Friday, October 11, 2013

It Takes a Thief

Recently I've had to deal with two kinds of hacking incidents. One on a Google account, and the other on this blog. Both made me feel insecure and frustrated. But here's the truth: the lady who is using my name and my blog post title to create a blog to sell her stuff is NOT me! I won't give readers a link because I don't think anyone would want to do business with someone who would steal a name to do business. I certainly wouldn't want her having my personal financial information. 

This world is filled with people who are still under evils' wily ways. Things like this remind me that, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the human heart is captive to sin. Well, I have good news for those who steal, kill, and destroy: there is a cure! And His name is Jesus Christ. And I, for one, am glad He is the cure because my ways are no better than the lady who stole my name. If I were left to handle my own soul, I'd make a mess of it every time. In Romans 7:17-20,24, Paul confessed to this human dilemma, too: 

"But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time...I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?"

But when I read on in verse 25, I find Paul's answer, the cure he clings to when sinful ways trip him up:
"The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different."

This is power and health for my soul! I can count on God's help and that means I can count on God's plans, no matter how frustrating or insecure life can make me feel. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dianne Price: Her Books Live On!

Ashberry Lane announces the bittersweet  release of Broken Wings, the first book in the Thistle Series. Only a  short time ago, we offered a contract  to the amazing Dianne Price for  her six-book WWII romance. Knowing she had terminal cancer,  we did everything within our power to get the first book out while she  was still alive.

However, she passed on to Glory one week shy of the  first release. How blessed we all are that her legacy lives on in these  stories. Please read Broken Wings and fall in love with Rob and Maggie and  the isle of Innisbraw. (Book Two, Wing and a Prayer,  releases in October!)

E-versions are available at:
and in all other e-formats at Smashwords
The print book will release soon--check our Product Page to place your order!
The Book's Dedication

Foremost, to the glory of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And for my  husband and best friend, True, who always wore the “Colonel’s cap” in  our family, but only with calm Christian dedication, love, and  compassion. See you in Heaven, my luve!
In Loving Memory

Dianne was granted her wish and she joined her beloved Savior and her husband in Heaven. She is  probably dancing a Scots reel even as you read this.

About the Book

He lives to fly—until a jagged piece of flack changes his life forever.

A  tragic childhood has turned American Air Forces Colonel Rob Savage into  an outwardly indifferent loner who is afraid to give his heart to  anyone. RAF nurse Maggie McGrath has always dreamed of falling in love  and settling down in a thatched cottage to raise a croftful of bairns,  but the war has taken her far from Innisbraw, her tiny Scots island  home.

Hitler’s bloody quest to conquer Europe seems far away  when Rob and Maggie are sent to an infirmary on Innisbraw to begin his  rehabilitation from disabling injuries. Yet they find themselves caught  in a battle between Rob’s past, God’s plan, and the evil some islanders  harbor in their souls. Which will triumph?

Meet the Author

Dianne fell in love with writing at the age of five. Because her  father was a barnstorming pilot, she was bitten early by the “flying  bug” as well. She attended the University of California, Santa Barbara  and met and married the man God had prepared for her—an aeronautical  engineer. After their five children were in school, she burned the  midnight oil and wrote three novels, all published by Zebra Press. When  her husband died only three years after he retired, she felt drawn to  visit the Outer Hebrides Isles of Scotland, where her husband’s clan  (MacDonalds) and her own clan (Galbraiths) originated. Many yearly  trips, gallons of tea, too little sleep, and a burst of insight birthed  her Thistle Series.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Dianne, born August 1933, lived joyfully despite  dealing with terminal cancer and died in August 2013, a mere week before  the release date for the first book of this series, Broken Wings.  Everyone involved with the production of this book and the next five has  been blessed beyond measure to have known Dianne and be a part of  giving readers a chance to meet Rob and Maggie and visit the beautiful,  fictional isle of Innisbraw.

Leave a message for her family and sign up to hear the latest about her  books at Dianne's publishing page or "Like" her Facebook page. Also, sign up for the Ashberry Lane newsletter to always know the latest about Dianne's releases.

 Sample Chapters

Isle of Innisbraw, Outer Hebrides, Scotland
August, 1938

Stay! Don’t go! Maggie McGrath struggled to ignore the words screaming in her mind. She tucked a tissue-wrapped sprig of heather into a fold in her battered traveling bag. Too dry for the fragrance to linger, but she’d put it in a drawer. When the longing for home shredded her heart, she’d hold the fragile, purple buds close to her nose and imagine the sweet scent perfuming the air every summer.
Her fingers trembled as she fastened the bag and looked around the wee bedroom she’d shared with her younger brother, Calum, for over half of her life. His box-bed unmade, sheets and bed plaid in a muddle. A ragged sweater and pair of soiled trousers crumpled on the floor. Tears burned her eyes. Typical of a nine-year-old lad who lived for the day he would be old enough to crew a fishing trawler. Och, she would miss him so terribly.
Heedless to those words still torturing her mind, she pulled the sides of her waist-length black hair into a celluloid clip at the top of her head and dragged her bag into the cramped room that served as the cottage’s living quarters and kitchen.
Her father stood at the small, deep-set window above the sink, his face toward the morning sun colouring the cloudless blue sky with a soft blush of orange.
The bump of her bag over the rough stone-flagged floor seemed to rouse him. He placed his cup of tea on the scarred table and walked toward her, arms outstretched. “Ready are you to be off then, lass?” He enveloped her in a hug, the tweed of his jacket scratchy, yet so familiar, against her cheek.
The soft cadence of the Scots he spoke threatened to crack her resolve. She’d hear only English in Edinburgh. I cannot stay. I have to go. A sigh. “Aye, as ready as can be.”
“I know ’tis hard.” He stepped back and wiped a tear from her cheek. “But in a bit over twa months I’ll join you in Edinburgh.”
She wanted him to beg her to stay, to refuse her opportunity to study at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary’s Nursing School. But why would he? It was her dream, the culmination of everything she had studied for, including four years at a boarding academy on the Isle of Harris where she had learned to speak English as fluently as her father. Hard years, those. Painful raps on her knuckles when she spoke Scots, followed by humiliating mockery from the English-speaking students.
His warm hand rested on her shoulder. “On you come, lass. I’ve a pottle of strong tea waiting.” He poured tea into her mother’s treasured china cup. The burden in her heart lifted a wee bit. It seemed only fitting she embark on her journey into womanhood after drinking from her mother’s legacy. If Elizabeth McGrath had survived the birth of her laddie, Calum, she would have been proud of her daughter.
Maggie added heather honey and milk to her tea and stood in front of the glowing peat fire, shivering from an inner chill no flame could warm. It was already gone 0530. In less than half an hour she would be saying “guid-by” to all she held dear. And how would Calum fare? “Are you certain Calum will be all right staying with Morag and Alec when you leave?”
“Och, the lad’s spent most of every winter with the MacDonalds since you started academy.” Her father settled into his rocker with a grunt of satisfaction. “And he’ll have a bed to himself now, what with their Graham going off to school.”
A few strands of grey invaded his dark brown hair and short beard. When had that happened? It seemed only yesterday he’d rocked her in his lap and sung silly ditties in Scots or the Gaelic to soothe away her tears from a skinned knee or bad dream. That had all changed ever-so-gradually over the years. There was no question he loved her and Calum. But as head of Orthopaedics at the Royal Infirmary, he now spent most of his time in Edinburgh. Only one short three-month visit beginning in August and a weekly radio call the rest of the year to fill the aching void in their hearts.
Her heart cried out to recapture those carefree childhood days when her life revolved around family and friends, this wee stone cottage with its thatched roof, and her beloved green island. But she would be eighteen in a few months—old enough to fall in love, marry, and have her own bairns to rock.
And old enough to voice the one subject she’d never dared broach aloud. “Are you never coming home to open your infirmary permanently?” Maggie choked out the words. “I know what you do is important, but Calum needs a faither, no’ just fishermen who have their own lads.”
He stroked his beard, avoiding her gaze. Was he considering an excuse—perhaps something familiar, that he told himself every day to assuage his guilt?
She shouldn’t allow such words to ruin her last moments at home. Leaving her untasted tea on the table, she dashed to the door, pulling it open with a jerk. Even the pervasive scent of the heather covering the towering slopes of Ben Innis and tumbling in purple splashes down braes and over hillocks brought no solace as she raced to the low, dry-stone wall separating their croft from the path which ran across the high, flat top of Innis Fell.
Tears pooled in her eyes, blurring the harbour below and the Minch stretching to the horizon, its waves capped with white horses whipped to a gallop by the brisk morning breeze. What if the rumors of an imminent war with Germany came true? Everyone on the island was talking about Hitler’s invasion of Austria. Would he be satisfied to stop there or would he want more and more until all of Europe erupted into flames the way it had in the last Great War? Calum was too young to serve, but what about Graham MacDonald, Mark Ferguson, and the other lads on Innisbraw? Their ruddy-cheeked, innocent faces swam before her eyes. How many would die? How many would never come home to take up sheep or cow crofting or fishing with their fathers?
Her father came behind her and his strong arms pulled her against his chest. He rocked her back and forth for a moment before speaking. “I canna leave my work yet, Maggie. I’m on the brink of perfecting a new technique for repairing compound fractures. Mebbe when you’ve finished your training we’ll come back together. I’ll need a nurse at our infirmary, and in the meantime, Elspeth and Hugh have promised to write often.” He squeezed her shoulders before his steps faded away on the scudding breeze.
Maggie bit her lip to keep from weeping aloud. She couldn’t bear to hear the names of her two dearest friends when she wouldn’t see them for at least two years. Elspeth NicAllister had been her surrogate mother since Calum’s birth. Hugh MacEwan, the island’s minister and other anchor in her life, had never been too busy to offer words of encouragement or scriptures to give her guidance.
Och, Heavenly Faither, please help me be strong, for You planted the need to help others in my heart. Help me remember the honey-sweet scent of the heather, the sound of the sea sooking on the shore, the tumbling burns and shaded glens, even the plomping rain and skailing winds of winter. But most of all, give me the faith that I’ll come home to Innisbraw someday.


Edenoaks Air Base, England
Early May, 1942

“You gotta have a death wish.”
Colonel Rob Savage steeled himself against the pleading eyes of Major Dennis Anderson, his second-in-command. “The mission’s set. It’s a go whether you approve or not.” Rob untangled his long legs from the barstool, waved at the fug of cigarette smoke clouding the teeming officer’s club, and shrugged into his A-2 bomber jacket. “I’m going to catch some shut-eye. Wheels-up at 0400.”
Den snagged his sleeve. “Let me fly cover for you. A single-plane strike over Metz is suicide.”
Arguments flew through Rob’s mind, each as hollow as his bones. Suicide? No way. Pushing the odds against surviving the war? Yeah, he’d give Den that, but he’d never dodged his commitment, no matter the risk. Every bomb dropped on German-occupied territory brought them closer to victory. He shot Den a thumbs-up. “I’m counting on you to lead the group to that alternate target tomorrow.”
Den returned the good-luck gesture. “Somebody needs to watch your back. At least I tried.”
Rob grunted. Knowing Den, he hadn’t given up. He’d be at the Liberty Belle’s hardstand in the morning, trying to talk his way into flying right seat. “See you at Interrogation tomorrow. That cot’s calling my name.”
A grin split Den’s flushed face. He leaned closer, Old Spice shaving lotion marking his territory like a feral tomcat on the prowl. “Who needs cot-time when there are enough nurses here to make a man drool?” He smacked his lips and exchanged winks with a nurse carrying two beers away from the bar. “Or are you going to spend the rest of your life married to an airplane?”
Not again. When would Den stop trying to set him up with a date? Sure, he wanted a family to replace the one he’d lost so long ago. But a world torn apart by war had a nasty way of putting the kibosh on most dreams, and his awkward attempts at social conversation were harder work than planning strikes and flying lead.
He reached for his beer and took a swig, gaze sweeping the officer’s club. From the radio, a band belted out “Chatanooga Choo Choo,” while loud, boisterous officers packed the Nissen hut, drinking beer, sucking on cigarettes, and openly ogling the nurses sitting at their own crowded table. Was it always this noisy?
It’d been a mistake to hope to relax before hitting the sack. The morning’s bombing strike had him so tied in knots he’d be lucky to clock a couple of hours sleep before briefing his crew.
His crew. Nine good men—like family—whose survival depended on him. Oh, God, don’t let me fail them. Den’s poke in the ribs interrupted his dark thoughts.
“Dare you to dance with that teensy bee-u-tiful nurse in the RAF uniform.” The redhead rocked back on his barstool. “That’s what I call a babe.”
Rob drained his pint. “Then you dance with her. The gossip mill’s busy enough without adding the base commander to the mix.”
“But she’s just your type, Bucko. You know, serious looking, kind of uncomfortable, sitting on the edge of her seat like she’s about to run—just like you at every dance at the Point.”
Frowning, Rob turned to look. And froze. The lieutenant’s black hair, pulled into a bun above her gray-blue uniform collar, caught the overhead lights and sparkled like raindrops on wet tarmac. His fingers itched to loosen the pins and watch it spill down her slim back. Pale skin, delicate nose—and the bluest eyes he’d ever seen. He’d signed the papers placing her on-loan from the RAF, yet he couldn’t recall seeing her around the base hospital. A yearning he’d thought long buried threatened to weaken his resolve, and a bitter taste flooded his mouth as he looked away.
Den waggled his eyebrows and flapped his arms. “Chicken. I double-dare you.”
“Enough.” Rob growled. Refusing a double-dare would deal Rob a crushing defeat in their ongoing game of one-upmanship.
Besides, she might get his mind off that bombing strike.
He stood, unzipped his A-2, loosened his tie, and wove his way between the tables. Mouth dry as an empty fuel tank, he tapped her shoulder. “Care to dance?”
She stiffened and turned, gaze darting to the silver eagles on his shoulders.
He never fraternized with someone under his command. What if she refused? Then he’d get what he deserved—a red face and another foot added to that stone wall he’d built around himself.
“Och, no, but ... thank you,” she stammered, cheeks flushing.
One of the nurses nudged her. “What’s the matter, Maggie? You Scots only dance with men wearing skirts?”
She hesitated.
He tried a smile, nearly succeeded. “Well?”
A brief nod.
He pulled her to her feet and led her silently to the crowded dance floor. She really was tiny. At six-five, he was accustomed to towering over women, but the top of her head didn’t even reach his shoulder. He turned and placed his arm around her, hoping his tense body didn’t reveal his unease. Hard as it would be, he’d have to initiate the conversation. “So, um ... Leftenant Maggie, how do you like being here at Edenoaks?”
She averted her eyes. “’Tis very interesting.”
That tickled his funny bone. Must have been around Den too long. “Interesting? That’s not much of an endorsement.” Emboldened, he stooped over and said into her ear, “What’s the matter? Find us Yanks a little hard to stomach?”
She recoiled. “Och, no, Colonel.”
“Rob, please.”
He opened his mouth to comment on her charming burr when she spoke up.
“I ... I’d best be going. I’ve drawn an early shift and I—”
“I’m only teasing, Leftenant.”
How stupid could he be? She’d offered him a perfect out and he’d thrown it away. Why could he conduct a briefing and argue bombing strategy with two-and-three-star generals, yet fail to untie his knotted tongue when talking to a woman?
Those blue eyes met his. “Only teasing, were you?”
The unspoken challenge in her slight smile dissolved the icy splinters of fear in his chest. He clasped her hand tighter as their feet moved to the slow love song, “The Nearness of You.” The softly crooned words washed against the stony shore of his heart. The scent of warm honey dislodged another stone. He leaned closer, his chin brushing her forehead. “Your hair smells sweet.”
“’Tis heather. A friend at home makes the soap and sends it to me.”
Her voice, soft and warm, reminded him of a breath of summer air in an open cockpit. “And home is ... where?”
“Innisbraw. I’m certain you’ve never heard of it.”
He tasted the word. Innisbraw, a fitting name for a village folded into the heart of mist-shrouded hills. “You’re right. But it has to be somewhere in Scotland where the heather blooms wild and a good friend makes you soap.” His labored breathing eased.
The nearness of you.
“Aye, ’tis a wee island. That’s where the Innis comes from. ’Tis one of the Gaelic words for island and braw is Scotssag for fine, even beautiful, in a rugged sort of way.”
“And what’s the word for ‘fine and beautiful,’ in a more refined way?”
“Bonnie.” Her shy whisper and downturned eyes brought a frisson of hope. Did she long for someone too?
The lilting Scots rolled effortlessly from his tongue. “Then, ’tis bonnie you are, Maggie, lass.”
The music crescendoed, faded, and died.
She looked up at him, those blue eyes with their violet depths calling him to dive in.
Could he muster the courage to seek her out later? Perhaps—if he survived the mission. He squeezed her hand before leading her back to her table. One last touch to treasure.
The nearness of you.
“Thank you, bonnie Maggie, for the dance. I hope to see you again. Soon.”



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My Book is Available for Pre-Order!

I'm excited to announce that my book, The Miting: An Old Order Amish Novel, is up for pr-order on many book sites! What a blessing! The book is not due to be released until January 1st, but many sites already have it available so readers can place an order and then have the book sent to them once it is released.

If you're interested in placing a pre-order, I'll post the links below. Thank you for your untiring support as I've worked on my novel. I plan to have a book launch, once the book is released, so stay tuned for more information about that as time approaches for its release!

The message in The Miting is close to my heart and close to the work I've done with Joe and Esther Keim, and the Mission to Amish People Ministry. Meeting the former Amish, being able to be a part of their lives, and reporting their life experiences through the newsletter Dee's News, have been the greatest blessings of all. Having a book out is just icing on the cake!

To Pre-Order The Miting: An Old Order Amish Novel, click one of the links below:

Kregel Publications (My publisher)
Barnes and Noble
Good Reads
Parable Books
Book Depository
The Sower Bible Bookstore
Deeper Shopping Christian Books and Bibles
All Bookstores
Chaos (UK)
CatholicShop (Canada)
Adlibris (Sweden)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Miting: Update and Progress

I began writing my Amish Old Order novel, The Miting, in 2009. I had met amazing former Amish young people through Mission to Amish People, and their stories inspired me to put their experiences into a manuscript. Since that time, I've taken quite a long and interesting journey in the writing world.

First there was the book proposal (exhausting to write!). Then the agent. And edits from there. And more edits. Then the amazing news that the manuscript had sold to Kregel Publication! O, Happy Day!

This wonderful, euphoric moment was followed by even more edits. Revisions. Edits. Revisions. Edits. Revisions. Edits. You get the picture.

I'm sure many readers have heard before how writers can grow to loathe the very project they first adored and protected. Oh, yes. I reached that point a long time ago. Thank goodness I have a few writing pals who let me vent the frustration and pain through email. And my friends saved the epic rant to prove it. I think they even hope it will be included in the acknowledgments section of the book when it's finally ready for print. It's THAT funny and THAT embarrassingly filled with angst.


But as the days progress toward publication, I'm finding a new love for my characters. A new protectiveness. And a whole lot of prayers that the book will touch hearts.

I have also seen the future book cover. I will someday share that, but it hasn't yet received the "official" stamp of approval, or else I would show it to you, reader, I really would. Right here. Right now. Again, I have to rein in my impatient enthusiasm and save that for a future post.

But here is a sneak peak. A tiny one:

So...the big question: When will the book be released? I still don't know. I'm hoping it is soon. 2013 would be nice. We shall see and I will be sure to get that news to you as soon as I know. Believe me. I will.

For today I have to be content to relate that things ARE moving forward. The reality is just around the bend. And God is still taking me on a wonderful, beautiful ride.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Home for Phoebe

I'm pleased and excited to welcome my friend, Yvonne Blake, to my blog today. Yvonne has published her first book, A Home for Phoebe. This is an historical novel of an Indian woman and a young girl wandering the hills of the Hudson Valley during the mid-1800’s. One flees prejudice, while the other yearns for a home. Through the friendship of a peddler, a blind granny, and blacksmith's family, they learn of forgiveness and faith. 

Yvonne is embarking on a blog tour that will showcase one of her main characters: Zeke the Peddler. Let’s tag along to find out more about Zeke, Phoebe and Yvonne:

Zeke hops down from his seat, wearing a floppy hat and a gray coat, with sleeves much too short for his arms. His eyes sparkle and his mustache twitches, and he seems as tall as a weather vane on the top of the barn. Removing his hat, he bows low.

“Well, good day, folks. What can I help you with ? This here is a regular gen'ral store on wheels! Anything you want or need - I have it. Needles or tubs, buttons or pans - jewelry and fancy perfume, too!"

As you walk around the strange wagon, your eyes widen with wonder. There are pans, kettles, tools, and things you never saw before. Through the back door, you can see bolts of cloth, kegs, wash tubs, and hundreds of little boxes. Follow Zeke from blog to blog, and at each spot you'll find something new.

10 Things You Might Not Know About “A Home for Phoebe”
1. The setting is real – a few miles east of Albany, New York.
2. The Algonkin words are authentic, courtesy of Native American Languages.
3. The character of Phoebe was “born” in a creative writing class in 1976.
4. There are recipes for apple butter and egg noodles within the story.
5. The incident about the skunk happened to her Grandaddy Beverly.
6. There was an anti-rent war in New York during the time of the story.
7. It’s not a typical romance book, but a hint of romance is there.
8. Much of it is autobiographical. (Yes, I did roll big snowballs down a hill.)
9. You learn of Irving, Van Buren, and Rensselaer.
10. Lessons of faith, friendship, and forgiveness are woven throughout.

10 Things You Might Not Know About Yvonne Blake:
1. She was born on her grandfather’s birthday in a military hospital.
2. She could put together a puzzle of the U.S. when she was 2 yrs. old.
3. She knows how to say “Hello” in Navajo.
4. She swam in the Caribbean Ocean and ate raw conch.
5. She despises squash but likes liverwurst.
6. She played a flute in an All-State band in 5th grade.
7. She grew 6 inches in one summer when she was 14 but is still short.
8. She has traveled through 44 states but has never been to Washington D. C.
9.  She studied French for 6 years and taught it for 4 years.
10. She has been a child of God for almost 50 years.

Yvonne will be giving away a FREE copy of A Home for Phoebe at the end of the month, drawing a name from those who comment on the blogs or on her Yvonne Beverly Blake author page on Facebook, so be sure you comment here on my blog or on her Facebook page for a chance to win! Zeke will be moving along next to Suzanne Morneault's blog  on April 12th. Enjoy the journey! 

A Home for Phoebe can be purchased at:

Full Sail Books

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Like a Single Cup of Water

Why do I need to come into the chaos, sit down in the corner and absorb the confusion? The tension. The hurt. Why does it matter if I bring a tiny cup of something beautiful or calm or peaceful or restorative when the room is a cacophonous tornado; 
trouble swirling, dissension brewing, and flare-ups spewing. 

How can my single cup of water quench such huge thirst
 birthed of pain, insecurity and fear?

I've been turning away. Hiding in my sweet haven. 
Peeking between the curtains. 
Hording my tiny cup of water. 
Afraid to spill a drop or waste its sweet flavor 
on the burgeoning fire in the streets. 

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering...

But I don't want to offer the cup any more.

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering...

My tiny drop of water means nothing compared to the searing thirst.

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering...

What difference can I make?

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering...

Why does it matter?

Sit with me and tell me once again
Of the story that's been told us
Of the power that will hold us
Of the beauty, of the beauty
Why it matters

Speak to me until I understand
Why our thinking and creating
Why our efforts of narrating
About the beauty, of the beauty
And why it matters

Like the statue in the park
Of this war torn town
And its protest of the darkness
And the chaos all around
With its beauty, how it matters
How it matters

Show me the love that never fails
The compassion and attention
Midst confusion and dissention
Like small ramparts for the soul
How it matters

Like a single cup of water
How it matters

(Why It Matters, Sara Groves)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

10 Weird Things About Me

As I was unpacking groceries, I caught myself pulling far away from the paper bag as I reached in to lift out the contents. I stopped to think about why I do this. (The answer is number one on the list below.)

 All that pondering led to this post: 10 weird things about me. I bet you have some odd behavioral coping mechanisms, too. And I know that's what my odd foibles add up to: coping. Baring my soul here, and my oddball behaviors.
  1. I lean away from paper bags because, over the years, I've discovered I'm short enough to get paper cuts ON MY LIPS, if I don't. Yes. And heaven forbid I lose my ability to communicate just because my lips hurt when I talk.
  2. I hate oatmeal. It is slimy and sticks on you after you eat it. Not a sticks-to-your-ribs kind of thing, but sticks ON your skin. No matter how hard I try not to let any oats escape the bowl, I always find a stray gummy oat somewhere on my arm after gagging down oatmeal. For that reason, I only eat oats raw. In cookies. With chocolate chips.
  3. I have to smooth the blankets and sheets when I crawl into bed. No wrinkles. Every night. And since I am a night owl, my long-suffering husband has learned to deal with me padding around the king bed re-tucking the sheets and blankets on his side, as he sleeps, before I get into my side. I circle more than once, tucking and pulling and smoothing. Like a dog trying to get comfy in his doggy bed. 
  4. If I find a human hair on anything while eating, I am instantly not hungry and will not be hungry for hours. I have a strong hair gag reflex mixed with strong memory recall. Just thinking about it very long can make me gag. I could use that aversion as a diet aid, but then I think I would die of starvation. There is no middle ground with hair on food for me.
  5. I can only buy candles with food smells: flower smells will give me a migraine.Certain perfumes, air fresheners  and plastic bags will make me sick with nausea and migraines, too. It's all in the scent.
  6. When I see white chocolate bunnies, I have a bad flashback to an Easter from childhood. White chocolate is a LIE from the pits of Ad Hades. There is nothing chocolate about it, and devouring an entire white chocolate bunny on your way to Sunday school leaves an oily slightly cod liver oil taste on the tongue. Along with a roiling tummy later. Trust me on this one.
  7. I have a weird fascination about fruit flies. Ever since I had to anesthetize my group of vestigial winged fruit flies for genetics class, I have wanted to try that again, There is nothing more funny than spying with a microscope on a fruit fly as it awakens from anesthesia. They actually rub their teeny tiny eyes.
  8. I would love to have a powerful microscope at home. I love microbiology and it was the most fun I ever had while studying science. I wonder sometimes if my draw to homeschool our son was nothing more than a powerful desire to play with science at home. 
  9. If people talk about gross things at the table, I will not be able to finish my meal. But I love to sit and watch medical programs with all the gory details.
  10. A man with long fingernails makes me feel queasy. It is so wrong. And gross. I can't watch a male guitarist pluck his strings using his un-trimmed nails. I have to shut my eyes or I will never hear the music, just see the claws. Pluck. Pluck. Pluck. I SO want to wrestle him to the ground, clip those nails and hand him a guitar pick.
Wow. Reading back over this list, knowing there are hundreds more I could have written, I realize I am one odd lady. Odd, but fun. I hope.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Amish Heritage Recipes

I've been asked to share a few favorite Amish heritage recipes. First I'll share a wonderful Kasekuchen (German cheesecake) recipe that I've made for years. It's a bit fussy, but so worth the work. In Germany, this is often served with coffee at breakfast.

Next I'll share my husband's very favorite dessert (and it tends to show up at the Yoder family reunions, as well), Graham Cracker Fluff.

Lastly, I'll share from Esther Keim's cookbook Homemade Goodies an awesome traditional peanut butter spread. Everyone loves Amish peanut butter spread, and I think the recipe from Esther Keim is the BEST! (To purchase her book, filled with authentic Amish recipes, click on the book title above or click this LINK ) Enjoy!

Kasekuchen (German Cheesecake)

*Preheat oven to 450
1/3 C margarine or butter
1/3 C sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 C flour

Cream margarine or butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Blend in egg. Add flour in small amounts until blended. Pastry dough will be soft. With rubber r silicone spatula, spread mixture on bottom and 1 1/2 inches up the sides of a 9 1/2 inch springform pan. Place in 450 degree oven for 5 minutes. Set aside.

*Lower oven temperature to 250.

3 -  8 ounce packages of cream cheese (room temperature works best)
3/4 C sugar
2 TBS flour
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
2 TBS milk

Combine cream cheese, sugar, flour, and vanilla. Mix at medium speed until well blended. One at a time, add eggs, making sure to mix well after each addition. Stir in milk. Pour filling into pastry-lined pan.

*Bake at 250 for 15 minutes.

*Turn oven temperature up to 300. Bake until set--about 25-35 minutes.

Cool. Remove side of pan. Allow kasekuchen to chill for several hours--best if chilled overnight. Add fresh sliced strawberries to top or topping of choice.Cut into 16 slices.

~ * ~

Graham Cracker Fluff
(Mrs. Eli J. Yoder)              1 C whipping cream
2 egg yolks                          1 tsp vanilla
1/2 C sugar                         3 TBS butter, melted
2/3 C milk                           3 TBS sugar
1 pkg. Knox gelatin             12 graham crackers, crumbled
1/2 C cold water
2 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Beat egg yolks. Add sugar and milk. Cook on low heat until slightly thickened. Soak gelatin in cold water. Pour hot mixture over gelatin and stir until smooth. Chill until slightly thickened. Add stiffly beat egg whites and whipped cream to mixture. Combine melted butter, and sugar. Mix well. Sprinkle half of graham cracker crumbs in bottom of dish. Add filling. Sprinkle remainder of graham cracker crumbs over top. Let chill until set. Serves 8.

~ * ~

Amish Peanut Butter Spread
(Esther Keim)
2 C brown sugar
2 TBS corn syrup
2 C peanut butter
1 C water
1 tsp maple flavoring
1 (16 oz) jar marshmallow creme

Combine brown sugar, corn syrup, water, and maple flavoring in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool. Blend together peanut butter and marshmallow creme. Stir cooled syrup into the peanut butter mixture. Serve with crackers, bread or muffins.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Too Connected to Reply

Being kind to others through good manners seems harder to do these days. The social graces we used to employ now take more time or more effort or more brain power. I refer to the social grace of answering notes and being kind in responses. I refer to Facebook and Twitter and email and texting.

In an age when our technology keeps us in touch with each other more than ever before, a new phenomena occurs: ignoring others. Now that we can easily rely on word messages, we no longer have to answer phones to talk to people. Now that we can instantly message one another, it's easier and easier to ignore messages. Now that we have all the power in the world to connect, we seem to be falling into bad manners way too often. We ignore.

I'm guilty. If a message comes in at the wrong time, I can easily ignore it. If an email is lined up with 100 others, I can ignore it. I don't text...yet...but I'm guessing I will be able to ignore that, too, when I have the technology to do so.

I asked myself why I am prone, why we all are prone, to doing this? Why do we ignore others?

Often it is a matter of time. Too little time. We fill our days from morning until night with all kinds of time users. Some is work. Some is family. Some is maintenance of home or possessions. But let's be honest: sometimes, we just waste time and don't feel like being nice or bothering to answer.

We are making ourselves more selfish. We pick and choose. We hesitate in order to go on to something that may be more exciting. Sometimes we don't know how to answer. Or we're tired. Or we're not sure of the person contacting us. It boils down to being selfish with our time and our manners.

But really: It never takes too much time to frame a polite response.

Sometimes we have legitimate excuses: we miss messages and we do forget. Sometimes messages do not arrive in time or get lost in the mix or the sending. But many times, we ignore because we just plain don't want to deal with others.

I don't know about you, but I'm feeling bad about the amount of time I spend ignoring others. I'm not talking about ignoring mass mailings. Those are annoying time wasters. But when dealing one on one with each other, I know I need to be nicer, kinder, and more open. In a word: polite. Acknowledging my fellow human being should not be sloughed off, no matter how busy I am.

I think I'm going to try harder not to ignore. I think I'm going to try harder to be polite. I think I'm going to try harder to let someone know their written communication is a good thing, and not an annoyance. I think I'm going to try harder to reach out and...connect. Being polite is never wrong.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Dusting Off the Blog

When I was in elementary school, each morning the principal would blow into the sound system to let us know he was ready to make morning announcements. It was like he was blowing the dust off the microphone. That's what I should do:  Puff. Puff. Puff.

There. Now that  the dust is off this blog, maybe my readers will finally see something posted on here. Being a writer is a delicate thing. At least for me it is. Life can easily get in the way. Through December, my family decided to cut back on internet time so I didn't do much writing. Being sick, too, brought more time with the Kleenex box than with anything or anyone else, but I think I'm baaaaack.

Here's an update on how things stand with all things writing related:

  • The Miting (Amish fiction book 1)- working on chapter 11 revisions--headed for finishing the revisions within a week or two. After that, the edits will begin with the publishing company I'm contracted with.
  • The Powerful Odor of Mendacity- ready to begin edits, and when those are finished, I will put together a book proposal to send to my agent, Terry Burns.
  • The Way Out (book 2 of Amish fiction series)- Outlined and half written.
  • Falling Off the Belief (book 3 in the Amish fiction series)-in my head and being simmered. The basic story-line is set, but I have to get it on paper and outlined.
  • Prairie--Six thousand words written and clamoring for more attention from my pea brain.The manuscripted family hasn't made it out of Ohio yet, but at least they have joined a wagon train. *smile*
I am still writing Dee's News for Mission to Amish People, and am also getting our little church's weekly bulletin together for each Sunday. So I guess I AM still working, but the going has been like treacle: thick and slooooow.

I hope 2013 is the year I finish many projects and get started on new ones, too. Happy New Year, readers! And thank you for being patient and continuing to read my stuff!