Friday, April 29, 2011

Recipe: Apple Muffins from Author Karen Witemeyer

by Naomi Rawlings

Author Karen Witemeyer is with us today to share one of the recipes that appeared in her debut novel, A Tailor-Made Bride.

2 Tbls brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup oil
2 large eggs
1 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored, and finely diced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 12-capacity muffin pan with cooking spray. Mix the topping ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk the 3/4 cup brown sugar and oil until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Add applesauce and vanilla.

Whisk in the flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk, until combined. Gently stir in the apple chunks. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan, filling the cups nearly to the top. Sprinkle with the topping mixture. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in muffin comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove them from the pan to finish cooling.


A Tailor-Made Bride is a finalist for both the prestigious RITA and National Readers' Choice Award.

Karen's newest book, To Win Her Heart, releases May 1st. Here's a little bit about it:

A blacksmith with a criminal past. A librarian with pacifist ideals. Do they have a fighting chance at finding love?

Having completed his sentence for the unintentional crime that derailed his youthful plans for fame and fortune, Levi Grant looks to start over in the town of Spencer, Texas. Spencer needs a blacksmith, a trade he learned at his father’s knee, and he needs a place where no one knows his past. But small towns leave little room for secrets. . . .

Eden Spencer has sworn off men, choosing instead to devote her time to the lending library she runs. When a mountain-sized stranger walks through her door and asks to borrow a book, she steels herself against the attraction he provokes. His halting speech and hesitant manner leave her doubting his intelligence. Yet as the mysteries of the town’s new blacksmith unfold, Eden discovers hidden depths in him that tempt her heart.

Levi’s renewed commitment to his faith leads Eden to believe she’s finally found a man of honor and integrity, a man worthy of her love. But when the truth about his prodigal past comes to light, can this tarnished hero find a way to win back the librarian’s affections?

If you're interested in this latest book, check out a review or order it online. And don't forget to eat one of those delicious muffins while you're reading it.


A summa cum laude graduate with an English Education degree, Naomi Rawlings has been writing inspirational romance for over two years. Her latest completed manuscript, Her Journey’s End, has finaled in several writing competition. Naomi lives in Michigan’s rugged Upper Peninsula with her two young boys and her wonderful husband, who pastors a small church.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Work side-by-side!

One of the best things I've ever learned about child-raising is to do everything together!

From baking bread to washing dishes to making the bed, you name it, Ethan's right in there with me, sleeves rolled up, covered with dough, sopping wet. And he's been doing all of this since he was old enough to walk--perhaps even before that!

So many times I see kids cloistered off in rooms full of toys to "play" all day. "Stay out of the kitchen!" and, "Don't bother Mama - she's busy!" or, "She's too young to do that." Is she really too young? Or are her parents too busy (or stressed) to take the time to show her how to properly use it, or get a little water on the floor while she experiments?

Doing simple household chores with your sons and daughters (rather than playing all day with artificial toys in an artificial environment) not only teaches your children how to learn and follow directions, but it brings them into the partnership of family--a family who wants them, needs them, and most importantly, values their help and support.

In fact, most of the time Ethan would much rather help me in the kitchen than play with any of his toys!

His favorite chores that he begs to do? Washing dishes and cleaning the toilet. Why? Because we work together, step-by-step, side-by-side, while I explain to him every step of the way: "Put the brush in there like that. Good! Now watch, because if the bleach gets on your clothes, it'll stain."

Imagine my husband's surprise when he came home from work one evening and Ethan (two years old) pointed the container and said, "Bleach," and then demostrated--with excited gestures--how to clean the toilet, and begged to do it again!

Does it take me longer to finish our work? YES. Do I occasionally end up with bigger messes than I started with? Absolutely. Working with children is a slow and messy process, often requiring prayers against frustration, high expectations, and a perfect--or even near perfect--end result. But the goal is a good one, and our children are wiser in the end. Not every kid can list, with uncanny accuracy, the igredients to make a cake and demonstrate (by getting out the correct mixing bowl and wooden spoon from the cabinet) how to do it, or know the difference between rinsing and washing dishes and when to do which, or how to scrape the plates after dinner.

Of course there are always precautions: Watch out for hot stoves and hot pans. I put Ethan on a stepladder out of reach while I'm cooking so he can see, and ocasionally stir, but only from a distance, and with close supervision. Be careful with cleaning chemicals and bleach, and let him know these are only for adult use. Also be careful with glass, ceramic, or stoneware plates and cups that can shatter if he drops them. When we wash dishes, I always give Ethan plastic cups and plates or blunt spoons, and make sure the water temperature isn't too hot.

All precautions taken into consideration, there are few things I don't let Ethan help me with. Most kids, even as young as Ethan, can do practically anything with guidance: pushing buttons on a blender, holding the mixer (with help), "helping" to make the bed or put on sheets, cutting vegetables with a butter knife while you chop with a "real" one, putting away her own clothes and shoes into easy-access drawers or shelves, watering plants, kneading bread dough or rolling out cookie dough, helping to sweep and mop the floor, and putting away toys and purses and jackets at the end of the day. I even let Ethan pick up the crumbs under the table after he eats, help me sweep it clean, and then carry the dishes to the sink one by one.

Don't forget to make every activity fun, smile even if you're tired, and HEAP ON the praise! If he makes a mess (unless it's in direct disobedience), don't scold. You want his heart open and willing, not closed-off with criticism. Let him help you clean it up, and cheerfully encourage him to try to keep the water in the sink next time.

I don't like mess any more than the next mom, but I've relaxed a bit with time and realized, "It's just water." Dishes can be replaced. Clothes can be washed, or if they're totally ruined, used for painting smocks. Life goes on. But your child is only young and moldable for a finite amount of time, and now is your teachable moment!

As soon as I finish this post I'll be putting together some baked pasta for dinner, and Ethan will help me grate cheese, pour the white wine, measure the spices, and butter the dish.

And when we eat together with my husband tonight, I'll brag on what a great job Ethan did. Who knows? Maybe a few years from now Ethan will be doing it all himself!

Jennifer Rogers Spinola lives in Brasilia, Brazil with her Brazilian husband, Athos, and two-year-old son, Ethan. She teaches ESL private classes and is the author the "Southern Fried Sushi" series with Barbour Books (first book released in October!) Jenny is an advocate for adoption and loves the outdoors, and has previously served as a missionary to Japan.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Currently Free Kindle Books

by Melissa Jagears

The Whole Life Adoption Book

The Truth about Starting a Business

If you don't have a kindle you can always download Kindle for PC so you can read it for free, or to store them until you do buy a kindle.

*I don't endorse these books, just letting you know they are free for a limited time.

Monday, April 25, 2011

~ So Much 'To Do' Lists... by Desirea Packard ~

I was not always an organizational person by nature. In fact, if you asked my twin, who I shared a room with until we went to college, she would totally agree. I became more organized after I got married and had children. I guess because it wasn't just about me anymore, there were other people who depended on me. Now that I am a more organized person, I make lists. I have several lists, some are covering my desk, some I have lost and then I have to make another list and try to remember what was on the one I lost. Not always the best way to go about it. But it is what it is.

I make a list of things that I would like to accomplish by the end of the week. If I make it for one day, I find myself getting bogged down on what I didn't get finished, so I plan for a week. Of course with that being said, I always find myself adding to it daily. For example, one of the lists I make is not really a list, but a meal plan. Once a month, I sit down and make a list of what's for dinner. This is time consuming, but also very helpful because this way, half of my grocery list is made for the week because I all ready have a list of meals planned. Plus this way, I am not playing the "what's for dinner?" game. I am not perfect at this, it's something that I work hard at because it's much easier. I make a list for things pertaining to my photography work, like editing photos or following up with a client, or ordering prints. I make a list for household things that need to be done like cleaning the bathroom (because I HATE doing it) or dusting. Even though these are things I should do without a list, it's hard for me to do them because cleaning house is not my favorite thing to do. If I am lucky enough, I can call my mom and she does it for me. Lame I know, but a true story. The point is, lists can be very helpful in your everyday life, whether it's for work, your children, your family or your meals, they are a resource in helping you accomplish your goals for the day, week or even months. But remember don't get aggravated with the things you don't get done, just keep working and check off the things that you have done. It's quite rewarding that way especially if you are not having that great of a day as you would like, seeing the things you did accomplish marked off always makes me feel better. I could never manage working at home and keeping the home separate without them!

Friday, April 22, 2011

When Even Spilled Milk is a Gift

There’s a white puddle under my preschooler’s chair, and I’m ready to cry over it.

spilled milk

photo credit: Sylvia Zhang

It’s just one of those days, you know?

Where each roll of dice puts me two steps back on the board game life.

its the game of life. it's tricky and has bumps in the road; but somehow its a game we all love playin.

photo credit: D. Shepard

Lunch is finished, but the remnants are scattered on countertop. Laundry’s clean, but piling high {i can't catch up}. Baby’s fed, but he’s fussy and beyond consolation {he’s fighting his nap}. Sure, my shirt’s spit-up free, but now there’s milk pooling on my freshly mopped floor.

Why can’t he keep the house clean for five minutes? {is that asking too much?}

Thoughts & complaints swarm through my mind like flies.

Why can’t I put on lipstick and fancy shoes for a regular 9-5? I’ll take my hubby’s job and he can stay home.

I groan and sigh and mop and lecture.

“Be careful.” My tone is less than pleasant. {to put it nicely}

I swipe the floor to clean the mess and when I stand up, my son searches my face.

“Mommy happy?” He squints his chocolate browns. His words stop me in my track.

Am I happy? His words prick my conscience. Could I be any happier?

How blessed I am to work from home when many women are not able. How blessed I am to serve these souls God’s entrusted to me. To watch them discover the world and know I’m not missing out. How blessed I am to swipe their messes with my own hands.

Yes, even his messes are a gift! My house nests little hands and feet, and I am called Mama.

Though daily circumstances may leave me feeling unhappy, I must choose to see the blessing. I must choose joy—it’s contagious.

I look into my son’s eyes and make a choice. “Yes lovey. Mommy’s so happy.” I plant a kiss on his forehead and he giggles.

“Mommy happy!” He tilts his head back.

Together we laugh at the gift of spilled milk.

Melanie Brasher is a full-time Mama of two boys. She moonlights as a fiction and freelance writer, crafting articles and stories toward justice and change. She enjoys writing about simple living, raising bicultural kids, and faith in the common. Though she’s an aspiring author, she’ll never quit her day job.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Review of Between a Rock and a Hard Place

by Desirea Packard

Between a Rock and a Hard Place...

I am going to be honest. I have never written a book review before so bear with me.

I am sure we all have felt like we have been stuck between a rock and a hard place, but Aron Ralston actually was. This is a true story about the journey of his life through rock climbing and the hardships he endured doing something he loved.

This book was hard for me to read, but I'm glad I finished it. Through out the book, the author tells what he remembers while being stuck under a boulder that fell on his arm while rock climbing. He video tapes as he goes days and days being stuck. The realization is sinking in that he may not make it out alive, but he for some reason doesn't give up. He isn't married and has no kids, just a mom, dad, and sister whom he loves. He tries to get comfortable and ration his food and drink, but he eventually runs out and is forced to drink his own urine, which for me would be impossible even for survival I think. But his future desires of a wife and children keep him going. He knows that God has bigger plan for him and he doesn't give up.

In the end he cuts off his own arm, which again would probably be impossible for me to do. But he wanted to live. The pictures in the book are actual photos that he took while being trapped. Some are graphic, but they really portray what he went through. In a situation like this, you discover what is really important to you and probably even find some peace on where you are heading.

In the end the author gets all those things. He is married and has a little boy. He doesn't give up on rock climbing. He is just more careful. They also made a movie about it called 127 hours. I felt the book was much better.

If you want this kind of read, its a quiet time, cup of coffee, sitting alone, enjoyable read. The book makes you rethink some of the things that may need to change in your own life. Sometimes God does things like that for us. He sticks us between a rock and a hard place to help us and mold us into the people He wants us to be. For Aron God did this literally.

Hope you enjoy the book.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cultivating Encouragement

By Doula Brandi

Spring is here and it’s time to think about tilling, planting and keeping a garden. Cultivating a garden is no small task. The rewards in summer & fall more than outweigh the work involved. The same can be said about our personal lives, planting and keeping the right attitude makes all the difference in our families.

Encouragement is one area that I need to sow more seeds! I remember hearing my Grandmother’s admonishment that I would “reap what I sowed”. We’ve all heard or read it hundreds of times through our lives usually in a negative connotation. But the idea applies positively as well or even more so! The principle still remains, as rock solid as the law of gravity. Sowing seeds of encouragement is a wonderful way of reaping a bountiful crop when times get tough for you.

To get started we must prepare our spiritual ‘garden’ by preparing the soil and planting those seeds. We have to have a good foundation of what encouragement is in order to develop those qualities. Merriam-Webster defines “encourage” as to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope. In the case of a follower of the Messiah, that means reading His words and using the principles found within the Bible as our foundation, or fertilizer you could say. I like to print our encouraging Scriptures or ideas on paper and post them around the house. These are tangible reminders to me and the children about treating each others in an uplifting and encouraging manner.

Simple ways to sow seed are to share encouraging words with others. I have a friend who likes to send me messages wishing me a great day or sharing how she admires something that I have done. This is so uplifting to me! Her words have made the difference to me on more than one occasion! The best soil to sow into would be that of our children. Children are like a freshly plowed virgin field, fertile, without being packed down by the world. Sharing encouraging words, Scripture, and acts of love go a long way in sowing a lifelong crop in our little ones.

The best way to be encouraged yourself is to help encourage another. Another old adage “give and you shall receive” applies here! Listening with a compassionate ear, offering an understanding hug, without trying to “fix” the person can all fit under the umbrella of encouragement. It’s called giving hope. We all go through dark times and having the right sort of uplifting friends and family members can make all the difference in the world in the duration and outcome of those dark times. Work at home moms are no exception. Sometimes we may be in the position to need more encouragement if we are not interacting with others on a daily basis.

Everyone needs encouragement; your friend who seems to always have it together, a family member who lost a job, and the check-out person at the local store. That’s one of the best things about encouragement; you can give it away, even to total strangers!

Be encouraged; sow some seeds into the lives of those you meet today.
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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Recipe ~ Breakfast Muffins Anytime

by Cherilyn David

Definitely read the whole recipe before you start.
Definitely make it your own and add and subtract for personality!


In a pan on medium heat:

3/4c diced onion
1tsp capers
1/4c red wine
1/4c butter or margarine
1tsp minced garlic
(add water to steam as needed while cooking)

In a bowl:

2 eggs
1/2c egg whites
1/2c chopped fresh spinach
1/4c milk
1/4c diced scallions
1/2c water

In another bowl:

1 1/2c flour
1 1/2tsp baking powder
1/4c powdered sugar
1tsp salt
1tsp pepper


frozen shredded hash browns
shredded cheese of your choosing
sliced fresh mushrooms

Watching your pan... spray/grease a 12-count muffin pan. Sprinkle just a layer of shredded hash browns at each cup bottom. Then place 2 or 3 mushrooms atop that.

*You could then layer chopped spinach on top of that INSTEAD of adding spinach to your egg bowl, your choice.

So you have a wet (egg) bowl and a dry (flour) bowl essentially. First focus on just sauteing your onion, caper mixture and then add that to your 'wet' bowl. Add flour mixture (dry) while whisking, until mixed well, not quite a dough consistency.

Now you just have your bowl of everything, your waiting muffin pan and your grated cheese nearby. Right?

Spoon mixture into muffin pan, should fill each cup over hash browns and mushrooms.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes and then start checking. Bake a couple more minutes and check again, do this again and again until almost done. Top with cheese, turn off oven and leave in for another couple minutes.

An oven safe bowl of water in the oven will create steam to keep muffins moist and help melt cheese.

A variety of sauces go great with this!!

Plan B: Lots of room for variety here. Any vegetables would be a great addition, avocado garnish, add some cheese to pre-bake mixture, meat?? The options are limitless.

Inside joke: My first try at these I accidentally mistook my powdered sugar for flour. They came out more like spinach-egg-potato-mushroom donuts, but still a hit!! That's when I added a little powdered sugar to the recipe!! :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Masquerade Marriage Book Giveaway

Our winner for Masquerade Marriage by Author Anne Greene is Sandi Rog. Congratulations Sandi, and enjoy your book.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Code Word: Annoying

by Melissa Jagears

So my post today is to let you in on a little secret. Your children will annoy you.

Oh, that isn't news to you?

Ok, so it's not that they can annoy you, but I recently stumbled onto the meaning behind why my children getting infuriatingly annoying. It means, "Mommy, I really need you to love on me."

And the more they need my affection, feel neglected, or feel second to whatever I'm giving higher priority to, the more annoying they get. Which just makes me want to tear my hair out because it makes it harder to accomplish whatever it is I'm trying to accomplish.

So, now, if the word "annoying" ever crosses my mind about my child, I'm making a concentrated effort to stop doing whatever it is --chores, work, paying attention to the other child--as soon as possible and give my "annoying" child some one-on-one attention. Not even necessarily a huge chunk of individual time, but definitely a one-on-one-you're-special block of time like coloring a page with them or blowing on their tummy for a few minutes.

And amazingly, the annoying behaviors decrease.

So, from now on, if the word "annoying" pops into my head, I'm using it as a code word for myself--to assess if I've gotten my priorities screwed up and haven't spent enough time with my child.

If your kids are annoying you, I'd challenge you to check your child's love=time meter.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

ACFW 2011 Genesis Contest Semi-Finalists Announcement!

I'm excited and thrilled to announce that Making Home Work's own Naomi Rawlings, Melissa Jagears, and Joy Malik are among the semi-finalists in the ACFW 2011 Genesis Contest!

Congratulations to all the Genesis semi-finalists, but these three are close to my heart. Naomi and Melissa entered their work to the Historical Romance category, Melissa double-finaling with two entries, and Joy finaled in the Contemporary Fiction category.

Congratulations to three extremely talented young women--so very proud of you!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Interview with Author Anne Greene: Business

by Naomi Rawlings

I'd like to welcome author Anne Greene to our blog. Anne was with us on Monday as well, giving advice on working from home. Leave a comment with your email address below to win a copy of Anne's most recent book, Masquerade Marriage.

What was the best time management principle you use that helps you work while your kids were around?

Never look at an email twice. That means handle whatever comes in when it comes in.

How did you entertain your children while working at home?

I love to play games. We played games a lot. I love the outdoors. We spent a good deal of time at parks and zoos and campgrounds. I only wrote when they were sleeping, at school, or at a friend’s house. We traveled together in a twenty-nine foot trailer and stayed at military bases. We did a good bit of historical research when we travelled. I took pictures and made notes. We played tennis and golf. And read good books. All my children love to read. We went to Church, Awana, and Boy Scouts. When they attended church camps I had a whole week to write.

Are there times you regretted working from home? How did you deal with those feelings?

The only thing I regretted from working at home was not getting a pay check. I totally enjoyed my children in the short eighteen-nineteen years they were with me daily. We only have one shot with our children and we need to make the most of that time. When the children skipped off to college, I did too, and graduated the same year as my daughter. I could have chosen a career outside the home at that time. I didn’t. I dove headlong into writing full time and have never regretted my decision.

How did you arrange the physical space in your house so that you have a place to work?

When my kids were napping age, I worked in the bathroom, sitting on a kitchen chair. Later, in a slightly larger home, I set up at the dining room table. Then, in my next home, I had a small room to myself. Now, with all four children scattered to different places I have a large room I share with our pool table. My desk overlooks the upstairs porch and the golf course. My paints, easel, and canvas take up one end of the room. My desk, computer, printer, and reading couch take up the other end. When people want to play pool I gather up all my books, files, and papers from the pool table and we play. It’s pretty ideal.

Did you find times when your work suffered because of your family or vice versa?

When my children were growing up, my work was secondary. I don’t think it suffered, it was the joy and reward I gave myself after caring for my children.

How many hours a day do you work from home?

Now, I usually work six to eight hours a day, and often on Saturday.

Do you have a schedule and always work at the same time every day, or is your work time random and haphazard? Why?

I schedule the work time each day to be six to eight hours. I do my Bible time, exercise, cleaning, cooking, and errands early in the morning and try to get to my desk by ten or eleven. I never stop work before six, except on the two days I have choir. If I have a social or work engagement, I just get to my desk later in the day and work until eleven at night. My brain turns off at eleven pm. I am not a fast writer. Probably on a scale of writers, I would come in near the bottom in terms of speed, so I do put in long hours. It’s hard in the summer when I would rather go out and play.

What's your single, favorite aspect of working from home?

Freedom! I set my own hours to work and to play. If a friend calls, I’m free to talk. If I need more time with the Lord, I’m free to take that time. If I want to work in my pjs, I’m free to wear my pjs. If I want to eat at my desk, I can. If I want to take a walk, I can. If I want to go into my husband’s study and give him a kiss, I can. If I want to go somewhere exciting, I can. The only thing that keeps me at my desk is my passion to write. I love working from home.

About Anne:

ANNE GREENE delights in writing about wounded heroes and gutsy heroines. She writes both historical and suspense novels. After falling in love with several countries and their people, Anne set a number of her books in exotic locations. She and her hero husband, Army Special Forces Colonel Larry Greene, have visited twenty-five countries, including three communist countries. A visit to Scotland resulted in her newest book release, Masquerade Marriage, published by White Rose Publishing. When she’s not deployed with her husband, Anne makes her home in McKinney, Texas. Two of her four children live nearby. Tim LaHaye led her to the Lord when she was twenty-one and Chuck Swindoll is her Pastor. In 1990, Anne graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Literary Studies from the University of Texas, Dallas. Her highest hope is that her stories transport the reader to an awesome new world and touch hearts to seek a deeper spiritual relationship with the Lord Jesus. To learn more of Anne and to view pictures from her extensive travel, visit her at

About Masquerade Marriage:

A SECRET LIST... To protect his loved ones and escape the dark fate of his brothers, a noted warrior abandons his identity. Hiding from relentless soldiers who want him dead, Brody MacCaulay vows to protect the woman he loves more than life, more than freedom, more than Scotland. But his presence throws her into danger. A VOW HONORED... To escape an arranged marriage to an abusive noble, a Lowland Lady weds a stranger to save his life. But vows spoken do not make a marriage, especially when Megan MacMurry holds a different love inside her heart. A SACRIFICE MADE... Outlawed, and with a price on his head, Brody condemns himself to a life of heartbreak without Megan. Wanting her desperately, knowing he can't have her, he heads alone to certain death...