Menagerie Blog Tour: Day Two With Staci Troilo

Hey, Readers. Welcome to the second day of the Menagerie blog tour. At each stop, I’ll feature a different story in the collection and tell what inspired the idea.

Today, I’m visiting with Staci Troilo. She and I go way back, and she’s been one of my biggest encouragers. Safe to say, I probably wouldn’t be publishing books if not for her.

Staci is also a contributor at Story Empire. She’s a multi-genre author and has written several books. Her most recent release was co-authored with Mae Clair, (link in yesterday’s post) but she also released The Keystone Couples trilogy in late 2021/early 2022. I enjoyed all the books of the series, but the third one, Between The Vines, was my favorite.

This is a list of the stops. Links will be updated as each post goes live. Comments are closed here, but I hope you join me today at Staci’s site.

  • Day One – Mae Clair
  • Day Two – Staci Troilo
  • Day Three – Harmony Kent
  • Day Four – D. L. Finn
  • Day Five – Gwen Plano
  • Day Six – Jan Sikes
  • Day Seven – John Howell
  • Day Eight – C. S. Boyack
  • Day Nine – Beem Weeks
  • Day Ten – Stephen Geez
  • Day Eleven – Marlena Smith Burris
  • Day Twelve – Judi Post
  • Day Thirteen – Teri Polen

5 Ingredient Graham Cracker Toffee Bars #virtualcookieexchange @stacitroilo

Hey, readers! For many years, I would set aside a Saturday or Sunday before Christmas to bake. I always made my family favorites – chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, sand tarts, and sugar cookies to name a few. I’d even make fudge and microwave peanut brittle. It’s been a while since I did that. Honestly, I don’t cook a lot these days. After he retired, my husband took over the kitchen. (I love it!)

Last year my friend Staci Troilo hosted her first annual virtual cookie exchange. I was a working woman then and didn’t participate, but both she and her sister, Michele, were very persuasive in getting me to join in this time.

I had planned to try a new recipe, but time got away, and I needed to come up with something quick. These are both easy and delicious, so I hope you’ll forgive me for not baking “real” made-from-scratch cookies. 🙂

Okay, I know what you’re probably thinking. Toffee is a candy, not a cookie. And using graham crackers? That’s not really made from scratch. But since these are “bars,” I’m calling them cookies!

5 Ingredient Graham Cracker Toffee Bars


  • 14-16 sheets graham crackers
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup (two sticks) salted butter (use real butter, not margarine!)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Line an 11 x 15-inch baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. (If using foil, lightly mist with cooking spray.) Arrange graham crackers touching side by side in a single layer. If necessary, break some crackers in half in order to fit. Set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-high heat until melted. Add brown sugar and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Let boil for two minutes, then remove from heat and pour over graham crackers. Use a spatula or spoon to spread evenly. Bake for 6-7 minutes until the butter mixture is bubbly.
  4. Remove from oven, then immediately sprinkle chocolate chips on top of the crackers. Let sit for a few minutes until the chocolate is melted, then use a spoon to spread the chocolate evenly.
  5. Let sit for about two hours to cool, then break apart to serve. Makes about 25 pieces.

That’s it! Easy and oh-so-good!

Be sure to check out the other bakers and grab some fabulous recipes. Click this link to visit Staci’s blog and see a list of the participants.

This Week at Story Empire

What a difference a week makes! Only a few days ago we were enjoying the beautiful fall foliage. We live in the country, and across the road behind our neighbor’s house, the trees were brilliant reds and golds. I had an excellent view from my writing desk.

Twilight had fallen one evening, and I hadn’t closed the blinds yet. Even then, the colors were ablaze. Amazing. This week is another story. Most of the trees are now bare and our front yard is evidence of that. But it’s to be expected as the first day of winter is less than two weeks away.

And now for the weekly wrap-up at Story Empire

Another week on the books. Here’s a photo of my front yard. Although you can’t see it, there’s a sidewalk between the lights and the green plant. Looks like a lot of work is ahead.

See you next week!

This Week at Story Empire

Hey, everyone. I planned to write a post this week and show some of the photos I took in Oklahoma last week. However, two days after our trip, tornadoes ripped through several towns in northeast Texas and southeastern Oklahoma.

Some of those towns, including Idabel, Oklahoma, and Powderly, Texas, suffered major damage. Hard to believe just two days prior we traveled through both places. Ironically, while driving through Paris, Texas, my husband and I talked about a major tornado that happened there in the early 80s. Powderly is a tiny community just north of Paris.

In Idabel, at least one person died, and a school and one church were destroyed. Somehow, it didn’t seem fitting to write about our adventure (which was wonderful) in the aftermath of such devastation. Never in a million years would I have dreamed that would happen so soon after we were there. It goes to show we should never take life for granted.

Now on to more cheerful things. We had another great week at Story Empire. If you missed any of the posts, here are the topics and links:

Today is Veteran’s Day in the United States and Remembrance Day in the United Kingdom and several other countries. Both mark the end of World War I on November 11, 1918. If you see a veteran today, take a moment to thank them for their service.

Veteran’s Memorial in my hometown.

This Week at Story Empire

Another week is in the books and it’s been a great one. Last Saturday, I traveled to Dallas to attend an author meet and greet hosted by Rox Burkey. I was so excited to meet friend and fellow Story Empire contributor Jan Sikes.

Although it was the first time we met in person, I felt like I’d known her forever. Now we’re wishing the entire Story Empire team could get together. Jan and I would at least like to travel to the neighboring state of Arkansas to meet with Staci Troilo.

By the way, Jan has a brand new release. Saddled Hearts is the third of her White Rune series. If you haven’t purchased a copy, I highly recommend doing so.

And now for this week’s Story Empire posts

Here in Texas, we’re still waiting for peak fall colors. In the meantime, here’s a field of goldenrods – a sure sign of autumn.

I’m usually not around on the weekends, but on Saturday I’ll be a guest on Teri Polen’s annual Bad Moon Rising feature. I’ll post a link tomorrow, then I’ll return on Tuesday with a book review.

Happy Friday, everyone!