Friday, May 15, 2015

Cooking With Author Jo Huddleston & a Giveaway!

Happy to have author Jo Huddleston at my blog today!  She's sharing a recipe and her newest novel, Wait For Me.  She is also offering a Kindle giveaway!   Read on . . . 

5 in 1 Salad/Dessert

Mix gently
10 ounces cool whip
1 small package Jell-O dry mix, any flavor
Add: 12 ounces cottage cheese
Add: 1 small can mandarin oranges, drained (whole or in chunks if desired)
1 small can pineapple (crushed or chunks), drained
Mix all together gently, chill overnight, serve in clear bowl to enjoy the color.

BACK COVER BLURB for Wait for Me

Can Julie, an only child raised with privilege and groomed for high society, and Robby, a coal miner’s son, escape the binds of their socioeconomic backgrounds? Set in a coal mining community in West Virginia in the 1950s, can their love survive their cultural boundaries?

This is a tragically beautiful love story of a simple yet deep love between two soul mates, Robby and Julie. The American South’s rigid caste system and her mother demand that Julie chooses to marry an ambitious young man from a prominent and suitable family. Julie counters her mother’s stringent social rules with deception and secrets in order to keep Robby in her life. Can the couple break the shackles of polite society and spend their lives together? Will Julie’s mother ever accept Robby?

You can purchase eBook for Kindle and print copies of Wait for Me at this link.

Also, Jo is offering a free Kindle giveaway of her book.  To enter the giveaway contest, read here:

1) Make sure you are a follower of this blog.  You must be to play.  Then leave a comment below about what you like about West Virginia or what you know about the state.

2) Include your email with your comment so that I can email you if you have won.
3) A winner will be picked by Jo and announced by June 3, 2015.  
4) Have fun!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Cooking with The Writing Sisters!

Happy Cinco de Mayo to all my readers!

Today I have two sisters as my guests. They write, and they write books together.  How cool is that?

Here there are with a recipe, as well as their novel, The Shepherd's Song, just released in paperback.


We love to have friends and family gather around the table and so we are always on the lookout for good recipes, especially recipes with a high Wow factor. Sometimes it’s simple comfort food, like a big pan of mac and cheese. Other times it’s something more unusual. Dishes with a little Wow in them make our guests feel special. This year the WOW dish was Brussels sprouts - not just the usual collection of little green balls. This was a full Brussels sprout stalk! Magnificent looking, and delicious too - And much easier to make than you would think. Lot’s of Wow for a small amount of work! And everyone loved it.

1 Brussels sprouts stalk
½ c olive oil
¼ c maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the stalk. Trim off the leaves and the tough shoots poking out from between the sprouts. Trim off a few sprouts from under the stalk so it will sit flat.

Cover with damp paper towel and microwave the damp stalk for 5 minutes including the loose pieces (I had to cut the stalk in two pieces and microwave in two sections).

Put the stalk including the loose sprouts in a roasting pan. Stir the oil and syrup together and baste generously over the sprouts. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast at 350 for about 45 minutes until golden brown. Check with a fork to make sure they are tender.

Place the stalks on a long skinny platter and drizzle with the oil and syrup from the pan. Serve with kitchen shears for removing the sprouts.

Looking for some Wow? This might be it.

The Writing Sisters, Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers were born into a writing family, and began critiquing manuscripts at an early age for their mother, Newbery winner Betsy Byars. They went on to become authors of more than thirty-five children’s novels. Their first book for adults, The Shepherd’s Song, was released in paperback April 2015.

You can connect with Laurie and Betsy on their monthly newsletter where they send out updates and their popular free devotional books. Contact them at and find them on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

Grab your copy of The Shepherd’s Song here.

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Mother Looks at Life on the Corner of Fear and Hope

I remember being normal or something related to it. I recall thinking deep tragedies happened to other people who didn't know how to take care of themselves or trust God enough.  

And then it all changed . . .

A bump.  A three-year-old son with a boo-boo in his neck.  It will be okay. Deep breaths. Chemo. Surgeries. Perhaps the radiation will zap it away.

Certainly his prayers should.  Beside the stain-glass window inside the hospital chapel knelt a little bald-headed boy with his eyes closed.

After he died, I used to check my other children to make sure nothing looked wicked, like cancer. Each fever, cough, peculiar lump, oh, yes, nothing went unnoticed.

My kids have grown, but so have my fears. Driving and owning cars are now part of our lives.  So are small accidents.  Knowing that any crash can be fatal, my prayers increase.

As Mother's Day approaches, I recall being normal once upon a time.  My kids gave me cards made of painted hand prints, signed with chunky crayons. Once I heard about the tragedies other moms experienced, and felt sadness only.  I had the luxury of being tearful for a short while when I heard of the death of someone else's loved one. There was no fear that sorrow would make her home in my parameters.

But that was then. Then I had the ability to bounce back. The agony of pain subsided. I was able to carry on doing my motherly things like looking for missing socks, buying large quantities of diapers, finding mac and cheese on sale, and explaining why we needed to share.

These bad things happen to other people.  Not me.  Not my family.

When I was 36, cancer treatments cost me a child to death.  And as I looked at a woman in the mirror whom I no longer recognized, I thought: Apparently, these kinds of things do happen to my family.

Since then I must confess that I have feared that my other children will die.

And there is nothing I can do.

At a bereaved parents conference where I spoke, one man confessed that he, too, worried.  "What's to say that another child of mine won't die? How can I protect my children from the car accident or the illness?"  

I handed him a tissue and then pulled one out of the box for me.

I have become more strange, not more adept, as the years have progressed. I am no longer a stranger to living with fear.

I often hear people, usually older women, tell me to just trust my kids to God.

"Ladies, " I want to rebuttal.  "I did.  And my Daniel died."

But usually I keep my mouth sealed.  They wouldn't understand.  Some things are not discovered unless you walk in a grieving mother's worn shoes.

Stranded, that's what I've become----somewhere between fear and hope.

"Carl says that you keep all the text messages from us and save them until you see us again," my eldest who was six when Daniel died, told me the other day.  She's twenty-four now.

"Yes. Do you know why?"

"In case something happens to us and those messages are the last correspondence you have with us?"

We both knew that the answer was yes.

Children are on loan to us from God, they say.  From the moment I held my firstborn, I never thought it was a loan. She was mine.  Mine to raise, mine to love, mine to fuss over, read to, and hold.

Every time I hear of a shooting or a car accident or an illness, I know the next time it could affect one of my children.  Random happenings, why should I feel protected or spared?

God, how can I live this way?

The question is redundant. I have, and I will.

Some seasons I am not as wracked by fear.  There are days when I am not living on the edge.   But like the monster under the bed, it is there, always present. Sometimes just a shadow; other nights I can feel the sharp claws.

I also live with hope.  Hope that my children will grow up to be lovely responsible people with hearts of gold who know that they are so loved.  

And always aware that today could be all I get.  Today in all its imperfection, beauty, strength, joy, and uncertainty------like each day, it has obvious and unearthed blessings. 

And each is always worth treasuring.