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.