Saturday, June 30, 2012

My new favorite party dish!

I've been a little neglectful of the blog this week!  Life has taken some twists and turns and I've been quite busy adjusting to all of the changes!  I found out that I will have to have surgery soon to remove a possibly cancerous nodule on my thyroid.  It's not definitely cancerous, but just the thought is a little scary!  I also started a tutoring job this week that I'm really enjoying!  Elementary education is what my degree is in, and I'm realizing how much I'm enjoying tutoring this little second grader.  But it has caused us to adjust our schedule and have more going on.  I also had two out of town dr. appointments for the kids this week that I had to rush back and forth to.  By Friday I was pretty tired...but I had plans : ). 

My birthday cake...with flowers and strawberry butterflies : )

My birthday is next week (July 4th) but everyone is always busy.  So I decided to give myself a party.  : )  I invited friends, cooked a bunch of my favorite types of food, baked and decorated a cake, and got some games to play.  It was a lot of work, but just the kind of therapy I needed!  I got a lot of the food ideas from Pinterest...including the recipe I'm about to tell you about! ; )

It follows my usual, easy, and delish!  There is no chocolate, though...but it's still yummy!

Cherry Cheesecake Dip
2 containers Cool Whip (I used the generic)
1 small container of marshmallow creme
1 bar of cream cheese
1 box of graham crackers
2 cans of cherry pie filling

Leave cream cheese out to soften.  Take one sleeve of graham crackers and crumble.  Sprinkle onto bottom of 2 8x8 dishes or 1 8x13 dish.  Combine softened cream cheese, marshmallow creme, and cool whip.  Spread carefully over graham crackers. (It works well if you pour all the filling evenly over crackers first then very gently spread.)  Put both cans of pie filling over the top and refridgerate until ready to serve. Break up remaining graham crackers to use for dipping.  Yum!

Enjoy!  Please continue to pray for us and the busy weeks ahead!  Thanks for reading and God bless!

Monday, June 25, 2012

And the winner is...

Thanks so much for the great comments on my interview with Jody!   It's been fun for me to have a book giveaway...the first since I started this blog!  I put all the names who commented in a hat and let my daughter draw one.  And the winner of an autographed copy of "The Doctor's Lady" is....


Tonya, I'm going to send you a facebook message, but I also need a way to get in contact with you so I can send Jody your address : ).  Congrats!

Stay tuned for more of our adventures : ).

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Author Jody Hedlund...and a book giveaway!!

 I'm having so much fun getting to know these fanastic authors...I hope you are, too!  Today I'm featuring Jody Hedlund, award-winning historical author of the best-selling book, The Preacher's Bride.  She received a bachelor's degree from Taylor University and a master's degree at the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work.  Currently she makes her home in Michigan with her husband and five busy children.  Her second book, The Doctor's Lady, released in September 2011.  Her third book, Unending Devotion, releases in September of this year. 

Jody is also a homeschooling mom, so I wanted to ask her some questions about balancing life between writing, family and teaching.  I also have one of Jody's favorite recipes...another yummy one that includes a girl's best friend--chocolate! : )

1. What prompted you to want to homeschool?

When my oldest child was in preschool, I had some friends who were thinking of homeschooling. Their interest and enthusiasm prompted me to begin learning more about it. The more I learned, the more excited I grew about the possibilities that homeschooling provided not only for the many educational options, but also for the character growth and training that I could do with my children.

After a great deal of prayer and research, my husband and I felt like we were being lead to step into homeschooling. So, we began our adventure when our oldest was in kindergarten and have continued ever since. Next year he’s going to be a sophomore in highschool!

2. How have you been able to balance home life, homeschooling, and writing?
It’s definitely not easy. I feel like I have two very full time jobs! But like any other writer trying to balance dual careers or multiple responsibilities, I’ve had to look for ways to make it work. I’ve scaled-back on outside commitments and simplified home life as much as possible. During the day while I’m teaching, I focus on the kids. Then when we’re done in the afternoon, I write for a couple of hours. I give myself a daily word count goal and don’t let myself go to bed at night until I get it done.

3. Has being a published writer been what you expected? Is it a dream you've always had?
Yes and no. Yes, it’s everything I’ve dreamed because I love telling stories and feel blessed that I can do something every day that I’m passionate about. I especially like the feeling that comes as I near the end of the book when everything looks hopeless, the characters are in big trouble, and somehow I’m able to wrap up the book in a satisfying way. The writing process itself brings me incredible satisfaction and joy.

But no, the life of a published author is definitely not as glamorous as I once believed. In today’s publishing industry, authors have to work incredibly hard, wear a lot of hats, and shoulder a great deal of responsibility. Building a readership takes time and effort. And the monetary compensation takes time as well.

4. What your favorite dessert recipe?
O’Henry Bars
4 cups oatmeal
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup melted butter
½ cup white Karo syrup
6 oz. chocolate chips (half a bag)
½ cup peanut butter

Mix the first 4 ingredients. Press into a well greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake 15 minutes at 350° and cool slightly. Melt together the last 2 ingredients. Spread over warm bars. Refrigerate. These freeze well.

5. Can you tell us a little about your upcoming release, Unending Devotion?
My next book, Unending Devotion releases Sept. 1, 2012. I’m really excited about this story because it’s set in my home state of Michigan. It takes place during the 1880’s at a time in history when the lumber era was at its height. Although the story isn’t inspired by a true person the way my first two books have been, I do include several real people, particularly a real villain by the name of James Carr who was notorious in central Michigan for his violence and for introducing white slavery into the state.

The heroine of the story is a young woman, Lily Young, who is looking for her sister who’s caught up into the degradation of lumber camp life. While Lily searches for her missing sister, she fights against the evil that runs rampant around her, and she fights not to lose her heart to the lumber baron who turns a blind eye to the lawlessness of the lumber business.

6. Where can readers find you?
I hang out on Facebook:
I also love to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund
Find me on Pinterest:
My home base is at my website:

I don't know about all of you...but that O'Henry bar recipe looks amazing!  Anything with oatmeal, chocolate, and peanut butter ALWAYS tastes good!  : )  I will definitely be looking forward to Jody's new release.  I've read both The Preacher's Bride and The Doctor's Lady and I had a hard time putting either one of them down until I finished. 

Jody's book, The Doctor's Lady, is the story of Priscilla White, a young woman determined to be a missionary to India.  Dr. Eli Ernest is equally determined to minister to the Indians of the west.  Unfortunately, the mission board has formed a new rule that singles may not go to the mission field unmarried.  In an effort to fulfill their dreams, Eli and Priscilla agree to name only.  They set out on their perilous journey across the country, facing hardships and a turning of their hearts.  I have read this book and it was filled with adventure and just the right touch of romance.  One thing I loved about Jody's first two books is that they are based on real people.  I could imagine being on the journey with the men and women who were committing to be missionaries in the wild western United States. 

Jody is giving away a copy of The Doctor's Lady to one blessed (I won't say "lucky" : )) winner!  All you have to do is leave a comment on my blog, along with your email address in the comment, and I will pick one of you on Monday, June 25th.  I will contact the winner and Jody will send you an autographed copy of this book!  Don't miss out on this opportunity! : )

Thanks, Jody, for a great interview, a delicious recipe, and the book giveaway!  Readers, send in those comments! : )
God bless~Stacey

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Spa day, three months, and diaper blessings!

 Right before Sophie and Isaac had their surgeries, I wanted to do something fun with them.  We invited Bethany over and had a spa/manicure/pedicure day!  It was so fun!  I let Isaac soak his feet, too : ).  After their soaking, I scrubbed all their feet with foot scrub.  Then I filed/clipped the girls nails and painted them however they wanted.  It was a lot of fun!  I want to keep planning special times with Bethany so that she and Sophie can continue to stay in touch and keep up their great friendship. 
 And who is this handsome little guy?!  : )  That's my precious Seth...or Sethy as we tend to call him.  He's really starting to love his bath.
 A few days ago Seth turned 3 months old.  I can't believe it!  The time is flying by.  This little guy is growing, too.  He's already 12lbs 1oz.  I'm so thankful that nursing has been so successful.  It really takes a load off knowing that he's getting all he needs.
I just HAD to post about my exciting trip to CVS today!!  I was about to jump out of my skin when I saw this awesome deal...and I wasn't even planning to go to CVS!  We were at the point this afternoon where we were on our last diaper for Seth, so I had to get some right away.  We were also trying to save money, so I thought I would save the most by just going to Walmart.  But as I was driving down the road, I kept thinking that I would just check in at CVS and see if I saw anything first.  Praise the Lord, I think it was Him that led me there.  I was scanning the diaper aisle and saw the CVS brand diapers for 50% off.  I also got a coupon from the kiosk for $3 off if I bought any CVS brand products.  So I thought...ok, this is good...I can get a couple of packs of these diapers and save.  Well, as they were being run up, the jumbo packs of diapers were only $2.22 each, which was about 75% off!  I was shocked...and thrilled!  They also had Welch's grape juice for $1.25 for a big bottle and chocolates and such for 75% off.  So I bought some juice, Reece's pieces (potty training), and about 4 packs of diapers for $15!  Well, then I got $1 extra buck back for my bag tag, so I went back and got 2 more packs of diapers.  I got home and got to talking with Joe.  I thought it would be good to just go ahead and stock up for future diaper needs for Seth now while they were so cheap.  He thought so, too, so I went back and bought more diapers!  In the end, I paid about $50 and saved over $120!!!  Woohoo!  I kept saying to Joe that this was a HUGE blessing from the Lord to find these.  God provides!

Friday, June 15, 2012

My First Author Spotlight: Karen Witemeyer

 I'm SO excited to feature Karen Witemeyer for my first author spotlight!  Karen is a two-time RITA® Finalist and winner of the coveted HOLT Medallion. She is a bestselling author that writes historical romance fiction for Bethany House, believing that the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bakes a mean apple cobbler. Karen makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at: (thanks, Amazon : ))  Karen is an author that writes a great story without adding all the "junk" that you can often find in secular novels.  I explained to her my heartfelt desire to introduce my blog readers to Christian fiction that is entertaining but also helps protect your heart and put your mind on Christ.  Here are a few questions I had for her related to this: 

1) What inspired you to begin writing Christian fiction?

I've always been drawn to romantic stories, but when I decided to write stories of my own, I knew I could never write for the general market. I'd read those books, even enjoyed them, yet I knew there were expected scenes that I would never be able to write with a clean conscience. I wanted to publish stories that my teenaged daughter could read. One that I wouldn't be embarrassed to tell people at church about. More than that, though, I wanted to write stories that would glorify the Savior I adore, stories that would minister to his people and encourage them in their own faith walks.

2) What are some of your favorite Christian fiction novels?
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist
Out of Control by Mary Connealy

3) How has being a reader and writer of Christian fiction encouraged you in your faith?
Reading is such a pleasure for me, and when I find something that uplifts my soul in the middle of a great story, it's like finding that pearl of great price. God can speak to us in so many different ways, and he often sends me timely reminders or gentle nudges while I'm reading.
Writing is a spiritual journey in and of itself. I pray over my words every day and ask the Lord to guide the story in the direction he wants it to go. I can't tell you how many times an idea pops into my head that is perfect for the story, yet one I never thought of during the plotting phase. In those moments all I can do is whisper thank you to the Giver. He is so good.

Amen, Karen!  And not only did she answer my interview questions, but she also sent us one of her favorite recipes!!  I can't wait to check this one out!

Here is one of my family's favorite recipes that includes two of my favorites - chocolate and peanut butter. Yummmm!!!

Chocolate Nut Krispies
1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup sugar

2 Tbls butter or margarine

2 cups crunchy peanut butter

5 cups Rice Krispies cereal

1 12 oz pkg chocolate chips

In a large saucepan, mix the syrup and sugar. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat. Stir in crunchy peanut butter and margarine until melted. Add crispy cereal and stir until evenly coated. Spread into a 13x9 inch pan. Use wax paper to press evenly into pan.
In small saucepan, melt chocolate chips over low heat, stirring constantly. Once completely melted, spread chocolate over peanut butter mixture. Chill one hour then cut and serve.

Now that you've gotten to know Karen a little bit (this is so cool!), I would love to introduce you to some of her books! 

A Tailor-Made Bride...Jericho (J.T.) doesn't care much for the new seamstress in town. Hannah wants to help his sister find a beau while trying to prove to him that there's more to her than just what's on the surface.

To Win Her Heart (one of my all-time favorites!)...Levi is a man with a past who's starting over.  Eden isn't interested in marriage but in running her lending library.  Will they be able to deny the connection that grows between them?

Short-Straw Bride...Karen's new release!  Check out the book trailer...


A big thanks to Karen for the recipe and interview!  Please go and check out Karen's books!
God bless~Stacey

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Upcoming author spotlights...

I'm so excited about beginning something new on this blog.  I'll be posting my usual things, but I'm going to add an "author spotlight" at least once a week (hopefully!).  I've already gotten some responses from some great Christian fiction authors who have agreed to be a part of it! 

If you read this blog often, I'm sure you've caught on that I love to read!  : )  I've been a big reader most of my life, but in my middle school/high school years, most of the books I read were secular and didn't honor the Lord.  Honestly, I didn't know much about Christian fiction and wasn't exposed to it.  There weren't any Christian fiction options in the library at school or much at the public library, so I read what I could have easy access to.  Plus I'll be honest...I was very drawn to the storylines of various romance and secular novels.  Now, looking back, I realize the negative effect these books had on my heart and mind.  I know for myself that these different stories caused me to struggle in my thought life and gave me false ideas about love and even marriage.  I knew these novels were fiction, but I'm sure that subconsciously I thought some of the things in this book could really happen.  That's why I'm SO thankful for Christian fiction.  Yes, there is romance in many of them, but it's told from a Christian perspective.  People come to a relationship with Christ in many of these novels.   I also like that aspect of accountability in Christian fiction: if you are in sin there is conviction if the character is a Christian...or becomes a Christian. 
My own little writing journey began when I was a young girl.  I went to a writing camp when I was in elementary school and have loved writing little stories here and there.  When I was 15 I entered an essay contest sponsored by our local newspaper.  To make a long story short, I won the contest!  The prize: a ten day, all expense paid trip to England with about 150 other kids from across the US.  It was the trip of a lifetime!  After that I just did your average writing things in school and didn't really write much for fun...unless you count journaling.  I LOVED to journal...and I've got stacks of them to prove it : ).  I haven't done as well with that since having a family, but I try to write down big events.  A little over a year ago a friend asked me to read through and critique a book she had written.  I really enjoyed doing this with her.  After I finished, she encouraged me to write something myself.  With my love for Christian fiction (CF) in mind, I started brainstorming and things just took off!!

In the midst of writing, I was also reading.  I read a CF novel and loved it.  At the end of the book I saw an email address where you could contact the I did.  I told her how much I loved her book and even mentioned that I was dabbling in writing myself.  This author wrote me back and said she would love to help me in my writing journey!!  I couldn't believe it!  Over the next several months, with this author's help, I learned technical things about writing, got connected with a blog that featured some great authors and writing tips, and even got in to a writer's group.  I finished writing my first draft of my novel in just a few months and loved it.  The hard part for me has been editing my story.  I'm learning so many things about how to write a good book...and I've still got a lot to learn!  I was privileged enough to get some free critiques of what I had written and that helped me a lot.  I also entered a writing contest and fell in the middle of the entries that were sent.  I also got some feedback from three different authors.  Learning about the writing craft and seeing how complex it is was great for me mentally.  I love being a stay at home mom, but sometimes I just need something to keep my mind sharp and engaged.  I think it helps me to be a better mom when I do that. 

My current status is that I haven't touched my work in progress (WIP) in several months.  Being pregnant, homeschooling, and having a new baby...along with everything else we have going on...has put the writing on hold.  I'm ok with that, though.  I don't feel like it's going to be like that forever.  I just need to prioritize, focus on my family for a while, and then there will be plenty of time later to start writing again.  I know I won't regret investing time in my family.  But, in the meantime, I'm still reading!  A lot!  I've been able to make contact with several amazing authors through blogs, facebook, and other means.  I really appreciate how accessible many of these authors have been...and very generous with their communication!

My desire to help some of you get to know these authors and their books, which are honoring to God and great entertainment, led me to doing the author spotlights.  I am also asking each author to share their favorite recipe that I'll include on their spotlight.  I thought that would be fun!  : )  Look for the first one either this weekend or next week! 

God bless~Stacey