Thursday, July 31, 2014


There is something very special about the books written by Naomi King.  Amanda Weds a Good Man (New American Library) is book one in the One Big Happy Family series.  There is so much that this book has to offer, including a refreshing truthfulness and more modern conflicts.  Throughout Amanda Weds a Good Man is Naomi’s uplifting writing that makes the reader want to do more and be a better person.

Amanda is a widow with three daughters plus she takes care of her mother-in-law.  Wyman is a widower with five children.  These two have found each other and fallen in love.  Their wedding day is upon them and Amanda is moving her household into Wyman’s house.  Unfortunately nothing is going right and everyone is unhappy.  Amanda is stressed out living in Wyman’s home with none of her furniture or kitchen supplies plus having to handle eight children now instead of just her three.

Wyman is used to have everything his way, as most Amish husbands run the home.  Amanda was used to making all the decisions in her household since she was widowed for four years.  The whole idea of submitting to Wyman in all decisions strikes her as unfair.  Amanda is a more independent type of Amish woman, she doesn’t want to lose herself and her talents in her new and overwhelming blended household.  The complaining and lack of privacy just add to the chaos for Amanda and Wyman.

To make matters worse, Amanda loved her old church district but now she must attend the church district near Wyman’s home.  The bishop in Wyman’s district is ultra conservative, very severe in his dealings with the members of his district.  The bishop’s wife is just as severe when she tells Amanda that her girls’ dresses are too showy, brightly colored, and too short.  There is no friendly conversation or welcome to the district, just pointed complaints of what Amanda and her children are doing wrong.

Interwoven throughout the book are bits and pieces of the stories of old friends from the previous series, Home at Cedar Creek.  Most the characters within the book have their own unique imperfections yet their innate goodness and ability to rise to the occasion is present as well.  The uplifting power of prayer and spirituality is generously entwined within the story.  Amanda Weds a Good Man was published November 5, 2013.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014


I came across a simple, one bowl recipe for apple cake on Pinterest and thought I'd give it a try. Since I'm dieting in preparation for my daughter's wedding, I decided to make some substitutions to lower the calorie count.  I was pretty successful since a slice of this apple cake is only 92 calories.  Now that is a dessert I can handle easily within my diet!


1 egg
1 cup less 2 tablespoons of white sugar (this is equivalent to 7/8 cup)
1 heaping teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 cup of fat free Greek yogurt, plain flavor
2 medium to large apples ( I used Granny Smith but almost any apple will do)
1 cup flour, I used whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda 


Grease a 9 inch cake pan.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add the egg, sugar, cinnamon, and yogurt to a bowl and stir until completely combined. 

Peel and dice your apples and add to the bowl, stirring to cover the apples so they don't turn brown.

Mix together the baking soda and flour, then add the ingredients in the bowl.  Using a fork, stir until all the flour mixture is combined with the other ingredients. 

Pour into your greased 9 inch cake pan.  Bake at 350 degrees approximately 20 - 25 minutes.  Use a toothpick to test for doneness. 

The calorie count above is based on 10 servings.

The original Pinterest recipe was posted by

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Normally I only post Amish genre novels, but this book is so good, so dreamy on many levels, I had to post this review.  Additionally Hillary Manton Lodge did write two Amish romance novels that I really enjoyed and highly recommend:  Simply Jayne and Simply Sara.

What a delicious treat awaits readers of A Table by the Window, book one in the Two Blue Doors series by Hillary Manton Lodge (Waterbrook Press).  It’s a smart, funny, and romantic look at family, food, mystery, and internet dating.  Don’t read this book on an empty stomach; the food descriptions are incredibly impressive.  As an added bonus, the author includes fabulous recipes of mouthwatering dishes that were created within the story, at the end of most chapters.

Our main character, Juliette, is a single 28 year old, living in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, the youngest of five children born to a French mother and Italian father.  Her parents run a restaurant and the whole family is quite immersed in food and hospitality.  Grand-mere, Juliette’s maternal grandmother and famous pastry chef has just recently died and left her pastry prep table to Juliette.  While looking through the prep table’s drawers, Juliette discovers a photograph among the handwritten recipes.  The old photo is of a man with dark hair and eyebrows, who strongly resembles her brother, Nico, but the man is not their grandfather.  Juliette must figure out who this man in the photo is as it is obvious that he and Nico share the same genetic background.

Nico decides to open a new restaurant and asks Juliette to run the front of the house for his new venture.  She is conflicted for a couple of reasons.  First, she already has what most would consider a dream job writing a food column for the local newspaper and secondly, when she worked for Nico at his previous restaurant, she dated his sous chef and the eventual breakup left her heart wounded.  With some reflection, Juliette realizes her love and talents lie in the world of restaurants and agrees to work for Nico.

While Juliette has been despondent over the lack of a man in her life over the last four years, she decides to stop feeling sorry for herself and try online dating.  Her first encounter was not a match but gentleman number two, Neil, is everything that Juliette had been hoping for except he lives in Memphis, thousands of miles away from Portland, Oregon.  Neil is a research doctor, kind, thoughtful, interesting, and interested in Juliette.  They exchange daily emails and phone calls.  He comes to Portland for a medical conference and they meet.  As wonderful as their long weekend together is, the question still hovers will they be able to make this relationship work with Neil working in Memphis and Juliette helping her brother in Portland.

Hillary Manton Lodge has written a seriously interesting book.  You don’t need to be a foodie to enjoy A Table by the Window, but if you are, your enjoyment will be multiplied.  The plentiful narratives of food and meals, especially the pastries, are simply blissful.  Her characters are humorous and three dimensional.  Readers will wish they could be invited to the family gathering for Sunday dinner for the food as well as the conversation.  A Table by the Window was released March 18, 2014.  Expect a follow up novel in this series titled Reservations for Two.



Monday, July 28, 2014


Sara Barnard normally writes historical romance and children's stories but in Rebekah’s Quilt (5 Prince Publishing) has turned to historical Amish romance, and is quite successful in writing the Amish genre.  The story begins in Indian Territory in 1868, and already readers will be interested in this truly different Amish novella.  Elnora and Samuel Stoll are traveling with friends from Europe, across Canada and down through the United States in their wagons.  They come across a terrible wagon accident where an Englischer family appear to be killed.  The Amish stop to bury the dead when they hear a baby crying.  An Englischer baby girl was thrown from the demolished wagon and landed in a bush.  Elnora Stoll has not been able to conceive in the two years she has been married to Samuel.  All Elnora can think is that God has answered her prayers by bringing her to this site and finally she will have a child.

After Samuel’s inquiries in the nearest town, he can find no Englischers willing to take the baby, so Samuel tells Elnora, they can keep the infant.  They name the baby Rebekah.  The wagon train advances on for two more days and they arrive at their destination, Daviess County, Indian Territory.

Next the story advances to Rebekah’s 20th birthday.  She has been friends with Joseph, age 22, ever since she was a baby, they have grown up and gone on adventures together.  Rebekah is hoping for a commitment from Joseph and wants to move their friendship to a romance.  Just as they are getting to that point, a strange Englischer, Peter, arrives in town and causes havoc, upsetting everyone, especially Rebekah.  What will become of Rebekah and Joseph?  Will Peter harm Rebekah?

Sara Barnard has knit together an interesting tale of Amish families settling in 1800’s Indian Territory.  She knows how to write romance and slowly increases the romantic tension between Rebekah and Joseph throughout the story.  Then Sara inserts Englischer Peter to add a mystery element.  The riveting conclusion of Rebekah’s Quilt will keep readers glued to this book.  Rebekah’s Quilt was published November 24, 2013.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


MONDAY:  A book review of Rebekah's Quilt by Sara Barnard.

TUESDAY:  A book review of A Table By the Window by Hillary Manton Lodge.

WEDNESDAY:  This week's recipe is a delicious and moist Apple Cake that is also low calorie!

THURSDAY:  A book review of Amanda Weds a Good Man by Naomi King.

FRIDAY:  Today we will take a look at Amish Dating Customs.

Wishing you all a blessed week ahead!

Friday, July 25, 2014


Ernest Bontrager of Illinois, was raised the first nine years of his life as Amish, then his parents left the Amish and became Mennonites.  Ernie has written a 70 page booklet about his Amish years and the years that followed.

 What is even more interesting are the DVD’s that Ernie has made.  They allow us a peek inside the world of the Amish and the Mennonites.  If you are like me, I do not have easy access to the Amish and Mennonite communities so these videos are priceless.  Well that is not exactly true, Ernie sells his DVD’s directly from his home.  Each DVD is $19.95 with free shipping to 48 states.  He accepts checks only, send your check to Ernest Bontrager, 319 N. Walnut Street, Arthur, IL 61911.  Ernie says to call him for more information or quantity discounts at 941-724-4125.  Another place you can find his DVD’s is Ebay - click here to see what Ebay has to sell.  These DVD's are a real treat,  I think you will be pleased to view them over and over again.

The first one I watched was Amish & Mennonites in Pinecraft, Florida.  The video is an hour and four minutes long and is separated into seven different sections as follows:

1.       The History of Pinecraft

2.       Differences between Amish and Mennonites

3.       Where are the Amish and Mennonites coming from who visit Pinecraft

4.       Modes of transportation in Pinecraft (Solar Buggies, 3 Wheel Bikes, and more)

5.       Pinecraft Activities

6.       BBQ and Pie

7.       Music in Pinecraft

 By the time you finish watching this DVD, you will feel like you have been to Pinecraft in person!

The next DVD is Amish and Mennonites in Arthur, Illinois.  If you love horses and/or quilts, this is the DVD for you!  This video is 50 minutes long and is separated into eight sections:
1.       Amish, Beachy Amish, Conservative, and Mennonite Churches

2.       Ten questions answered about the Amish

3.       “Amish Nicknames” sung by John Schmid

4.       Quilts and more Quilts

5.       Amish Farming with Horses

6.       Mennonite Modern Farming

7.       “Hold Me Fast” sung in German and “He Loves Me”

8.       Illinois Amish Country:  A brief History

And the last DVD I saw was The Horse Progress Days in Arcola, Illinois 2013.  This video is 54 minutes long.  Again, if you love horses, please get this video.  The DVD is separated into 12 sections:

1.       Percheron Thunder

2.       Spreading Manure

3.       Plowing with Horses

4.       Amish 12 Horse Hitch Plowing with Four Bottom Plow

5.       Working the Ground

6.       Produce Transplanter

7.       Spraying Produce

8.       Farming with Oxen

9.       Athens Horse Powered Treadmill

10.   Kids Having Fun

11.   Vendors and Overview

12.   Wilderness Ridge Wagon Team

 Ernie has other videos on YouTube as well.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


I found a couple of posts on, an excellent website for informative posts on the Amish, dealing with the size of Amish families. always provides sources for the information in their articles.  So read on to discover more about the size of Amish families!

Largest Amish family ever?

With an average of around seven children, Amish families are hefty by modern standards.  Farm families tend to be the biggest.  A dozen or more children is not rare.  But the largest Amish family ever?  Read on to learn about one possibility:

John Troyer, who lived near Kokomo, Indiana, had an unusually large family, perhaps the largest of all time among the Amish or Mennonites.  John was first married to Catherine Schrock who bore him twelve children.  Following her death he married her cousin Caroline (Schrock) Kendall, a young widow with two children.  John and Caroline in turn had seventeen additional children.  This made a total of 31 children.

No word on whether John needed name tags to keep track of them all.

(Source:  Joseph Stoll, “Amish and Mennonite Family Names”, Family Life, March 1969)


How many children does an average Amish family have?

Amish families are large, with 6-7 and even up to 9 children on average

In contrast to modern society, an Amish couple expects to have a large family, and an Amish woman often becomes pregnant shortly after her wedding.  Amish view children as gifts from God, and thus the use of contraception is frowned upon.

However, birth control and other family planning methods may be practiced by some Amish, particularly in more progressive communities.  Yet Amish families remain large, with an agrarian tradition and a need for manual labor also supporting a high Amish birth rate.

Amish family size

Amish typically have between 6-8 children.  The number of children may vary by community, though 6 or 7 are often cited as averages for the Amish as a whole. 

Nolt and Meyers note a range of family sizes among Amish in Indiana, for example, with the Kokomo community averaging only 6 children, the Elkhart-Lagrange community 7, both Allen and Daviess counties with 8, and the Swiss Amish settlement at Adams County with a whopping 9 children per family (Amish Patchwork, Meyers and Nolt). 

A study by Hurst and McConnell found an average family size in Holmes County, Ohio of 5 children, though this figure includes families which have not completed their fertility cycle, and thus would be lower than one taking into account only completed families (Amish Paradox, Hurst and McConnell).

 However, due to varying factors which may include a shift away from farm work and greater openness among some Amish to family planning, Amish family sizes have in fact dipped slightly in some communities.




Wednesday, July 23, 2014


To make it extra delicious, sprinkle grated parmesan cheese over the top of your soup.

Do any of you enjoy soup?  I love a good soup, especially a hearty soup for dinner.  Try this one, you won’t be disappointed.  The original inspiration for this soup came from  Do all your chopping before you start.  The vegetable amounts are approximate, if you have some favorite vegetables, feel free to add or substitute as you see fit.  Chopped tomatoes could be substituted for the crushed tomatoes.
Chorizo in the Dutch Oven on the stove with the casing removed.
The chorizo is cooked and crumbled, and I have added the carrots, mushrooms, and onions.

Add the crushed tomatoes after cooking the vegetables and garlic.
After adding the chicken broth and cream, add the spinach leaves.
The finished soup after simmering for 15 minutes.  So yummy!


1 pound Chorizo sausage links – I used Johnsonville.

Chopped baby carrots, approximately 16

6 ounces Baby Bella Mushrooms, sliced and/or chopped

¾ cup chopped white onion

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 cups raw spinach leaves with stems removed

4 cups of 99% fat free chicken broth

½ to ¾ cup half and half or cream - depending on how acidic your crushed tomatoes are - see directions

1 large can crushed tomatoes – should be 3 ½ cups

Optional – you may need to add up to 2 teaspoons sugar if your crushed tomatoes are too acidic

Also optional, you may want to add grated parmesan cheese to the top of your bowl of soup to kick it up a notch.


·         Remove the casing from the chorizo and place it in a dutch oven on medium to high heat on your stovetop. 

·         Break up the sausage into small pieces as you are cooking it. 

·         When it is pretty well cooked, drain as much grease as you can. 

·         Add the carrot, mushrooms, and onions and cook an additional 7 minutes. 

·         Add the garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes. 

·         Next, add the crushed tomatoes. 

·         Add the chicken broth, cream, and spinach and stir well.

·         Bring to a boil, at this point, taste the soup and see if you need to add more cream or half and half and/or sugar if your soup tastes too acidic. 

·         Then lower the heat to a simmer for 15 minutes. 


Soup is ready!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Rosemary Opens Her Heart by Naomi King (New American Library) is one of the best Amish romance novels out there.  Naomi King is an expert at writing about relationships with plausible characters and realistic situations.  Rosemary Opens Her Heart is book two in the Home at Cedar Creek series.  It can surely stand-alone but book one, Abby Finds Her Calling is also such a wonderful book to read.  Truly this is a series that can change the way readers view their community.
Rosemary is a 23 year old Amish widow from Queen City, Missouri who just recently lost her husband.  She is deeply mourning her loss, and continues to wear black daily.  Rosemary and her toddler daughter, Katie, live with her widower father-in-law, Titus, and his twelve year old daughter, Beth Ann.  The whole group makes the long trip to Cedar Creek, Missouri to attend the wedding of Zanna Lambright and Jonny Ropp. 
When Zanna’s nephew, 22 year old Matt Lambright first sees Rosemary, he is immediately smitten.  Matt is handsome, kind, and successfully raises sheep.  And he comes on way too strong to Rosemary who is still grieving.  She tries telling him as forcefully as she can that she is not interested in him or any relationship.  But Matt doesn’t stop pursuing Rosemary.  He quickly becomes friends with Rosemary’s young daughter, Katie.  Everyone in Cedar Creek seems to be telling Rosemary how great Matt is and how she should give him a chance.
When Rosemary gets back to Queen City she believes she hears her deceased husband Joe telling her, “Be true to yourself now.  Follow your dreams and live your life to the fullest.”  She interprets this to mean she should move on with her life, that Joe would not have wanted her to wallow in sadness forever for him.
Shortly after returning to Queen City, Titus and Matt decide to combine their sheep raising businesses and Titus would move his family and herd of sheep to Cedar Creek.  Titus announces they all will be moving as soon as Matt finds a farm in Cedar Creek for Titus to buy.  Rosemary is upset with the notion that the husband or father has the final say in decisions.  She wonders if God figures that as a woman, she should be happy with whatever the men in her life provide for her.  She yearns to spread her wings and exert her independence.  Will Rosemary refuse to move to Cedar Creek?  Will Matt and Rosemary ever have a chance to be together?
Intertwined with the story of Rosemary and Matt, several other relationships are advanced.  This book is filled with romantic tension as well as community togetherness and charity.  This book is so uplifting, it will make readers want to act with more kindness and thoughtfulness towards their own family and neighbors.   Rosemary Opens Her Heart is truly an inspiring book; it was published November 6, 2012.

Monday, July 21, 2014


The Home at Cedar Creek series begins with book one, Abby Finds Her Calling, written by Naomi King (New American Library).  This book is so special, it has all the elements necessary for a top rated novel from the Amish genre.  Abby Finds Her Calling contains inspiration, intrigue, romance, perfect and imperfect characters, and redemption.  This book’s message is so uplifting and so very difficult to put down once you start reading.

The book starts with James Graber so excited and happy on his wedding day.  He is to marry Zanna Lambright, his 17 year old neighbor.  Zanna’s older sister, Abby, a self-declared maidel (old maid), is secretly in love with James. Sadly Abby has to break the news to James that her sister has run away and there will not be a wedding today.  James can’t believe it, Zanna had not given him any sign that she didn’t want to get married.  He is crushed and heart broken.

Within a few days, Zanna is back and reveals a secret so loathsome and shameful, her family doesn’t want to have anything to do with her, except for Abby.  Abby invites Zanna to live with her.  After encouragement from Abby, Zanna tells James the true reason she left him on the day of the wedding.

Abby is selfless as she tries to understand and help her younger sister.  She is constantly thinking of ways to help her sister and others in the community.  Through her good example, she helps to reduce the ill will directed towards Zanna, and she gives Zanna a new occupation, which lifts her spirits.  Will Zanna find a happy ending?  Is it possible that James and Abby will find happy endings?

Abby Finds Her Calling also deals with difficult subjects in a kind and sensitive manner, such as dementia in older parents, verbal abuse of children by their parents, physical abuse of a husband towards his wife.  Naomi King has written a first class Amish novel.  Abby Finds Her Calling is definitely different from other books in this genre.  It is deeper, more intense, with higher highs and lower lows.  It has an authenticity along with a spiritual depth that readers will appreciate.  Abby Finds Her Calling was published February 28, 2012.



Saturday, July 19, 2014


Hello Readers!  I'm so glad the past week is over.  My husband had surgery to remove a small piece of basal cell cancer from his face on Tuesday.  It seemed like it was going to be a minor procedure but it turned out to be anything but minor. 
After the small bit of basal cell cancer was removed from the tip of his nose I drove him to the hospital where a plastic surgeon was to repair his nose which now had a dime size hole in it.  After three hours of surgery, he had stitches from the top of his head, down his forehead, and all over his nose, plus in back of one of his ears where the doctor took cartilage.  The doctor took skin and blood vessels from his forehead to rebuild his nose.  It is hard to imagine all the work involved to patch this dime size hole in his nose. 
Anyway, as bad as I was feeling for my husband, I kept thinking, at least he isn't sick with a chronic disease.  This is a bad thing but we just got it fixed and he will be as good as new given time to heal his scars.  And for that, I thank God.  Everyday I make time to thank God for all the blessings, gifts, and opportunities He has given me and my family.  Tip for the day:  Limit your time spent in the sun, and count your blessings everyday!
Now on to next week's posts:
Monday:  A book review of Abby Finds Her Calling by Naomi King.  Both Monday's and Tuesday's books by Naomi King are really uplifting and inspiring books.  Please add them to your To Be Read lists!
Tuesday:  A book review of Rosemary Opens Her Heart by Naomi King.
Wednesday:  Today's recipe is Chorizo and Vegetable Cream Soup.  This soup has it all, it is super flavorful and is simple to make.
Thursday:  Learn all about Amish Family Size.

Friday:  A review of Ernest Bontrager's DVD's and Booklet about his life as a former Amish, now a Mennonite.  These DVD's are very interesting!

Have a great week ahead!

Friday, July 18, 2014


It's Friday so it must be time for some frugal tips to save money.  I love finding tips to make cleaning easier and to save money on cleaning solutions.  There are many, many more tips on using vinegar, please go to to see all the ideas out there. 

1.       For stained and smelly plastic food containers, wipe them with a cloth dampened with white distilled vinegar.  I will try this soon, I've got many plastic, stained food containers.

2.       To clean a grease splattered oven door window, saturate paper towels with full-strength white distilled vinegar and place on the glass oven door window.   Keep the oven door open for 20 minutes before wiping with a sponge.  I tried this tip and it worked somewhat but my oven door was in very bad shape.

3.       Rid your shower head or faucet of lime deposits by tying a plastic bag containing ½ cup of white distilled vinegar around it, and leaving it there for 2 – 3 hours.  Wipe down with a sponge and scrub any remaining deposits with an old toothbrush.  I tried this one and it worked beautifully.

4.       To make your toilet bowl sparkle and smell fresh, pour a cup or more of diluted white distilled white vinegar and let it sit several hours or overnight.  Scrub well with a toilet brush and flush.  I tried this and it is great, easy and so much cheaper than buying toilet bowl cleaners.

5.       Get cleaner and softer laundry by adding ¼ cup white distilled vinegar to the last rinse.  Besides removing soap, white distilled vinegar prevents yellowing, and acts as a fabric softener and static cling reducer.  I plan on trying this for sure.

6.       Soften your cuticles on your fingers and toes before manicuring them by soaking in a bowl of white vinegar for 5 minutes.  I plan on trying this one.

7.       Before applying polish, wipe your clean nails with a cotton ball that has been dipped in vinegar.  It removes natural oils from the nails so that color can adhere better.  It is reported to prevent chipping too.  I definitely want to try this.

8.       Eliminate bad breath and whiten your teeth by brushing once or twice a week with white distilled vinegar.

9.       Make your own earth-friendly window cleaner.  Mix ¼ cup rubbing alcohol and 1/3 cup vinegar in a 32 oz. spray bottle, then fill with water.  Lightly spritz on a lint free cloth and wipe down mirrors and glass.

10.   Make onion odors disappear from your hands by rubbing with white distilled vinegar.  Also, if you have burned something in the kitchen, try boiling a small amount of water with ¼ cup of white distilled vinegar.  The steam will circulate the room and eliminate the burned smell.