It’s not often I get enthused about anything to do with making meals. I’m of the mind that I’ve been there, done that way too many times. But thanks to my good friend, Carolyne Aarsen ( I’ve recently changed my mind.

She told me about the Instant Pot.

This lovely little thing is electric pressure cooker, steamer, slow cooker. I guess you can even make yogurt in it but seeing as I avoid dairy products in any great amount I haven’t tried.

What I have tried and love is:

1. Baked beans. Instructions say you don’t have to soak them but I boil and soak an hour then it takes less than an hour to ‘bake’ them to perfection at pressure.

2. Stews. The flavor is beyond compare. I get comments (good ones) from even the hardest to impress.

3. Potatoes. I’d buy it for this alone. I set the pot to pressure and set the times (about 12 mins.) and walk away and leave it. No pot watching and NO BOILING OVER ON THE STOVE.

4. Scalloped potatoes. Yummy, fast and no mess.

5. Chili.

6. Today I am making a lentil chili mixture.

Did I mention it has a timer so you can set it to come on at a given time? Did I mention it has a keep warm feature. Last Sunday I set a casserole to cook knowing it would take about 30 minutes to reach pressure (I had the pot as full as it is to go) and 20 min. to cook. When it was done, the pressure went down and the warm feature kicked in. When we got home from church, it was cooked and hot.

There aren’t a lot of recipes given in the instruction booklets but there are plenty on-line. Mostly it’s a matter of experimenting.

Barely a day has gone by since I purchased this that I haven’t used it for something.


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It’s Mothers Day but it’s hard to celebrate when almost 90,000 people are evacuated, fleeing a massive wildfire in Northern Alberta.

I am so proud of our community and our province as people pull together to help these displaced people…many who fled with only the clothes on their back. Our little community quickly filled many trailers and sent them north to help out.

The ‘angry beast’ as it’s been called, still roars. The fire chief says it will take a significant rain to put it out. Please pray for Alberta.

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It’s been one of THOSE weeks. We all have them. When life is full of frustration and discouragement. When the day is far longer than our energy. The particulars are different every day. For me, this particular week has been never-ending renovations, a cold that won’t go away, family drama and too little energy.

I realize my trials are small compared to others. But I still struggle with them. Things that help—friends who cheer me on, the phone that allows me to reach out to someone, and sometimes (if I can drum up the energy) to get out of the house so the problems aren’t in my face.

I try to make a habit of counting my blessings and there are many. I especially try to remember that God has promised strength for the day. Isaiah 40:29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.


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R & R

This week I took a couple of days of R&R in Banff—one of the prettiest spots in the world.

The trees were freshly brushed with green.

banff retreat in April 001

It was two days of Rest and Relaxation: enjoying coffee, enjoying a quiet room with a great view.

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It was a time of Reading and ‘Riting:

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Also a time of Refuelling and Refreshing: How can one not feel renewed in the beauty of the mountain park?

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And then back to work at home. I can’t always escape to the mountains for a day or two but I’ve learned to take mini-moments of R&R—a cup of my favorite coffee in a quiet corner of the local coffee shop, a walk to the back of our property where I can see the mountains, a stop in the library to sit and think. These are the pauses that refresh.

Where and how do you like to grab days or even moments of R&R?

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1. Flowers

more poppies 001springtime 009

2. birds feeding outside my window

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3. Grandchildren at play or work.

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4. Banff

Banff in July 001Banff in July 175

5. Trips to the lake

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6. research trips

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7. Art of any sort

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8. Parks with benches or tables so a person feels drawn to sit and read or write.

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9. New notebooks.

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10. A finished writing project.

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These are a few of my favorite things. What are your favorite things and is that sone worming its way through your head now?

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It’s been unseasonably warm for April which means it’s time for yard work. The raking, aerating, etc. of the lawns.Pulling up old-growth bushes that are too gnarly and overgrown to prune any longer. It’s an ongoing process. One corner of the yard is finished and another needs attention. But it’s worth it to see the improvement as  new growth takes root. Below is a sample of before and after. Need I say, it’s a lot of work?

spring yard work 006view from my office window 003

On a related note, I’ve been revising and editing for the past couple of weeks. In many cases it means uprooting and pruning certain elements, rearranging others and striving to get an overgrown story down to a tidy format. Not unlike pruning and replanting in my yard. Need I say it’s a lot of work?

I see similarities in life. We each have dormant spells in our lives and we have times of uprooting and pruning… a painful process.These past few weeks I have seen the latter in some dear friends. My prayer for each of them is God will do something beautiful and abundant in their lives.

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There are times when I think I would like a longer week. Perhaps an extra day tucked away somewhere between Saturday and Sunday. My hope would be that I could finally get everything done I need to do in a week.

But recently I realized I had a ten-day week in the book I am working on. I knew my characters didn’t need that long a week. I knew my editor would object and I would get all sort of letters and reviews pointing out the impossibility of it. So back to chapter one and find a way to fix it.

A little help was most welcome.

peanut at work 001peanut at work 002

Though I thought he could show a little less boredom.

I was grateful to get a box of books this week to remind me that I can figure out a story.

The Cowboy's City Girl 001

This is one of my favorite covers. I love the pose of the hero and heroine and the pink flowers. What do you think? What sort of covers do you prefer?

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Am I the only person who takes pictures of the sky? Who has a picture file named ‘sky’? Who loves to watch a storm?

From sunrise:

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To sunset:

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From rainbow to sunbow:

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From clouds in a blue sky:

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To stormy skies:

sky pictures 009Aug or sept storm 004

From Chinook arch (and no it isn’t a sign of global warning) to the sun peeking through:

chinoook arch nov 002banff 001

These are some of my favorites but perhaps the last is one that relates most to my writing. As I start a new book, I need the light to break through and reveal the characters’ secrets.

But more than that, when I see the sun shining through like that it makes me think of the theme of my very first published book, The Sun Still Shines, which is that God’s love is always there even when we can’t see it. Just as the sun is shining even when we can’t see it. But we get glimpses of God’s love peaking through in beautiful and surprising ways when we watch for it. My prayer is that all of us will look for and receive those glimpses and that I will be able to portray them in my stories.

I’d love to hear of your special moments when you saw this in your life.

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50 books and beyond.

hawaii 2008 096

My 50th book is out this month. It’s my 30th book with Love Inspired Historicals.

Today I want to share the books being released in 2016:

1. The 50th book.

 The Cowboy's Ready-Made Family

2. The second book in the Montana Cowboys series—The Cowboy’s Baby Bond.

the cowboy's baby bond

3. Book #3 in the same series—The Cowboy’s City Girl. (I love this cover!)


4. The reissue of my three-book series, The Buffalo Gals of Bonner’s Ferry—Glory and the Rawhide Preacher, Mandy and the Missouri Man and Joanna and the Footloose Cowboy. The collection is called Brides of Idaho.

Bride of Idaho


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I continue to list 5 (or 10) things until I reach 50 to mark the release of my 50th book.


I try to be positive and upbeat but there are things that make it easier.

1. A trip to Sylvan Lake. Alone, with my client or with kids and grandkids. There’s just something about that place that fills me with contentment. It was hard to pick one picture of the place.

sylvan lake in sept. 003

2. Family gatherings. The fun of listening to kids reminisce and watching the growing grandkids play with their cousins. Okay, truth to tell, we mostly eat and visit. Smile

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3. Quiet walks—town or country.Alone time to think and plot and pray.

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4. Visits with old friends. Yup. There’s nothing like people with whom we have tons of history.

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5. A good day of work when I feel really REALLY satisfied with what I’ve achieved.

writer at work sign

FIVE WRITING CONFERENCES I HAVE ATTENDED. There have been more but I will mention 5.

1. Romance Writers of America conference in New York many years ago—before digital cameras. Loved New York but got tired of the constant noise and 1200 women lined up for anything is not my idea of a lovely time but it was good to see how the industry worked.

2. American Christian Writers conference. The last one I attended was in Indianapolis. A beautiful city.

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3.A workshop with Dara Marks in Vancouver. A good winter break too.


4. A David Freeman workshop in San Francisco. Very intense but we did get a chance to visit Fisherman’s Wharf and ride the trolley cars.  Again, before I got a digital camera and I don’t want to dig through the stack of photo albums and scan pictures. You’ll have to take my word for it. Smile

5. Numerous workshops and conferences in Calgary, mostly put on by the Calgary Romance Writers of America. These are the most enjoyable for the simple fact I am surrounded by people I know and who have shared a similar writing journey. This is a workshop with Donald Maass.

Donald Maass workshop 001

It’s been a great journey, full of fun and adventure.

Tell my about your favorite places and favorite conferences.

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