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.