Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Review: God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea

God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea is a practical, Bible-based devotional, filled with the everyday experiences of the author, Rose Johnson. Rose takes a subject and expands it with ways the reader can lean upon God, trusting Him and growing to know Him better. The journaling opportunities at the end of each segment mean a lot to me because I am a big advocate for "writing it down". The prayer focus is also a nice addition to each chapter.

When a title has the words Sweet Iced Tea in it, you know that it is going to be more like sitting on a porch and viewing a beautiful garden of roses and azaleas than surviving loss in the muddy trenches. Yet, Rose has had to endure losses such as the loss of a marriage that ended in divorce and the task of single parenting.

Myself a writer of a recent devotional that deals with grief and loss, and as a writer for bereavement articles on sorrow and God's comfort, it is not surprising that one of my favorite devotions from her book is titled He was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief. Rose asks, "Who has not suffered?" Like Rose, I have been through a divorce and have had to parent alone. As a mother, I have had to go through the horrendous ripping apart of my heart when my four-year-old Daniel died from cancer treatments. "Grief can tear at the whole person so fiercely . . . " writes Rose. Yes, it certainly can and does.

Let these chapters in this little book speak to your heart as you discover the mercy and love of God, our Father.

About the Author
Rose Chandler Johnson, a Southern girl from a tiny Georgia town, is the author of the devotional blog, Write Moments with God. In spite of years of disappointments and overwhelming obstacles, she has grown in her relationship with the Lord and learned how to find Him in the everyday moments of life. A devoted Christian and mother of six, she has been a French and English teacher over the last twenty years.

Get your copy of God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea today!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Candid Thoughts on Heavenly Reunions

It was not the first time someone told me this and I suspect it won't be the last.

Talk about bittersweet.

I suppose I should explain. I'm talking about when people hear that your child died and immediately----I mean without even pausing to take in a breath----say, "You will see him again in Heaven."

Is that supposed to make it all okay?

Tell me, what exactly do these kind folks mean when they toss out that line?

If I were to watch a mother or father crying over the loss of an infant that only breathed for a few moments or a son or daughter who lived to be forty, I would never say that line.

It's a cheap shot. My opinion. To me, it makes it seem as though there is no reason for tears. Or makes it seem that if I had real faith, I wouldn't be sad.

Don't get all ruffled up now. It's not that I don't believe. You see, I do believe in Heaven. I wish more was written about it in The Bible. On many days I wish for just a glimpse. When I'm at the ocean and the breeze blows and the waves dance against the shore, I feel I'm closer to Heaven. Or when I go for a walk and the scents and sights of spring fill my vision, I think, "Ah, this is heavenly."

I believe when people die they go to Heaven. The criminal on the cross next to Jesus was promised he would be with Jesus in paradise. Love is perfect there because the Creator of love, God the Father, lives in Heaven. There is no sin, no sorrow, no tears and no human frailty in this place of eternity.

Yet sometimes I wonder if those who tell me not to worry, that I'll be with my son again in Heaven, are not using their God-given mind to think, to ponder.

Do you really think I am going to be serving animal crackers and reading bedtime stories to my Daniel in Heaven?

There will be reunions, yes. But I will never be Daniel's mama on earth again. Gone is the dream every mother holds and that is to watch her little baby grow up. That ended for me with Daniel's death at age four. When he died, so did my need to buy Cocoa Puffs for him.

I was thirty-six then. I'm fifty-two now. That's been a lot of time for me to wonder and pray and think, and oh, yes, bite my tongue. Especially when well-meaning folk try to cast off my pain by quipping, "We'll just think, you'll see him again in Heaven."

"If Heaven is going to be just like earth where I have to take out the trash, worry about paying bills, and discipline my kids, I don't want it," a mother said to me.

Some seem to think Heaven is an extension of earth. That Heaven to many will be a repeat, only without mosquitoes and a place where consuming a pound of milk chocolate won't make one fat. Many act like it's going to be where I can see my Daniel again as he was on earth. Folks, that little body that took a beating to cancer is gone. It is no more. The Bible promises we'll get new bodies, and I imagine that they won't age. In fact we probably will all look the same age----young and flawless, like the women in all those Oil of Olay commercials.

So before you tell a mother who is sorrowful over the death of her dreams, who is questioning who she is now without her son or daughter, who dreads Christmas because it means one less stocking to fill, who has seen her family diminish in size, and who has a hard time putting one foot in front of the other on most days---even years later----THINK!

There are so many healthy and nurturing ways in which we can comfort each other. Consider them. Instead of giving a pat, "Well, you'll see your child in Heaven," why not sit down, hold a grieving mother's hand, and listen?

You just might cry when you hear her aching heart. Don't you think Jesus would be weeping if He were seated next to her, too?

She knows she'll see her child again in Heaven. Right now she needs more than that reassurance. She has to learn how to live the rest of her life without him. She has to conquer sleepless nights and inappropriate comments, criticism, and push herself to believe that she will get a day free of tears.

Let her know that she is going through the hardest journey a mother ever goes through.

Let love coupled with understanding be how you bring comfort.

~ Alice is the author of five inspirational novels and the new devotional on grief and loss, Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache. Read the reviews and order a copy here.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Today's cookbook post: Remembering Stacy and Pistachio-Almond Cake

Today we are featuring another recipe and memory from the new cookbook, Memories Around the Table. Above is a photo of Stacy M. Sullivan Wehr and below is a recipe she loved and a memory associated with it from her mother.

Pistachio-Almond Pudding Cake

Stacy M. Sullivan Wehr
January 14, 1971 ~ April 6, 2000

1 box (2 layer size) yellow cake mix
1 package (4-serving size) Jell-O brand Pistachio instant pudding
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup oil
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
7 drops of green food coloring

Note: If you use pudding-included yellow cake mix decrease water to 1 cup.

Combine all ingredients in large mixer bowl, blend, then beat at medium speed of mixer for 4 minutes. Pour into 10-inch fluted tube pan that has been greased and floured or sprayed with cooking oil. Bake at 350⁰ F for 50 to 55 minutes, or until cake pulls away from the sides. Cool for 15 minutes. Remove from pan, and enjoy as much as Stacy did. Any icing of your choice would be good.


I have a picture of Stacy and her son, Ryder, with her last cake. I wish I was still able to bake it for her. She also loved my chili, but I put in it what I wanted, without a recipe. In high school, she would say, “My three favorite things are Mom’s chili, band, and books.” She was like a sponge when it came to reading.

~ Barbara Rasche

Order a copy of Memories Around the Table today! Simply click on this link.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Memories Around the Table: Buttermilk Pie

As we feature our contributors here on this blog, I want to once again thank each person who sent in a recipe and memory for the new cookbook, Memories Around the Table.

Today we are going to remember Randy Bennett and enjoy a recipe for buttermilk pie.

Randy's mom, Teresa, writes: "Here are two pictures of my son Randy. The first one is him with my daughter, Mary. It was taken about three months before his leukemia diagnosis. The second one is him with Mary and myself. It was taken about three months after diagnosis."

Buttermilk Pie

Randy Bennett
February 3, 1980 ~ August 4, 2012

1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
3 eggs, beater
3/4 cup margarine, melted
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix sugar and flour. Add eggs. Mix well with hand mixer set on medium. Add other ingredients and continue mixing until well incorporated. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 350⁰ F for one hour.


This was one of Randy's favorite dessert recipes. I usually made it only during the holiday season, but after he was diagnosed with leukemia I decided to make his favorites any time he wanted when he was able to eat. Sharing the things that we "hang on" to for special occasions became a thing of the past. Cherishing each day became our goal. Although he is gone and nothing will ever fill the empty hole in my heart, there are lots of things to remember and smile about. Memories of special times, sharing talks, and a piece of pie bring a tear to my eye and a smile to my heart.

~ Teresa Peiffer

Like Teresa and so many who have lost a loved one, we do learn to cherish the beauty of each day.

Order your copy of Memories Around the Table now! Simply click on this link.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Memories Around the Table: Boiled Custard

Caroline Raby is a contributor to the new cookbook Memories Around the Table. She has a recipe in the book for boiled custard which is truly delicious. In the recipe, both her grandmother and great-grandmother are included. Below is a photo of her great-grandma, Lucy Doles.

1918 Photo of Lucy Doles Whitehead of Scotlant Neck, NC

One of our family favorites was my maternal great-grandmother's boiled custard. It was easy to make and immensely enjoyable.

My grandmother would make it when my sister and I were sick with sore throats or other childhood illnesses, and it was a traditional part of the Christmas trifle, known as "tipsy cake”, also including cake, roasted almonds, whipped cream, and spirits. (The children's portions always had orange juice.)

Boiled custard chilled was relished on hot summer days, and when warmed, enjoyed on cold, blustery ones. It was also enjoyed when shared with my parents’ friends and neighbors.

~ Caroline Raby

And here's the recipe for you to try.

Boiled Custard

Lila W. McDaniel
September 2, 1888 ~ January 8, 1978

3 eggs, well beaten
1 quart whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
3 large serving spoons of flour added to sugar
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Pour milk into a deep stew pan. Set the pan in an iron frying pan containing boiling water (serving as a double boiler). Let the milk warm until small bubbles form along the sides. While the milk is heating, beat the eggs and slowly add the sugar/flour mix stirring until the mixture is thickened. Pour the egg mixture into the hot milk and constantly stir with a wooden spoon (essential—a metal spoon won't work) until the custard coats the spoon and drops off. Remove custard from the heat, add the vanilla and stir until mixed. Chill and then pour into a large pitcher, cover, and refrigerate. Serves 4-6. Can be poured over vanilla ice cream, strawberries, or cake.

Get a copy of Memories Around the Table today! It's available on Kindle and in print. Click here to read about how to place your order.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Everybody needs a place to share

People Need a Place to Share and Remember

I wanted to give people an opportunity. People need a place where memories are freely shared and abound.

When I started out with the making of my first memorial cookbook, Slices of Sunlight, I had an urgency to get the book out there. My four-year-old son Daniel had been gone just two years, and as a writer, it was important to me to have his name printed in a book. I knew other parents would welcome the opportunity to tell their son’s or daughter’s story about a food-related experience. Other parents, like me, had to deal with that empty chair at mealtimes—the space their child once occupied, back when life was not filled with sorrow. Why not give them a platform?

I sent out many email messages to bereaved parents’ groups. I told those in my Compassionate Friends chapter that I was putting together a book of favorite recipes and memories and gave them a short tutorial on how to write a food memory.

What was fascinating to me was the feedback I received, and not just the delicious recipes coupled with remembrances. People I had never met found out about the project and wrote to say things like, “Writing the recipe and memory was therapeutic for me.” “I loved having the time to recall. Thank you.” “I remembered and I cried; it brought back many good memories.”

My husband Carl is the one to thank for Memories Around the Table, my third and most recent book. He had not been in my life when the first two came out. I considered another book but wasn’t sure I wanted to dedicate the time or money, and I wasn’t certain that another memorial cookbook was needed.

“Let this one be a book with the recipes and memories of all loved ones, not just those of children,” he suggested. (I have a hunch it’s because he wanted to include a cake recipe he loves to make, known as Mom’s Cake, in the book.)

It was in Atlanta when I was invited to speak at a CURE weekend conference that I announced to a group of bereaved parents that I would do another cookbook. Once I told them about it, I knew I had to be committed to the project. I worked on getting the word out. I created a special email account where folks could send their recipes so I would have an in box dedicated to the “cookbook only” email messages. Which printer to use? Which cover? Should there be art inside? So many decisions.

When you compile a cookbook there are profound blessings along the way. First there are these priceless stories. I cried over many. The gratitude of those who submit recipes and memories are so dear. Then there is that action that many want to run from: editing. Editing to make the prose shine without taking away the essence of what the contributor supplied in the form of a memory and recipe—now that takes time.

The end result is a not just a mere book, but a legacy where love and the love of food live on. A tribute to those who once graced our tables, a reason for a contributor to take the time to write and say, "What a lovely little book. I was quite moved by the memories of loved ones and the way that the sharing of their recipes provided a way to share those memories and honor their lives. You did a very good job with this. I do thank you for doing all the work of putting this together and for including me. It is all so positive and healing."

Memories Around the Table is an invitation to all to come join us at the table, to remember and to continue to tell the stories that shape who we are.

You might want to bring a tissue.

Order your copy of Memories Around the Table (Daniel’s House Publications) by clicking this link.

~ Alice J. Wisler is a freelance writer and the author of five inspirational Southern novels, a grief and loss devotional (Getting Out of Bed in the Morning, a top seller on Kindle), and three independently-published cookbooks. She teaches grief-writing workshops across the country. Learn more at her website:

(This article was first and originally posted at Julie Saffrin's blog)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Guest Blogger Rose Chandler Johnson!

Today I welcome Rose Chandler Johnson to my Patchwork Quilt blog. Rose's new book, God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea has just been released from Lighthouse of the Carolinas.

Rose, good to have you here! I have a few questions for you today. What inspired you to write your devotional?

Rose: I was writing every day in a spiral notebook. After a while I had written so much, I thought to myself, "Hey, I could turn these into devotions." So, that is what I did. I wrote one or two per week, every week for a year. After a year, I chose from them to compile the devotional. I transformed it into a journal because like yourself I’ve always journaled and I’ve experienced its benefits. I’ve used it with students as well. I think the journal component makes it more memorable and allows readers an opportunity to go deeper and apply their faith.

Alice: Who do you want to reach with your book? Which audience?

Rose: This devotional is uniquely appropriate for working mothers, but also for anyone who wants to put their Christianity into practice in their everyday moments.

Alice: What is your favorite kind of iced tea? Flavored? With sugar or without? Do you make iced tea?

Rose: Yes, I make tea every day at home. I drink at least two quarts of sweetened iced tea daily, and I use only a half cup of sugar in that. I like tea so much, I can’t really say I have a favorite. The brand I’m using at home the most is Luzianne. I prefer it with a slice of lemon.

Alice: Can you share an excerpt from your book with us here?

Rose: Yes, and thank you for asking.

A Life of Service

"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it" Matthew 16:25 (KJV).

Well I remember the time, some twenty or so years ago, when my little children revolved around me like the planets circle the sun. I felt like I was holding them all in place, but God was holding us all. He was ever present.

One especially exhausting day, as I was changing a diaper, and hurriedly juggling many tasks, I said aloud in exasperation, "I don’t have a life!" Without hesitation, in an instant, the Lord responded emphatically to my words. In my spirit, I heard, "No, you don’t have a life. Didn’t I tell you that whoever will save his life shall lose it, and whoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it?" These words came directly to me, personal and real—interjected into my train of thought by a voice of authority.

At that moment, I knew the Lord had spoken to me. I realized I was doing exactly what the Lord wanted me to do; I was taking care of the needs of my family. My service to them was not an obligation, but a holy calling, a vocation to serve the needs of those in my care. Jesus became a “servant to all” taking on the "form of a servant" in his earthly life. His service was love in action. His selfless love, for our redemption and God’s glory, is a model for all believers. It is with this same spirit of service that we can dedicate our lives to His service, and by so doing, we are strengthened to give of ourselves to others, in our families and beyond, as we go about our everyday lives.

Alice: Rose, where can we find you online?

Rose: Twitter: @rechanjo
Blog: Write Moments with God;

Thanks, Rose! Readers, be sure to get a copy of God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea: Experiencing God in the Midst of Everyday Moments! And leave a comment below to encourage Rose as she embarks on her newly-published journey.

Available from Amazon.

Available in print from your local bookstore, online, or from the publisher.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sometimes . . .

. . . things don't go the way they were planned!

When Dan and Betty Bryl received their cookbooks, I imagined that they were excited to see their daughter's inclusion. But when they opened their copies, they looked at each other and said, "What happened?" Then they emailed me.

"Where's the recipe? We got the memory, but where's the recipe?"

Uh-oh . . . Had there been a recipe, too? My stomach sunk to my knees. Where?

Eventually we figured it out. The first email Dan sent had two attachments---one for the recipe and one for the memory--but the corrected email only held the memory because that was all they had needed to correct. I got the email message that said it was the final one and didn't feel that I needed to read the first two. I ran with the one that said it was the corrected version. It only held the memory atttachment and I thought that was all she wrote. I deleted the other two so as not to confuse myself and sent the corrected one to where I stored the material for Memories Around the Table. And that, my friends is why only the memory ended up in the cookbook.

These things happen.

Well, I knew there was a way to remedy this. Here it is! Below is the recipe that goes with the memory for Jell-O. Jessica, I sure hope your parents will love me again!

Seven-Layer Jell-O

Not an easy recipe but worth the effort!

1 small box of each: cherry, orange, lemon, and lime Jell-O
2 packages plain Knox gelatin
1 pint sour cream
2 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Dissolve each Jell-O package in 1 cup HOT water then add 1/2 cup cold water (keep each flavor separate).

Bring to BOIL in sauce pan the milk and sugar, stirring constantly. Dissolve 2 packages of Knox in 1/2 cup COLD water, then add to milk mixture. Cool slightly (off burner), then add sour cream and vanilla. Blend with electric mixer at low speed.

In 13 X 9 glass pan, pour in first layer of Jell-O. When this is set, pour 1 1/2 cups of milk mixture on top very slowly so as not to break layer. Continue process, making sure each layer is set. If you put in the refrigerator, it takes at least 45 minutes for first layer to become set.

TIP 1: Chill glass pan before pouring first layer. Each layer will go a bit faster because of the chill. You can speed up by putting in the reezer, but you have to be very careful not to FREEZE! You must watch and pull before ice crystals form. Then put in fridge to finish chill. Be very careful!

TIP 2: You can make all the Jell-O at once and leave at room temperature. The milk mixture should be kept in a pan of hot water so it won’t thicken, but make sure to cool some before pouring layer. Pour first layer to chill before making milk mixture, but be sure to cool some before pouring on set Jell-O layer.

TIP 3: Layer for the Holidays. We put cherry and lime as top two layers for Christmas, and orange for Halloween. You can try other flavors, but we have found that these were the most complementary to each other.

Need a copy of Memories Around the Table so that you can read the memory that goes with this recipe as well as dozens of other recipes and memories? Order from here.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Memories Around the Table: Order print or e-book today!

Memories Around the Table is selling like hotcakes! Here's what others are saying:

"Oh, Alice ... you warm my heart and make me cry. This month - 18 years since I've seen my oldest son alive, and yet these memories/recipes bring him right here with me! Thank you!" ~ Jan Lehman

"Alice J. Wisler has compiled a book of recipes and memories in a beautiful and heart-warming cookbook. If you've ever had my mother-in-law's lemon chess pie, here's your chance to get the recipe." ~ Angie Arndt

"Love, love, love it! Thanks so much for doing this project." ~ Karen Bowles

"On one of these recent rainy afternoons, I picked up your book, Memories Around the Table, and began reading the recipes and comments. What a lovely little book. I was quite moved by the memories of loved ones and the way that the sharing of their recipes provided a way to share those memories and honor their lives. You did a very good job with this. I do thank you for doing all the work of putting this together and for including me. It is all so positive and healing. Thanks again." ~ Diane Prosser

"How wonderful to find our daughter Paula's favorite eggplant parmigiana recipe and her cheesy popcorn recipe in your new cookbook. I like the ringed format, makes it easy to use in the kitchen. They will make wonderful gifts for many of our friends. Beautifully done, thanks for the memories around the table!" ~ Pam Bennett-Santoro

"Loved the book. Great cover, interesting recipes. Tried the Biscuits and Gravy, nice story, yummy breakfast." ~ Dan Bryl

"Your book is lovely with super recipes and great graphics and cover. Thanks for all the work." ~ Caroline Raby

Order a print copy by following the directions below (order via Paypal or check). Or order on Kindle.

Click here to order the e-book on Kindle.

Memories Around the Table

1 book: $14.99 plus $3.00 S/H for a total of $17.99
2 books, $29.98 plus $4.00 S/H for a total of $33.98
3 books, $44.97 plus $4.00 S/H for a total of $48.97
4 or more books, get free shipping!
Calculate each book at $14.99 and then pay via check or use the scroll down menu and pay via Pay Pal.

Send check to Alice Wisler at:
201 Monticello Avenue
Durham, NC 27707



Memories Around the Table

Monday, July 1, 2013

Memories Around the Table! A NEW cookbook filled with memories

Excited to announce----a new cookbook!

Memories Around the Table is the third memorial cookbook published by Daniel's House Publications and compiled by bereaved mom, author, writing instructor and speaker, Alice J. Wisler.

Over 80 recipes, memories and poetry! The recipe for this cake---Mom's Cake---pictured above, is included in the book. Memories Around the Table: Treasured Recipes is unique in the sense that it's not just a cookbook, but rather, a compilation of the special memories of those we can no longer hold, those we once shared meals and laughter with. We remember our loved ones in many ways; food is one of those ways we cherish the stories about them.

Some of the memories associated with the recipes will make you laugh; others might cloud your eyes with tears.

Learn to make a bunch of delicious items including peanut butter fudge, chicken divan, chess pie and even Yorkshire pudding.

Order a copy of Memories Around the Table today from Daniel's House Publications. Each book is $14.99.

Here's how to order:

1 book: $14.99 plus $3.00 S/H for a total of $17.99
2 books, $29.98 plus $4.00 S/H for a total of $33.98
3 books, $44.97 plus $4.00 S/H for a total of $48.97
4 or more books, get free shipping!

Send a check to:
Daniel's House Publications
201 Monticello Avenue
Durham, NC 27707


Pay with PAYPAL

Memories Around the Table