Friday, August 27, 2010

Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson

Sixteen women, all with different stories and backgrounds,
join the Ladies Emigration Society and board the train headed to Nebraska. These women have been lured to leave their pasts behind with promises of "free prime homesteads" and an ability to "take control of their own destinies".
Caroline is a typical southern belle whose family will have nothing to do with her after her marriage to a Yankee soldier. Ella is a widow - a large girl with no hope of ever marrying again. She and her mother, Zita, have lost their farm during the war and hope to begin anew. Ruth is proud of her deceased husband's legacy, and is determined to pass that on to her son, Jackson. Sally is a divorced, rough Tennessee gal who becomes responsible for sewing and caring for chickens. Hettie is running from a past she wants to keep secret and yet she can't avoid helping those in need. When they discover that the people are secretly calling them the Ladies Desperation Society and that they've been deceived, anger and confusion abound. These women will discover a strength and determination to make it in this untamed land together.
When I first began the book I struggled to keep us with all of the names and characters, but soon the author narrows the story down to the "Fav-Five". I especially enjoyed reading the verses at the beginning of each chapter as the women learned to give control of their destinies to God and to "Hope On - Hope Ever". I can honestly say I enjoyed the book from beginning to end.

A big thanks to Bethany House for providing this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Multi-Purpose Cleaner

This is a recipe I made a few months ago and I love it! It is great for stains in clothing and spills (or puppy pee...) on carpet. I store some in a spray bottle to clean counters and the bathroom.

Multi-Purpose Cleaner
1/4 cup baking soda
1 cup ammonia
1/2 cup vinegar
1 gallon warm water
Mix well. Shake before using.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


I made the Volcano Cake this weekend. YUM! (Well, it would have been good if I hadn't over cooked it.) I did want to warn anyone planning on making it that it is called Volcano Cake for a reason. Make sure your pan is deeper than the average glass 9x13" pan or put a cookie sheet under it. Mine oozed lava batter all over the bottom of the oven. :-)
The cake tasted like a German chocolate cake with the icing in the middle. If you make it, let me know if yours turned out better than mine!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pampa High Choir

I found this picture on facebook.
Look on the third row up - second from the right.... Becky! Are the dresses really pink, or just a faded photo? I'm lovin' those stylin' elbow length gloves. Wow I bet they were hot to wear.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Hearts Awakening by Delia Parr

This historical fiction novel takes you back in time to a fictional island in Pennsylvania in the 1840's. Ellie Kilmer is an unusual heroine in that she is not a beauty but a simple, plain looking spinster. When she volunteers to clean and care for the sons of Jackson Smith, Ellie struggles to cook with the newfangled cookstove and gently begins to train two active boys. Her ability to forgive and look to God with trust even when her circumstances are less than perfect quickly charm the reader and enable her peers to begin to see beyond her looks to the beauty inside.
The characters in this book made me want to read more books by this author. I'd love to hear more about Gram's life and the experiences she had that enabled her to wisely mentor Ellie. Gram's observation, "the truth of the matter is that we've all got cracks in our spirits, and we have to remember they're only there because we need them....otherwise how could God's grace filter in deep enough to give us the joy and peace we're all searching for...." is a great picture of the story of rejection and God's redemption. A book about Mrs. French and the secret life she carefully hides from the gossips in town would be intriguing as well. The author handled the scandal and gossip concerning the adultery of Jackson's first wife with care and discretion. I'd give the book 3 out of 5 stars. All in all, an enjoyable read.

Thank you to BethanyHouse for providing this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Friday, August 6, 2010


I'm not sure why I saved this recipe. My family doesn't like squash, so I'll never get to try it! But I had a squash casserole once at church that I loved, and I've been looking for a good one ever since. If you try this one, let me know if it's good enough for me to make just for me!
Squash Casserole
1 large onion, chopped
4 Tbsp. butter
3 cups cooked squash, drained and water squeezed out
1 cup crushed Ritz crackers (plus additional)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp. House Seasoning (see below)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350*. Sautee' onion in butter for 5 min. Mix all ingredients and top with additional crushed crackers. Bake 25 to 30 minutes.
Variation: layer slices of cooked red potatoes in bottom of casserole pan followed by squash mixture; repeat layers and top with 1 cup Ritz crumbs tossed with melted butter.
House Seasoning
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder

Another Recipe of Clara's!

Chocolate Chip Pound Cake
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pkg. butter recipe cake mix
1 - 3.4 oz. pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix
1 - 3.4 oz. pkg. instant chocolate pudding mix
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 oz. chocolate chips
Powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350*. Grease & flour tube or bundt pan. In mixing bowl beat eggs, water and vanilla by hand. Stir in cake and pudding mixes. Slowly add butter and oil. Mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and pour into prepared pan. Bake 50 - 60 min. Cool for 10 minutes then invert onto cake plate. Sift powdered sugar over cake or drizzle chocolate sauce over it, if desired.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Black Bean Soup

1 lb. dry black beans
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped carrots
1 cup finely chopped celery
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. cumin
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 lb. smoked ham hocks
2 cans 14 1/2 oz. chicken broth
4 cups water
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 can 14 1/2 oz. Mexican tomatoes (Del Monte is one brand)
1 1/2 t. salt
sour cream
chopped green onion
Finely chopped bacon
Soak beans over night and drain. Heat oil and add onions, carrots and celery. Cook until tender. Add garlic, cumin and pepper flakes and cook 30 seconds longer. Add ham; stir in beans, broth, water and thyme. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Stir in tomatoes with liquid and salt. Simmer covered until beans are tender. Remove ham from bones and return meat to pot. Mash some of solids to thicken broth, if desired. Serve with sour cream, green onion and bacon.

Volcano Cake

I found a few recipes today that I had saved from Clara Imel's file while working for her. I'll be posting them here just to have a place to save them. I haven't made any of them yet, so if you make it, let me know if it's good!

Volcano Cake
1 cup coconut
1 cup pecans or walnuts
1 pkg. German chocolate cake mix
10 bite size Almond Joy candy bars, chopped
1 - 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, room temp.
1/2 cup butter, room temp.
2 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350*. Spray 13x9x2" pan. Mix coconut & nuts and spread evenly in pan. Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Stir in candy bars and pour batter over coconut and nuts. Combine cream cheese, butter, and sugar. Randomly drop tablespoons of mixture on top of batter - do not spread them. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until sides of cake pull away from pan.
If feeling indulgent, serve with whipped cream.
Update: See review here