PEEK-A-BOO IDEAS (AND CAT)

What do a cat and story ideas have in common?

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My cat, Peanut, hides around corners. He hides under the footstool and pokes out his paws to chase a toy. He searches under cushions for toys.

I am working on a new series trying to plot out 6 connected stories. I feel like Peanut…searching under cushions, reaching out for an idea here and there. Hoping for something good to pop around the corner.

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Much staring out the window or at the computer screen is involved as ideas churn and mutate.

By the end of the day, I might not have much to show for my work but I am exhausted.

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Yes. Peanut and I have a lot in common some days.

By the way, isn’t Peanut a beautiful cat? I’m not a crazy cat lady but I’m saying…

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BRENDA’S BUNS

No, this topic doesn’t hold a shade to a certain movie making the rounds. I will not even put the name on my blog.

My BFF shared this recipe for buns, aka dinner rolls, many years ago and it’s a favorite. Thank you, Brenda.

Speaking of BFFs. There is nothing like an old friend who shares my history, who knows my children from birth to present, who has shared bike rides, speaking engagements and hotel rooms. Who knows my struggles and has encouraged me and prayed for me. I consider myself most fortunate to have this kind of friendship.

Here is the recipe for the dinner rolls.

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BRENDA’S BUN RECIPE

2 Tbl. Year + 1 tsp sugar in 1 cup of warm water.Because I use instant yeast I throw this in the mixer bowl with the rest of the ingredients.

2 cups warm water

1 ½ tsp salt

½ c sugar

4 eggs

½ cup oil

Mix. Add 8-10 cups of flour.

Let rise in bowl. Shape into buns on greased cookie sheets. Let rise again. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown.

We don’t eat as much bread products as we once did but when my kids are coming I like to make these. The kids love walking into the house, smelling a pot of savory soup and seeing fresh golden buns on the counter. They eat them with soup and then spread freezer raspberry jam on them for dessert.

Yummy.

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A PLACE OF JOY

I have an old chair in the corner of the room  where I like to sit each morning with a cup of coffee, my Bible, my current journal and a handful of different colored pens. It’s where I ease my way into the day, preparing my mind, my heart and my soul. Where I journal about my days.

heritage park books aug 025Noting the events of a day makes me feel like time isn’t slipping through my hands like sand. It makes me feel like the swiftly passing days have some value. Sometimes I’ve been so busy I only note what’s happened or what I’ve done. Even in these busy times it makes me feel like the day has more value. Like I’ve ‘done’ rather than had the day ‘done to me’. On slower days I can examine my feelings, dwell on dreams and plans, consider a bucket list. Even make goals which are very flexible for the most part.

One thing I do on slower days—when life or the client’s call bell don’t hurry me—is be deliberate about gratefulness. We are so blessed yet take so much for granted. I live in a spacious, warm house—not a cardboard box or even a one-room shanty I share with several family members. I am warm, clothed, and my stomach is full.

Then there are the little things—like gifts of grace from a loving God. The colors of the sunrise, the birds darting in and out of the berry bushes, the pleasant shape of the snowdrifts outside my window, the scurry of the clouds, and in other seasons, the colors and sounds of nature.  There is so much to be grateful for. The purr of the cat, the kiss of a child, the enticement of a good book, the aromas of dinner, the first taste of morning coffee.

Reading journals written by others is also a fun and rewarding activity.

I enjoyed Emily Carr’s  Hundreds and Thousands: The Journals of Emily Carr. She writes something that I think expresses my own feelings. ‘Yesterday I went to town and bought this book to enter scaps in, not a diary of statistics and dates and decency of spelling and happenings but to jot me down in, unvarnished me, old me at fifty-eight—old, old, old, in most ways and in others just a baby with so much to learn and not much time left…It seems to me it helps to write things and thoughts down. It makes the unworthy ones look more shame-faced and helps to place the better ones for sure in our minds. It sorts out jumbled up thoughts and helps to clarify them, and I want my thoughts clear and straight for my work.’

Anne Morrow Lindbergh in her book Gift from the Sea, puts it this way, ‘I began the pages for myself, in order to think out my own particular pattern of living, my own individual balance of life, work and human relationships.’

Much of the best research material I have come upon is journals kept by pioneers. How I thank these people.

I have many, many journals—simple coil-back scribblers. I haven’t decided what to do with them. Though I once read a ditty that I think I might follow: ‘If I should die before I wake, through these journals in the lake.”

Do you keep a journal? Have you ever? Why or why not?

 

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IS IT YOUR BIRTHDAY??

Today at our house is a big birthday party. Because there are 6 birthdays within a space of 4 weeks, we do one party for them all.

From oldest—Nevaeh turning 3 Canada day vaeh 012

to the oldest—her Poppa.

I won’t tell you how old he is this year but I will share some pictures of him.

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Here he is with his older sister and younger brother in front of the farm home.

 

One of him as a young man and then as a more mature one.

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It is also my live-in client’s  birthday. He will be 70.

entertaining steve 004There are three more adults celebrating with us today.

I am serving a Frozen ice cream cake for the little one. It cracks me up to think of a Frozen frozen cake. I made a quinoa chocolate cake for those who can’t do dairy or wheat.

As a child, I found family celebrations lacked excitement. Apart from birthday parties shared with friends, family celebrations were small as we had no relatives nearby. So sharing birthdays and other special occasions with a crowd satisfies something I felt was missing in my life when I was young.

I hope it creates happy memories for my children, my grandchildren, my client, and everyone else involved.

How do you feel about celebrations? Do you prefer quiet ones, or big ones? Why?

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A CHOCOLATE CONFESSION

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Some may consider it a serous character flaw but I’m simply not that fond of chocolate. Oh sure, I once in awhile crave the taste of some good dark chocolate. And I’m not opposed to a piece of rich chocolate birthday cake but chocolate for the sake of chocolate. Meh. I can take it or leave it.

Unlike my hubbie who thinks anything is better with chocolate. Chocolate milk, chocolate cake, chocolate cookies, chocolate-covered almonds/raisins…anything. So when I found this recipe I knew he would be eternally grateful. Chocolate at hand and no preservatives or additives. Win win. 

COCOA SYRUP

Combine in saucepan:

1 cups cocoa

2 ½ cups sugar

2 cups water.

Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, cool slightly, and add: 1 tsp. vanilla

Store in a jar in fridge. Use on ice cream, or in hot or cold milk for hot chocolate. Use as a sauce on anything that someone thinks would be improved by adding chocolate to it.

If you’re a chocoholic you might want to try this.

But be honest with me. Are there other people out there like me who can manage without chocolate?

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JERK

Excuse me. I meant no insult. But did it get your attention? Good. That’s what I wanted.

Today I want to introduce you to me African Grey parrot named Scotty.

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He’d be a handsome bird if he would stop picking his breast feathers out.

Oh wait. He is a she as we discovered when he/she laid 3 eggs a couple of years ago…at 27 years of age. (late bloomer?)

He is very protective of his cage and was even more protective when there were eggs involved. Littlest granddaughter was just beginning to toddle around and grabbed the bars of his cage to pull herself up. Before I could rescue her, Scotty had bitten her finger. Screams (from me as well as the baby), blood and 3 stitches. At that point I did not like Scotty one little bit.

However the bird has proved amusing over the years. He says a lot of words. Jerk, which is why I titled this blog that. He calls ‘supper’ when I’m in the kitchen (or when the smoke detector goes off. lol). He can say, ‘I love you,’ calls ‘here kitty, kitty.’ He loves to sing and whistle and dances to ‘Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer.’

The first magazine article I sold was about purchasing Scotty as a baby.

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I got paid what I thought was a very nice sum for the story. The pictures accompanying it were in black and white.

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Somewhere in the cavernous cupboard in the basement I must have copies of the photos in color but I’m not going to look.

Pets are always a good subject for an article or secondary characters in a story.

Even when they call you jerk.

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WINTER BLESSINGS

Hello. I’m back. Between Christmas and a fried mother board in my computer, I’ve been absent a few weeks.

Christmas was fun and full of activity. It’s over and I can hunker down…cocoon in. It’s what I like best about winter.

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Yes, I admit it, there are things I like about winter. It is beautiful and restful, serene and quiet. Resting as it waits for spring.

 

 

The soft blanket of snow that wraps the world outside my window in blessed quietness.

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Sometimes a storm blows in, full of danger and fear but inside, a warm, crackling fire and a favorite hot drink are comforting. I am safe, sheltered and content.heavy snow fall mar. 5 005

 

 

 

 

 

Iheavy snow fall mar. 5 011t’s a time to slow down, enjoy the moment while assessing the past and  planning for the future.

I need winter in my life. A time of rest, renewal and relaxation. Yes, there may be storms, maybe even loss and sorrow but even in the midst of such there are moments of peaceful calm.  Banff in July 010

A cocooning around a comforting fire, perhaps with a good book.

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A leisurely reading of a Bible passage with time to let the words settle into my soul like a soft snowfall so when the storms rage, I have an inner calm.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14.27

Time to work on projects.

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I don’t expect many will say they like winter but have you considered the necessity of a winter day in your life? How would you spend such a day, or hour or moment? Do you find blessings about the winter season?

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CHRISTMAS PRESENTS FOR ME!!!

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This week I got some early Christmas presents.

 

 

 

First, my February release has been reviewed by RT Magazine and I got 4 1/2 stars (out of 4)

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This what the magazine says about the book:

RT review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I got a peek at the cover for my April release.

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Isn’t it gorgeous?

I really like the way the red dress pops from the picture.

This is the story of a hero and a heroine in the first Oregon Wagon Train from Missouri in 1843. It is the first in the 3-book continuity ‘Journey West.’ I think the series is exciting.

I had to do a lot of research for the story and learned a lot. I was especially impressed by the bravery of all these people headed west without any real idea of what lay ahead. They were pioneers in the truest sense of the word.

To complete the week, I started work on the third book in a series to be released in 2016. There are no official names yet but the series is about 3 young men whose mother was a Lakota native fleeing the Battle of the Little Bighorn. The main characters are already named…thank goodness. I spent the better part of the afternoon finding pictures to represent the hero and heroine. I need this for my own sake as well as for the people who design the covers.

Christmas presents come in many shapes. In a few days, I will share presents with my kids and grandkids. The best present will be their presence.

Enjoy your Christmas. May joy fill your hearts as we remember the birth of God’s Son, our Savior.

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CHRISTMASES PAST

Christmas is a time for children and family. I attended a concert this week for two of the grandchildren. Seeing a 5 year old play handbells was really sweet and I’d share a picture except I picked up the wrong camera and took one that didn’t have a memory card. Doh. However, I stuck in a card so that won’t happen again though I expect there will be other fails throughout the holidays. After all, isn’t that what makes a day or a season memorable?

Instead, I am going to share a few pictures of Christmases past. I have not named the children in the pictures but they are mine….years ago when they were much youngers.

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And one of a granddaughter. She isn’t performing in a Christmas concert but she is performing and entertaining us.

 May you enjoy Christmas and especially the children. tats 5 years old 030

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COVER REVEAL

My Feb. book is available for preorder on Amazon. I love the cover on this book.

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What do you think?

This is the third and final book in the Montana Marriages series—the story of the three Bell sisters.

There’s even a Valentine scene. How much more romantic can you get than a cowboy on a beautiful horse against the backdrop of mountains and then picture him with a valentine.

Unfortunately it’s not out until Feb. Sigh.

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