Friday, December 23, 2011

Polish Cream ... The New Irish Cream

Photo Credit
Not everyone's lucky enough to be Polish. For those of us that are, we've endured years of bad jokes and mistreatment just because of our fabulous heritage. It's a well-known fact that being Polish doesn't make one dim-witted anymore than being blonde makes one doltish. I'm not too humble to say it - I'm a pretty intelligent Pole.

However ...

Every now and then I have my moments. Last night was one of those such moments. Maybe it was my genes (maybe it was the glass of ChocoVine). Whatever happened, I set out to make Irish Cream. I now have a half-gallon of Polish Cream. I won't keep you in suspense any longer. Here's how you make Polish Cream.

Photo Credit
1. Start with a perfectly wonderful Irish Cream recipe:

2 eggs
14 oz. condensed sweetened milk
2 cups half & half
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. almond extract
1 t. instant coffee
1 T. chocolate syrup
Up to 2 cups Irish Whiskey

Whisk eggs in a bowl. One at a time, add each ingredient and whisk until smooth. Pour into sterilized glass container and store in refridgerator for up to three weeks.

2. Discover that you don't have all of the ingredients.

3. Make substitutions:

2 eggs
14 oz. 50% something condensed sweetened milk (purchased at a thrift store, the label is in Spanish, so the 50% thing is a mystery)
1 cup half & half
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. almond extract
1 t. Ghiradelli's White Mocha powder
2 t. instant hot cocoa mix
1 cup vodka

Whisk eggs in a bowl. (Sip wine) One at a time, add each ingredient and whisk until smooth. (Sip) Pour into whatever plastic pitcher you can find.

4. Substitute Polish Cream for wine. Sip.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Remember when...

Remember when I used to have time to write here? I'd post witty, wonderful essays about my life, your lives, and the occasional Delta Airlines employee. I didn't outline anything. I rarely thought much about what I'd say until the words rolled of my ... fingertips. But now? There's just too much pressure to be funny.

When you only have time to post every six weeks, every word needs to count. You can't be boring when people only visit you nine times a year. One dull post and BAM! They abandon you for your sister's blog. The pressure is intense, but that's because the competition is astronomical.

Who would want to read my infrequent musings when you can find out about Stuff Christians Like. And let's be honest - I've discovered a couple of fun recipes, but my sister posts her culinary delights almost daily (not to mention encouraging words and craft ideas).

What do I have to offer? No, seriously - I'm asking. What makes this blog worth visiting?

Way back when I created this sarcastic dumping ground, blogs weren't a big deal. I mostly posted for my family, who lives on the other side of the country. I didn't want to deprive them of a single smart-ass moment of my life, so I started putting my thoughts out there for everyone to enjoy.

But now what? I'm one, insignificant voice in a sea of louder, more obnoxious whiners.

That's pretty much it. There's no real point to this post. I considered ending it with a carefully worded, well-thought out conclusion, but why? If rambling, pointless articles are good enough for Yahoo! Contributors, they're good enough for me.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Prep

I'm a little late in getting ready for Christmas this year. This is the first time I've worked full time while also writing, so time is scarce. I love making (not baking - making) snacks, though, so I spent all morning (and part of last night) whipping some things together and getting the house a little more decorated.

I started with haystacks. It disturbed me slightly to see how badly the butterscotch chips melted. They didn't really melt into liquid - more of a giant, butterscotch blob. Ew. I added some milk help thin it out, then dropped in a bit of coconut oil to make sure they set. They aren't pretty, but Matt like's 'em.


This morning I started the Chex Mix marathon. I love making different kinds of Chex Mix! On the stove you see Cheesy Ranch and Original mix. Off to the side, I was preppy the Snickerdoodle mix. I prefer the oven to using crock pots (and pretty much avoid the microwave as much as possible). Seriously though, it's winter and it's Michigan. There's nothing wrong with keeping the oven on for a few hours.


After the savory, it was time for the sweet: Snickerdoodle, Muddy Buddies (not pictured), and Candy Corn Corn. Last year I made Cinnamon Popcorn - melted Red Hot candies over popcorn. This year I couldn't find any more Red Hots, but I dug up a bag of Candy Corn. Really, it's this easy: melt 1 stick of butter and 1 bag of candy corn. Pour over popped pop corn (I'm not sure how much that is - it' filled the roasting pan). It's kind of tasty. I'm giving some to my Candy Corn Connoisseur friend for official judging.


I still had a lot of Chex left, so I made my favorite: Taco Check Mix. This year I added Hot & Spicy Cheez-its ... yum.


While I worked in the kitchen, Matt decorated the living room. For his birthday this year, he received a brand new advent calendar - by Lego. So far we have a bench with a coffee, a fire, Christmas tree, presents, fisherman, snowball catapult, police man, thief, and jail.


Matt also put some ornaments on the tree. It's been up and lit since Thanksgiving weekend, but it took a while before we got around to decorating it. This year we inherited many of my parents' organized ornament boxes, so he just grabbed two and started hanging - the tree is blue and crystal this year.


With one exception - the 2011 Van Buren Christmas Ornament.


Monday, December 05, 2011

I'm still here ...

... and I'm sore.

More on that later ...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book Review: Lonestar Angel by Colleen Coble

This is the story of Eden and Clay, a couple who married because of a pregnancy, then split when the baby died. Five years later Clay gets a tip that their daughter is alive, so he picks up Eden and they go undercover at a ranch for orphaned girls to find their child. As they try to find their little girl, their time together rekindles their romance. Can they reunite their family after all this time?

Honestly, I had a hard time getting into this novel. I appreciate that there's a big push to start books with action, but this story gets into it so quickly that I didn't have a chance to start caring about the characters. It took a while to really connect with them. If you want to just jump into the action, however, this is your kind of book. The plot is a bit predictable, but that's what we love about romance novels.

If you like romance, the West, and lots of little girls, this is the book for you. If it sounds like the book for you, then leave me a comment for a chance to win a once-read copy! Please leave me your name and email address so I can contact you if you win. I'll pick a winner by the end of the week. Good luck!

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. 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 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Happy Birthday, Honey!

Thirty-three years ago the world said hello to my wonderful hubby. We was smaller, less hairy, but as adorable as he is today. Even though he's been alive for over three decades, you'd think he's celebrating his 8th birthday. I'll post more pictures to his Yooper Stewart blog, but right now this is all I've got.

His first treat - the SodaStream - his chance to make his own soda at home. As you can see, he's quite excited to make his own root beer.

He also got some Legos (more photos to come). Then he enjoyed some play time with Bucket.


And for dinner, he wanted something special. A cup of coffee and the meat and cheese party tray from Sam's club. Put all of this with head-to-toe camo and a few hours on the computer and it was one happy birthday weekend for my Matty.


 Happy Birthday, Honey - I love you!




Monday, November 14, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mom!


It's my Mom's birthday today - don't forget to wish her a happy birthday. Love you, Mom!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Dear Aunt Karin,

Today I was pleasantly surprised to receive a letter in the mail - a LETTER! The writing on the envelope was my mom's, but the letter inside didn't even need a signature. My dear little Pudding Cup, at age 5, wrote me a letter.

With Love, Pudding Cup
Please allow me to translate:

"Dear Aunt Karin,

You are my favorite aunt in the whole world (don't tell Mimi). I miss you SOOOO much. When are you coming to visit? I'll let you sleep in my room on the top bunk. Will you bring Pink and Purple with you? I want to play with them in real life.

Please come visit me soon (Babcia said she'll buy you a ticket because she's just the greatest grandma in the whole world).

With Love, Pudding Cup"

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Occupy the NBA

Talk about corporate greed! Jerry Buss, owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, is worth about $584 million dollars. Kobe Bryant takes home over $25 million per year just for playing a game (not to mention endorsements, or the fact that he doesn't work year round).

The NBA has already cancelled the first two weeks of their season, and today they are expected the cancel another two. Why? So these multi-millionaires can hold out for more money - to make a bigger profit.

While these people dicker over money that they will use to buy another car or another house, the people who work at the sports arenas are out of work. Let's use an ultra-conservative figure and say there are 100 people employed at each of the 30 NBA venues - that's 3,000 people now unemployed, making NO MONEY so that people like Bryant, who never went to college, never worked a real job a day in their lives, can make another couple of million next year.

Did you know that Brian Moynihan, the CEO of Bank of America, makes about $1.9 million dollars a year in salary? Sure, he has options for more - those push him up to almost $4 million. He also spent seven years in college (unlike Bryant, who has no student loan debt). Moynihan is virtually facing a lynch mob for supporting his company's $60/year charge for a debit car. Meanwhile, the Lakers franchise has no problem charging you $37/ticket, not to mention the cost of food inside the arena. And what about t-shirts, programs, basketballs? Greed, greed, GREED!

Here's my challenge - if this occupy movement is really about ending corporate greed, if it's really about corruption, then I expect to see people camping out at The Palace, Madison Square Garden, and every other establishment that encourages, even supports, this kind of corporate greed. We need to demand that the government intervene - let Pelosi and Reid determine how much money NBA players should make. Let them set the schedule, regulate salaries, and, most importantly, stop charging us ridiculous fees for our right to watch a basketball game!!

There you go - OCCUPY THE NBA!

Or ...

Use your head. Treat your bank, your politicians, and your sports teams the same way you treated Netflix, and wait to see what happens.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Book Review: There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones

Finley Sinclair is not your typical eighteen-year-old. She’s witty, tough, and driven. With an upcoming interview at the Manhattan music conservatory, Finley needs to compose her audition piece. But her creativity disappeared with the death of her older brother, Will.


Beckett Rush, teen heartthrob and Hollywood bad boy, is flying to Ireland to finish filming his latest vampire movie. On the flight, he meets Finley. She’s the one girl who seems immune to his charm. Undeterred, Beckett convinces her to be his assistant in exchange for his help as a tour guide.


Once in Ireland, Finley starts to break down. When is God going to show up for her in this emerald paradise? Could it be God convincing her that everything she’s been looking for has been with her all along?
***


This is the first young adult novel I've read by Jenny B. Jones, and it was every bit as entertaining, heart-breaking, and romantic as her adult novels. 


Finley and Beckett should have easy lives, both of them rich and relatively famous, but that's not enough to cover up the pain and struggles that they each endure. It's only God and his merciful love that can truly help and heal them. That's not to say that they don't fail. They face temptations and hardships like anyone else, but with faith in God they find the strength to endure.


Jones is quickly becoming my favorite author for contemporary romance. Her stories always include drama and romance, but they also include a gracious amount of humor - something I adore in fiction. If you're looking for a good romantic dramedy, look no further than "There You'll Find Me" by Jenny B. Jones.


*I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. 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  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising".

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Down on the Farm

A while ago my sister discovered a farm where my niece and nephew can go say hi to the pigs and other animals - in Vegas! Not one to be out done, I now have proof for Pudding Cup and Butter Bean that there are also farms in Michigan. These are from a farm in Kalkaska, Michigan.

video

Butter Bean has a favorite pig named Violet (out in Vegas). I don't think these pigs have names (and I don't think Butter Bean knows they become his morning bacon...)

In this next clip, I was so far off base. Only two of the calves are actually boys, and the one that I was SURE was a bull...heffer. I never claimed to be an expert.

video

There's nothing quite like that dairy air.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Censorship in Northern Michigan

I've never been a big fan of the Traverse City Record-Eagle. It's a great place to find ads, but it's not so much a newspaper as it is the organization's chance to give your its opinion on things. I've thought about pitching a few story ideas there, but let's be honest - a conservative viewpoint stands a snowball's chance in hell of getting an accurate portrayal in the R-E. Even the more liberal minded folks can't get published, especially if they disagree.

My friend Samantha is a writer/editor and permaculturalist (in a nutshell - sustainable agriculture). She knows newspapers (she worked as a newspaper editor), and she knows gardening. The recent R-E coverage of Little Artshram day camp and CSA bothered her. She wrote a letter to the editor about the issue and submitted it. They told her they wouldn't run it.

If you've never read or written a letter to the editor, here are some general guidelines. The most common topics include:

  • Supporting or opposing an editorial stance, or to responding another writer's letter to the editor.
  • Commenting on a current issue being debated by a governing body – local, regional or national depending on the publication's circulation. Often, the writer will urge elected officials to make their decision based on his/her viewpoint.
  • Remarking on materials (such as a news story) that have appeared in a previous edition. Such letters may either be critical or praising.
  • Correcting a perceived error or misrepresentation.

  • Yeah...not so much for the R-E. Samantha didn't agree with them, so they didn't publish her letter. I trust Samantha, though, and if she says Little Artshram's practices are being sensationalized, I tend to believe her. Since the R-E wouldn't publish Samantha's letter, I'm going to. If you have questions about what's going on, I encourage you to contact Little Artshram directly. 

    Letter to the editor, by Samantha:

    Regarding Little Artshram, as a farmer and Permaculturalist, I have
    taught alongside Penny Krebiehl (Little Artshram) at NMC and at the
    Commons. Having taken the time to review all that has transpired in
    the past few months, I’m convinced the coverage of this story is being
    sensationalized to sell newspapers. The use of a composting toilet
    resulted in articles that continue to imply humanure was used on food
    crops. It was not.

    This is a small, grass-roots organization under fire by a very few
    interested in moving Little Artshram off of the property. Mistakes
    were made, but when these errors were brought to the attention of the
    Little Artshram director, the Board was notified and steps were taken
    immediately to correct them.

    As a small-scale farmer, the severity of the attacks on Little
    Artshram concern me. Conventional farmers spray their crops with known
    carcinogens and yet the one-time use of a composting toilet is forcing
    the closure of a farm that focuses on community, health and well
    being, and the environment. The closure of the CSA would represent a
    huge loss to our community.

    Record Eagle, way to bite the hand that feeds.

    Monday, August 29, 2011

    OpenOffice to Microsoft: The Big Switch


    As you all know, I’m big on customer service. I don’t believe that the customer is always right, but I do believe that she deserves a little bit of respect. That includes a friendly attitude, prompt service, and a willingness to do whatever is reasonable to resolve a situation.

    Due to poor customer service, I stopped using Yahoo! as my primary email source. I took my last trip via Southwest instead of Delta. I moved all of my accounts from Huntington Bank to a local institution. I’m not asking people to break rules for me. I just want fair, honest service.

    For years now I’ve been a huge fan of the open source office program OpenOffice.org. With nearly all of the same features as Microsoft Office, OpenOffice provided a free way for people to create all kinds of documents. I used it daily for nearly a decade as my primary word processing program. It worked beautifully … until I started editing.

    Though OpenOffice Writer can handle the demands of editing short documents or creating long ones, it failed miserably when I tried to edit a long document. Work on the 250 page manuscript started well, but about half way through it, my computer slowed down. I would make changes and type comments, then wait 10 seconds for the words to appear. It worsened, until it took nearly 30 seconds for the changes to show up.

    Thinking it was my computer, I ran my malware and anti-virus programs. I unistalled and reinstalled OpenOffice. I cleaned my hard drive. Defragged. Took the laptop into the shop. There was nothing wrong with my computer.

    Desperate, I started working on my husband’s laptop. Things went well, for a while. By the time I got to the last 40 pages of the manuscript, it took me 4-5 hours to finish editing. The problem obviously was not my computer. OpenOffice just couldn’t seem to handle my work.

    I went to the OpenOffice website for help, but my problem wasn’t listed in the Frequently Asked Questions portion. I searched the site and tried the forums, but nothing addressed my issue. Finally, I emailed them. Over a week later, no response.

    I can’t keep waiting for someone to decide that my problem deserves attention, so yesterday I went out and bought Microsoft Office for my computer. I wasn’t thrilled about spending the money, but thanks to Office Depot’s great rewards program, I bought the software for $35 out of pocket. I’m officially a Word girl now.

    I’m truly disappointed at the lack of help that I received from OpenOffice. Though I’ll still recommend them to casual writers, I can’t recommend them to professional writers anymore. When my income depends on using my computer to meet deadlines, I can’t wait over a week for a response. I can’t help but feeling that I got what I paid for – not much.

    So this post comes to you from my brand new Word 2010 program. I’m trying out the new ‘Post to Blog’ feature, so hopefully this worked! (It didn't ... I have some things to figure out).

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011

    Now Playing (and worth every penny): Metamorphoses


    Parallel 45, a professional theater company in little ol' Elk Rapids, Michigan, once again delighted this writer with their imaginative adaptation of Mary Zimmerman's Metamorphoses. P45's interpretation of Zimmerman's presentation of Ovid's classic poem makes Greek mythology accessible, relevant, and incredibly entertaining.

    P45 debuted last year with their rendition of Our Town. Having read the play and seen the live and movie versions of the story, I was beyond thrilled when P45 performed their fresh, unexpected performance. That show convinced me that I had to go back for more.

    This year director Kit McKay returned with her take on Metamorphoses. The result - breath taking. Working with a limited budget (i.e. minimal set, props, and wardrobe), McKay and the cast manage to bring every aspect of Metamorphoses to life.

    I'm sitting at my computer struggling to find the right words to explain how magical this show is, but nothing I write does it justice. The entire performance is an intricately choreographed dance that tells familiar stories while shining a new light on everyday concepts (how can hunger be so beautiful, and passion so revolting?). Even if you know nothing about the Greek myths, you'll recognize and relate to the plots within the show.

    P45's Metamorphoses plays this Thursday through Saturday, August 25-27 @ 7 p.m. at the Historical Town Hall in Elk Rapids, Michigan. Tickets are $15 per person, and include a wine and cheese reception after the show (catered by Siren Hall). The show runs for 60 minutes without intermission.

    As far as I'm concerned, there's no better way to spend an evening this weekend than seeing this show. You can't see a movie, or even amateur theater, in northern Michigan for the price of this professional play and refreshments (plus a friendly cast who isn't shy about mingling with the audience after the show).

    Visit their website at www.parallel45.org for more info (and to buy tickets!). You can even find them on Facebook.

    After you see the show, leave a comment and let me know what you thought!

    Thursday, August 04, 2011

    Everyone Loves the Piano

    I can't seem to get him down from here ... it's his new favorite place to relax.

    Monday, August 01, 2011

    Guess what I did today??

    I managed to make it out to King Orchards before the sweet cherry season ends - woo hoo! Armed with two borrowed buckets, I hit the fields at 9:30 this morning and came home with roughly 22 pounds of cherries at $1.50/lb. (I added that note for my sister who pays up to $6/lb.)


    That there's my stash. They aren't all for me, but I decided to make sure they all got washed. And it's a good thing I have an extra deep sink!


    I separated the cherries, then pitted a little over half of mine (keeping the others whole for pit-spitting contests with Matt). The pitted fruit gets froze, the rest goes in my fridge, and it took me until 1 pm to get it all done. Not to shabby, but I do have a bit of a tummy ache (do you have any idea how many cherries you can absent-mindedly consume over the course of 3.5 hours?).

    Now to decide how to use them :)

    Friday, July 22, 2011

    Book Review (and giveaway): Wolfsbane by Ronie Kendig


    In Venezuela, Danielle Roark and her Army Corps of Engineers team is captured. After six months of captivity, Dani escapes, only to end up charged with espionage and forced to return to the jungle to prove that a nuclear facility exists. On the mission, she is abandoned by God and country. Will she live long enough to make those responsible pay?
    Haunted by memories of a mission gone bad, former Green Beret Canyon Metcalfe wrestles with his developing feelings for the feisty senator’s daughter. Setting aside his misgivings, he and Nightshade take the mission to help Dani unravel her lethal secrets. Separated from the team leaves Dani and Canyon vulnerable—and captured. After he is rescued, Canyon discovers Dani has been left behind. Livid, he sacrifices everything to save Dani—including his role with Nightshade.
    Book Three of the Discarded Heroes series, Wolfsbane lives up to the excellent standard of the first two books. Wolfsbane, however, is a little bit different. First, Kendig shows the hero, Canyon Metcalfe, struggling to follow Christ, yet failing, committing sins that you don't usually read about in Christian novels. Secondly, the characters' faith seems to take a back seat, until the very end of the book.
    While these qualities make for a non-traditional Christian novel, they make for a very realistic view of modern Christianity. They also make for a compelling, exciting book.
    If you're looking for an great military adventure, then leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Wolfsbane (read once!). Leave me your email address so I can contact you, and I'll pick a winner on July 30. Good luck!

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    Book Review: From Darkness Won by Jill Williamson

    Book Three of the Blood of Kings trilogy, Achan prepares to fight Esek and Lord Nathan to take his rightful place as the Crown Prince. Part of his duty includes marrying Lady Avarella, a woman he's never met, but will join with forever, even though it means abandoning his true love, Vrell Sparrow.


    What Achan doesn't know is that Vrell is Lady Avarella, but she's not ready to marry for duty. That's why she runs, and ends up stormed, forgetting Achan and her time with him.


    Can Achan win the war for his throne? More importantly, can he win back the woman he loves?


    In book three of the series, Williamson wraps up the series with all of the adventure, tension, excitement, and emotion of the first two books. I was honestly afraid of the length of the book, it's over 600 pages, but Williamson did a good job of keeping the momentum going. And for those of us who are die hard romantics, she doesn't disappoint us.


    The first two books of this series are Christy Award winning novels. Book three continues Williamson's fabulous series. A great read, all 600 pages.

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    Pete vs. Debbie - Bring It

    In case you missed it...

    http://www.hoekstraforsenate.com/

    Book Review (and giveaway): In Stitches by Dr. Tony Youn

    Tony Youn was too tall and too thin, wore thick Coke-bottle glasses, braces, Hannibal Lecter headgear, and had a protruding jaw that one day began to grow to an unthinkable, monstrous size.  After high school graduation, while other seniors partied at the shore or explored Europe, Youn lay strapped in an oral surgeon’s chair as he broke his jaw, then reset it and wired it shut for six weeks.

    It was this brutal makeover that led him to his life's calling -- and the four years of angst, flubs, triumphs, non-stop studying and intermittant heavy drinking that eventually earned him an M.D. Thanks to a small circle of close friends and an obsessive drive to overachieve, Youn transformed from a shy, skinny, awkward nerd with no confidence and no clue into a renowned and successful plastic surgeon.

    That's Amazon's description of Youn's memoir. It doesn't do the book justice.

    I'm not usually a memoir reader. I've read exactly two - this was the second. The only reason I read it was so that I could write a story for the paper (you can read it here). When I picked up the book, I figured it couldn't be that bad - there's a Barbie carcass on the cover. I gave myself a few days to read it, but that wasn't necessary. I finished it in two days. 

    Dr. Tony Youn
    In Stitches is a candid look at life in a strict Korean home, the struggles of getting into and surviving med school, and Youn's determination to to succeed at it all while finding a girlfriend. At the risk of sounding like a cheesy 80s movie promo: you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wonder if Youn secretly analyzes everyone he meets and makes lists of things that need improvement.

    Since I don't usually read memoirs, I don't have any history with which to compare this book. I can, however, vouch for its extreme entertainment value. I would give this book a PG-13 rating (R, if you're more conservative), so keep that in mind when you pick it up (because you really should pick it up).


    #

    In fact, I'd like to help you pick it up, so I'm going to give away a free copy (isn't that just like me?). You know the drill - leave me your email addy in a comment and I'll put you in the running. A winner will be picked on July 30, so stay tuned!

    In the meantime, you can learn more about Dr. Youn at www.dryoun.com.

    Saturday, June 25, 2011

    First Moomers, now this...

    The view from my office window...


    I'm never gonna lose weight this summer...

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Book Review: How To Write A Book Proposal by Michael Larsen

    With more than 100,000 copies sold, How to Write a Book Proposal has been the go-to resource for getting your work published for almost 25 years. This Writer's Digest classic from literary agent Michael Larsen outlines in a clear step-by-step manner how to create an effective nonfiction book proposal. The 4th edition of the book features information about recent changes in the publishing industry, updated trend information, new sample proposals, a completely updated resources section, and a new chapter on online promotion.


    Well, that pretty much sums it up - a clear step-by-step manner to create an effective nonfiction book proposal. I loved the organization of this book: sidebars, bullet points, indices, actual examples. It's easy to find the main points, then go back and review them. As an instruction book, it's very easy to read and engaging. 


    *I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the Thomas Nelson Book Sneeze program.

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    TC Beach Bums

    For Father's Day, Matt and I took our dads (and moms) to a Traverse City Beach Bums game. Since Matt just got a snazzy new hair cut, I decided to get a quick pic of us.


    Here are the happy daddies. Technically Matt's not a daddy, but I think Bucket and Midgie view him as a two-legged father figure.


    The weather was great. The Bums won. It was a good weekend.

    Friday, June 10, 2011

    The Cat that Likes Yogurt by Grace Hales

    My friend, Hope, has a 7 year-old daughter, Grace. Grace loves animals, so when Matt and I went out of town, I asked if she would mind stopping by my house and checking on the cats. When I was showing Grace the ropes, I told her stories about how much Bucket likes yogurt.

    That was about two months ago. Today her mom called me. Grace's teacher gave each student a scrapbook of the school year, and inside was this book.










    Here's Grace's inspiration - my Bucket.


    Thanks for the beautiful story, Gracie. Bucket loves you, too!

    Tuesday, June 07, 2011

    Finally! 2011 Grilling Season is Underway!


    Matt cleaned the grill, but we had to replace the igniter. Then there was this clicking sound when we opened the propane tank, so we replaced it. The click continued, so we replaced the regulator. And finally, we had a clean, working grill! So here it is - my chicken and pepper dinner. Yee haw!

    Friday, June 03, 2011

    Book Review: A Great Catch by Lorna Seilstad

    It is the beginning of a new century at Lake Manawa Resort in Iowa, but some things never change. When 22-year-old Emily Graham's meddlesome aunts and grandmother take it upon themselves to find her a husband among the resort guests, the spunky suffragist is determined to politely decline each and every suitor. She has neither the time nor the need for a man in her busy life.

    Carter Stockton, a recent college graduate and pitcher for the Manawa Owls baseball team, intends to enjoy every minute of the summer at Lake Manawa, Iowa, before he is forced into the straitlaced business world of his father. 

    When Emily crashes into Carter at a roller skating rink, neither could guess what would come next. Will Carter strike out? Or will Emily cast her vote for a love that might cost her dreams?



    This is the second of Seilstad's Lake Manawa series and it's absolutely delightful. Emily and Carter's struggles (an over-worked, over-committed woman and a man torn between his heart and his responsibilities), though rooted in the early 1900s, translate well into today's society. It's very easy to relate with both of them.


    Add to that an almost dreamlike setting, some interfering (yet lovable) aunts, and a little bit of love and A Great Catch is a great read. If you like Karen Witemeyer, I think you'll enjoy Lorna Seilstad.


    *I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
    #

    WIN THIS BOOK!

    Leave your name and email address to get entered to win a copy of this book!! I have a few other books to review this month, and I'll be giving them all away on June 28. Leave a comment on each post and you'll be entered each time.

    Good luck!

    Thursday, June 02, 2011

    Reuben: My New Obsession

    I don't know why it started, but a few years ago I ordered a reuben sandwich at Arby's. While the Arby's sandwich isn't the best example of any sandwich, it was enough to catch my attention. Since that time, I've made it my mission to find the best reubens out there. I've enjoyed my experiment, but sometimes I want to enjoy one of those sour, salty, sensations in the comfort of my own home.

    Quite a while ago, a friend of mine made slow cooker reubens. A yummy, creamy reuben-inspired dip for bread, rolls, or crackers. Heaven. I neglected to get the recipe from her, so I did what any foodie without a recipe does - I went to AllRecipe.com and searched for one.


    Mmmm...creamy, reuben bliss. I have to tweak the recipe a bit (it's a little heavy on the cream cheese for my liking), but it sure hits the spot. I'm going to consider this my starter recipe and work on it:

    16 oz. jar of sour kraut (drained)
    8 oz. cream cheese (softened)
    2 c. shredded Swiss cheese
    2 c. shredded, cooked corned beef
    1/4 c. thousand island dressing

    Just dump it all in a crock pot: 45 minutes on high, or put it on low and let it coast. Make sure to stir it a few times while it warms. That's it!

    I'm not a big fan of bottled salad dressing, so I made that, too. This can definitely be tweaked to your preference. I don't usually eat the stuff (except on my reubens and Big Macs), so I made a basic recipe:

    1 c. mayonaisse
    3/4 c. ketchup
    4 t. evaporated milk (more if you like it creamier)
    Garlic powder
    Worchestsire Sauce
    Sweet relish or diced sweet pickles (as many as you want for your preferred chunkiness)


    I enjoyed this fine dip on some homemade bread (a new recipe - it rose!)

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    Come on Summer - We're All Waiting

    Matt and I aren't the only two around here who are anxious for summer. The kitties can't get enough of the sun. Midgie even moves from the bed to the floor to catch some rays!


    Bucket prefers the chair...