Wednesday, June 26, 2013

AUTHOR RENEE VINCENT--talented, lovely, and versatile--now she's a romance cover model !!!





ISN'T SHE LOVELY...
ISN'T SHE WONDERFUL....



MY DEAR FRIEND, TALENTED AUTHOR RENEE VINCENT--AKA GRACIE LEE ROSE--IS NOW A ROMANCE COVER MODEL!!!

LUCKY GIRL--SHE GOT TO POSE WITH THE HANDSOME BILL FREDA, ONE OF THE TOP MALE MODELS IN THE INDUSTRY!!!

CHECK IT OUT AT RENEE'S BLOG..."PAST THE PRINT":

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Three Interesting & Informative Gardening Resource Books from Master Gardener Carolyn Harstad: "Got Sun?"--"Got Shade?"--then dig in and "Go Native!"

Three Interesting & Informative Gardening Resource Books from Master Gardener Carolyn Harstad: "Got Sun?"--"Got Shade?"--then dig in and "Go Native!"


Got Sun?: 200 Best Native Plants for Your Garden
GOT SUN  by Carolyn Harstad 

Are you looking for more butterflies and birds in your yard? Do you enjoy seasonal color and beauty? Are you concerned about environmental issues such as water conservation and pollution control? Do you yearn for simple, maintenance-free gardening? Arranged in a question-and-answer format, Got Sun? showcases native trees, shrubs, ground covers, ferns, vines, grasses, and over 100 sun-friendly perennials for your home garden. Illustrated with detailed drawings and beautiful color photographs, this is a book to keep close at hand as you plan and plant your garden.  



Got Shade?: A "Take It Easy" Approach for Today's Gardener
GOT SHADE  by  Carolyn Harstad 

"A masterpiece, full of charm and humor." --Dr. Rebecca W. Dolan, Director, Friesner Herbarium, Butler University

Whether it's urban, suburban, or rural, nearly every property has some shade, if only on the north side of the house. Countless more are "blessed" with giant trees planted decades ago that screen out the sunlight. Under such conditions, you may think that it's impossible to have an interesting garden without a lot of work. Not so if you are willing to learn about the plethora of easygoing horticultural gems that don't require full sun.

Most gardeners think only of impatiens and hostas for their shady areas, but shade gardening can be far more interesting, and even exciting--and you need not work too hard at it if you incorporate some lesser-known but easy-to-grow plants into your landscape. Judiciously mixing the common plants with the more unusual ones can help the busy, tired, or lazy gardener create a special and unique retreat.

Carolyn Harstad, author of the best-selling Go Native!, organizes this book around the principle that an interesting shade garden is well balanced and has a variety of plantings. Early chapters focus on designing the low-maintenance garden. Further chapters discuss small trees, shrubs, dwarf conifers, vines, ground covers, ferns, grasses, perennials, woodland wildflowers, spring bulbs, and annuals (yes, there are annuals that enjoy shade!).

She discusses hundreds of shade-tolerant plants hardy in Zones 4-8, suggests how they may be used and combined, and recommends methods to reduce garden maintenance--a universal concern in this fast-paced world. With its informative text, accurate drawings, and colorful photographs, this book is a "must have" for gardeners across much of North America.


 
GO NATIVE!  by Carolyn Harstad

Using a simple question and answer format, this informative and user-friendly book focuses on the Lower Midwest, and includes everything you need to know about gardening with plants and wildflowers native to the region. It explains methods of planning, site and soil preparation, garden design, plant selection and propagation. Illustrated with 125 drawings and 100 color photos.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

CAROLYN HARSTAD is a Master Gardener, nature photographer, and popular lecturer. She is a member of the Garden Writers Association of America, a group of creative garden communications professionals including freelance writers, book authors, syndicated columnists, editors, photographers, lecturers, television and radio personalities and more. 

INDIANA UNIVERSITY PRESS

Founded in 1950, IU Press is recognized internationally as a leading academic publisher specializing in the humanities and social sciences. The Press emphasizes scholarship but also publishes text, trade, and reference titles. It is one of the largest public university presses, as measured by titles and income. IU Press produces approximately 140 new books annually, in addition to 29 journals, and maintain a backlist of some 2,000 titles. The major subject areas include African, African American, Asian, cultural, Jewish and Holocaust, Middle East, Russian and East European, and women's and gender studies; anthropology, film, history, bioethics, music, paleontology, philanthropy, philosophy, and religion. They also feature an extensive regional publishing program under their Quarry Books imprint.

http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/

BOOK REVIEW: "Palisades Park"--author Alan Brennert's ode to America's love of amusement parks is also an involving family drama



Palisades Park



Growing up in the 1930s, there is no more magical place than Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey—especially for seven-year-old Antoinette, who horrifies her mother by insisting on the unladylike nickname Toni, and her brother, Jack. Toni helps her parents, Eddie and Adele Stopka, at the stand where they sell homemade French fries amid the roar of the Cyclone roller coaster. There is also the lure of the world’s biggest salt-water pool, complete with divers whose astonishing stunts inspire Toni, despite her mother's insistence that girls can't be high divers.

 

But a family of dreamers doesn't always share the same dreams, and then the world intrudes: There's the Great Depression, and Pearl Harbor, which hits home in ways that will split the family apart; and perils like fire and race riots in the park. Both Eddie and Jack face the dangers of war, while Adele has ambitions of her own—and Toni is determined to take on a very different kind of danger in impossible feats as a high diver. Yet they are all drawn back to each other—and to Palisades Park—until the park closes forever in 1971.

 

Evocative and moving, with the trademark brilliance at transforming historical events into irresistible fiction that made Alan Brennert’s Moloka'i and Honolulu into reading group favorites, Palisades Park takes us back to a time when life seemed simpler—except, of course, it wasn't.



MY REVIEW:


"Palisades Park" is a nostalgic homage to America's fascination with amusement parks, and it is given an extra poignancy by author Alan Brennert's childhood memories. Brennert grew up within a mile of the actual Palisades Amusement Park, which was located in Bergen County, New Jersey. The famed park provided entertainment and irresistible eats and treats for young and old alike for five decades, finally closing in 1971. Brennert's tale is the story of Eddie Stopka, whose childhood visit to the park would leave him with dreams that would last his whole lifetime. For Eddie and his wife Adele, and their two children Jack and Antoinette, the park was an integral part of their existence. Jack and Antoinette, who insisted on being called "Toni", work alongside their parents, helping them sell the famous salt & vinegar fries. Toni watches the divers at the salt water pool and longs to perform her own spectacular high dives. "Palisades Park" begins in the early 1920's and spans five decades into the early 1970's. The Great Depression, World War II, and many other significant social and political themes are interwoven with the compelling story of the park and the Stopka family. The author's descriptive writing places you right on the park grounds, experiencing the sights, sounds, and scents that are unique to American amusement parks. The salt water, the salty sea air, and the fresh, hot french fries doused with salt and malt vinegar are all yours to savor. I always loved amusement parks best at night, when the lights make them look like brightly lit, somewhat exotic cities. If you have ever held your breath in terror as you rode the rails of a roller coaster, and then jumped on again as soon as you could, you will enjoy "Palisades Park".



*****************************************************************


A Personal Note:


I could not read Alan Brennert's wonderful book, "Palisades Park", and gaze upon the beautiful cover, without thinking about my mother. Mama loved hot dogs, cotton candy, ice cream, bingo, and carousel horses. She never lost her child-like enjoyment of the contagious excitement of the amusement park atmosphere, and I am glad that she didn't! Hot dogs are the perfect Summer food--portable, plentiful, and depending on how you load 'em up--they can be a "meal-in-one". Hot dogs loaded with everything but the kitchen sink. Everywhere Mama and I traveled on our road trips, we found a little place that sold hot dogs. A hot dog, chips, and a cold drink would always hit the spot. PBS produced a delightful special program called "A Hot Dog Program":

(My mother loved this program so much that I bought her a copy)






"Let's be frank: Sausage connoisseurs will watch A Hot Dog Program with relish. Boiled, broiled, steamed, fried, or grilled, get your hot dogs here! A meal, a snack, a guilty pleasure, hot dogs are "as close as we'll get to a national dish," the narrator observes. And unlike their burger counterparts, hot dog stands have not become standardized or franchised. "They are still small, regional, and unique."   A Hot Dog Program tours the United States in search of establishments that inspire motorists to take hot dog detours, from the Super Duper Wiener truck located off Exit 24 on I-95 in Fairfield, Connecticut, to the Coney Island in Denver--33 tons of concrete shaped like an enormous hot dog. Viewers also get a taste of the local flavor served up by the Varsity ("What'llyahave? What'llyahave?") in Atlanta, Georgia, Superdawg in Chicago, Nathan's Famous in New York, and Pink's in Los Angeles, where legend has it that Orson Welles ate 18 hot dogs in one sitting, and where Ruth Buzzi makes a brief on-camera appearance.   A Hot Dog Program is a celebration of hot dogs and the people who love them ("It's the ultimate food," exults one diner), and who have made their hot dog joint their hangout from adolescence into adulthood, although those not stern of stomach may want to fast-forward through the sequence that shows how hot dogs are made.   For more time-capsule Americana, check out Great Old Amusement Parks and An Ice Cream Show. --Donald Liebenson "


"This fun documentary called A HOT DOG PROGRAM looks at one of America's favorite foods and shows some places around the country where you can get wonderful wieners.


From Coney Island on the Fourth of July (when Nathan's sponsors the World Hot Dog Eating Contest) to Alaska at the start of the Iditarod sled dog race (ready for a reindeer sausage?), we take you to some of the coolest hot dog places around. And we talk to some hot dog connoisseurs along the way.


In Chicago, the dogs are dressed heavily; in Macon, Georgia, the wieners are bright red; and in Las Vegas, they're huge. You can get a Super Duper Weenie in Fairfield, Connecticut, a deep fried "ripper" at Ruth's Hut in Clifton, New Jersey, and a snappy slaw dog at Frank's in Columbia, South Carolina.


You get true counter culture at the Varsity in Atlanta, giant orders of French fries at the Original in Pittsburgh, and famous chili dogs and famous folks at Pink's in LA.


It's a story of "Man bites Dog," topped with mustard, ketchup and countless condiments. It's a culinary cruise. It's a frank and funny portrait of America. It'll make you hungry for hot dogs."

AUTHOR DIANN MILLS--inspiring romantic suspense--a passion for communicating through the written word

AUTHOR DIANN MILLS--inspiring romantic suspense--a passion for communicating through the written word
 
 
A Woman Called Sage
 
A WOMAN CALLED SAGE  by DiAnn Mills
 
 
They took away everything she loved ... now, she's out for revenge.Sage Morrow had it all: life on a beautiful Colorado ranch, a husband who adored her, and a baby on the way. Until five ruthless gunmen rode up to their ranch and changed her life forever. Now Sage is a bounty hunter bent on retribution. Accompanied only by her majestic hawk, she travels throughout the Rocky Mountains in search of injustice, determined to stamp it out wherever it's found. The stakes are raised when two young boys are kidnapped and Sage is forced to work with Marshall Parker Timmons to rescue them. But Sage may ultimately get more than she bargained for. In this exciting historical romance set in the late 1800s, murder, intrigue, kidnapping, and questions of faith will keep you in suspense until the final pages.
 
 
 
 
Breach of Trust (Call of Duty, #1)
 
BREACH OF TRUST  by DiAnn Mills
 
 
2010 Christy Award winner! 2010 Inspirational Readers Choice Award winner! Paige Rogers is a former CIA agent who lost all she treasured seven years ago when her entire team was killed in a covert mission. She blames their leader--Daniel Keary--whom Paige believes betrayed them. Disillusioned and afraid for her life, she disappeared and started a new life as a small-town librarian. But when Keary announces his candidacy for governor of her state, he comes after Paige to ensure that she won't ruin his bid for office. He threatens everything she holds dear, and Paige must choose between the life of hiding that has become her refuge . . . Or risking everything in one last, desperate attempt to right old wrongs.
 
 
 
 
Sworn to Protect (Call of Duty, #2)
 
SWORN TO PROTECT  by Diann Mills
 
 
2011 Christy Award winner! Border Patrol Agent Danika Morales has sworn to protect the southern borders of our nation, but that oath has cost her. Two years ago, her husband, Toby, was killed trying to help the very immigrants Danika was responsible for sending back to Mexico. His murder was never solved. But now, a recent string of attacks and arrests leads her to believe that someone in McAllen is profiting from sneaking undocumented immigrants into the country . . . and it may somehow be tied to Toby's death.
 
 
 
Pursuit Of Justice (Call of Duty, #3)
 
PURSUIT OF JUSTICE  by DiAnn Mills
 
 
Special Agent Bella Jordan is assigned to investigate a series of murders in West Texas that are linked to the Spider Rock Treasure. Since she spent the first fifteen years of her life in this area, FBI authorities believe she can get the job done. What they don't know is that one of their prime suspects--a man who's been on their wanted list for years--is deeply connected to Bella's past. The other prime suspect is Carr Sullivan, the man who owns the ranch where the murders occurred. Carr was once one of the wealthiest businessmen in Dallas and has a shady past a mile long. But it appears he's turned his life around. Can Bella trust him, or is he just trying to cover his tracks? As Bella probes deeper into the case, threats on her own life convince her the killer is someone she knows. But it soon becomes clear he's not working alone, and she'll need to face the past she's tried so desperately to forget in order to solve the case and prevent more murders.
 
 
 
The Chase
 
THE CHASE  by DiAnn Mills
 
 
To the FBI it's a cold case. To Kariss Walker it's a hot idea that could either reshape or ruin her writing career. And it's a burning mission to revisit an event she can never forget. Five years ago, an unidentified little girl was found starved to death in the woods behind a Houston apartment complex. A TV news anchor at the time, Kariss reported on the terrifying case. Today, as a New York Times bestselling author, Kariss intends to turn the unsolved mystery into a suspense novel. Enlisting the help of FBI Special Agent Tigo Harris, Kariss succeeds in getting the case reopened. But the search for the dead girl's missing mother yields a discovery that plunges the partners into a witch's brew of danger. The old crime lives on in more ways than either of them could ever imagine. Will Kariss's pursuit of her dream as a writer carry a deadly price tag? Drawing from a real-life cold case, bestselling novelist DiAnn Mills presents a taut collage of suspense, faith, and romance in The Chase.
 
 
 
 
The Survivor
 
THE SURVIVOR  by DiAnn Mills
 
 
Kariss meets Dr. Amy Garrett, who survived a brutal childhood attack in which the assailant was never found. Now Dr. Garrett wants her story written in a novel. Kariss wishes she could seek the advice of Special Agent Tigo Harris, but she broke off the relationship a few months prior and seeing him again would be too painful. She interviews Amy and conducts her own research, stepping unaware into a viper’s pit of danger.

Tigo misses Kariss and wants her back, but he understands why she broke off their relationship. Instead, he concentrates on solving a car bombing and bringing the killer to justice. As Kariss’s new story attracts an onslaught of danger that she never expected, can Tigo save the woman he loves and find who wants her dead for writing about an unsolved cold-case?
 
 
 
 
 
 
Award-winning author DiAnn Mills is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn’s first book was published in 1998. She currently has more than fifty books published.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and have won placements through the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Awards and Inspirational Reader’s Choice awards. DiAnn won the Christy Award in 2010 and 2011.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also the Craftsman mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild.

She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

www.diannmills.com
 
 
DiAnn Mills Books at Amazon.com:
 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day--celebrating fathers, grandfathers, "like a dad" special friends, memorable male role-models

June is a month of change. School is out. Summer begins. The heat is on. Our Farmer's Markets here in the States are beginning to bloom with gorgeous produce and other seasonal offerings. At any given time, somewhere in the world, garden goodness is ripe for the picking! We celebrate Father's Day in June, and it's a great time to enjoy fresh food full of flavor. I grew up without my Dad, but I had the most wonderful male role model I could want, and that was my beloved grandfather. His name was Tazewell, and his nick name was Taz. My nick name was Little Taz. Yep, we were close. I was a "Paw Paw's girl". I only had my grandfather for nineteen years, and he was the light of my life. He's been gone for over thirty years, and I miss him more than I can say. My favorite Summer memories are of the times I spent with my grandparents working in our garden. My grandfather was a natural "master gardener". He grew the best tomatoes that I have ever tasted! One of a Southerner's favorite meals is a slice of juicy, ripe homegrown tomato on a fresh, hot butter biscuit! I used to love to help my grandfather plant the tomatoes. Dig a little hole, add some water, drop in the little plant, pat the dirt down, add a little water, repeat. On and on we went, row after row, until we were done. It was never work to me, it was just a special time shared with my Paw Paw.



  



I have always loved to cook, and I began preparing the meals for my family when I was just ten years old. By that time, my grandmother was no longer able to grocery shop and cook our meals. She taught me how to cook, and we managed pretty well. My mom and grandfather worked full-time and I went to school. We each did what we could to keep it all together. My grandfather's favorite pie was mincemeat, and I decided to make him a pie one Christmas. It was a beautiful mincemeat pie with a golden, fluted-edge crust. I wanted to be just like my grandmother, so I sat my pie on a chair on the back porch so that it would cool quicker. My grandfather could hardly wait for a taste of that pie. It was a wonderfully clear and cold December day with a bright blue sky. Not a cloud in sight. A great day for birds! When I went back to get my prize-worthy pie, birds had completely pecked away the carefully fluted edge of the pie crust. They left a perfect ring of crumbs around the pie pan. I was devastated! My grandfather loved to tease me, and he told me that since there were no dead birds in sight, the pie was probably safe to eat! I cried, but he gave me a hug and took over that pie. He brushed off the top and cut away a narrow ring around the edge. Over the next few days, he managed to consume the whole pie. No one else would touch it! He told me many times that it was the best mincemeat pie he ever ate. It was the only one I ever made!



 



A man who takes care of his family with his wealth is a provider. A hero is a man who takes care of his family in all circumstances, especially when wealth is unavailable or unattainable. A man with a compassionate heart, strong principles, honor and humor will always be heroic to those who love him. Money cannot buy those qualities. What makes a man most attractive is a quiet confidence, a definite masculinity, that shows itself in thought and action. Handsome men are sometimes merely "pretty", nice to look at, but not always substantial in personality. My grandfather was a modest man, quiet and classy, funny, immaculate, mannerly, polite, and well-liked by everyone he met. He was the most responsible person that I have ever met. He was an excellent provider and protector, always looking out for our family. He was an amazingly astute judge of character, and I never knew him to be wrong. He was a medium-sized man, but he left huge shoes to fill. They remain unfilled to this day. I would love to hear about your fathers, grandfathers. "like a dad" special friends, and the men in your life who are memorable role models.



Super Hero Sandwich 

1 long loaf crusty Italian bread (1 lb. or more); 2/3 cup olive oil mayonnaise; 1 tbsp. minced garlic; 1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning; 1/4 teaspoon pepper; 1/2 pound fully cooked ham, thinly sliced; 1/2 pound thinly sliced cooked turkey; 1/4 pound thinly sliced hard salami; 1/4 pound sliced provolone cheese; 1/4 pound sliced mozzarella cheese; 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced; 1 large firm tomato, thinly sliced; 1 medium green pepper, thinly sliced into rings
Cut bread in half lengthwise; slightly hollow out top and bottom. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, garlic, Italian seasoning and pepper; brush on cut sides of bread top and bottom. On the bottom half, layer half of the meats, cheeses, onion, tomato, and green pepper. Repeat layers. Replace bread top. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap; refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Slice into wedges to serve.



Savory Southern-Style Green Beans & Potatoes
 
1/2 lb. bacon, uncooked, cut in bite-sized pieces
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
3 cups (approximately) of fresh or frozen cut green beans,
2 medium red potatoes, unpeeled, medium-diced
Chicken stock, to cover
1 tsp. sugar 
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

 
If using fresh green beans, remove the ends and snap in half or cut; rinse and set aside. Add the bacon directly into a large saucepan and cook over low heat until it begins to brown. Add the onion and cook until softened, stirring occasionally. If using fresh or frozen beans, saute them in the cooked bacon and onion for a bit first, and then add the potatoes to the beans. Pour over enough chicken broth to cover. Add sugar, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and let them low for 20 minutes, or until potatoes and beans are tender.
 
 
 
BODACIOUS BEEF BRISKET
 
1 jar (16 ounces) chunky-style salsa or picante sauce
2 cups water 
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar 
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 large onion, sliced (about 1 cup)
1 trimmed beef brisket (3 to 4 pounds)

Stir the salsa or picante sauce, water, molasses, sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire and onion together in a 5-quart slow cooker. Add the beef, trimming to fit, if needed, and turn to coat. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 9 hours, or HIGH for 4 to 5 hours, or until the beef is fork-tender.
 
 

Tender Grilled Corn-on-the-Cob with Garlic-Cheese Butter

corn on the cob, husks and silk removed
1 stick (1/2 cup) real butter, softened 1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese 1/2 tsp California-style garlic salt (with dried parsley)  HEAT grill to medium-high heat. RINSE corn under cold water; wrap individually in foil. GRILL 15 to 20 min. or until tender, turning occasionally. MIX remaining ingredients in a small bowl; spread liberally onto corn. STORE leftover garlic-cheese butter covered in refrigerator (it's great on other vegetables and grilled bread).

  

Tomato & Mozzarella Salad

6 lg. tomatoes, sliced 1/2 inch thick
8 oz. Mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
12 whole fresh basil leaves
DRESSING:
3 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
Arrange the tomato slices, Mozzarella, onion, and basil in overlapping layers on a platter. Combine the dressing ingredients, mixing well. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and let marinate in refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. Yield: 8 servings.



Fresh Corn Relish
 
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups fresh corn kernels
1 red onion, chopped
1 small cucumber, coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 tablespoons sugar
salt and pepper to taste
 
Heat olive oil in skillet over medium and add corn. Cook until the kernels begin to lightly char. Add onions and peppers and continue to cook for 1-2 min. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Add remaining ingredients, mix well, and store in refrigerator. This can be eaten cold or heated.


Summer Squash Skillet
 
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup chopped onion, yellow or red
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 medium zucchini, medium-sliced
3 medium yellow squash, medium-sliced
2-3 ripe yellow or red tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, sauté the garlic and onion in the olive oil until the onions being to turn translucent, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t burn, about 3-4 minutes. Add the zucchini and squash, tossing well with the olive oil mixture. Sauté over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking and stirring about 2 to 3 minutes until the zucchini and squash are tender and the tomatoes have softened. Toss the hot mixture with the Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
 
 
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

4 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups sugar
1 cup pecans, chopped
4 cups grated carrots
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1/2 stick butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 box powdered sugar (1 lb.)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For Cake: Combine sugar, baking powder, flour, cinnamon and baking soda in a bowl. Add in the eggs and oil. Mix until just blended and then add the carrots and pecans. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes or until done.

For Frosting: Mix cream cheese and butter until smooth, add sugar and vanilla and blend well. Spread on cooled cake.



Fresh Tomato Pie

Pastry for a 1-crust 9-inch pie, unbaked
evaporated milk

4 cups sliced firm ripe tomatoes; 1 1/2 teaspoons salt; 1/8 teaspoon pepper; 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf basil; 1/3 cup mayonnaise; 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese; 1 large clove garlic, smashed and minced 

Line pie plate with pastry; flute edges and brush shell with evaporated milk. Bake at 450° for 5 minutes. Fill the baked pie shell with sliced tomatoes and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and basil. Combine mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, and minced garlic; spread over the layer of tomatoes. Bake at 350° for 35 to 45 minutes, or until tomatoes are cooked and pie is done.   



Mama's Summer Salad 

one red ripe tomato; one yellow ripe tomato; one cucumber; one bell pepper; one onion; 1/2 cup cider vinegar; 1/2 cup sugar; 1/2 cup light cooking oil; salt & pepper to taste

Cut vegetables into bite-sized chunks and mix together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, dissolve sugar with vinegar. Blend in oil. Add salt & pepper to taste. Pour dressing over vegetables and stir well. Cover and chill. Flavor improves overnight. Stir salad well before serving.



Chocolate Zucchini Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour; 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder; 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon; 1 teaspoon baking soda; 1/2 teaspoon baking powder; 1 teaspoon salt; 2 cups white sugar; 3 eggs; 1 cup vegetable oil; 2 teaspoons vanilla extract; 2 cups shredded zucchini; 1 cup chopped walnuts; 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease and flour two 9x5 inch loaf pans. In large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt, mix well. In separate bowl, combine sugar and eggs, beat until well blended. Add oil and vanilla; beat until combined. Stir in zucchini. Add flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Spoon evenly into loaf pans. Bake in preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove bread from pans; cool completely on wire rack.



Bacon & Cheddar Breakfast Muffins
 
2 cups biscuit/baking mix
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 small pinch dried red pepper flakes
1 small sweet onion, chopped
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
 
In a large bowl, combine the biscuit mix, buttermilk, oil, egg, and red pepper flakes just until moistened. Fold in onion, cheese and bacon. Fill greased muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers. Makes about 12 muffins.
 
 

Chocolate Butterscotch Clusters
1 6 oz pkg semisweet chocolate chips
1 6 oz pkg butterscotch chips
2 Tbsp peanut butter
4 cups Rice Krispies

Melt the chocolate and butterscotch along with the peanut butter in a large saucepan over medium low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture melts. Remove from heat. Stir in Rice Krispies. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto wax paper. Cool until firm. Store in a container. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

TAKE THESE TITLES TO HEART--inspiring historical western romance from Bethany House Books!


 
Love in the Balance
 
 
 
Molly Lovelace and Bailey Garner were secondary characters in author Regina Jennings debut work, "Sixty Acres and a Bride". Now, in "Love in the Balance", Molly and Bailey have their own journey of faith, sparked by a childhood friendship which turns to love. Theirs is not an easy relationship, and the roses along the path are not without thorns. Molly is used to a certain social status and creature comforts, and Bailey has no measurable material worth. Her parents don't approve of them seeing each other, and her father has always pressured Molly to find a suitable match. He expects Molly to marry a wealthy husband who will ensure the stability of the Lovelace family finances and keep their business afloat. The attraction between Molly and Bailey, along with their years of knowing each other, makes it difficult for them to see clearly about their future. Eventually, Bailey makes a plea in church for the congregation to pray for him to find the strength to move forward and find work elsewhere so that he can secure his future. Molly and her family are embarrassed by his outburst, but he pleads with her to understand and to wait for him. Molly's father schemes to have Molly connect with the local banker's son, who is already courting one of Molly's friends. Molly agrees, thinking a false courtship will bring Bailey to his senses, but when the plot fails, Molly must find another wealthy suitor. A stranger in town, Edward Pierrepont, appears to be the answer to her prayers and the personification of her father's wishes. With Bailey keeping his distance, pressure from her father, and persistence from Edward, Molly's heart and hopes truly hang in the balance. Bailey has his own series of misadventures, and life for them both takes many unexpected twists and turns before they come full circle. As they each experience trials and tribulations, they also experience spiritual growth and personal maturity. Will the people they become be the ones who are meant for each other, or have their hearts found another direction? "Love in the Balance" is an involving, inspiring romantic tale which also offers humorous moments and unexpected story line elements. Read "Sixty Acres and a Bride", and then follow up with "Love in the Balance". You will enjoy the storytelling talents of author Regina Jennings.

Review Copy Bethany House Books
 
 
 
Sixty Acres and a Bride
 
 
 
 
Regina Jennings' debut historical romance work, "Sixty Acres and a Bride", is written with great heart, humor, and honesty. I enjoyed this book very, very much. I could feel the author's spirit in her words. She obviously treasured her characters and crafted her story line with care. While the hero, Weston Garner, is a very worthy fellow indeed, it is the heroine, Rosa, who will capture the reader's affections. Rosa is the widow of Weston's cousin, Mack Garner. Rosa's husband and father-in-law were both killed when an earthquake struck the area of the Sierra Madres in Mexico where the family hoped to find a fortune in the silver mines. Rosa and her mother-in-law, Louise return to the family home in Texas, only to find that they are about to lose the ranch due to back taxes. Weston Garner is a widower who carries great guilt over his wife's death, believing that he did not help her when she needed it most. For over five years, he has kept mostly to himself, refusing to believe that he deserves to find happiness. Rosa's unpretentious loveliness, honesty, gentle strength, and courage begin to thaw his frozen hopes. She finds him equally appealing, but her marriage to his cousin was one of hidden unhappiness, and she is afraid to trust her heart. Weston is drawn more and more into helping his extended family, much to the displeasure of those around him with their own hidden agendas. You will come to love Rosa. She is a heroine to appreciate and admire, one of the most refreshing and delightful female characters that I have read about in quite some time. She is so honest and real that her beauty shines from within, making her as lovely on the inside as she is on the outside. Her wise innocence is as much a healing balm for Weston's soul as is her lilting flute music soothing to his spirit. Recommended for romance lovers and readers in need of a lighter heart.

Review Copy Gratis Bethany House Publishers
 
 
 
A Noble Groom
 
 
 
An exceptional historical romance, "A Noble Groom", from author Jody Hedlund, will not leave the reader untouched. You will long remember the trials and tribulations of these characters, the resilience of their faith--both old and new, and the enchantment of the romance at the core of the story. Seeking freedom from the oppressive constraints of the class system of Germany of the 1800's, a group of miners and their families settle in the United States in Michigan. Their hopes to continue mining in Northern Michigan are dashed by the brutalities of Winter, and they move southward to an area of the state where the soil is suitable for farming. However, it is wild and uncleared, and seemingly endless back-breaking labor is undertaken before the land is usable. Even though they endured much to gain a freer way of life, old traditions still hold fast, and men still regard women as little more than servants. Women live under the rule of the men, and they have very little personal freedoms. Such a woman is Annalisa Werner, wife of Hans, and mother of little Gretchen. Hans is a an unrepentant gambler, wasting away the precious little financial resources which Annalisa has worked so hard to keep from his reach. One day, she is unable to bear his selfish ways any longer. With another child on the way, and young Gretchen cold and hungry, Annalisa goes in search of her husband and finds him horribly dead. Some in the community suspect that he was murdered by the man who wants the Werner's land for his sawmill business. Annalisa's father is more concerned with securing her a new husband, and he sends word to his brother Matthias in Germany to find a groom for Annalisa. The man who arrives is sent by Matthias, not as a groom, but as a helper for Annalisa at her farm until her real betrothed can finally make the journey. Carl Richards, is no farmhand. He is really Carl von Reichart, a nobleman framed for a crime he did not commit. About to face the guillotine, he is freed at the last moment by Matthias, his manservant, who sends him to Michigan to his niece's farm. Carl is obviously not used to manual labor, but he works hard and applies himself to the task, using his intelligence and charm along with his growing physical strength. Annalisa has never met a man like Carl, who treats her with kindness and respect. Carl never expected to fall for the lovely young widow, but he is smitten just the same. Together they work to pay off the debts left by Annalisa's husband so that she won't lose the farm. They face much adversity, both from man and Mother Nature, but as they toil side by side, their feelings for each other deepen and grow into something rare and beautiful. All the while, they know that Annalisa's groom is still to come from Germany. Carl also knows that his own fateful flight from his near-execution is a secret which could change all their lives forever. Is there a future for Annalisa and Carl and the children? Will his name be cleared and the truth be revealed in his homeland? Will the mystery of Hans Werner's death be solved? Author Jody Hedlund has written an unforgettable and inspirational historical romance. Highly recommended.
Review Copy Gratis Bethany House Books
 
 
 
 
Unending Devotion
 
 
 
Michigan, 1883

In Her Darkest Hours, Is He the Man She Needs?

Lily Young longs to find her lost sister or will die trying. Heedless of any danger, she searches logging camps and towns, posing as a photographer's assistant. And then she arrives in Harrison, Michigan--and the sights of Connell McCormick.

Connell is determined to increase the fortune of his lumber-baron father and figures as long as he's living an upright life, that's what matters. But when Lily arrives in town she upends his world, forcing him to confront the truth that dangerous men have gained too much power while good men turn a blind eye.

Vexing but persuasive, Lily soon secures Connell's help, drawing them ever closer to each other. Will standing for what's right cost them both everything?
 
 
 
 
A Hidden Truth (Home to Amana, #1)
 
 
 
In the closed communities of the Amana Colonies, hidden truths are about to change everything for two young women....

East Amana, Iowa, 1892

When Karlina Richter discovers that a new shepherd will be sent to her village, she fears she'll no longer be allowed to help her father with the sheep. She'll be relegated back to kitchen work, stuck inside all day. Her fears increase when the new shepherd shows little interest in the flock--or in divulging why he's suddenly been sent to East. Is he keeping secrets that will impact Karlina's family?

Dovie Cates visits the Amana Colonies to learn more about the place where her mother grew up. But when Dovie begins to ask questions about her mother's past, no one seems willing to reveal anything, so she decides to take matters into her own hands. Will the answers she finds spell disaster for her future plans and the longings of her heart?
 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

AUTHOR KAREN WITEMEYER--inspirational historical romance loaded with humor and charm!

 
Stealing the Preacher
 
 
On his way to interview for a position at a church in the Piney Woods of Texas, Crockett Archer can scarcely believe it when he's forced off the train by a retired outlaw and presented to the man's daughter as the minister she requested for her birthday. Worried this unfortunate detour will ruin his chances of finally serving a congregation of his own, Crockett is determined to escape. But when he finally gets away, he's haunted by the memory of the young woman he left behind--a woman whose dreams now hinge on him.

For months, Joanna Robbins prayed for a preacher. A man to breathe life back into the abandoned church at the heart of her community. A man to assist her in fulfilling a promise to her dying mother. A man to help her discover answers to the questions that have been on her heart for so long. But just when it seems God has answered her prayers, it turns out the person is there against his will and has dreams of his own calling him elsewhere. Is there any way she can convince Crockett to stay in her little backwoods community? And does the attraction between them have any chance of blossoming when Joanna's outlaw father is dead set against his daughter courting a preacher?
 
 
MY REVIEW:
 
The path you choose for yourself may not be the path to your true destiny. There is a master hand at work in all life plans, and sometimes the road is rough and rocky before you reach the clear horizon. In author Karen Witemeyer's "Stealing the Preacher", Crockett Archer is sure that he wants to be the minister of the church in Brenham, Texas. His plans are abruptly changed when the train carrying him toward his destination is held up at gunpoint. However, the bandits didn't come to rob the passengers, they came to steal the preacher! Silas Robbins may have been a robber bandit in his younger days, but he is still a loving and concerned father when it comes to his daughter, Joanna. When Jo said she wanted a preacher for her twenty-first birthday present, then Silas was bound and determined to grant her wish. Jo's mother had been a woman of faith, never giving up that someday her husband would see the light. Her death the year before had left a gaping hole in the lives of Silas and Joanna, with Joanna trying her best to continue her mother's reformation of her father. Crockett is understandably upset at being kidnapped, but he is charmed by Joanna, and finds himself drawn to helping her with her cause, which includes restoring an abandoned church and regaining its congregation. Resisting Joanna is futile, and soon everyone is contemplating the changes taking place in all their lives. Were Jo and Crock brought together just to resolve a matter of faith, or is there more in store for the two of them? Karen Witemeyer is a delightful storyteller, always sprinkling her inspirational romantic works with a liberal dose of love and laughter.

Review Copy Gratis Bethany House Books
 
 
 
Short-Straw Bride
 
 
No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk.

Fourteen years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again.

Four brothers. Four straws. One bride. Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she determines to stand by his side against the enemy that threatens them both. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her merely as a short-straw bride?
 
 
 
To Win Her Heart
 
 
 
Having completed his sentence for the unintentional crime that derailed his youthful plans for fame and fortune, Levi Grant looks to start over in the town of Spencer, Texas. Spencer needs a blacksmith, a trade he learned at his father's knee, and he needs a place where no one knows his past. But small towns leave little room for secrets...
Eden Spencer has sworn off men, choosing instead to devote her time to the lending library she runs. When a mountain-sized stranger walks through her door and asks to borrow a book, she steels herself against the attraction he provokes. His halting speech and hesitant manner leave her doubting his intelligence. Yet as the mysteries of the town's new blacksmith unfold, Eden discovers hidden depths in him that tempt her heart.
Levi's renewed commitment to his faith leads Eden to believe she's finally found a man of honor and integrity, a man worthy of her love. But when the truth about his prodigal past comes to light, can this tarnished hero find a way to win back the librarian's affections?
 
 
MY REVIEW:
 
A brainy blacksmith whose halting speech makes him seem slow-minded. A prim and proper librarian with a warm heart hemmed in by societal conventions. Two seemingly mismatched characters with a shared love of reading find themselves head-over-heels in love and not sure of how it all happened. Levi Grant's imposing size and prison record are intimidating, and his awkward speech is a cover for his hidden stuttering problem. Instead of speaking at a natural pace and exposing his stutter, he searches for words that he won't stumble on, making him seem somewhat limited in mentality. Eden Spencer is appalled to find herself attracted to such a man, but when they share their mutual love of books, she cannot deny Levi's appeal. When they began to write notes to each other, and Levi can "speak" with his natural intelligence and flow of words, Eden is hopelessly smitten. Their physical awareness of each other, at a respectful distance, is sweetly enticing. Their growing happiness is threatened by the sheriff in the town, a man who has always wanted Eden for her beauty and her family's wealth. Levi and Eden learn that being true to your faith and who you really are as a person is the key to real happiness. Luckily, their real happiness is found in each other's heart.

Review Copy Gratis Bethany House Books
 
 
 
Head in the Clouds
 
 
Adelaide Proctor is a young woman with her head in the clouds, longing for a real-life storybook hero to claim as her own. But when a husband-hunting debacle leaves her humiliated, she interviews for a staid governess position on a central Texas sheep ranch and vows to leave her romantic yearnings behind.

When Gideon Westcott left his privileged life in England to make a name for himself in America's wool industry, he never expected to become a father overnight. And five-year-old Isabella hasn't uttered a word since she lost her mother. The unconventionality of the new governess concerns Gideon--and intrigues him at the same time. But he can't afford distractions. He has a ranch to run, a shearing to oversee, and a suspicious fence-cutting to investigate.

When Isabella's uncle comes to claim the child--and her inheritance--Gideon and Adelaide must work together to protect Isabella from the man's evil schemes. And soon neither can deny their growing attraction. But after so many heartbreaks, will Adelaide be willing to get her head out of the clouds and put her heart on the line?
 
 
 
A Tailor-Made Bride
 
 
Jericho "J.T." Tucker wants nothing to do with Coventry, Texas's new dressmaker. He's all too familiar with her kind--shallow women more devoted to fashion than true beauty. Yet, except for her well-tailored clothing, this seamstress is not at all what he expected.

Hannah Richards is confounded by the man who runs the livery. The unsmiling fellow riles her with his arrogant assumptions and gruff manner while at the same time stirring her heart with unexpected acts of kindness. Which side of Jericho Tucker reflects the real man?

When Hannah decides to help Jericho's sister catch a beau--leading to uproarious consequences for the whole town--will Jericho and Hannah find a way to bridge the gap between them?
 
 
 

Karen Witemeyer

Image of Karen Witemeyer
Two-time RITA® Finalist and winner of the coveted HOLT Medallion and ACFW Carol Award, CBA bestselling author, Karen Witemeyer, writes historical romance fiction for Bethany House, believing that the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bakes a mean apple cobbler. Karen makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at: www.karenwitemeyer.com.