – A Place of Kings and Queens and Great Importance in American History

A trip I made in the fall of 2019 to England yielded a wondrous lesson in history and awe-inspiring events. Long ago I researched the founding of the American Colonies for various written works, of which England is its natural birthright. A visit here brought to light much in the area of historical facts as well as awakening a desire to bring forth the history of our nation’s founding after walking the grounds of the ones who began it all.
Westminster Abbey

Foremost is Westminster Abbey – England’s most famous cathedral and home to coronations,
weddings, and the final resting place of the famous including 17 British monarchs (such as all of the Tudors except Henry VIII), and other notables like Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Dickens. This church was a must-see on my list of historical sites in England and worth not only the admission but also the extra cost to see the special exhibit in the upper halls of the cathedral known as the Galleries. The audio tour provides historical insight into the many places within the church and is included in the admission. But I recommend also picking up a copy of the short tour guidebook just for the pictures (of which photography inside the building is not allowed).

Famous sites within the cathedral include:

The Nave – Home to a memorial commemorating the unknown warrior and the coronation chair used in every coronation since Henry IV, of which one can imagine the great monarchs of old receiving the crown while occupying this chair.

The Quire – a grand altar and exquisite Cosmati work of paving, done from 1268, it is the place of coronations. It is also the place of burial for several English kings including the notorious Edward Longshanks (of Braveheart fame), Henry III, and Henry V.

The Lady Chapel – a side chamber houses the elaborate tomb of Elizabeth I – the monarch who saw the rise of colonization in North America with expeditions that included the Lost Colony at Roanoke (which I have brought to life in my writings!). Buried with her is her half-sister,
Tomb of Elizabeth I
Mary Tudor. A separate chamber holds the tomb of Mary, Queen of Scots.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries – The highlight of the visit required an extra ticket but ended up a must-see. The galleries above the main floor of the cathedral where one can gaze down upon the various parts of the church provided a fascinating vantage point. Within the galleries one gazes upon effigies in wax and wood of the actual faces of monarchs of old. Without photography and except for paintings, these are the only visuals one has of famous people that lived so long ago. Documents such as the Magna Carta are on the display here as well as the marriage license of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Simply amazing history. See the Video 

Walking within these halls, one cannot help but be in awe as this houses those that saw the creation of what is now the United States of America.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Hiking Adventure Series!

National Scenic Trails Adventures! 

Get outside with the National Scenic Trails "Hiking Adventure Series" on the Appalachian Trail and the Florida Trail. Journey with Blissful as she hikes over 5,000 miles of trail in all kinds of terrain and situations! Makes a great gift for the wanderer in all of us - and you don't have to be a hiker to enjoy adventure! 

Mountains, Madness and Miracles - an Appalachian Trail adventure (paperback or Kindle)

Gators, Guts, and Glory- wild times on the Florida Trail! (paperback or Kindle)

Other formats, paperback, or to get a book signed! - Click

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Honoring World War II with the Pumpkin

Celebrate the Victory gardens of World War II and my novella, “Only Forever” in the historical romance collection Homefront Heroines and a tasty pumpkin bread recipe with a secret filling, passed down to me by my aunt. It became a tradition in the Bliss house to receive a still warm and fragrant loaf every Christmas when we came visiting and remains a treasured memory of the past.

Pumpkin Swirl Bread
1 8oz cream cheese, softened, combined with ¼ cup sugar and 1 beaten egg, set aside
1 ¾ cup flour
1 ½ cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 cup pumpkin
½ cup melted margarine (I like butter)
1 egg beaten
1/3 cup water

Combine pumpkin, melted margarine, egg, and water. Mix together dry ingredients, mix with wet ingredients.

Reserve two cups of batter. Pour the remaining batter into a greased and floured large loaf pan.

Pour cream cheese mixture over the batter. Pour the remaining two cups of batter over the cream cheese filling.

Bake at 350 for 70 minutes – or until toothpick comes out clean.

Homefront Heroines – from Barbour Publishing in January 2020. Preorder

Join the Facebook group celebrating the heroines and their loved ones during World War II!

Love to hike in the beautiful woods? Check out Blissful Hiking for autumn adventures and the latest newsletter!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Gators, Guts, and Glory Florida Trail Adventure!

What does the state of Florida give visions of? Beaches? Ocean waves? Walt Disney World? What could it possibly give to the interest of a hiker?   

Blissful the Hiker takes you on a wild and wonder-laden trek on the Florida Trail through pristine cathedral palms, thick woods of palmettos, sky high scrub pine, Lord of the Rings forests of oak and cypress knees, a lounging gator or two, exotic birds, vast prairies, and maybe some swamps for fun. Not to mention the interest of assorted dogs who would rather hike with Blissful than guard property and the joy of trail angels who will do anything to help a hiker in need when the storms rise.

Welcome to Gators, Guts, and Glory – Adventures Along the Florida Trail. This humorous and painfully realistic tale of an 1100 mile trail stretching from
Big Cypress National Preserve to Gulf Islands National Seashore will inspire hikers with a journey unlike any other to be found in the U.S.

Come immerse yourself in adventure beyond any expectation! 

What popular authors and other hikers have said about Gators, Guts and Glory – Adventures Along the Florida Trail:

“Lauralee paints a richly descriptive and realistic picture of the unique challenges faced by long distance hikers walking from the swamps to the seashore as they traverse the length of Florida on the Florida Trail.”  – Sandra Friend, Author of The Florida Trail Guide

“Lauralee's inspired writing provides us with a richly detailed account of hiking the Florida Trail. Her writing is genuine and thorough and reveals to us the rigors, emotions and ultimately the joy of long distance backpacking."  - David Miller, author of The A.T. Guide and AWOL on the Appalachian Trail 

"What a great book! I couldn't put it down." - Amazon review, Verified Purchase

"This is a must read. Lauralee's writing style keeps you riveted to her every mile..." - Amazon review, Verified Purchase


Check out also Blissful’s first book in the Hiking Adventure Series – Mountains, Madness, and Miracles – 4000 Miles Along the Appalachian Trail

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

California Burning - One Family Caught in It

California is burning up. And I just read today that a California mall is refusing billboard displays for a Christian outreach because of "Complaints." Do they not know that is it only God that can change California and bring it back to life? That He is the One Who can deliver from the deadly pestilence?

The fires have hurt so many and changed lives. Some friends I knew personally were caught up in it. I want to share a poignant message they have learned from their ordeal - when they had to quickly evacuate, not knowing if the flames would roar into Redding. It was a terrifying time for them. This is their update and reflection -

"Our house is SAFE. Our “stuff” is safe, even though when the fire started moving, we knew our little family was all that mattered. We were safe. Our friends were safe. What else did I need when faced with that kind of situation?

Now that the fire is moving away from Redding, we will head back soon. The air quality is really bad up there and some people are still not allowed back to their homes and others have to find new homes. It’s hard. Please keep praying for Redding and pray the fire dies out completely and no other people and homes are affected. Pray for CALIFORNIA as much of our state is ablaze right now.

As I’m contemplating going back, I’ve felt the relief of having my “stuff” back. I’m grateful. There’s a joy and a grief because so many others had to move forward without their things. I also feel so incredibly grateful for the gifts God has given me through this. I’ve had more time with my extended family than I’ve had in years. I spent the entire day with my nephews and niece yesterday and felt the special opportunity I was given to connect with these amazing kids. My brother and his family have housed us, fed us, spent late nights talking and early mornings making coffee. I feel so blessed and filled with love. God has truly comforted us through this strange and fierce tragedy.

I will be headed home soon and I’ll start the conversations in the car with my kids. Redding will look different. Smoke. Ash. Pain. Heartbreak. Survival. Courage. Fortitude. Perseverance. We will all be making decisions about our future and the future of the town. I pray God’s peace over our county and all its families."

Now is the time to pray for these families, some who have suffered great loss, others dealing with the terrible smoke or other affects. And pray for California, for the hardness of hearts to turn to flesh, for the mall refusing to post Christian ads, the time to seek God is now. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Celebrate the Healing of a Nation with a New Release

Welcome to my new release – The Belle of the Congaree, one of seven novellas in The Southern Belle Brides Collection where seven sweet and sassy ladies of yesterday experience romance in the southern states.

I chose to set my novella in the post-Civil War Reconstruction period in South Carolina. At times I feel we are still reconstructing this land, some 150 years later. Brother is still pitted against brother for rights they wish to protect. We fight the same war, never content, always trying to outwit the other, never seeking true freedom and peace found in our Lord, the Prince of Peace.

With this conflict that still rages today, I set my novella in another war-torn period to show God’s hand in bringing together opposing sides for goodwill and for peace. It is not through selfish means but selfless ideals of helping each other that will win the day. Of understanding and listening and offering assistance. Of loving our neighbor as ourselves, even if they may be an enemy. (see Luke 10: 25-37 and the parable of the Good Samaritan)

I hope you will celebrate the idea of healing and a true Union of people and pick up a copy of The Southern Belle Brides Collection. Be a part of knitting together a nation through God’s love and the love we should have for our neighbor, no matter the color, nationality, or differences.

 Novella Blurb:

In The Belle of the Congaree, Mason Bassinger reluctantly travels to war-torn South Carolina, seeking lands his carpetbagger brother can buy. Elisa Anderson barely survives after her family’s plantation is destroyed. She welcomes visits by the handsome and wealthy Mason, who makes the cottage by the Congaree feel like a home. But when Mason’s true purpose is revealed, will her heart be broken by betrayal?

 Find The Southern Belle Brides Collection at:

Monday, April 9, 2018

You are Beloved, even when…

The Florida Trail finish, in the midst of testing and testing to come
It had already been a wild six weeks hiking the Florida Trail to finish all 1100 miles that started way back in December of 2016. I was leaving all the excitement behind but ready to relish the peace of home. The storms, the snakes, the palm trees, sand and floods, I was ready. Though now I was minus a summer job promised me and suddenly taken away without warning a mere two days before I was ready to finish the Florida Trail at Fort Pickens. I was working through that or so I thought. Trying to let go of anger and hurt and other things. It was enough to deal with.

I had that burden still on my heart but I knew God was strong enough to carry it, as He carried me on my hike. I thought of other things. I had the book on the Florida Trial to write and share in the moments of my journey with my husband, whom I hadn’t seen in six weeks.

At the airport I decided to take a later flight and earn a $500 credit—who knows, maybe to another distant adventure next year. The flight went good. My luggage with my hiking gear had arrived earlier and was waiting for me at the airport. I was happy to see my husband roll up to get me, in our multi-colored vehicle of black and silver in the dark of the evening.

As we drove, he told me how the dog had escaped before he left to pick me up. I got mad at that. We had a bit of a tiff. I thought to myself—this is NOT the way I wanted to say hello to my husband after six weeks. Now we’re at odds over a pooch. We stopped for Chinese food as we’d had no dinner, and while waiting for moo goo gai pan and moo shu pork, I told him I was sorry for getting uptight about the dog. I knew our lab would come home eventually, he has before. We made up in the Chinese restaurant. And then a reunion of sorts began in the car for the next ten minutes. I told him excitedly of the new sister in the Lord I had made in Florida. How she took care of me. How I got to take care of horses—a huge first. It was good. We were connecting again.

The arrow for the left turn to our road gleamed green in pitch black as my husband made the turn.

Suddenly it came out of nowhere. A big thing in my window and front windshield that wasn’t supposed to be there. Metal smashing. Glass breaking. Screeching, 

I screamed.

Something came out of the night and hit us.

For an instant I thought I was supposed to be unconscious. Bleeding. In bad pain. Something. Instead I was asking Steve if he could move the car out of the middle of the road. I knew we had been in an accident. The car sounded horrible as it creaked across the road with metal scraping the tires. The car was drawing its last, mechanical breath. I couldn’t believe it. I felt like I was dying along with it.

We got out, stunned. I looked at the car, aghast. The other driver of the Ford F150 that hit us asked if we were okay. I yelled, “No we aren’t, you ran a red light and hit us!” Then I cried uncontrollably.
Our car was a mess. I knew then I was a mess. I couldn’t stop crying. My arm and shoulder felt numb, hurting and out of place. I was stone cold from the chilly night, as I was still in my hiking clothes from the Florida Trail, the Chinese food still sitting upright on the car floor, my backpack in the back seat. I had been in a car wreck out of nowhere. Then I realized I had to call 911. A first for that, too.

I thought my life had changed enough in Florida, finishing a major trail after lots of interesting and scary adventures. Then came the job removal out of nowhere. And now this came, this accident, something I had not experienced since I was a teenager. I was broken like the car. The only thing I was happy about at that very moment—I had made up with my husband over the dog before it all happened. That if God had decided my life on this earth would end, I was okay.

Instead God spared us. I am still in this world to live another day. The only thing I heard that night as I stood there freezing by the side of the road, is the song Beloved. It rang over and over in my mind. I am beloved in God’s eyes. Especially when we realized that a truck going 45 MPH had hit the best place it could to render more damage to the car than us. Which could have resulted in death, me in particular as it hit the passenger side.  

We had been spared for some reason. The story is still being written as we are still dealing with the aftermath in injury mentally and physically. But God is still in control, we are still here, and life goes on. Most of all, I am still Beloved. And neither death nor life can separate us from God’s love... (Romans 8:38-39)