Sweet Vidalia Onion Month

You may not realize this, but May IS National Sweet Vidalia Onion Month! If you live in the South, or want to live in the south, you know what a treat it is when the sweet Vidalia Onions are in season! Yesterday I enjoyed one on my Memorial Day BURGER!

Burger_Onion_Rings I could tell stories of the wonder of the Vidalia Onion, but instead, I’ll let you visit their website, VidaliaOnion.org.

Recipes, Healthy Eating, Kids, Growing Vidalia Onions, etc.!

Oh, and did I mention that my cousin, Scott Rudd, is part-owner of J&S Produce, in Mount Vernon, GA, about 10 miles from the REAL TOWN of Vidalia, GA? They deal heavily in those Sweet Vidalia Onions . . .  If you see him, tell him I said “hey!”

Such a name-dropper, right?

Sliced VidaliaAnd for your listening and viewing pleasure, the winning jingle in the 2011 “Sweet Vidalia Onion” contest!

Enjoy!

Sweet Vidalia Onion Jingle winner

FASHION APOCALYPSE

The heroine in Rose’s new book is a beauty advice columnist. Today, I will try my hand at a different kind of beauty advice column – EMERGENCY BEAUTY!

In 2009, Western Kentucky was hit with one of the worst ice storms in our history. There were folks without electricity and water for up to 2 weeks – a few, out in the farthest reaches of the county, even longer.

It was during this time that I realized just how important basic makeup use can be.

Really.

220px-Zombies_NightoftheLivingDead   You’ve seen pics of a fictional “zombie apocalypse?” Well, that was what the first trip to a generator-powered grocery store looked like. We’d all been hunkered down for nearly a week when finally the roads cleared enough to get generators in and open up a few businesses for basic cash-only grocery purchases.

People were wandering the semi-lit aisles, looking for food that didn’t need to be refrigerated OR cooked. No makeup. Hair in disarray. That glazed look on their faces.

Honestly, there were folks that I simply did not RECOGNIZE until they spoke.

It was then that I came up with a few beauty tips that work for any circumstance – even without power or running water:

curlsCurly hair CAN be your friend. Seriously. For a few days, all you have to do is brush, fluff, and pat it into shape, squirt some hairspray on it, and in a semi-darkened building when you’re probably wearing a hat anyway, you’re good to go. Like I tell my curly-haired daughter – it’s the SHAPE that counts.

makeupEyeliner and mascara are all you truly need to look like a living human. Lipstick is good, but a tinted lip-balm is enough if your eyes are made up.

Have lotion-infused tissues and makeup remover/cleansing wipes on hand.  They can literally take care of more than just removing makeup.

That’s all. I resolved, after that horrifying trip to the grocery store, that I would NOT leave the house without fluffing, lining, and lashing.

I’ll save my treatise on pajama pants in public for another time . . .

****

HOW YOU CAN WIN A COPY OF “WEDDING ON THE ROCKS.”

Rose is generously offering not one but TWO copies of Wedding on the Rocks AND TWO copies of her previous release Rose of Sharon to readers who comment between now and Friday, May 17, and let us know about their most unusual job or a beauty secret and/or mishap. That’s four chances to win a book every time you post here at Inkspirational Messages until FRIDAY!

Contest closes Friday, May 17 at midnight (central time). It is open to readers in the U.S. and Canada only.

MY BABY SISTER

Sisters are truly gifts from God. I know I prayed and prayed for one! Mine was born on a March day when I was in first grade – 10 days after my 7th birthday!

She had a knack for being cute and goofy at home, then clam up in front of other people.

She could turn cartwheels all the way across the yard (or the fellowship hall at church!), twirl her baton incessantly, and ride her bike all the way through the Baptist camp where we lived for a time.

She also has a way of saving the day . . .

As a teenager, I took great pride in my biscuit-making skills. (I know. You’re thinking, and rightly, “pride goeth before a fall!) My parents both stood over me at age 10, and instructed me on the finer arts of not over-kneading the slightly-sticky dough. One day, though, my boyfriend was coming over. Homemade biscuits? No sweat! I can do that with my eyes shut! So, I went through the steps perfectly, rolled them out, placed them ever-so-perfectly on the baking sheet, and put them in the oven. After about 12 minutes, I went to take them out, and there they were. As flat as they were when I put them in. They were supposed to AT LEAST double in height!

Then I found out who the culprit was. My dad. He had put all-purpose flour in the self-rising flour canister. Ugh. I cried.

But my sister saved the situation. She was about 9, I think. She said, very sweetly, “Gina, they’re not bad if you put butter and salt on them!” LOLOL

She was completely sincere.

And that’s what sisters do. They encourage, infuriate, comfort, pick, and LOVE.

And the greatest of these . . . is LOVE!

I love you, Andrea Gail Rudd Peak!

Now its your turn. Every time you share one of your sister stories in the next two weeks, you’ll be entered in the drawing for a copy of When Love Calls by Lorna Seilstad for yourself and a matching copy for a sister. Contest closes at midnight, central time on Friday, May 3, 2013 and is open to those in the U.S. and Canada. Name chosen by Random.org.

SPRING, WHEN A READER’S HEART . . . SOARS!

I am overwhelmed by the number of new books coming out! Every time someone asks, “have you read . . .?”, I just shake my head and say, “I’m at least 4 books behind on my TBR pile as it is!” Lorna’s When Love Calls is VERY high on that list, BTW – and check out the contest at the bottom of the post for YOUR chance to win a copy!

Anyway, I’ll get to them, eventually – that’s one of the perks of working in a public library with a growing Christian Fiction section!

Today I want to focus on the four books that I’ve anticipated for a LONG time – One of which, I’ve read, and four that I want to read ASAP!

Here they are, in order of their release . . .

***

Picture Perfect, by Janice Thompson, came out in February, and as an avid fan of her “Weddings by Bella” series, I was thrilled to see Bella back with her family and business in full swing, and ready to help out some other professionals in the wedding biz! Here’s a blurb:

She’s trying to focus on her future. How can one man make everything feel so . . . fuzzy?

Hannah McDermott has a successful photography studio. She’ll soon be featured in Texas Bride magazine. And she has a celebrity client whose Galveston ceremony will be her ticket to the top spot on wedding coordinator Bella Neeley’s list of recommended photographers. But it could all come crashing down around her because of one man: archrival and photographer extraordinaire Drew Kincaid.

As the competition between Hannah and Drew heats up, Hannah is surprised to find that it’s not the only thing getting more intense. She can’t get the handsome man out of her thoughts–or even out of her line of sight–and the job of her dreams is turning into a nightmare. Will everything she’s worked for slip out of her hands? And can she see past her pride to find a picture-perfect love?

With contagious humor and a cast of quirky characters, Janice Thompson gives you crazy bridal-business drama, sweet romance, and a satisfying dose of laughter.

I am told that there will be MORE Bella books coming!

***

I met debut author Patrick Carr at my first-ever ACFW conference – his, too – and liked him immediately. Not only does he have a quirky sense of humor, but, bless his heart, he has taught middle and high school, just like my husband. A minion of author Kaye Dacus, he and our own Dawn Ford will be the reason I delve into Speculative Fiction!

Here is a bit from Carr’s February release, A Cast of Stones:

The Fate of the Kingdom Awaits the Cast of Stones

In the backwater village of Callowford, roustabout Errol Stone is enlisted by a church messenger arriving with urgent missives for the hermit priest in the hills. Eager for coin, Errol agrees to what he thinks will be an easy task, but soon finds himself hunted by deadly assassins. Forced to flee with the priest and a small band of travelers, Errol soon learns he’s joined a quest that could change the fate of his kingdom.

Protected for millennia by the heirs of the first king, the kingdom’s dynasty nears its end and the selection of the new king begins–but in secret and shadow. As danger mounts, Errol must leave behind the stains and griefs of the past, learn to fight, and discover who is hunting him and his companions and how far they will go to stop the reading of the stones.

Pssst . . . Patrick’s 2nd book in the “Staff and the Sword” series comes out this summer!

***

Sandra Robbins’ March release of Mountain Homecoming is next on my list. Usually a writer of suspense, Robbins took historical romance to heart and placed it her beloved Tennessee Smoky Mountains.

In the second book in the Smoky Mountain Dreams series, acclaimed author Sandra Robbins spins a tender tale of God’s faithfulness throughout the generations.

Rani Martin, Simon and Anna’s only daughter, is a beautiful and spirited young woman living deep in the heart of the Smoky Mountains. She has plenty of ideas about the man she’ll marry someday, but none of them could have prepared her for the return of Matthew Jackson.

Matthew left Cades Cove as a child after his father’s death. Now he’s come back to build a new life for himself, and it’s his dearest wish that Rani be a part of that life. But the people of the Cove won’t let him forget the sins of his father, and Matthew can’t forget the darkness of his own past.

Is there a place for Matthew in the Cove? And can the light of Rani’s love overcome his pain?

***

Last, but CERTAINLY not least, is the highly-anticipated May 1 release of Kaye Dacus’ Follow the Heart: A Great Exhibition Novel. For those of you who have followed her contemporary “Brides of Boneterre” series and her historical “Ransome Trilogy,” you know that to read Kaye’s books is to find humor, suspense, and tender romance, no matter what the era.

A bit from Follow the Heart:

Set during the Industrial Revolution and the Great Exhibition of 1851, Follow the Heart is a “sitting-room romance” with the feel of a Regency-era novel but the fashions and technological advances of the mid-Victorian age.


Kate and Christopher Dearing’s lives turn upside down when their father loses everything in a railroad land speculation. The siblings are shipped off to their mother’s brother in England with one edict: marry money.

At twenty-seven years old, Kate has the stigma of being passed over by eligible men many times—and that was before she had no dowry. Christopher would like nothing better than to make his own way in the world; and with a law degree and expertise in the burgeoning railroad industry, he was primed to do just that—in America.

Though their uncle tries to ensure Kate and Christopher find matrimonial prospects only among the highest echelon of British society, their attentions stray to a gardener and a governess.

While Christopher has options that would enable him to lay his affections where he chooses, he cannot let the burden of their family’s finances crush his sister. Trying to push her feelings for the handsome—but not wealthy— gardener aside, Kate’s prospects brighten when a wealthy viscount shows interest in her. But is marrying for the financial security of her family the right thing to do, when her heart is telling her she’s making a mistake?

Mandates . . . money . . . matrimony. Who will follow the heart?


If you want more in-depth info about this series, check out Kaye’s blog at http://www.kayedacus.com!

Happy Reading, Happy SPRING!

***Contest Reminder***


Every time you  leave a comment on posts dated April 8, 2013 through April 19, 2013, you’ll be entered for a chance to win an autographed copy of When Love Calls plus a $10 Starbucks card! Contest ends Friday, April 19, 2013 at midnight. Winner will be posted on Saturday, April 20, 2013.

Also, be sure to hop over to Lorna’s Facebook Fan Page and *like* it. She’s having a Likefest. As soon as she reaches 800 Likes, her publisher will have a giveaway for a complete set of her books!

THOSE SILLY ANIMALS!

Here’s the thing. I have an exceptionally well-developed CORNY sense of humor. I can literally think of something funny about most any topic.

My favorite? ANIMALS.

I can waste so much time on Pinterest just simply giggling at silly kittens and farm animals, Grumpy Cat being just one of MANY animal treats . . .

For instance (and feel free to laugh out loud and wonder why you felt these were SO FUNNY!):

icanhascheeseburger.com

icanhascheeseburger.com

i.imgur.com

iwastesomuchtime.com

quickmeme.com

 

And then the ultimate “Why is this making me laugh so hard?

I rest my case.

Have a happy, laughter-filled day!

 

BLOCKED, OR CONSTRICTED?

A few short years ago, I’d been asked for a submission, and suddenly, I was LOST. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t walk up the stairs without huffing and puffing.

Just getting lazy, I thought.

I really need to exercise, I thought.

Age catching up with me, I thought.

Then I went to the doctor. When they did my blood work, the doctor just looked at me and said, “I’m surprised you could walk across the floor without passing out, your iron levels are so low!”

Was THIS why I couldn’t write, or even string a sentence together without getting a headache?

Yes it was. By the time I put in a full day at work, I was done. I mean DONE. And it took about 6 months to get myself back to normal. By then, my creative juices were barely trickling, and I had almost given up on writing altogether.

It was good to know that the font wasn’t DRY, it was just LOW.

I was fortunate. I have more than one group of ladies that are my encouragers. I have my darling Scribblers, my Sisters, and my KenTen writing group. They’ve been there. They’re going through stuff, too, and they look out for me. They won’t LET me quit.

The other day I was talking to my daughter about some of the fanfiction I used to write. She just looked at me and asked why, when I could do all the research for fanfiction about FBI agents, I didn’t do that for original characters?

I didn’t have a really good answer for her. It made me go back and re-read some of the stuff I’d written – things I considered “practice runs” for “real” writing, and realized that THAT was real writing. Writing that made me happy.

My tips? Stay HEALTHY, stay CONNECTED, write what makes you HAPPY, whether you sell it or not.

MIRACLES

I had my post all done, posted, and scheduled this time. I was DONE. So proud of myself . . . and then it hit me.

I had written the wrong post.

Oh, the original was all about how prayer had made a difference in my life many years ago, but then it hit me that prayer has affected my life more recently. Like, in the past three weeks!

In the wee hours of Tuesday, February 19, I received a text message. My dear friend and brother I never had. His newborn grandson was in distress. He asked for prayer. It didn’t look good.

When I got the message the next morning, I, along with many others, started praying, kept the word going, searched for updates, and prayed some more.

The baby was born with the cord wrapped around his neck, no heartbeat, and had gone 5 minutes without oxygen. At the very least,  there would be brain damage and significant problems later on. It would take a miracle for this to turn out well.

The prayers continued across several states, and updates came as they could. The baby was resuscitated, and then rushed to an NICU in the town where he was born where he was immediately put on “cold therapy,” which sounds awful, but is the best treatment for oxygen-deprived infants.

As days wore on, he started to cry, and finally, he was able to eat. The first day they started running tests on him at about a week old, they were cautiously optimistic.

The next day they started more tests and found that everything seemed to be in working order. Hmmm. The doctors could not find anything wrong with him.  They still planned to keep him a week or two, just to let him get stronger and observe him.

Prayers didn’t stop. They increased, if anything, as the word continued to go forth about this precious baby boy.

On Friday, March 1, at 10 days old, he was released from the hospital, three days after the doctors said it would be a couple of weeks. My friend said that in seminary, the definition of a miracle was “suspending the laws of nature for Devine intervention.”

A miracle.

Baby, mother, and father – and grandparents, aunts and uncles! – are all doing well.

God is still in the miracle business, friends.

Pray, expecting a miracle.

 

HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO

Heroes.

There’s just something about a hero that makes you feel safe. Secure. Sometimes even a little twitter-pated?

My first fictional hero was Daniel Boone. He was right up there with the Cartwright boys on Bonanza. Dan’l was larger than life. The strong, silent type – at least according to Fess Parker’s portrayal. Honestly, I’ve never wanted to learn much about the REAL Daniel Boone, because I hear he wasn’t exactly the upright citizen that inspired confidence in all those who called Boonsboro “home.”

When I started reading romance, as a teen, I was drawn, once again, to the “strong, silent type.” Grace Livingston Hill, Essie Summers . . . they always featured a hero that was above reproach. Whenever they faltered, there was a REALLY GOOD REASON for it! They will climb they highest mountain in the fiercest blizzard to deliver medicine to a dying stranger. They will risk all to save the family farm. You get the idea.

More recently I have found more variety in my hero crushes. Laura Frantz’ “Ian,” in The Frontiersman’s Daughter, literally made me swoon. Not only is he a doctor, and so to be respected, but he is also Scottish, with piercing blue eyes and thick dark hair. He teaches Lael so much about grace, and ultimately, about love.

Kaye Dacus’ series “The Brides of Bonneterre” feature three amazing heroes, but my favorite was in the third book, and the one I least expected to like – “Forbes Guidry.” In A Case for Love, we focus on Forbes ,et al, and it’s not like we’ve not met him before. He’s the “glue” that holds the family together. Oldest son, successful lawyer, “most eligible bachelor,” always there to keep the peace. That’s Forbes. He’s even a neat freak. But we see a different side of him in his book. He’s still all of the above, but we learn that Forbes is human after all. He worries about strife in the family. He has panic attacks. But when all is said and done, he does the right thing and you find yourself literally CHEERING when that happens!

Somehow, I think ALL these heroes would climb that mountain to deliver that medicine. ALL of them would risk everything to save the family farm – and more importantly, the family.

So, my kind of hero? He may be good-looking, but more importantly, he’s good to those around him.

Hmmmm . . . could I just write a BOOK about my favorite heroes? It would take that long to list them all!

What trait is YOUR favorite in a fictional character?

Verrrrry Pinteresting . . . .

Pinterest.

The mere thought of it conjures up images of crafts I will never do, landscaping that is out of reach, entertainers that don’t know I’m alive, and recipes that makes my husband actually encourage my love of all things “pinned.”

You see, when I started with Pinterest, I had the basic boards – “Sweets to the Sweet” for desserts; “Savory Solutions” for, you guessed it, savories; “Entertainment” for things such as Doctor Who, Castle, etc.; “Inspire Me” for inspirational quotes and blogs; “Crafty? Me?” for all things crafty; “DIY (or, bigger than “crafty”)” for home improvement, etc.

Now I’ve subdivided until I have fifty boards and nearly 9,000 pins. Yes, you read that right.

I mean, once you have over 200 pins in a board, it’s just too hard to find things . . . so you create more boards. Just one “sweets” board? Au contraire . . . There are now four. Just one “crafty” board? You’re kidding, right? Now you can find four of those, as well. And, I now own a sewing machine.

What is the draw of this thing called “Pinterest?”

It lets you hoard ideas and pictures somewhere besides your top dresser drawer . . . or the junk drawer in the kitchen . . . or the basement . . . or the attic . . . or the closet in the hall . . . or all of the above!

It’s hoarding for neat freaks!

Now if I could just get them to make the organizing part easier . . . for instance, when I create a whole new board, I have to move ONE PIN AT A TIME, where if there were check boxes, you could move them en masse . . .

Pinterest may prove to be a gateway drug for something big and bad, but for now, I’m going to enjoy it. I’m going to continue trying out recipes that prove to be the BEST I’VE EVER EATEN. I’m going to try those household tips that REALLY WORK. I’m going to sigh when I read a Doctor Who quote I’ve not seen before. I’m going to (eventually) make some of those crafts that look so EASY (or talk someone else into doing it!).

And I’m going to share the wealth with my pinning buddies.

Happy Pinning!

Oh . . . did I mention there are also pictures of KITTENS? 🙂

MUSIC TO THEIR EARS

Paying it forward . . . We go from day to day, doing little things that we don’t even think about, that are all a part of paying it forward.

There have been so many wonderful stories this round – adoption, missions, giving of our time, feeding the hungry . . . and the list goes on.

We often think we should volunteer at something that is HARD. I mean, it MEANS more if it’s HARD, right? That’s just silly. Why would God give you a gift that can be used to share, and one that he’s blessed you with talent for, if you were supposed to just keep it to yourself?

My favorite way to volunteer is with my music. I’m a pianist, and a fair singer. Last year I had the extreme pleasure of volunteering to play in a pit orchestra for the musical my daughter was in. Sure, it was fun! Sure, it was something I could DO! And you know what? I created relationships with the musical director and acting director that I would not have, otherwise.  I think God sent me there.

Another way I can use my music is through my church. I play the piano and organ, and sing in the choir. I’m one of those, if no one else will do it, “Regina can do it.” I GET volunteered a lot! LOL But I’m glad I can. It’s a way to praise my Lord and thank Him for the gifts and talents He gave me.

The place that my music seems to mean the most is the hardest place for me to give it. The local nursing home. It’s not a place I look forward to going, but once I get there, and once the music starts, whether it’s just me playing, or I’m with our church’s quartet, I can tell it lifts their spirits – and MINE. The last time I went with our quartet, they didn’t want us to stop, and to tell you the truth, I didn’t, either! Unfortunately the lead was about to lose his voice! Ha!

So, if you’re great at making cookies (cough, cough, LORNA), MAKE COOKIES! If you’re good with young kids, volunteer to babysit! If you’re good at encouraging, ENCOURAGE someone!

Isn’t it great that God lets us use the things WE love to show HIS love?