Tried and True Recipes–Maybe

My favorite solution to the question, “What’s for dinner?” is begging my husband to go out to eat. But when that’s not an option and no one else is willing to cook, I scrounge through a recipe file or book of tried and true recipes—especially those belonging to my mom (or somebody else’s mom or grandma) that have been compiled into a church cookbook. These ladies seem to only share the recipes guaranteed to turn out well (at least when they make them.) Since some of these recipes are my favorites from way back when, they’re often made from scratch, which I’m really into—that is, if there are no more than eight ingredients and I can pronounce them all. My take on the recipes that are a “blast from my past” usually make me say, “This doesn’t taste like I remembered,” but they’re still worth trying.

Fixing something that I was served as a kid brings back memories of simpler days when I didn’t have a care in the world except for being exceedingly annoyed when a parent said, “Clean up your plate,” or “I don’t care if it’s cold, eat it anyway.”

With that being said, I’m sharing a recipe for those days when cooking from scratch seems like a really stupid idea. So if you just found out you’re on pie duty at today’s Thanksgiving dinner and Sarah Lee is not available for your dining pleasure, you still have time to fix this super easy feast for the tongue. It takes about five minutes to prepare and a couple of hours to set up, and the best part is that you may have all the ingredients on hand.

I’m guessing though that if you just learned you have to cough up a pie by dinner time, you’re probably not reading my blog—entertaining as it may be. In that case, you can fix this pie tomorrow and eat it all yourself when everyone else is still full. Hmm. Now there’s an idea I can go for.

Anyway, here’s the recipe if you want to try it sometime, but if you don’t, that’s okay too.

Chocolate Ice Cream Pie

2 cups vanilla ice cream (let soften a wee bit)

1 small package milk chocolate instant pudding

1 scant cup of milk

Mix the above in an electric mixer and pour into a homemade graham cracker pie crust. (I like Keebler—instructions are easy to follow.)

Chill for a couple of hours.

If you’re feeling like the pastry chef of your dreams, sprinkle chocolate shavings on top. Or if you’re not pressed for time and want to add that ultra-gourmet touch, swirl a dollop of homemade whipped topping (follow directions on a Redi-Whip can) onto each piece and drizzle with chocolate syrup. Hey, I just now thought of that last touch. Bet you’re impressed, huh?

Oh, oh, a maraschino cherry on top would be oh so cute if you’re so inclined!

You have now finished your pie. You may have a piece after you clean up your plate.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Harvest of Thanks

When farming is our whole livelihood, we put a lot of faith in God that He will send appropriate weather as it’s needed.

This year has been a test, that’s for sure. When the rains came this spring, keeping the guys from planting, it’s easy to get discouraged. As soon as the ground dried up enough to get the tractor and planter back out, here came another gullywasher. This routine repeated itself basically all spring and summer. I don’t know what our rainfall was these last few months, but it’s been a LOT.

Slowly the crops got planted, some of them much later than normal, and we wondered if they would have a sufficient growing season before frost. But, here it is, the last week of October, and we’re just now expecting our first hard freeze. To top it off, since the beginning of September, our twice weekly rains subsided, making for some beautiful harvesting weather.

The combine is going strong, the grain carts are busy, and the truck is hauling grain to the bins or market. I am still praying the good weather will stick around awhile longer so they can finish. But we are thankful and blessed, as there is nothing more beautiful for those living off the land than watching the crops come in.

God is good.

A Thanksgiving Prayer

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s a good time to reflect and give thanks for the blessings God has given us. Though the calendar says it comes only once a year, every day should be Thanksgiving the way I see it. To be honest though, I need a reminder sometimes to be more gracious even if it comes in the form of a holiday.

The following prayer is taken from Ephesians 1:15-23. NIV

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

Today is Thanksgiving Day. While you may or may not be celebrating today, the weekend is a time to stop and consider for what we are thankful.

GiveThanksWriting is a blessing, and I am thankful that I am able to put pen to paper.

I’m around the written word all day, every day. As a public library director, I have no shortage of great literature to read.

So, since there is so much to read, what could I get out of writing? For what am I thankful?

I thought of a few things:

1. I’m thankful for the satisfaction of knowing that I, too, can write a full-length novel. It may never be published, but it’s there, and it pleased ME. I wrote the kind of book that I like to read. Isn’t that what we should ALL strive to do, as writers?

2. I’m thankful for a blog family, and a place to write regularly. Sometimes my blog posts are seat-of-the-pants write-it-this-morning posts that hit all the points needed, but don’t have a lot of depth. Sometimes there is actual thought put into it (This one, I hope!). Sometimes it’s a place where I can share a meaningful memory or experience. Ah, those are the ones I love the most. When I can talk about what God is doing in my life, or about a beloved family member, a wonderful experience from my past – that’s the stuff dreams are made of, for a writer – or at least, for this writer.

3. I’m thankful for my writer-friends. Writing has given me friends I would have never known, otherwise. When I started writing fanfiction and posting it online, I found some kindred spirits, none of them published. I found one of my best friends. I found a community. Some of those friends have since been published (cough,cough – Lorna Seilstad, Marlene (J.S.Marlo), and they’ve dragged all of us along for the thrilling ride!

4. I’m thankful for those writing connections that help me in my job as a librarian. Writing has given me insight into the writers that I love to read, and has enhanced my knowledge of the publishing world. I’ve actually MET these people. I know some of the things they go through. I know what their novels are based on, and I can pass on that knowledge to others that might want to read more of this or that author’s work.

But the thing I’m most thankful for, writing-wise?

5. God’s grace and forgiveness.

PIEYes, I would love to be published. Yes, I would like to see my name on a book cover. But that’s not why I was given even the smidgen of ability to write that I was given. I was given it to glorify HIM, not me. Maybe that’s why I haven’t written beyond this blog in a very long time. Because I have to know that the only reason to write is to write for HIM.

Maybe I need to change WHAT I write?

I thought, just the other day, that some of my favorite blog posts have been family stories – stories that have been passed down from both sides of my family. Maybe I should write about another time, and what happens with real families who are just trying to live each day, loving one another, and loving their Lord.

Sometimes (especially if I’ve been watching Doctor Who!), I think of storylines that are pure fantasy. What would happen if . . . ?

Then there are mysteries, crime drama . . . all the things I enjoy on television . . .

One thing is for sure, though. I will write when God tells me what He wants me to write. In this particular instance, this post, I’m writing for YOU . . . but really?

It’s for HIM.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving BorderCROP

We’re giving away a copy of Rose Ross Zediker’s current release, Wedding on the Rocks, to one lucky winner. The deadline runs until November 30, 2013. All you need to do is leave a comment.

Wedding On the Rocks Cover 1JENNIFER EDWARDS IS BACK HOME AGAIN…

When she traded small-town life for the bright lights of Chicago, Jennifer Edwards yearned to discover a world beyond Faith, South Dakota. So when her father’s illness calls her home to run their cattle ranch, she tells herself it’s temporary. Then why is she even thinking about a future with archaeology professor Brett Lange-the boy she left behind-whose life’s work is digging up the past?

Twelve years ago, Brett had a crush on Jennifer the size of the T-rex that put his hometown on the map. Now she’s a citified magazine editor who prefers designer duds to dungarees. Except that’s not the real Jennifer. Brett needs to make her see how a little faith can go a long way in uniting two perfectly-in-sync hearts.

Blessings Along the Journey

Roller Coaster-Dusso JanladdeMy writing journey has been a cross between screaming down a zip line, hanging on through the ups and downs of a roller coaster, and floating on a lazy river. There have been mountain top experiences followed by long walks through the desert. But I wouldn’t trade a minute of it. I’m thankful for every experience. One of the reasons is the people God has put in my path.

Friends – As Rose mentioned in her post yesterday, I too have connected with writers across the world. What an unexpected blessing! One of my critique partners is from Australia so we spend time learning about each other’s world through the writing process. I got to meet her briefly this September when the train she was taking cross country to the ACFW Conference in Indianapolis made a short stop in St. Paul. Traveling with her was our 3rd partner, from Washington state. Such a blessing to gather together on the station platform.

Camping4 2013

Family – While my immediate family has always known I love to write, it was truly a blessing to experience their love and support when I began the journey to publication in earnest. My husband and kids have walked beside me every step, cheering along the way. My younger brother has also stepped into the world of fiction writing; it’s been a blast to share dreams, experiences and writing.

Critique Partners – Writers who are serious about their craft know, without a doubt, they can’t do it alone. What a blessing to gather with others in a place of safety, encouragement, honesty and love, whether in person or across the miles.

I don’t know where the saying comes from but I love it – God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. One of the ways He does that is through those He puts in our path. I’m thankful for each and every one of them.

Who has encouraged you on your journey?

(roller coaster photo by Dusso Janladde)

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We’re giving away a copy of Rose Ross Zediker’s current release, Wedding on the Rocks to one lucky winner. The contest runs until November 30th. All you need to do it leave a comment!

JENNIFER EDWARDS IS BACK HOME AGAIN…Wedding On the Rocks Cover 1

When she traded small-town life for the bright lights of Chicago, Jennifer Edwards yearned to discover a world beyond Faith, South Dakota. So when her father’s illness calls her home to run their cattle ranch, she tells herself it’s temporary. Then why is she even thinking about a future with archaeology professor Brett Lange-the boy she left behind-whose life’s work is digging up the past?

Twelve years ago, Brett had a crush on Jennifer the size of the T-rex that put his hometown on the map. Now she’s a citified magazine editor who prefers designer duds to dungarees. Except that’s not the real Jennifer. Brett needs to make her see how a little faith can go a long way in uniting two perfectly-in-sync hearts.

Giving Thanks!

I’m thankful for the all of the wonderful people I’ve met through my writing. My writing has helped me connect with old friends, Snoopy-Woodstock-Thanksgivingclassmates, readers, and other writers. I have writing friends and colleagues throughout the United States, Canada and recently, Australia! That is something I never dreamed of or even considered when I started to follow the writing urge pressing down on my heart. God really opened up my world and for that I’m THANKFUL!

 

With that in mind, it’s no wonder I write inspirational romances. Characters in romance novels are surrounded by friends who have their best interest at heart, follow their dreams and find love, or reconnect and find love.  In honor of characters reconnecting and finding love, I’m giving away a copy of my current release, Wedding on the Rocks, to one lucky winner. The contest runs until November 30th. All you need to do it leave a comment!

 

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JENNIFER EDWARDS IS BACK HOME AGAIN… Wedding On the Rocks Cover 1

When she traded small-town life for the bright lights of Chicago, Jennifer Edwards yearned to discover a world beyond Faith, South Dakota. So when her father’s illness calls her home to run their cattle ranch, she tells herself it’s temporary. Then why is she even thinking about a future with archaeology professor Brett Lange-the boy she left behind-whose life’s work is digging up the past?

Twelve years ago, Brett had a crush on Jennifer the size of the T-rex that put his hometown on the map. Now she’s a citified magazine editor who prefers designer duds to dungarees. Except that’s not the real Jennifer. Brett needs to make her see how a little faith can go a long way in uniting two perfectly-in-sync hearts.

Harvest Your Blessings

Are you ever burdened with a load of care? 
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
 
  The familiar words from one of my favourite hymns haven’t been far from my mind lately. In fact, those first two lines of the second stanza from Count Your Blessings by John Oatman Jr. (1856-1922) have been replaying over and over in my head for months. I was in a rut, dwelling on heavy crosses and burdens instead of the uplifting promise in the chorus:

Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done.

 I’ve always had difficulty with math, and, when circumstances in my life seemed to tip the scales towards tempests and discouragement, it was easy for me to get bogged down in the technicalities of doing the arithmetic. Even an operation as basic as counting escaped me…until I finally remembered how – at a funeral I attended recently.
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost.
 
It was a difficult and painful gathering. The friend/father/husband/co-worker we were mourning had chosen to end his own life. Anticipating a small crowd, the family had arranged for a quiet, intimate service at the cemetery only to discover that they had radically underestimated the breadth and scope of this dear man’s influence.
 It wasn’t long before cars overflowed the cemetery parking lot, spilling out onto the quiet lanes that meandered through the grounds. In fact, the sheer number of cars turning off the main road caused traffic to back up for blocks.

churchThe little chapel was filled beyond capacity. Crowds spilled into the foyer and overflowed into the hall until the line-up of people wishing to pay their respects extended right out the front door.

As I stood in the midst of the throng – a cross-section of age and gender from all walks of life – I marvelled that a man so loved and respected obviously hadn’t realized the impact he had made on so many lives. And it was there, as I contemplated the many ways he had touched my life, that I remembered my favourite hymn’s promising refrain.

Count your blessings, name them one by one

Obviously my friend had forgotten to count. Or maybe he had started counting the wrong things, like we all do from time to time. However it happened, he had lost touch with his blessings and in the process had become so discouraged that he actually believed all was lost.
Count your many blessings, name them one by one
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
 
It shouldn’t surprise us, should it? The bible is full of examples of the promises He has made to us but somehow, during times of trials, it is easy to overlook those words of comfort.
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.
 
Johnson Oatman’s words rang out like a challenge – one that I readily accepted. I have been counting ever since and I think I’m getting the hang of it. Perspective is the key.
 
From, Lord, how can you let my dog’s lymphoma come back? – to – Lord, thank you for the blessing of six years with that little scamp.

From, Lord, I don’t know how much longer I can work 6 days a week. – to – Lord, thank you for the blessing of having two jobs when so many are losing theirs.

From, Lord, why can’t I breeze into Sears and pick out brand new furiniture? – to – Lord, thank you for the unexpected blessing my neighbour left at the end of his driveway. With a little bit of paint and some new fabric that chair will be perfect in my living room.

Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven nor your home on high

 
This weekend marks Canada’s Thanksgiving celebration and the perfect time to contemplate a harvest of blessings. So, quick, grab a piece of paper – wait, make that a pad of paper – and a pen – oops, you’ll likely need a couple – and start counting.
 
 Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.