Monday, December 29, 2014


It is almost the end of 2014 and time to consider some new goals for 2015.  By taking a look at our Amish friends' ways and habits, here are some suggestions to incorporate into our lives:

  1. Slow down and reduce the stress in your day-to-day life.
  2. Learn how to can your food.
  3. Learn how to quilt, begin a with a potholder.
  4. Bake a new pie each week or month; give it away if you are dieting.
  5. Start a food garden or even just grow herbs on your window sill.
  6. Spend quiet time everyday in prayer.
  7. Do a good deed for a friend or neighbor or person in need.
  8. Practice forgiveness daily.
  9. Eat more meals at home with everyone around the table.
  10. Spend more time reading and less time on the computer (except for reading of course!)
  11. Find ways to add frugal ideas into your daily life.
  12. Be kind and nonjudgemental towards the people in our lives and those we meet.  The smile we give someone may be the only nice thing that happens to them today.
Picking just a few of these suggestions and following through, will make you feel so good inside.

Sending my warmest wishes to you all for a happy and blessed New Year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Have you heard of this Cracker Crack before?  I tried it recently and it was a huge hit with my family and friends and it could not be easier to make.  If you need to bring something to a party or family gathering, this is your ticket to compliments for bringing such a delicious and addictive dish.


1 sleeve of Keebler Club Crackers (give or take, depending on the size of your cookie sheet)
1/3 cup of sugar
1 stick of butter
2/3 cup of sliced almonds


Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Place crackers on a buttered, rimmed cookie sheet, I used a 17" x 11" cookie sheet.

Melt butter and then add sugar to a saucepan.  Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved into the butter.

Pour the butter/sugar mixture over the crackers as evenly as you can, then sprinkle the almonds on top.

Bake in the oven until the crackers begin to turn golden, approximately 10 minutes.

Take out of the oven, let sit for a moment or two to slightly cool, then separate the crackers to cool completely.  Enjoy!

That's all there is to do.  Don't you love a simple recipe, quick to make, and delicious too?  This recipe comes from a wonderful blog, HappyFoodHealthyLife.  You will find many other good recipes there as well.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


This past Sunday, December 21st, was my extended family get together for Christmas.  I volunteered to make the macaroni and cheese for our group of 43 adults and children.  This recipe has been viewed more than 117,000 times on this blog!  Isn't that amazing?  The recipe is fantastic and one that I have always been proud to serve, HOWEVER, not this time.  I made changes and they weren't good changes.

First off, I quadrupled the recipe since we had so many people coming.  Our family get together was about 15 minutes away from my house, so I cooked and baked the macaroni and cheese just like the recipe said.  Then I spooned it all into two crock pots, transported them to the party spot and plugged the crock pots in.  We ate about half hour later.

The macaroni and cheese, instead of being creamy like shown above in the photo was starting to dry out, the macaroni was absorbing the delicious sauce but not in a good way.  Also, the cheese sauce did not have the touch of spice taste that makes it so special.  I assume in quadrupling the recipe, something was off with the amount of spices added.  I should have tasted the cheese sauce more before adding it to the drained macaroni.  I was rushed for time and making a batch four times as big as usual, I did not allow myself enough extra time to make the cheese sauce as good and tasty as it normally is.

So the moral of the story is, not everything can handle being kept warm in a crock pot.  And when you quadruple a recipe be sure to sample everything as you go to get the taste right.  Finally, when making this macaroni and cheese recipe, be sure to serve it straight from the oven or straight from the pot if not topping with buttered panko crumbs.  Then I guarentee your family or guests will rave over this very best macaroni and cheese!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


The perfect book for reading during the Christmas season is here.  Plain and Simple Traditions (Price Publishing LLC) by Sarah Price is just what readers are looking for to slow down and savor this most wonderful time of the year, Christmas.  The book is captivating as it tells the story of how some Amish and Mennonites cook, celebrate, and pass on their traditions of Christmas time.

There are quite a few recipes included.  Readers will be hard pressed not to find something to their liking.  These are hardy, delicious, comfort food recipes handed down by the Amish and Mennonites.  Readers won’t be able to decide if they should finish reading the book or go right to the kitchen to cook or bake several of these recipes.

Sarah Price includes several stories of her own Mennonite grandmother, which gives a glimpse into a simpler time and place.  This book gives ideas to parents and grandparents who are looking for a more meaningful Christmas, where the emphasis is more on the birth of Christ and family togetherness and less on the commercialized aspects that seem so prevalent today.

After reading the entire book, one is left with sweet, peaceful feelings and many recipes and ideas on how to enrich their family’s Christmas celebrations, as well as pass on wonderful memories and traditions to their children and/or grandchildren.  Plain and Simple Traditions was published on December 15, 2014.  This book makes an excellent family gift to those families interested in having a “Good Old Fashioned Christmas”.

Monday, December 15, 2014


I love this cover!

This novella, The Journey Home (Lazy Day Publishers) by Hope Kesler, is one that readers will be able to connect with as it is filled with relatable characters.  Hope Kesler has written a realistic story that tells it like it truly is within the Amish community.  It is not all sweetness and light in the Miller household but the story is beautiful and touching, very engaging and difficult to put down.

The story begins with Birdy Miller, an ex-Amish young woman, living in the Englisch world, getting a phone call about her mother’s buggy accident.  Birdie loves her mother and returns to their Amish community to help her mother recover.  While back home, to please her parents, Birdie takes the kneeling vow and is baptized into the Amish faith even though her Amish faith is weak and troubled.

Birdie is extremely outspoken for an Amish woman, it drives her crazy to hear her father, Abe Miller, slant things so as to make their family seem more religious and pious.  Her father demands to have the last word on everything and refuses to ever admit that he is wrong or has made a mistake.  His attitude towards his wife and daughter infuriates Birdie.  The more Birdie speaks up for herself or her mother, the worse her relationship becomes with her father. 

A new farrier comes to town, Caleb Troyer, a 25 year old, handsome, single, deeply faith driven Amish man.  All the single girls in town are looking forward to meeting him and have dreams of marrying him.  But from the start, he is captivated by Birdie’s good looks.  Her disobedience and outspoken ways are off putting to Caleb until he gets to know Abe Miller better.  Birdie on the other hand, can appreciate his good looks but where he has a deep faith, her faith is shaky at best.  She is suspicious of his strong faith and Caleb is worried about her weak faith.  Is there a way for Birdie and Caleb to advance their relationship?

Readers will be looking forward to seeing more from Hope Kesler.  This first novella is an excellent start with its strong voice and characters.  The Journey Home was published December 7, 2014.

Monday, December 8, 2014


This tour de force Amish novel by Marta Perry, The Forgiven (Berkley Publishing), has all the drama, romance, conflict, and God’s good word that readers are looking for.  Marta Perry has told a beautiful story within the pages of this comforting novel.  Readers should be prepared with tissues when reading the finish of The Forgiven.

Part of what makes this novel so distinctive is that Marta weaves two unique stories throughout the book.  Our lead character Rebecca, a young widow with two children, is helping her grandmother clean out the attic of her home.  Rebecca finds an old diary and begins reading about the life of Anna Esh, a young girl living during the early 1940’s, so we have Rebecca’s story and Anna’s story combined in one page turning book.

Rebecca is suffering from financial problems and decides to rent the stable on her farm to a returned from the Englisch world Amish man, Matthew, for his newly started woodworking business.  Matthew has a shady reputation since he left his Amish roots to live among the Englisch.  What most people don’t know is that Matthew still doesn’t believe he belongs with the Amish due to his bad temper.  He is having difficulty maintaining the no violence covenant of the Amish.  Matthew has yet to forgive himself for bad conduct while living with the Englisch.  He regretfully feels he can never marry and settle down with an Amish woman due to his violence in his past.  Matthew needs to find a way to forgive himself in order to move on in his life.

Rebecca has her own problems to deal with including living with the ghost of her dead husband, Paul, overshadowing her every decision.  She hates that he is gone and tries to do everything that Paul would have done but it is so hard to carry on alone.  How can Rebecca manage to do all that Paul use to do by herself?

Anna’s story gives insight on how it was to live during World War II while a part of the pacifist Amish community.  This is such an interesting storyline, filled with emotion, pain, and romance.  So much about today’s lives can be learned from looking back at historically significant times.  The Forgiven, which is Book One in the Keepers of the Promise series, is not just a simple Amish romance novel.  This book is a genuine jewel and will have readers thinking long after the last page is read.  The Forgiven was published October 7, 2014.

Thursday, December 4, 2014


I found the following questions and answers on Amish Wisdom.  It deals with what the future of Amish novels looks like for next year. It was put together by one of my favorite Amish novel publishers, Kensington Publishers. Some of the BEST authors are published through Kensington.

Q: What Amish titles are you most excited about in 2015? 
Change of Heart - new 2015 Amish fiction at www.amishwisdom.comWe have a new Amish series debuting on the Kensington list with the first book, Change of Heart, by Molly Jebber, coming in July 2015.  It’s something different for us: an Amish historical romance.   The series focuses on three best friends and the keepsake pocket quilts they make and use to send letters back and forth to each other.
We also have new books in our continuing Amish series by Jennifer BeckstrandCharlotte HubbardAmy Lillard and Kelly Long.
Q: Are there any new trends that you’re seeing in Amish fiction?
As the genre becomes more crowded, we see readers looking for fresh approaches to the Amish romance, exploring new locales and Amish traditions.
Q: Why do you think Amish fiction continues to be such a popular genre?
I think our author Jennifer Beckstrand says it best on her website:  Amish romances are stories of gentle love in a harsh world.
Q: What sort of feedback have you heard from readers about your Amish fiction titles? 
Readers love the warmth, loyalty and faith of the Amish characters our authors have created, and the unique communities they write about.
Q: Give us the inside scoop – what is the most surprising Amish title you have releasing in 2015?
The Amish Man of Ice Mountain - new 2015 Amish fiction at www.amishwisdom.comThe Amish Man of Ice Mountain by Kelly Long, coming in May, 2015.  A beloved author of Amish romance, Kelly has taken the courageous step of exploring surprising themes in her new Amish of Ice Mountain series—the physical side of marriage, sexual abuse and even faith healing—and her books are all the more powerful for it.
Q: Explain briefly the publishing process – how does an idea become a book on the shelves? 
Harvest of Blessings - new 2015 Amish fiction at www.amishwisdom.comCharlotte Hubbard’s new Simple Gifts series, launching in June, 2016, grew out of a brainstorming session the two of us had by phone.  Simple Gifts is a store selling handmade Amish gifts which first appears in Harvest of Blessings, coming in March, 2015.  I suggested building a new series around the shop and its spirited female owner, and after I negotiated a new contract with Charlotte’s agent, she set to work fleshing out the story, introducing a new cast of characters to mingle with the familiar faces readers already know and love.

Here’s a Full List of Amish Fiction coming your way from Kensington in 2015!
Wells Landing Series by Amy Lillard:
The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill Series by Jennifer Beckstrand:
Seasons of the Heart by Charlotte Hubbard:
Ice Mountain Series by Kelly Long:
Change of Heart by Molly Jebber (July 2015)
The Amish Christmas Sleigh by Kelly LongAmy Lillard and Molly Jebber (Anthology)
Amish Mysteries by Emma Miller:

Monday, December 1, 2014


Amy Lillard’s newest Amish novel, Courting Emily (Zebra Books), is an exceptional book for Amish fiction fans.  The novel is authentically written, and is captivating with romance, conflicts, and inspiration.  Of particular interest is the careful and tender way in which Amy handles a brain injury victim.  As always, it is inspiring how Amy writes of the Amish coming together to help and forgive one another.

Emily Ebersol, in her early 20’s, has been in love with Luke ever since they were schoolmates together and likewise, Luke loves Emily.  Emily is the bishop’s daughter and feels the pressure of measuring up to his high standards for behavior.  Luke feels a calling to leave the Amish community behind and to live with the Englischers.  Luke’s goal is to make a lot of money driving racecars.  He begs Emily to leave the Amish behind and go with him to live among the Englisch but Emily has already taken the kneeling vow.  Luke has not been baptized yet so he feels free to go as he wouldn’t be shunned if he came back to the Amish.

Emily doesn’t know how she will go on with Luke gone.  He was her whole life.  Her father reminds her that Luke brought shame onto his family and Amish community by leaving.  He advises Emily to move on and wisely tells her to leave her heart open for a new man.  But Emily continues to pray that the lure of the Englisch world will dull for Luke and that Luke will come home to their Amish community in Wells Landing, Oklahoma.  Will it be possible for Luke keep his promise to return for Emily?

Bishop Ebersol decides to have a work frolic at the dairy farm of James Riehl, an Amish father who suffered a severe brain injury in an accident.  James’ family have tried to keep the farm going and keep James well cared for, but things aren’t like they use to be when James was healthy.  Because of James brain injury, he sometimes seems more like a child than an adult.  This embarrasses the family; they seem to want to keep James away from the public and hidden in his bedroom.

At the work frolic, Emily and James Riehl’s oldest son, Elam have a confrontation.  Elam objects to the way Emily treats his father; Elam feels that his father needs to rest and stay in his bedroom.  Emily feels that James needs to be around people, enjoy the sunshine and company.  It seems that everything that Emily does, Elam objects.  Emily isn’t about to give in to Elam and Elam isn’t about to stop protecting his father.  Can these two start working together to help James recover from his injury?

Courting Emily realistically works through Emily’s feelings for both Luke and Elam with several convincing twists and turns before the happy conclusion to the novel.  Amy Lillard beautifully weaves the theme of forgiveness throughout Courting Emily.  This book will be published on January 6, 2015.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Today is Thanksgiving, a favorite holiday of mine because of the company of family, the delicious meal we will enjoy, and the start of the Christmas season. It seems appropriate and necessary to give thanks for all the blessings, gifts, and opportunities I have been given.

And today I want to thank you, the readers of my blog and the pinners of my recipes. Whether you stop by once or many times, I appreciate you and the time you have given  Just yesterday my humble little blog exceeded 100,000 page views since I started on March 24, 2014. Seems unbelievable to me!

So, sit back and enjoy your family and turkey dinner and know that you are appreciated. Blessings to you and your family during this season of joy!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


I could dive right into this delicious casserole.

Does your family quickly tire of Thanksgiving leftovers?  Are you looking for a flavorful casserole to satisfy the entire family?  Look no more.  I found it, made it, and my little family LOVED it!  Best of all, you can use some of that left over turkey or use chicken, either tastes great.

Shredded chicken or you could use turkey

Delicious chopped, cooked bacon

Jasmine rice

The Roux - melted butter plus flour and pepper

After adding broth to the roux, stir in the cheese

Add the wing sauce to the cheese sauce, oh yeah!

Pour the cheese sauce over the rice and chicken, then mix

Then add another cup of shredded cheese to the top of the casserole

The fantastic full of flavor Bacon, Chicken or Turkey, & Cheese Casserole

Now here is the recipe for this plate full of yummy:



8 slices of bacon
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1 1/2 cups of chicken broth
1 1/2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 to 2 tablespoons of Buffalo wing sauce
3 cups of shredded, hot chicken or turkey
3 cups of cooked jasmine rice
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

Cook bacon and crumble, set aside.  Keep 2 tablespoons of bacon grease aside to use later in the recipe.

Cook rice and set aside.

Cook and shred chicken and set aside (I usually make mine in the crock pot, sprinkled with salt and pepper, then covered with chicken broth on high for 4 - 5 hours.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place butter into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, stir in flour and pepper until smooth and bubbly. Slowly stir in chicken broth. Stir until thickened and smooth. Reduce heat to low and stir in 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese. Stir in wing sauce. Taste for spiciness and add salt, pepper, or more wing sauce if necessary.

Place reserved 2 tablespoons bacon grease in a Dutch Oven or other oven safe casserole dish.  Stir cooked rice in the bacon grease, add shredded chicken or turkey and cheese sauce, mixing to combine.  Top with 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, then top with crumbled, cooked bacon.

Place casserole in a 375 degree oven until top cheese is bubbly and melted.  Serve immediately with additional wing sauce on the table for those family members who like it extra spicy.

This dish serves approximately 6.

This recipe is adapted from a recipe on Picky-Palate.

Monday, November 24, 2014


The other day I received the 2015 Amish Service Guide - America's Guide to Amish Businesses in the mail.  I don't recall sending for it, but who knows?  This 32 page booklet contains some gorgeous photographs as well as four pages of very handy maps of the main Ohio Amish areas.  This would be a must have for any tourists to Ohio Amish communities.  During the cold winter months I plan on spending time making up my itinerary for my Springtime trip to Ohio Amish Country with the help of this 2015 Amish Service Guide.

Detailed maps of Ohio Amish Country

The main gist of this booklet is to highlight Amish businesses in Ohio.  There are so many entertaining ads in this booklet, like this one for Mary C. Miller's Bulk Food Country Store in Dalton, Ohio:  Her hours are Mon - Sat 8:00 am - 5:00 pm, Evenings by chance.  I love that!  Maybe Mary will be in after 5:00 pm and maybe she won't.  Mary's Bulk Food Country Store has quite the delicious variety of food and other items.

Pages 24 and 25 have photos of charming Amish one room schoolhouses.  Elsewhere you can find photos of Amish farmers baling hay, several horse pictures, and my personal favorite is the cover depicting a huge Amish home with clothes hanging on the line by beautiful trees changing colors in the Fall.

If you are planning a trip to Ohio Amish Country, this booklet will certainly give you some new ideas on what to do while there.  The Directory of Businesses and Calendar of Events by County are very worthwhile to consider while planning your trip.

Page 2 gives you information on where this publication is created.  They have a Facebook page at  You can see the entire booklet on line at

Sunday, November 23, 2014


By request I am posting the recipe for the Best Macaroni and Cheese Ever with no pictures to make it easier to print out.  This recipe has been viewed almost 75,000 times since it was originally posted in April, 2014.  

Also see this update to the recipe.

Start by reading the entire recipe, then butter a 9” x 9” glass pan, and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Gather the following ingredients:
Large pot of boiling water
8 ounces elbow macaroni (half of a 1 lb. box)

Cook the elbow macaroni in boiling water for approximately 7 – 8 minutes.  Drain, and set aside.

Cheese Sauce Ingredients:
¼ cup butter (1/2 stick)
¼ cup of flour
A generous pinch of ground cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups half and half
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Mix together the flour, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, black pepper, and salt.

In a 3 ½ quart saucepan melt the ½ stick of butter over medium heat.  Add in the flour mixture and stir until it is smooth.  
Add the half and half in small amounts, stirring well after each addition to keep the mixture smooth until all 2 cups is added.  
Keep stirring while bringing the mixture to a boil over medium heat.  The mixture will thicken. 
Reduce the heat to low and continue to stir for about another 5 minutes.  Take the saucepan off the heat and add the 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese.  Stir until the cheese is melted.

Add your cooked, drained elbow macaroni to the cheese sauce, stir well, and taste for seasoning.  Some people may like the dish just like this, but if you prefer at crunchy topping, continue on.

Pour into your prepared 9” x 9” glass pan.

1 ½ tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup panko bread crumbs

Stir the panko bread crumbs into the melted butter.  Sprinkle the mixture on top of your macaroni in the 9" x 9" glass pan.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes until it is bubbly and the top begins to brown.

This dish tastes best when first served and should easily serve 6.  This dish is based on a recipe from

Monday, November 17, 2014



Naomi King continues to write wonderfully appealing Amish romance novels including her newest offering, Emma Blooms at Last (Penguin Group).  Emma Blooms at Last continues the story from Book One, Amanda Weds a Good Man of the One Big Happy Family series which takes place in Cedar Creek, Missouri.  Readers may want to read Amanda Weds a Good Man prior to starting Emma Blooms at Last so as to be familiar with all the character's back stories.  Both books are excellent reads and very entertaining.

As the book begins, Emma Graber is feeling like she is always the bridesmaid, and never the bride as her friend Abby Lambright prepares to marry Emma’s brother, James.  Emma has spent her life caring for her aged parents and she has no prospects for a husband in sight.   Naomi King perfectly captures Emma's feelings of being left behind while everyone else is dating someone special.
One young man, Jerome, has been looking Emma's way, but he is so flashy and sure of himself, which is not the Amish way.  It seems people keep pushing Jerome towards Emma as they play matchmaker.  Their blatant and clumsy attempts at matching Emma to Jerome irritates Emma and only causes her to back away from him.  And Jerome doesn’t help his cause with his constant pressure to see and date Emma.  Will Jerome be able to let his true self shine in front of Emma?  Will Emma come out of her shell and let herself love again?

Meanwhile Wyman and Amanda Brubaker and their combined brood of children from Book One are back in Emma Blooms at Last.  Money troubles mount for the Brubakers and each member of the combined family face new sacrifices.  Can Wyman discover a way to fight back “Amish style” to get his family and business back on their feet?

Emma Blooms at Last is such a charming book; readers will love the families within its pages.  Naomi King gives us excitement, romance, challenging situations, and good, old fashioned Christian values in this page turning delightful novel.  Emma Blooms at Last was published November 4, 2014.



Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Saturday, November 8th, 2014 - the wedding of Jillian Johnson to Ryan Wiesner could not have been any more beautiful or perfect.  The weather cooperated and we had mild sunny skies during the day for the church service.  The evening reception at Great American Ball Park (home of the Cincinnati Reds) was so wonderful.  The best part was seeing just how happy and in love my daughter and son-in-law are.  They blissfully danced the night away.  And somehow, magically, all day I felt so calm and happy.  I wasn't the nervous wreck I feared I may be.  Thank you God for everything!

Monday, November 3, 2014


Jillian & Ryan on the day they got engaged at Tybee Island, GA, surrounded by family and friends.

I have been pretty quiet lately, my posts have dwindled to once a week, but I have a pretty good reason.  My only daughter is getting married on Saturday, November 8th to a wonderful young man that we love as well.

Any of you with married daughters know how time consuming and of course, expensive, weddings can be.  I can't even believe how many last minute changes we had to make to the guest list and table seating.  Oh well, surely it is finalized now (fingers crossed!).

These last 15 months, since she got engaged, have been such a precious time to spend with my daughter.  She has proven to be very organized, willing to bargain with vendors to keep within her budget, and most days, definitely not a Bridezilla.

They are getting married in a small church that we attended during her growing up years.  She attended kindergarten through eighth grade at the parochial school there.  My heart is full with all the good memories from that time.

So I ask for your forgiveness for my meager posts while I complete the last minute details on my daughter's wedding.  And I ask for your prayers for a happy, sunny day on Saturday, November 8th and a lifetime of joy and love for Jillian & Ryan.  Many thanks!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Becoming Bea (Bethany House) by Leslie Gould is a book to be savored for each of its 345 pages.  Leslie Gould has exquisitely written of the human shortcomings faced by men and women alike and the desire for becoming the person God would like them to be.

In this book, Bea, age 21 is fighting her critical nature.  She lives on a farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with her widowed Mom and married sister and brother-in-law, Molly and Leon.  Bea is an introvert and homebody, but she has come to realize she has become petty and mean spirited, and that some people see her as critical and overbearing.  This is definitely not how Christ would want her to live her life.

Bea has made it known that she has no desire to ever marry.  The truth is Ben, her long-time friend and academic rival since grade school, had dated Bea for a short while.  When he broke up with Bea, her heart turned cold.  Apparently the only thing they have in common is Ben also states he never wants to get married.

When Bea’s older sister Molly announces that the whole family is going to visit Montana for a couple weeks, Bea revolts and manages to find a mother’s helper job so she doesn’t have to go.  Bea has never tended babies before but she learns in a hurry since it is premature triplets that will be in her charge.  She comes to love taking care of the babies, but her nemesis, Ben, is working at the woodworking shop next to the house she is working in.  Ben is always around, taking meals at the same table as her, talking to her when he is on a break, and asking her to go to a singing.  Where in the world is this relationship headed?

Becoming Bea is a thought provoking book, filled with ups and downs for all of its characters but thankfully delivering a happy ending.  Interspersed are beautifully written, gorgeous scenes which paint the fall season in all its glory in Lancaster County.  Readers of Amish fiction will love Becoming Bea.  Its pages are filled with romance and conflict, God’s good words and human imperfections.  Becoming Bea is book four of The Courtships of Lancaster County series, but this book easily stands on its own.  It was published October 21, 2014.

Monday, October 20, 2014


Surprisingly to me, one of my most viewed posts here on has been my recipe for Macaroni & Cheese with over 13,000 views since it was first posted on April 24, 2014.  So if you have not seen this recipe yet, I highly recommend that you pin this if you use Pinterest or copy it down AND TRY IT!  It truly is the best Macaroni & Cheese ever.  Now here is the repost:

The BEST Macaroni and Cheese Recipe EVER!

I have to confess that I am not much of a cook, it has taken me many years to get to the point that I even have the courage to try to make new things.  But in the last few years I have started to experiment with new recipes, some successful, some failures!  Every once in a while I have come across a really successful, delicious new dish and this macaroni and cheese recipe is one of them.  It is creamy, cheesy, just the right amount of spice and heat, and a crunchy topping - what more could you ask for?  Best of all, it is not that difficult to make.  So let's begin!

Flour and spice mixture and half a box of macaroni (8 ounces)

Melt butter then add flour mixture

Stir until smooth

Slowly add half & half, stirring well

Continue to stir until mixture boils

Stir shredded cheese into the mixture

Add drained macaroni to the cheese sauce

Evenly sprinkle panko crumb mix ontop of macaroni & cheese in 9" x 9" glass pan

Start by reading the entire recipe, then butter a 9” x 9” glass pan, and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Gather the following ingredients:
Large pot of boiling water
8 ounces elbow macaroni (half of a 1 lb. box)

Cook the elbow macaroni in boiling water for approximately 7 – 8 minutes.  Drain, and set aside.

Cheese Sauce Ingredients:
¼ cup butter (1/2 stick)
¼ cup of flour
A generous pinch of ground cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups half and half
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Mix together the flour, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, black pepper, and salt.

In a 3 ½ quart saucepan melt the ½ stick of butter over medium heat.  Add in the flour mixture and stir until it is smooth.  
Add the half and half in small amounts, stirring well after each addition to keep the mixture smooth until all 2 cups is added.  
Keep stirring while bringing the mixture to a boil over medium heat.  The mixture will thicken. 
Reduce the heat to low and continue to stir for about another 5 minutes.  Take the saucepan off the heat and add the 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese.  Stir until the cheese is melted.

Add your cooked, drained elbow macaroni to the cheese sauce, stir well, and taste for seasoning.  Some people may like the dish just like this, but if you prefer at crunchy topping, continue on.

Pour into your prepared 9” x 9” glass pan.

1 ½ tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup panko bread crumbs

Stir the panko bread crumbs into the melted butter.  Sprinkle the mixture on top of your macaroni in the 9" x 9" glass pan.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes until it is bubbly and the top begins to brown.

This dish tastes best when first served and should easily serve 6.  This dish is based on a recipe from

Monday, October 13, 2014


Kelly Long has always been a favorite Amish fiction author but her latest release, The Amish Bride of Ice Mountain (Zebra Books) delivers a whole new level of inspiration and romance.  Kelly melds the different worlds of the Englischers and the Amish in a new and unexpected way.  Kelly’s writing is heavy on the romance, and she keeps her main characters, Mary and Jude, exciting while they wait for the proper time to consummate their marriage.  This sizzling romantic book is definitely for adults.

Mary is a young, naive Amish woman living on Ice Mountain in Appalachia and Jude is an Englischer professor who has come to Ice Mountain to further his study of the Amish.  While on Ice Mountain, Jude meets Mary and he becomes a little too close to her.  Mary’s brother saw them kissing and when Mary’s dad finds out, he grabs his gun and decides a wedding must take place to protect his daughter’s reputation. 

Jude has no desire to marry Mary just because he kissed her, but he doesn’t want to get shot either.  He hatches a plan whereby he will marry but not consummate the marriage to Mary.  They will go back to his home in Atlanta for a while, then Mary can go back to Ice Mountain after things calm down.  Then they can get an annulment and go their separate ways.

Jude’s plan doesn’t have a chance of working with Mary dead set on making Jude fall in love with her.  Mary wants to create a real marriage between her and Jude.  There seems to be numerous obstacles in the way of either Mary or Jude getting their way in this forced marriage.

The Amish Bride of Ice Mountain is simply captivating.  The story nicely contrasts the lifestyle of wealthy Englischers in Atlanta with the rural Appalachian Amish where indoor plumbing is considered a privilege.  Loving counsel from Mary’s Grossmuder May just may be the best advice given, “I say your job is to turn this wedding into a marriage … and I don’t mean only the bedding; that’s the least of it in some ways.  A marriage is about the physical body, eh?  But also the spirit, the mind, and the heart.”

Kelly Long will continue this series with book two, An Amish Man of Ice Mountain, to be published next May, 2015.  The Amish Bride of Ice Mountain will be published November 4, 2014.

Monday, October 6, 2014


A quartet of top notch Amish fiction authors, Beth Wiseman, Tricia Goyer, Kathleen Fuller, and Ruth Reid, present four delightfully romantic Christmas themed novellas in An Amish Second Christmas (Thomas Nelson).  Each novella is captivating with a full story told including a joyous happy ending making An Amish Second Christmas perfect for a warm and comfy read during the cold months of winter.

The first novella is When Christmas Comes Again by Beth Wiseman, which tells the tale of newly widowed Katherine living in Bird-In-Hand, Pennsylvania with four children having difficulty handling their dad’s death.  Her oldest, Mary Carol, is 18 years old, still in her Rumschpringe, and is dating Abe.  Abe is having trouble keeping his ardor for Mary Carol under control.  The youngest, 5 year old Gideon is drawing on the walls of his room to try to express his grief.  What appears to be a homeless man is following Katherine around town but is it possible that this confused, elderly man has the answers to all their problems?

Next up is Her Christmas Pen Pal by Ruth Reid.  Joy is a young Amish woman who has taken on the job of running her family’s bakery in Sugarcreek, Ohio after her parents perished in a fire.  She has been waiting for her special friend, Henry, to propose but Henry seems to have lost interest in Joy and has turned his head towards his previous girlfriend, Priscilla, the bishop’s daughter.  Joy mails her cousin a letter and cookies explaining her heartache.  The package arrives at the wrong house but the young Amish man, Noah, who receives the package, decides to write Joy back and a pen pal relationship ensues.  Can Joy’s pen pal help her see Henry for who he really is?

The third novella is A Gift for Anne Marie by Kathleen Fuller.  This charming story takes place in Paradise, Pennsylvania with Anne Marie, 20 years old, waiting for her friend, Nathaniel, who is also 20 years old, to arrive to play board games.  Anne Marie never thought of Nathaniel in a romantic way until her friend Ruth asked her to put in a good word for her with Nathaniel.  Ruth wants to date Nathaniel and suddenly Anne Marie feels uneasy about sweet, thoughtful Nathaniel dating Ruth or is she really feeling jealousy?

The final novella is Christmas Aprons by Tricia Goyer, which takes place in the beautiful mountains of Montana.  Quiet and shy Esther is staying with her cousin, Hannah, to help care for Hannah’s new baby. While at Hannah’s house, Esther’s mother sends her super secret recipe for Vanilla Crumb Pie (and the recipe is included in the book!).  Esther bakes a Vanilla Crumb Pie to take to the fundraiser for the fire department.  Everyone is hoping that Esther will finally make a friend with her special pie.  Can a pie really spark a romance?

This enjoyable set of stories will be published October 14, 2014.