Friday, May 27, 2011

What I've Been Up To...

Have you entered my Giveaway??  There's only 2 days left to win!  Go here to enter!

I have to admit, I feel like I'm sort of cheating for this week's Pink Saturday post.  I wanted a chance to give all my blogging friends an update on our life lately, as well as link up with Beverly and all the other Pink Ladies today!  Even though it's only been a couple of weeks since I last participated, I feel like I've been out of the loop forever!

Anyway, the big news is that our life has changed dramatically (for the good) in just a week!  On Monday, May 16th, my husband accepted a job in Pendleton, Oregon.  We have lived in Eastern Oregon all our lives, except for the last 15 months which were spent in northwest Washington.  


So, we literally had 4 days to pack up everything!  We've got most of it packed and about 2/3 of it moved---we are 6 hours away so must move in-between work weeks!  Jamie started work this past Monday the 23rd, and we moved into our new place the day before yesterday!


We were so blessed to be able to move right back into the house that we moved out of 15 mo. ago!  I just love this house and will post some pictures once I get things unpacked.  It's a Craftsman home that was built in the 19-teens.  There are so many little things that just give it great character!


On the first day of work, Jamie was promoted to a different position than they originally hired him for.  He received a raise in pay and it turns out that he's doing exactly the job he was hoping for when he first applied.  He's really excited about all the new things he's learning as a Software Engineer, and I'm excited that we finally have him home for dinner in the evenings and home on the weekends!


So...since we've only been in our new house for a couple days, I've not been able to take any new pictures...  In fact, I was just going to say that I can't even find my camera but I just spied it over in the corner!  Ha!
Back row: Avalon, 2; Me; Lynzie, 11; Liam, 1; Jamie/ Bottom row: Cainan, 6; Elisha, 7; Selah, 4; Michael, 8



However, I don't think I ever posted our family's Easter picture..so here we are.  There's a couple of little pinkies there, as well as a few other great looking people! 


Hope you all have a lovely weekend and don't forget to enter my giveaway!  I'll be drawing a name on Sunday afternoon and will contact the winner via email so make sure I have a way to get a hold of you!


HaPpY pInK sAtUrDaY!  Visit Beverly and wish her a Happy 3rd Birthday!



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Secrets of the Heart Book Tour

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Realms (May 3, 2011)
***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Jillian has been a member of American Christian Fiction Writers for several years. She has also been a member of Romance Writers of America for 20 years and a member of The Beau Monde, Kiss of Death, and Faith, Hope, and Love specialty chapters of RWA. With a master’s degree in social work, Jillian is employed as a counselor for nursing students, which reflects within the pages of her first novel, Secrets of the Heart, which won the 2009 Inspiration for Writers contest, previously finaled in the Daphne du Maurier, the Noble Theme, and Faith, Hope, and Love’s Touched by Love contests.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Madeline Whittington, daughter of the deceased Earl of Richfield, emerges from English society’s prescribed period of mourning in the winter of 1817. Madeline believes that she no longer belongs in a world of gossip and gowns after experiencing multiple losses. When she rescues a runaway from Ashcroft Insane Asylum, her life will be forever changed as she discovers the dark secrets within the asylum walls.
Because of his elder brother’s unexpected death, Devlin Greyson becomes Earl of Ravensmoore and struggles between two worlds: one of affluence and privilege and one of poverty and disease. Torn between his desire to become a doctor and the numerous responsibilities of his title, he wrestles with God’s calling for his future. Will he be able to honor this God-given gift and win the woman he falls in love with in a society that does not value gentlemen who work? And will Lady Madeline be able to honor her father’s memory when she is attracted to the man she holds responsible for her father’s death?



Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (May 3, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 161638185X
ISBN-13: 978-1616381851

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Prologue


Yorkshire, England, 1817
Who’s there?” Lady Madeline Whittington reined her horse in and listened. She looked into the dense, wooded edge of the forest of Richfield, her family home. “Did you hear something, Shakespeare?” She petted her gelding’s neck. The horse’s ears pricked forward. She studied the fading sun. Darkness would close in soon. It would be unwise to tarry over long. The forest edges, thick with bare brambles now, would become heavy with foliage in the next few months. If she was fortunate, the blackberries would return. Last year’s winter had been harsh, and she’d had to go without that succulent treat. A shadow flitted from within, causing a branch to tremble. “Come out.” Madeline hardened her voice. “Come out at once.”

Papa had taught her to be firm and bold when encountering the unknown, but also cautious. She reached for the revolver in her pocket wishing she hadn’t sent Donavan, their groomsman, on ahead. But she’d desperately wanted to ride alone for a few short minutes.

Two huge brown eyes in a tear-streaked and muddy face peered between parted branches held back by long slim fingers. Blood trickled from scratches on the girl’s arms and hands.
“Who are you? Why did you not answer me?”

The eyes grew wider.
Madeline’s heart softened along with her voice.

“It’s safe. I won’t hurt you.” She tore a hunk of bread from a leather pouch strapped across her shoulder. “Are you hungry?” She offered a large portion. Crumbs fell.

The girl took a step toward her and bit her lower lip. Bruises colored the young woman’s wrists and ankles, her only covering a torn chemise and ill-fitting shoes with no laces.

“What’s your name? Can you understand me?”

Brown Eyes held out a hand.
“You are hungry. Of course you are. Come closer. I’m going to toss the bread to you. Is that all right?”

The pitiful creature nodded and held out both hands.

She understands me. Madeline aimed and carefully threw the bread.

The silent stranger caught it and stuffed the bounty into her mouth so fast that Madeline feared the girl might choke.

“Will you come with me?” Madeline held out her hand. “You may ride with me.”
Brown Eyes stepped back.
“Don’t go. It’s dangerous. You cannot stay here. I won’t hurt you.”

The girl looked into the woods at the lowering sun and then at Madeline’s outstretched hand. Brown Eyes stepped backward. One step. Two steps.

“Wait.” Madeline unbuttoned her cape. “Take this. It’s far too cold with only a chemise to cover you. You’ll freeze to death.” She threw the long, fur-lined wrap to Brown Eyes.

The girl gathered the offering and backed into the forest, keeping her eyes locked on Madeline’s until she turned and ran.

“No! Wait. Please wait.” Madeline searched for a way through the thicket. Not finding any, she pushed her mount farther north until she found an entry. How could she help this girl without scaring her out of her wits? She found the girl’s path. Darkness chased them.

“Where are you?” Madeline shouted. “It’s too dangerous.”

Shakespeare’s ears pricked forward, and she caught the sound of scurrying ahead and then spotted Brown Eyes. Low-hanging branches attacked Madeline, clawing her with their long-reaching arms as she herded the girl toward a nearby hunting cabin. Minutes

later they broke through the trees and entered a clearing where the outline of a small cabin was silhouetted against the fast-approaching night sky.
Pulling her mount to a stop, Madeline kicked her booted foot out of the stirrup and narrowly avoided catching her skirt on the pommel as she slid to the ground.
“I won’t hurt you,” Madeline called. The girl hesitated and then ran again. Gathering up her skirt, Madeline chased after the girl, grabbing for the cape that trailed behind. She easily caught the girl, who fell to the ground in a heap and rolled into a ball with the cape wrapped around her.

Madeline knelt beside her and spoke gently. “Please don’t run. I’m not going to take the cape from you. It’s yours. A gift.”

Brown Eyes panted with fear.
“It’s all right. I’m not going to hurt you. I want to help.” Madeline patted the girl’s shoulder.

She flinched.
“I’m sorry you are afraid. I want you to stay here. See the cabin? You can stay here.”
The girl peeked out from behind the cape, her ragged breathing easing from the chase through the woods. She looked at the cabin and then at Madeline.

“I know you’ve suffered something horrid. Come. You’ll be safe here. Trust me.” Madeline stood and offered a hand up.

Brown Eyes took her hand and followed her into the cabin.


One
Each one sees what he carries in his heart.

—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Have you ever made a mistake?” Madeline settled into her saddle, avoiding her friend’s probing gaze. Anxiety rippled through her as she stroked the neck of her large bay gelding while they waited for the hunting horn to sound.
“Not to my recollection.” Lady Gilling gathered her reins. “I’m quite good at avoiding them.”
“I shouldn’t have come.” Madeline’s gloved hands trembled. “I hate hunting.” She’d tried to avoid the ride today. She wanted to visit her brown-eyed fugitive, and she’d been unable to take food to the girl this morning because of the hunt. Mother had insisted she rejoin society this morning, and she’d enlisted her best friend Hally, Lady Gilling, to be certain that she rode today.

“You used to love the hunt.” Hally circled her dappled gray mare around Madeline’s horse, inspecting Madeline as though she were about to enter the ballroom instead of the final hunt of the season.

Madeline shook her head. “You’re wrong. I love riding, not hunting.”

“Perhaps. However, at one and twenty, you are far too young to give up on this world. And even though I’m only two years your elder, I’ve had my sorrows too, and I have found ways to battle the pain. You must do the same.”
“I’m sorry, Hally.” The heat of shame spiraled into her cheeks despite the sting of the cold, early spring air. She thought of her brother and sister who had died during the past two years and of Papa who had joined them last year. What could be worse—losing

siblings and a parent or a beloved husband, as Hally had only two years ago?
Madeline’s horse pranced in rhythm to her rising anxiety. “Easy, Shakespeare. Easy, boy.” She tried to focus on the gathering outside Lord Selby’s manor house where horses and riders crowded together in a flurry of anticipation. She took a deep breath to rein

in her frustration and hoped her mount would settle down along with her. “Hally, you pick the most difficult of times to discuss such personal issues.”
Hally edged her mount next to Madeline’s horse. “I do this because you have been in hiding ever since your father died. If you refuse to mix in polite society, they will refuse you.”

“Have I become a ghost?” Mist floated over the fetlocks on her horse, a dreamlike ground covering that made it seem like they waited in the clouds. “Do you not see me?” She wanted to slip away from this show of rejoining society. She wanted to check on the girl. She wanted to leave. “Does society not see me here today?”

“For the first time in a year at the hunt.” Hally reached over and pushed back the netted veil that covered Madeline’s face, tucking the material into her hat. “There, that’s much better. Now everyone can see you.”
“And that’s supposed to make me feel better?” She reached up to pull the veil back into place, but Hally stopped her.

“Your mother worries, Maddie. Since your father died, you have refused to mingle, you have refused to travel, and until today you have refused to ride with the hunt. Your father would have scolded you for such behavior.”
Madeline’s chin trembled. “That was cruel. I enjoyed the hunt because Papa loved it when I rode with him. He’s gone now. I don’t have to hunt to ride.”
Hally lowered her voice. “I’m sorry. I know you miss him, but society’s prescribed period of mourning is quite enough. I’ve always believed six months far too long, and here you are six months after that. You need not suffer further isolation.” She leaned closer and whispered. “For heaven’s sake, Maddie, your mother is out of mourning.”

“I’m afraid she thinks of allowing Lord Vale to court her.” There, she’d said it aloud. “May God forgive her. She dishonors Papa’s memory.”
“So that is what worries you. Your mother is interested in a man.”

“He’s not just a man, Hally. He’s Lord Vale, and there’s much speculation about his actions and investments. Yet here I am, pretending all is well.” Madeline lifted her chin and watched her breath dissipate like puffs of smoke on the wind.

“Pretending is a fine art.” Hally smiled. “Everyone must pretend to some extent, dear, or life would be far too complicated.”

“I wonder where life will lead now. Mother isn’t thinking clearly and allows Vale too much time with her at Richfield. I no longer know where I belong, but certainly not in this world of gossip and gowns.”

“We will discuss your fears later, my dear. But for now, your mention of gowns is a subject that warrants further consideration. I think it is time we turn our thoughts toward lighter matters, and talk of fashion will do nicely.”
“Fashion?” Madeline scrunched up her nose. “Please tell me you jest.”

“Fashion is always important.” Hally tilted her head in thoughtful study. “Your black wool riding habit does nothing to draw attention. Green would set your hazel eyes ablaze or, at the very least, a lush russet to show off the highlights in your hair.”

“Why does this matter so much to you?” For the first time that day, Madeline studied her friend in turn. A dark lavender velvet riding habit enhanced her figure. The fabric against the gray of her horse together with the soft early morning light provided Hally with an air of regal confidence, confidence Madeline envied. She was already looking forward to the end of this event.
“Because you are my friend, and melancholia does not become you.”

“Nonsense. I used that emotion up long ago.”

“So you say.” Hally scanned the area. “The chill has bestowed you with blushing cheeks, a most charming quality that will endear you to the male population. There are some very eligible and very handsome gentlemen here today. I shall be most pleased to make an introduction.”

Tentacles of panic snaked through her. “I don’t believe that is required today.” Nor any other day. The thought of an introduction to a gentleman terrified her. She’d witnessed Mother’s agony when she’d lost her children and then her beloved husband. Why allow the heart such vulnerability to begin with? “Really, Hally. Do you never grow weary of your matchmaking schemes? Do you not find such things awkward?”

“My James was a rare man. I’ll never stop missing him . . . and the children we might have enjoyed. I want you to experience that kind of love, Maddie.”
Sorrow shadowed Hally’s blue-green eyes. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be so selfish.” The last thing she had wanted to do was cause more heartache.
Hally waved a dismissive hand. “It’s all about love, dearest. Don’t forget that.”
“But love is—”
“Necessary. Not awkward. You must accept that. You missed your London season four years ago. I know many at this event. As a respectable widow I can be a great help.”
Madeline didn’t argue. “I appreciate your concern.” She hoped to get through the hunt and the social gathering unscathed by men and their unwanted advances. The gathering after the hunt could prove to be difficult. Many men would drink, and some would drink too much, making themselves perfectly obnoxious. “Perhaps we can just ride today and think on these matters another time.”
“Forgive me, dear. I’m overzealous when it comes to you. I will not speak of opportunities again this day. But I pray you’ll think about what you are doing, think about your future, think about your life. If you continue to hide yourself away, you will not be accepted by polite society. And since your mother is ready to begin living again, should you not as well?”
The budding tree branches swayed gently in the early morning breeze and, bending toward her, seemed to hesitate on the wind, awaiting her reply. “I am in no mood to meet anyone.”

“We’ll speak of your moods later.” Hally smiled. “Let’s enjoy the present.”
Bright streaks of sunlight burst through the cloudy, late March sky. Madeline contemplated her friend’s advice. “You’re right. It’s a beautiful morning. Time to imagine the future. As for now, I’m just not certain how to proceed.”
Hally reached across her mare and patted Madeline’s hand. “I’ll be happy to show you the way.”
Lord Selby’s raucous laughter roared through the crowd as he muscled his way through with his horse. Another rider crashed into her while trying to get out of Selby’s way, causing Madeline’s mount to lurch sideways into Hally, nearly unseating each of them.

Madeline’s breath caught, but she quickly tightened her reins and gained control.
“Easy, Shakespeare. It’s all right, boy.” She stroked the gelding’s neck to calm him and looked to see if the other rider had recovered his balance.
A pair of green eyes, wide with concern, locked on her. The beginning of a smile dimpled the man’s cheeks. A strong chin, straight nose, and clean-shaven face provided him with the good looks of a gentleman in a Van Dyck portrait. She felt the heat of a sudden blush and, not trusting her voice, held her tongue.
Apology etched his handsome face. “I beg your forgiveness.” He arched a single black brow. “Are either of you hurt?”

Madeline sucked in a deep breath to calm her nerves and brushed her skirt free of imaginary grime. “I am unscathed, sir,” she assured him, pulling her gaze away. “Lady Gilling?”

“No injuries here.” She pushed her purple plumed hat back into place.

Madeline turned back to him. The sudden urge to chuckle surprised her, but instead of laughing, she molded herself into a woman of politeness and poise. “It appears that we have survived the excitement.”

“I’m afraid Lord Selby is already in his cups this fine morning.” The charming stranger maneuvered his mount closer and lowered his voice. “Hippocrates here found Selby’s bellowing objectionable.” His smile radiated genuine warmth. “I must concur with his animal instinct.”

The blare of the hunting horn filled the air. The fine gentleman tipped his hat and disappeared into the crush of riders. A twinge of disappointment tugged at Madeline’s heart.

“Are you certain you are unharmed?” Hally asked as they trotted their horses out of the gate. “You look a bit pale.”

“I can’t help but think I’ve seen that man somewhere before.

Does he look familiar to you?” Madeline searched for him as they rode out.

“No. I don’t believe so. Could it be that you just met a gentleman of importance with no introduction from me at all?”

“Strange. I can’t recall where, but I’m almost certain.”

“The hounds are on the move,” Hally said. “We must discuss your newly made acquaintance later. We’re off!”

The baying hounds drowned out the possibility of further discussion. A glimmer of anticipation lightened Madeline’s heart. The challenge of the ride distracted her from other concerns and strengthened her spirit. Perhaps I have been a bit melancholy of late.

Her worries lessened with each stride of her horse and with each obstacle cleared, but flashes of the past whirred by her as swiftly as the hunting field. The horses in front of her threw clumps of dirt into the air as they pounded across the countryside in pursuit of a fox she hoped would evade them.
A pheasant burst from its nest. Startled, Shakespeare faltered as he launched toward the next stone wall. Madeline leaned far forward and gave him extra rein in an attempt to help him clear the barrier, but she knew immediately he was off stride.
The crack of rear hooves against the top of the wall thundered through her heart. Shakespeare stumbled and went down on his knees, tossing her over his head. Madeline landed with a jarring thud on her left side. She struggled to get up, but racking pain paralyzed any attempt at movement.

“Maddie!” Hally dismounted, ran to Madeline, and knelt at her side.

She rolled onto her back and groaned. A fine mess. “Shakespeare? Is he hurt?”
“Are you all right?” Hally clutched Madeline’s hand in her own. “Maddie?”
She lay still, trying to assess the damage. “I believe I may have broken my arm.” Tears stung her eyes. “Where’s Shakespeare?” She prayed he bore no serious injuries.
A shadow fell over Madeline. “I’ve already looked at him. He’s shaken, temporarily lame, but on his feet. He will be taken to Selby’s stables to begin the healing process. Unlike your horse, young lady, I suggest you not move.”
The gentleman had returned. And here she lay, flat on her back, her riding skirt disheveled, an indelicate position, indeed. She did not need a man now, especially this very interesting man.

She squeezed Hally’s hand. “I’m not presentable,” she whispered.

“This is hardly the time to be concerned about one’s appearance,” Hally whispered back, smoothing Madeline’s skirt down toward her ankles, a gesture that reminded Madeline of her maid making the bed. She’d have laughed if she weren’t completely mortified and on the verge of fainting. Her arm felt like glass under pressure, about to shatter.

“You took quite a tumble.” He dropped to his knees. “May I be of assistance?”
Madeline tried to sit up again, determined not to appear weak.She prided herself on her independence and strength, but her body rebelled and collapsed as if she were a marionette whose strings had suddenly been severed. “Who are you, sir?”
“I’m Devlin Grayson of Ravensmoore. Where does it hurt?”

“My arm.” Madeline gingerly cradled her left arm and tried to blink back the tears. “You’re Lord Ravensmoore?”

He nodded.
She felt suddenly vulnerable, looking into this stranger’s intense gaze. “I couldn’t prevent it.”

“Lie still, please.”
“Everything happened so fast. It’s been so long since I’ve been on the hunt field,” Madeline said, embarrassed. “Poor Shakespeare. I hope he’s not hurt. I’m such a fool.”

“You are no fool. This could happen to anyone. And your horse appears to be recovering from the shock. A fine horse. And you have given him a fine name.”
She gazed up into his caring green eyes. “Thank you.”

“May I ask your name before I examine you? That is, if I have your permission?”
She found it difficult to concentrate. “Lady Madeline Whittington.” Her head throbbed. “Examine me? Are you a doctor? No, that wouldn’t be right, would it? Not if you’re Ravensmoore.”

“I will be soon.”
Fleeting thoughts of Papa suffering in the hospital filled her mind with fear and anger. The doctors had not helped him. He had died under their care. The slightest of remembrances bubbled to the surface of her thoughts. She turned her face away from him and looked at Hally.

“Lady Madeline,” Hally pleaded, glancing across at Ravensmoore. “He is offering you his medical skills.”

Madeline turned back and looked him in the eye, trying to catch the elusive memory. Where had she seen him before? “Something is not right.” The memories, one after another, tumbled into her consciousness and revealed themselves as they broke through her defenses and exploded into the present. “I remember you.”
“Remember me?” He paused and studied her, searching her face for details, some recollection of the past.

“You were at the Guardian Gate when we took my father to the hospital.” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “You killed him.”

Ravensmoore paled. “What do you mean?”

“Lady Madeline! What an unkind thing to say.” Hally looked at Ravensmoore. “She must have hit her head. Maddie, have you lost all reason?”

“My father, Lord Richfield, bled to death because of your ineptness.” A ripple of pain burst up her arm.




“Lady Madeline—of Richfield?” he asked, turning a shade paler. “Your father? I . . . I do remember. I’m very sorry.”

Hally gently touched Madeline’s cheek and wiped away a tear. “He is only trying to help you.”
“I don’t want his help.”
“I assure you, madam, I am not a murderer. I am most sympathetic to your loss. I promise to be gentle.”

“A fine promise,” she scoffed. “But I have no confidence in your abilities, sir. It is regrettable, but it is the truth.”

He pressed on. “The bone might be broken.”

“I do not need your attention,” Madeline snapped. “It’s most unnecessary.”
A pulse throbbed at his temple. “You don’t understand.” He recovered his composure. “If you refuse to let me examine you, then I must insist on escorting you to Lord Selby’s home where you can rest.”

Madeline groaned in frustration. “I refuse to return to that man’s home. He’s drunk.” The two of them outnumbered her. “I want to go home.” She allowed them to assist her to a sitting position.

“She accepts your kind offer, sir,” Hally put in.

“Lean against me, Lady Madeline, until we see if you can stand,” Ravensmoore said.
“I appear to have little choice.”

Ravensmoore put his arm around her waist and gently guided her to her feet. The strength of his body proved to be an unexpected comfort.

“That’s it. Keep your left arm pressed against your side,” he instructed.
The last thing she wanted to do was lean against this man who dredged up bitter memories of Papa’s death. “I’m fine, really,” she lied, in hope of escaping him. Her body betrayed her in a sudden burst of pain that forced her to stiffen. She repressed a moan and

fought to keep her balance. Emotions from the past and present collided in a haze of confusion.
Madeline pushed away from him. “Lady Gilling will assist me.” She held her hand out and stumbled. Ravensmoore caught her.

“And you will pull your friend to the ground with you.”

How could she have considered this man attractive? The thought made no sense now that she had put the pieces together. Yet, he seemed kind, not at all how she remembered him, wearing that horrible blood-spattered apron. Her father’s blood. She squeezed her eyes shut trying to ward off the image. “I don’t want your help,” she said through clenched teeth. “I can ride by myself.”

“You’re not strong enough. I’ll take you home.” Ravensmoore skillfully lifted her in his arms, careful to keep her injured arm protected. “You’ll ride with me.”
Madeline sat in front of Ravensmoore for the ride home. She tried not to lean against his chest for support but found the effort impossible. She’d never been so close to a man, his breath kissing her cheek. She straightened and had to smother a moan of agony when pain radiated through her arm.
When the high stone walls of Richfield came into view Madeline sighed in relief, grateful to be close to home. The great manor house spread before them, the additional wings on either side providing a sense of comfort and safety. A maze of hedges to the left of them and the soon-to-be-blooming gardens magnified the opulence of Richfield. To the right of the edifice stood stables and paddocks for the horses and housing for those who tended them.
Madeline swallowed hard. She’d just returned home with the man who’d killed her father, the man she held responsible for her father’s death. Betrayal weighed heavy on her heart, for this is where Papa had loved and raised his family.
Madeline longed to be in her bed as they drew near the entrance. She vowed to escape from this horrid day and to her room as fast as she could manage.
“Are you ready?” Ravensmoore asked.

Startled from her pain-filled thoughts she said, “Yes.” But that was a lie. Madeline’s head throbbed simultaneously with the beating of her pulse. She fought for control and blinked back tears when the three of them reached the steps leading into the arched entrance. She nearly crumpled when Ravensmoore dismounted, and she clung desperately to the pommel of the saddle. He reached for her. “It’s all right. I’ll help you.”
“There is no need to coddle me, sir. I assure you, once again, that I am perfectly able.”
“Excellent! Then this should not be too difficult for you.”

Madeline fell into his arms, light-headed and shaky. She wobbled when her feet touched the ground. He held her, keeping her safe.

“Allow me to carry you, Lady Madeline.”

Pain sliced through her arm from the jolting ride. “There’s nothing wrong with my legs, sir. I can walk.” She took two steps and swayed precariously.
“I think not.” Ignoring her protests, Ravensmoore scooped her into his arms again. His warmth and scent—spice, leather, and sweat—mingled together in a balm for her pain.

Her mother, Grace, the Countess of Richfield, ran down the steps to meet them. “Madeline, you’re hurt!” Her mother placed a hand on Madeline’s cheek. “What happened?”
Madeline bit her lip, trying not to reveal the depth of her pain. “It’s nothing, Mother. I took a spill off Shakespeare.” She would not be the cause of further anguish. Mother’s grief over the past two years had been more than many tolerated during a lifetime.

“She’ll be fine, Countess,” Hally said. “We’ve brought a doctor with us.”
“A doctor? Thank God. Follow me, sir.”

Now, beyond caring, she laid her head on his shoulder. Once again his breath whispered past her cheek as he took the stairs and delivered her safely into the embrace of her home.

“Phineas, bring some willow bark tea,” Grace instructed the butler. “Bring her into the sitting room, sir.” The countess continued her directions while fussing over Madeline. “The settee will do nicely. That’s it, gently.”
Ravensmoore’s hand lingered a moment on hers as Madeline sank gratefully into the plush green velvet cushions. Surely the man would leave her in peace now.
Her mother pushed back the gold damask draperies, and muted light filled the room. A fire burned in the hearth, and Madeline shivered, perhaps from the lack of the body warmth she had shared with her rescuer on the ride home.
The butler returned with a pot of tea. He poured the hot liquid into a rose-patterned cup and cautiously handed it to her. “There you are, Lady Madeline.”
“Thank you, Phineas.” Steam rose from the cup. Madeline watched her mother. “Please don’t worry so. It’s not serious.”

Ravensmoore knelt beside her. “I recommend you take a swallow of that tea as soon as you can.”
“Sir, your services are no longer needed. And I will drink my tea when I am good and ready, thank you very much.” Madeline spoke more curtly than she’d intended, but she longed to be alone.

“Drink the tea, young lady,” Mother ordered. “The willow bark will help you relax and ease your pain. And you will permit the doctor to examine you. Do not argue with me on this matter.”

“But Mother, you don’t understand. He—”

She touched her daughter’s hand and their eyes met. “I understand enough.” She turned to Ravensmoore. “What can we do, sir?”

“Allow her to rest a few moments. Then remove her riding jacket so I may examine her arm. Is there a place where I might wash up?

I must have left my gloves on the field, and I don’t want to cause further distress by smudging a lady’s clothing.”

“Of course. Phineas will show you the way.”

As soon as he’d left the room, Madeline looked at her mother. “Let me explain. You must know that he”—she pointed in the direction he’d just gone with cup in hand—“was the physician-in training who allowed Papa to bleed to death in York.”

“I didn’t recognize him.” A veil of sadness shrouded her mother’s eyes. “I didn’t think to see any of them again.” Even the worry lines that creased her mother’s brow could not diminish the sculpted features of a woman who resembled a Greek goddess, though she seemed utterly unaware of her beauty. The name Grace suited her.

“He’s not a doctor . . . yet.”

Grace plucked a pair of shears from a nearby sewing basket. “You have made that perfectly clear. Now, allow Lady Gilling and me to cut away your jacket. You might have broken your arm, and there’s no point in causing you any more pain.”
“You still want him to examine me?”

“Of course. I must think of your welfare. The past is the past.”

“But—”
“He may be able to help you. It will take a servant a long time to ride into town, locate a physician, and return with him. Let this doctor help you.”
Madeline looked from one to the other, then handed Hally the teacup. “Do be careful.”
“Of course we’ll be careful, dear.” Grace cut away the jacket in moments.

“Oh, Maddie. I’m so sorry this happened.” Hally handed her the teacup again. “It’s entirely my fault.”

“That is not true.” Madeline finished the tea. “Don’t be silly.” She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “I am quite dizzy.”

Saturday, May 14, 2011

How Huge the Night Book Sneak Peek

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card authors are:


and the book:

Kregel Publications (March 9, 2011)
***Special thanks to Cat Hoort of Kregel Publications for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:


Heather Munn was born in Northern Ireland of American parents and grew up in the south of France. She decided to be a writer at the age of five when her mother read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books aloud, but worried that she couldn’t write about her childhood since she didn’t remember it. When she was young, her favorite time of day was after supper when the family would gather and her father would read a chapter from a novel. Heather went to French school until her teens, and grew up hearing the story of Le Chambonsur-Lignon, only an hour’s drive away. She now lives in rural Illinois with her husband, Paul, where they offer free spiritual retreats to people coming out of homelessness and addiction. She enjoys wandering in the woods, gardening, writing, and splitting wood.

Lydia Munn was homeschooled for five years because there was no school where her family served as missionaries in the savannahs of northern Brazil. There was no public library either, but Lydia read every book she could get her hands on. This led naturally to her choice of an English major at Wheaton College. Her original plan to teach high school English gradually transitioned into a lifelong love of teaching the Bible to both adults and young people as a missionary in France. She and her husband, Jim, have two children: their son, Robin, and their daughter, Heather.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

When had God ever stopped a war because a teenager asked him to?

For fifteen-year-old Julien Losier, life will never be the same. His family has relocated to southern France to outrun Hitler’s menace. But Julien doesn’t want to run. He doesn’t want to huddle around the radio at night, waiting to hear news through buzzing static. Julien doesn’t want to wait.
Angry, frustrated, and itching to do something, Julien finds a battle everywhere he turns.
Soon after his family opens their house to a Jewish boy needing refuge, Julien meets Nina, a young Austrian who has fled her home by her father’s dying command. Nina’s situation is grave and Julien suddenly realizes the enormity of having someone’s life or death depend on… him.

Thrown together by a conflict that’s too big for them to understand, these young lives struggle to know what to do, even if it is not enough. Is there a greater purpose in the shadows of this terrible war? Or will their choices put them in greater danger?

Endorsements:

“The Munns have written an engrossing historical novel that is faithful to the actual events of World War II in western Europe during the tumultuous year 1940. But How Huge the Night is more than good history; it is particularly refreshing because the reader sees the conflict through the lives of teenagers who are forced to grapple with their honest questions about the existence and goodness of God in the midst of community, family, and ethnic tensions in war-ravaged France.”—Lyle W. Dorsett, Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

“Seldom have the horrors of war upon adolescents—or the heroism of which they are capable—been so clearly portrayed. I loved this coming-of-age story.”—Patricia Sprinkle, author of Hold Up the Sky


“The book expertly weaves together the lives of its characters at a frightening moment in conflicted times. As we read of their moral dilemmas and of their choices, we too wonder, Would I do has these in the story have done?”—Karen Mains, Director, Hungry Souls



Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (March 9, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 082543310X
ISBN-13: 978-0825433108

AND NOW...AN EXCERPT:

From Chapter 23

Thursday the power came back on. They sat in the living room, around the radio that crackled with static; they looked at each other, and then away. The room grew quiet as the announcer began to speak.

“Since Mussolini’s declaration of war on France two days ago, Italian troops are pushing west—”

Mama was on her feet. “The thief!” she hissed. “The backstabber, the coward!” Her face was red. Everyone was staring. She sat down.

Papa looked at her. “Saw his chance, I guess.”

“He’s a shame to his nation,” Mama snapped. Julien stared. Then they heard the shift in the announcer’s voice and turned sharply to the radio.

“German troops are approaching Paris at a rapid pace. As we speak, the vanguard is reported to be fifteen kilometers from Versailles. This will be our last broadcast for a while.”

They did not look at each other. The silence was total.

“Today Paris has been declared an ‘open city.’ Our military will not defend it. This decision was made to avoid bombardment and the great destruction and loss of life that it entails. . . .”

Julien realized he had not been breathing. It was an amazing thing, breathing. Tears shone in Mama’s eyes.

“They won’t bomb Paris,” said Papa quietly.

“They won’t bomb Paris,” Mama whispered.

Benjamin stood, his face very still. He walked slowly to the door and took the stairs.

Julien waited, breathing, seeing Paris; seeing Vincent and his mother look up out of their second-floor window at a clear blue sky. He waited until the news ended, until they had read a psalm that said The Lord has delivered.

Then he followed Benjamin.

Benjamin’s door was closed. Julien hesitated, biting his lip, and went into his own room.

He looked out the window in the fading light. They wouldn’t defend it. This was it, then. What Pastor Alex said was true. German tanks would roll down the Champs-Elys√©es for real in just a couple days. Then the boches would come here. And they would stay.

He pulled Vincent’s last letter out from under his nightstand. I can’t believe you almost died, it said. That’s crazy. He got up, and went and knocked on Benjamin’s door.

No answer.

“Benjamin? You all right?”

“Fine.”

Julien opened the door. Benjamin turned quickly, scowling.

“Did I say you could come in?”

“Well sorry,” Julien growled. How am I supposed to help when he’s like this? “Just wanted to say good night.”

“Good night then.”

“Look, it’s not as bad as it could have been, okay? They could have bombed the place to shreds like Ro—” He bit his tongue.

“You’re right,” said Benjamin, looking away. “That’s good for your relatives. I’m glad.”

“And your parents!”

“Nothing’s good for my parents.” His voice was toneless. “Look, Julien, we can talk about this in the morning. I need to go to bed.”

Julien knew when to quit. He turned away. “Sleep well.”

“You too.”

But he couldn’t. He turned and turned in his bed, twisting the sheets.

He got up and looked out at the crescent moon and the stars high over Tanieux, so white, so far, always the same; they would still be there when the Germans were here; they would still be there all his life. They were still there over Rotterdam, too. It didn’t make any difference.

When he finally slept, he dreamed: Paris on the fourteenth of July, the fireworks, bursts of blue, of gold, of red above the city. A whirling rocket going up with a hiss and a bang. Then a louder bang. Then a bang that threw up a great shower of dirt and stones, and people screaming, people running as the shells began to fall—

He woke, and lay shivering. He got up to close the window. The stars shone down like cold eyes.

He heard a faint scratching. Mice maybe. A floorboard creaked. He listened.

And he heard it. Very slow, stealthy footsteps going down the stairs.

He sat up slowly. Magali or Benjamin. Tiptoeing down the stairs to the kitchen, wishing there was something to eat. . . . He got out of bed and leaned out the window, watching for the faint light that would come through from the kitchen. No light came.

But on the ground floor, the heavy front door opened, and a dark shape slipped out into the street. A shadow with a suitcase in its hand.

He ran across the hall and threw open Benjamin’s door. A neatly made bed, a letter on the pillow. He grabbed it, ran back to his room, jerked his pants on over his pajamas, and ran downstairs in his socks. He’d catch him. Benjamin was on foot. He had to catch him. He scrawled on the flip side of the note, I’ve gone after him, pulled on his shoes and jacket, and flew down the stairs and into the dark.

He raced down the shadowed street and stopped at the corner, heart pounding, looking both ways. North, over the hill: the road to St. Etienne. A train to Paris, like he’d said? There were no trains now. Or south—south to where? Oh Lord if I choose wrong I’ll never find him.

Think. What would he do if it were him? He’d go south—north was suicide, but—he didn’t know, he didn’t know Benjamin. Who did? Nothing is good for my parents, he’d said—he didn’t seem to even care that Paris wouldn’t be bombed—

Because his parents weren’t in Paris.

Julien turned, suddenly sure, and ran.

The Kellers had left Germany because of Hitler and his people. Would they stay in Paris and wait for them? “Let’s walk south,” Benjamin had said—and that stupid map—he should have guessed.

He ran, breathing hard, his eyes on the dark road ahead. Oh God. Oh Jesus. Don’t let me miss him please—please—

He broke free of the houses; the Tanne gleamed in front of him under the splintered moon, cut by the dark curve of the bridge. He froze. He ducked into the shadows and breathed.

There on the bridge was a slender figure leaning on the parapet, looking down at the dark water.

Oh God. Oh Jesus. Now what?

Benjamin turned and took a long, last look at Tanieux. Then he adjusted his backpack, picked up his suitcase, and walked away.

Julien slipped out of the shadows and up to the bridge, his heart beating help me Jesus help me, his mind searching for words. Come home. And if he said no? Drag him? Help me Jesus. He was across the bridge, ten paces behind Benjamin; he broke into a silent run on the grassy verge of the road. He caught up to him. Laid a hand on his arm.

“Benjamin.”

Benjamin whirled, eyes wild in the moonlight. They stared at each other. “Why.” said Julien. “Tell me why.” His voice was harder than he meant it to be.

“Let me go.”

“No.” He tightened his grip on Benjamin’s arm.

Benjamin tried to pull away. “Julien, let me go. You have no idea. You have no idea what they’re like.”

“The boches?” This time his voice came out small.

“The Nazis, Julien. Ever heard of them? Yeah, you heard they don’t like Jews—I don’t think any of you people understand.” The sweep of his arm took in the school and the sleeping town. “Your parents are great, Julien—offering shelter and all—they really are. But they don’t know. Yet.”

But they do. They know. “Know what? What’ll they—do?”

“I’m not waiting around to find out.” His face was white and deadly serious. “Trust me on this, Julien. They are coming here and when they do, it’s better for you if I’m long gone.” I believe it is very dangerous to be a Jew in Germany. And soon—

Julien stood silent. The night wind touched his face; the hills were shadows on the horizon where they blotted out the stars. Suddenly he felt how large the world was, how huge the night, how small they stood on the road in the light of the waning moon. Ahead, the road bent into the pine woods, and in his mind, Julien saw Benjamin walking away, a small form carrying a suitcase into the darkness under the trees. His fingers bit into Benjamin’s arm.

“I don’t care,” he said savagely. “Where would you go?”

Benjamin said nothing; the moonlight quivered in his eyes as they filled with tears. He turned his head away. “I don’t know.” His voice shook.

Julien caught him by the shoulders, gripped him hard. “Well I do,” he said fiercely. “You’re coming home.”

Friday, May 13, 2011

Spring Basket Reveal & a Giveaway!

Make sure and enter my giveaway if you haven't already.  One entry per person---ends May 29!

I recently participated in my first crafty swap, Miss Rhea's Spring Basket Swap, and last night I received a package from one of my partners! 
Becky from Rebecca Rose Designs was one of my trading partners.  I can't show you yet what I sent to her as she's waiting to open it...but wait 'til you see what she sent me!  I am so overwhelmed, seriously, with her creativity and generosity!!


The idea behind the Spring Basket Swap is that we were to take a yogurt cup and decorate it as a Spring basket.  Then we were to include 5 things in the package---they didn't necessarily have to fit into the basket.

Becky painted my basket pink and covered it with pink rose fabric.  She lined the inside with pink tulle and pink paper grass.  A little pink bird is clipped to the side, a beautiful pink rose and ribbons adorn the front, and it is accented with green and pink berries.  The handle is made of chenille wire and ribbon---sparkly white and pink.  The whole thing sits on a cute green and white polka dot base.  Adorable!

Sitting inside the basket was this sweet little box.  Look at the adorable little nest with eggs!

Inside the box, I found these little Scrabble-like tiles and a vintage rhinestone pin.  New...but not new...love it!

Becky included this sweet birdie tag with pink ribbon and the most precious covered journal.  I think the journal is my favorite thing in this whole collection.  I just LOVE it!!!

Then, I came across this adorable burlap bag with a sweet birdie on the front.  Inside was a pretty pen and three embellishments for my own future projects!

This little egg was hiding out amongst the treasures as well!  It's perched on a pink painted wooden spool with the same pretty rose fabric, this time used as a ribbon.

Sweet Becky also blessed me by putting together this assortment of jewels and vintage art clippings for use in my own creative projects...and finished it up with a cute embellished clothespin!
Like I said...overwhelmed!  I am so excited and blessed that she would take the time to put together such a great gift for me!  I will always remember my wonderful first craft-swapping experience!  Thanks so much Becky!!!  If you all have a minute, please visit her and tell her what a creative and sweet girl she is!


Please also visit other Pink Saturday participants! There are so many lovely things out there to see!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Curious Baby and a Giveaway!

Update:  I'm pleased to announce the winner of my Giveaway:  Kerrie from Kerrie's Home Journal!  Congratulations and thanks for your interest in my blog!

Last fall I bought this beautiful vintage dish while visiting my mom in Oregon and placed it on a pretty hutch in the living room...

Last week, Liam, who will turn ONE next Thursday, learned how to stand up in his play pen...
Do you see where this is going???

No worries... I found a wide-mouth canning jar and glued the top to the lid---added some lace---and all is well!
I think I even like it better now!


In addition to that little project, I've spent the morning working on a few crafts to send to one blessed reader at the end of May!  
I've got a pretty tag with a little fawn on it (he's got a pink cake on his head...Ha!), a hanging pocket with a springtime scene, an embellished glass bottle (readers will remember this was my "drink me" bottle...I'll find another one... :), and a clothespin magnet with a pretty flower attached.  


I'm participating in The Twice Remembered Cottage's 5th Annual Cottage Charm Giveaway.  All you've got to do to enter is to leave a comment on this post.  Everyone has once chance to win.  If you don't have a blog, just leave a comment with your email address (unless I know you personally) and I'll contact you that way if you win.  Giveaway open to US residents only due to shipping costs.






Visit The Twice Remembered Cottage for more great giveaways throughout the month of May. Also, it's Pink Saturday time again so make sure to visit Beverly and all the other Pink Ladies for a cheery weekend!



Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Set Free to Live Free Mother's Day Contest


 Good morning!  I wanted to share with you all a contest I just found out about in conjunction with a great new book on healing releasing this month.  


Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, author of Set Free to Live Free  is sponsoring a “Set Mom Free” Mother’s Day Contest.  Everyone who enters is eligible to win a $100 VISA card, a bouquet of flowers delivered on Mother’s Day (for yourself or your own mom!) and an autographed copy of Dr. Dalton-Smith's new book. 

To enter, go to Dr. Dalton-Smith's “Set Free” Facebook page and click “Like” to become a fan.  Then  click on “Promos” at the left of the page. This will take you to the contest details.  Follow the directions from there to be entered.  Contest ends at 11:00 a.m. on Friday May 6th

                                    
 Here is the press release for Dr. Dalton-Smith's new book:

A Physician Shows How Our Physical Health
Is Impacted By Spiritual and Mental Choices

Discover the seven lies women believe about themselves and how they can overcome them

Author Saundra Dalton-Smith, a practicing physician, shows women how to break free from fear, insecurity, and other lies they tell themselves into a life of health and balance in Set Free to Live Free (ISBN: 978-0-8007-1993-7, May 2011, $12.99). Smith shares with readers how one patient reshaped her practice and approach to medicine. One day, a patient entered her office, and as Smith listened, she recognized she would need to work closely with this patient if she was to get better. She could not simply offer the latest medications, but would instead need to walk with the patient and help her become free from the lies that had impacted her physical health. Readers will journey with this patient and others as Smith shares how their triumphs became her motivation to see others free.

Imagine life with unlimited possibility, where fear, misconceptions, and insecurities don't have the power to rob us of our potential or our dreams. Many women have trouble seeing this vision, because they are bound by mental ties that keep them from living free. In Set Free to Live Free, Smith will show women how to break free from seven mental ties that hold them back: perfection, envy, image, balance, control, emotions, and limits. She encourages women to embrace spontaneity, be transparent, nurture their bodies, and cultivate a balanced life through compassionate and inspirational writing.

A study guide is provided at the end of the book outlining each chapter with discussion questions.

Saundra Dalton-Smith MD is a board-certified internal medicine physician who has been practicing medicine since 1999. She treats a predominantly female population and has firsthand experience with the struggles women face trying to imitate the American dream. Dr. Dalton-Smith has been an adjunct faculty member at Baker College and Davenport University in Michigan. She lives in Alabama.

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life.  They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet.

Contact: Donna Hausler, Publicity Assistant

                                                             dhausler@bakerpublishinggroup.com


For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Japanese Tea Party




A couple months ago, I showed off my new Japanese tea set that Miss Sue Flay sent me in a Tea Cup Trade.  For a reminder of that post you can go here.  Today I'm using it to complement another great Japanese item:  the beautiful painting I won from the talented Mrs. Amy Van Gaasbeck in the Japan relief auction she held shortly after the earthquake. 
Amy has several of these great geisha girl paintings, as well as notecards, in her Etsy shop!

Here's that adorable tea set again from Miss Sue Flay.  The cups are teeny tiny---just big enough to hold about 2 Tb. of tea!  I love this whole vignette and love that it came just about the time that we all began praying for the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan.  This set and painting will always serve as a reminder to me to pray for the dear people of that country.


Join me today at Rose Chintz Cottage for Tea Time Tuesday!

Blueberry Scones, Chili and What We Did Today

I've just tucked my kids into bed and am ready for a little quiet blogging time before my husband, Jamie, gets home from work.  The kids and I are all feeling very accomplished today as we got a lot done and each had an enjoyable day.  I'm hoping that Jamie will have had a happy day as well!
First thing this morning, I cut up two cantaloupes and served them in my new cabbage bowl.  I found this at a yard sale in Pendleton, Oregon Friday when I was visiting my mom.  I saw one similar on a blog a couple weeks ago and loved it!  (In case you're wondering:  one cantaloupe fits in the bowl.  I served everyone and then cut up the other one for the fridge! :)

Then I cut up a bunch of fruit and vegetables so we will actually EAT them while some of the kids played a fun game they made up.

They made paper pizzas and opened their own pizza shop. 

The living room was trashed but they had a lot of fun!

After I finished my produce-cutting adventure, I made 3 batches of blueberry scones.  Two batches will be eaten at breakfast tomorrow while one went into the freezer.  Recipe at the end of the post...

Avalon said, "Take a picture of me, Mom."  After I took it she said, "Me see Avi."

Then, because the kitchen wasn't quite hot enough, I decided to make 5 loaves of banana bread!  Recipe is Betty Crocker's...just a basic one.  All of these went in the freezer.

While the bread was baking, I made the rounds with my camera again.  Here Avalon is feeding her baby some cereal in her high chair.

Cainan is making more messes pizza...

Elisha's got his pizza baking on books from the kids' bookshelf.

A Ha!  Here's Miss Lynzie Mae, the dedicated artist, busy copying a painting from an encyclopedia.  She spent the afternoon in the kitchen working on her paintings.

I believe Michael said this was a Papa Murphy's Cowboy Pizza....

More by Lynzie...

Oh!  More by me too!  I made chili and cornbread for dinner.  Cornbread recipe came from the side of the box but I'll put my chili recipe at the bottom of the post too.

Avalon said, "I just LOVE tornbed!" (That would be "cornbread")

Because we had some strawberries in the freezer, I decided we needed a quick batch of strawberry jam to go with our cornbread!  You can make this delicious freezer jam in 15 minutes!  You can find my easy tutorial here

After I got all the other little ones to bed, I had a chance to go in and look at the paintings Lynzie did today.  This is her favorite of her hero, George Washington.  Looking good, Lynzie!

I love being a homemaker and am so thankful for the opportunity to be home with my kids and care for my family.  This beautiful day in the life of our family was made possible by the selfless sacrifices of:

and ultimately, the Lord Jesus.  Thank you, God, for this blessed life!

Blueberry Scones

(makes 8 scones)

1 cup blueberries or other fruit
1/3 c. + 2 Tb. sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, in cubes, slightly softened
2/3 cup half-and-half or cream or cold buttermilk **TIP: (I mix a couple TB. of bottled lemon juice with regular milk and let it sit about 10 min. for easy cheater buttermilk)

Topping:
1 tablespoon sugar (I used coarse decorator sugar)

Preheat oven to 400.

Sprinkle bite-sized fruit with 2 TB sugar; set aside.

Mix the rest of the  sugar with the flour, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry blender, mix in the butter until it looks crumby...(not CRUMMY...there's a difference!! :)  Stir in fruit and then buttermilk.
 

When it's all mixed together, set it in a big blob on a cookie sheet and form it into some semblance of a circle about 3/4 inch thick or so.  Cut into 8 wedges and either space them out on the sheet or bake them in the cut circle and recut on the lines after they're baked.  Sprinkle with coarse or regular sugar.  Bake 15 minutes or until golden in places and no longer doughy.


Chili


(makes about 10 servings...you can half this or freeze the remaining if you don't need this much)


6 cans beans (We like to use black beans)
2 cans refried beans
1-2 pkg. taco seasoning
1/2 c. bbq sauce
1/4 c. dijon or spicy mustard


Rinse 6 cans beans in strainer.  Place them in a pot with the refried beans and all other ingredients.  Add 2-4 c. water.  You want to start out with the chili quite a bit runnier than you like it.  Cook and stir often until it has reached your desired thickness.  This could be anywhere from a half hour to an hour and a half...depending on how much water you add.  The more water you add, the longer you have to cook it and the more flavorful it will be as the beans absorb the flavors from the other ingredients.  If you're in a hurry, just add a couple cups of water so there's a buffer there to keep it from sticking to the pan while it's heating up and dissolving the seasoning and you'll be good to go in about a half hour.









Bubbly Nature