Thursday, June 30, 2011

An Interview with Author Trish Perry

Hello everyone. I'd like to introduce you to award-winning novelist, Trish Perry. We're happy to have you here with us at the Making Home Work Blog, Trish!

Trish resides in Northern Virginia, has a son in college, a daughter and son-in-law, and a grandson. She has written nine inspirational romances for Harvest House Publishers, Summerside Press, and Barbour Publishing, as well as two devotionals for Sumerside Press. Trish has served as a columnist and as a newsletter editor over the years, as well as a 1980s stockbroker and a board member of the Capital Christian Writers organization in Washington, D.C. She holds degree in Psychology.

Thanks for taking time to share some of your writing and personal life with us.

How did you begin your journey into writing, Trish?

I was working on my degree in Psychology when I discovered my favorite part of the pursuit was when I had a writing assignment. I got positive feedback on my writing from various professors, so I took several creative writing courses within my degree. By the time I was due to enroll in grad school, I decided to take a few years off and just write and submit. I loved it so much, I never went back fo that grad degree!

Well, one thing is for certain--it turned out that you didn't need that grad degree! But were there any major roadblocks along the way to a successful writing career?

Yes, indeed there were roadblocks, but they weren't really writing related, just life related. Most significant was the dissolution of my marriage, during which time I had a couple of novels due, as well as all of the heartache and headache inherent in finding a new home, moving, tending to my son's broken heart, working with attorneys, ugh! Only the Lord got me and my son through that time. He truly blessed us.

Your open sharing of the answer to that question will touch more than a few hearts with hope. Your faith in the Lord to bring you through those difficult times shines through you writing, Trish. I love how you subtly weave faith through your novels. Has that been easy for you to do?

It does come naturally to incorporate faith into my characters' stories, because I can't imagine people getting to the other side of trials without His help. When I was studying Psychology, I realized I couldn't foresee guiding clients beyond a certain point of healing without bringing God into the equation. And I experience the same thing with my characters.

Do you carefully plot out your novels, or are you a seat-of-the-pants writer?

Re plotting versus seat-of-the-pants writing, I'm mostly a plotter. I follow the guidance of some of my favorite teachers--James Scott Bell, Terri Blackstock, and Michael Hague--and craft about five specific plot points when I first put my story ideas together. And then I fill in as many chapter ideas as I can before I feel I need a break from planning. Then I dive in and write until more plot ideas fall into place. So I'm a bit of a mutt--half plotter, half pantser.

Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert, and how do you think it affects your writing?

On personality tests I always test as an extrovert, and I really love getting together with people. They fascinate me, which is how my extroversion affects my writing. (it's also why I originally planned to be a psychological counselor). Still, I find socializing on a larger, more formal scale somewhat draining, and I always need some "alone time" to keep from feeling stressed. I seldom share a room at conferences for just that reason. The fact that I crave my alone time, though, is a big plus as a writer--one of the more solitary careers out there!

Can you share a little history on your series, Tea with Millicent (The Perfect Blend, 2010, Harvest House Publishers, and Tea for Two, 2011 Harvest House Publishers)?

My editor at Harvest House called me several years ago and asked what I thought of the idea of setting a novel series around a tea shop. Harvest's gift tea books have always been very popular, so the theory was that people would enjoy such a setting for a series. I thought it was a terrific idea, and I decided to place the tea shop in Middleburg, which is a beautiful little historic village not terribly far from me.

Will there be more than two books in the series?

We've only done two books in the series so far, and I don't know if we'll do more. But I know there are plenty of other fun stories that could pass through Milly's tea shop! Reader demand will probably dictate the future of the series.

In Tea for Two, I was fascinated by the scene where your main character, Tina, advises her client's teenage daughter on "reading" boys and their intentions--vitally important infomation for every young girl to know. Was the advice drawn from your study of psychology, and what moved you to write it into the story?

As with so much of what I write, I think God just put the words in my head. Sometimes my characters say things that fit the moment in a scene, and then I look back and think, Wow, that makes a lot of sense! LOL! As a teen I was more like Sherry, the girl Tina is counseling, than I like to remember--pretty clueless about the struggles boys and men can have with their drives. I think my Psych study did affect the way Tina broached the subject with Sherry. She didn't lecture the girl. That seldom works. Rather, she asked Sherry what she thought and acted as if Sherry already understood a few of the things she needed to know. It's far easier to accept advice when it's presented with that kind of respect.

Here's a blurb about Tea for Two.

Zack Cooper tries his best to raise his children, but he's losing his grip on them in their teen years. They've both had scrapes with the local law.

Tea Shop owner Milly Jewel has the perfect woman in mind to help Zack. Counselor Tina Milano meets weekly at the tea shop with her women's group. Milly encourages Zack and Tina to work together to draw the teens back before they get in even hotter water. Milly never thought things might heat up between Zack and Tina, Or did she?

Tina's connections with the Middleburg police department prove a mixed blessing for Zack and his kids. Both her best friend and old boyfriend are officers on the force.

And when Tina's women's group gets wind of her personal pursuits and clashes, they want to help. The group's meetings at the tea shop take on a slightly different flavor. Tina wonders who, exactly is counseling whom.

Thanks, Trish, for giving us these glimpses of yourself and your writing life. We're looking forward to reading the balance of the interview.

I learned that this multi-talented author has written more than just romance. Tomorrow I'll ask Trish about any funny or strange incidents that might have happened as she wrote any of her novels. Her answer just may give you chill bumps like it did me!

And to top off her visit, can you withstand the temptation of a chocolate to-totally-expire-for recipe? Trish will share a good one with us--including a photo of the finished delectable dessert she makes.

Trish invites you to visit her at:

See you in the morning!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Review: "Just Do Something"

Subtitled "OR How To Make A Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Impressions, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing In The Sky, Etc."

Amy, a missionary friend of mine, first piqued my interest with this book about a year ago when she reviewed it on Facebook. She mentioned that she found the premise--"just do something"--liberating as a Christian woman who has always struggled with knowing God's will and feeling paralyzed about it.

As soon as I read her post, I felt an instant kinship, because I've always had trouble with making decisions. Every major choice in my life--from which college to go to and which major to choose, serving as a missionary, to knowing where to go once I'd committed to serving(Japan or Brazil?), to deciding which guy was right to develop a relationship with or marry (!) has always caused anguish, sleepless nights, and lots of tears.

I should known by the impressively goofy cover (a guy in plaid chucking horseshoes) that the style of the author would be light-hearted and easy to read, but the clearly written text and brevity of "Just Do Something"--plus the foreward by someone as well-known and fairly orthodox as Joshua Harris--made this book a surprising read.

I think I devoured it all in one sitting.

The main premise of author Kevin DeYoung, senior pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan, is that sometimes Christians try too hard to uncover a will of God that we think must be cryptic, hidden, and dreadfully difficult to discover. And instead of simply making good choices and "do(ing) the hard work of seeing those choices through," DeYoung suggests that we rely on other more ephemeral means like dreams, visions, signs, or "feelings."

The book is organized with ten short, punchy chapters with titles like, "Our Magic 8-Ball God," and "Weork, Wedlock, and God's Will" -- which kept me turning pages one right after another. I especially liked DeYoung's comments and interviews with his grandfather, whose generation raised him with quite a different approach to life and finding God's will, and didn't "hyper-spiritualize his every move." It definitely caused me to stop and consider where my own set of "finding God's will" beliefs came from--from Scripture? From the churches I was raised in? From my own thoughts about spirituality? A mix of them all?

The book was far from being staunchly literal, and suggesting that God does not speak through signs or dreams, and the author assures us that God indeed does work this way, both in Scripture and our lives today. I was also pleased to see that the author didn't denigrate other beliefs or spiritual activities (like dreams, visions, or putting out fleeces), and he also included viewpoints that were quite different for his.

In the end, I found "Just Do Something" to be a liberating book--like my friend Amy did--and one that has stayed in my mind for months since I first read it. Even if it's not your cup of tea or you think differently than DeYoung, I'd definitely recommend it as a bouncing-off point for focusing your thoughts and beliefs and considering another perspective.

For me, this will definitely be one of those (few) books that will make the journey from Brazil when we transition back to the U.S.

Jennifer Rogers Spinola lives in Brasilia, Brazil with her Brazilian husband, Athos, and two-year-old son, Ethan. She never in her wildest dreams thought she'd spend seven years in South America. Jenny teaches ESL private classes and is the author of Barbour Books' "Southern Fried Sushi" series (first book released in October!) and an upcoming romance novella collection based on Yellowstone National Park (also with Barbour Books).

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Our June Successes

Whether big or small, we'd like to hear about what you've done this month. Have you reached any goals at home? Had any opportunities that opened up work wise?

I've had an incredible month. After almost three years of writing novels, I sold a manuscript! (Okay, technically my agent sold the story, but close enough.) My debut novel will release next April with Love Inspired Historical. I'm very excited to see all my hours at the computer generate a little income!

How about you? Tell us what successes you've had this month. We want to celebrate with you as well.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Review of Two Sides of Wilde.

Two Sides of Wilde by Cherilyn G. Fienen...

This book is so brilliantly written that it kept my attention through the entire story and I had a hard time putting it down. Amelia Hiller is the mother of twin boys named Ryan and Henry. She is unmarried and lives with her father who is a widower and has done nothing but help her raise these two boys. Both boys have different personalities, but are both very sweet. When Ryan's behavior unexpectedly changes, Amelia worries if it's just him changing or if there is something else drastically wrong. She just knew this wasn't the same sweet little boy she has been raising. In the midst of this, she starts "dating" but not dating this man who seems to really care about her and these boys. She doesn't start out really wanting a relationship, she is happy with their current situation and has been burned once before and has no desire to be burned again.
As time goes on, she realizes she has some hard decisions to make especially when it comes to Ryan. It's a life or death situation and although it's hard, she swallows her pride and does what she said she would never do. She goes to find the dad of the two boys. When he doesn't come through, she has to realize that there may be nothing that will save her little boy. Or is there?

This book has a great surprise ending that I didn't see coming. It's a fast read and an enjoyable one. Hope you all take the time to read it. You will be glad that you did. Enjoy.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Aunt Polly's Granola

I should probably confess at the outset of my first recipe submission to this blog that I don't particular like to cook. I enjoy feeding my family, yes, but the planning, preparation, cleaning up and making of meals is not something I would willing do. But that doesn't mean I want to feed my family processed foods. Which means I must needs cook.

One thing that used to scare the beejeebies out of me was making homemade granola. For some reason, it seemed complicated and way too time consuming. But then a friend gave me this recipe and I saw how easy it was, well, we've been eating homemade granola and loving it.

This recipe doubles exceptionally well--I always make a double batch. You can freeze half in a zipper-type plastic bag or simply store it in a glass jar (I use the gallon pickle jars, after washing well to eliminate the pickle odors). I love it with plain yogurt in the mornings for a hearty breakfast of homemade goodness.

Aunt Polly's Granola

Preheat oven to 400°.
Butter or spray with cooking spray a 9X13 jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with edge). If doubling, use two.

5 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup pecan pieces or coarsely chop pecan halves
1 cup whole almonds, chopped coarsely with a knife
1 tatblespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup oil (I use olive oil, but vegetable or other oils would work, too)
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoon water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup dried cranberries 

Mix the oats, nuts, and cinnamon.  Heat the oil and honey together.  Add the brown sugar mixed with water to the oil and honey.  Pour this over the oat mixture  and  mix well to coat evenly. Place the granola into the pan.

Bake @ 400° for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes until golden.
Remove from oven and stir in the dried cranberries.  Cool and store in airtight container.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Can I Live on One Income?

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I took a temporary secretary position since we had just moved and I knew I was going to quit to stay home. When I was packing up to say goodbye to the bunch of engineers I worked for, many of the men asked me when I was coming back, and they were actually surprised to find out I wasn't.

My shock was that my co-workers thought it would be financially feasible for a mother of a newborn to come back to a barely over minimum wage job. But their constant questioning made me write it all out.

$8/hr for 40 hrs/wk= about $250 in take home pay

-$20, $4 gas each day
-$5 wear and tear on car, more frequent oil changes, etc.
-$150 (the cheapest baby sitting service in the area)
-$15 brown bag lunches for the week that would be over what I would normally purchase if I ate leftovers
-$5 for approximate replacement clothing from extra wear
-$5 for the candy jar/donuts/sponsor my child/birthday chip-ins
-$15 disposable diapers for the sitter (since I intended to cloth diaper)
-$10 formula (since I intended to breastfeed)
[-$25 tithe (or more if you do off gross)]

Total money made=$0 ($25 if you don't tithe)

Yep, that's right, a big goose egg. And I'm not even eating out for lunch, and I'd probably go through more diapers and formula then I allotted, and who knows what other incidentals.

Did working 40 hours a week and handing my baby to someone else for no money sound attractive? Nope.

But how can you know if you can actually swing living on one income? I'd advise you to do what I did. I worked my entire pregnancy and spent none of the money on living expenses. We practiced living on one income while we had two.

My husband recently encouraged a coworker to do the same thing. She noticed that the discipline problems her children exhibited went away when she was home on extended vacation. But could she live on one income--they barely made it on two? (Of course, I wonder if she figured out how much of that second income paid for her to obtain a second income.)

She took his advice, and for 6 months, she used her income for needs like daycare/work costs that would disappear entirely once she quit but didn't touch the rest and set up a budget working solely off of her husband's income.

The great thing about practicing is if you fail, you've got that secondary income for a safety net and you're creating one in savings for when you leave. Once you have figured out what you need to do to stay away from dipping into that second income, you are ready to quit practicing and do it for real.

So do you think it's impossible to live off one income and work at home? I'd encourage you to:
1) Count up the cost of work--Is it really worth it?
2) Practice living it.
3) Quit work and stay home knowing now you can do it.

I did it. My husband's co-worker did it. I bet you can do it too.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Run With Their Imagination

About three or four times a day, my four year old sneaks up to me, puts his mouth to my ear, and whispers,

“Mommy, can we play a game where I am Sonic the Hedgehog, 
and you are my Sonic the Hedgehog mommy?” 

The character always changes, depending on what he saw on t.v., or what toy he is playing with. I think I have been a monster truck mommy, a lego man mommy, and even an Angry Bird mommy!

But the craziest thing about it, is he doesn't expect me to do anything. I just answer, “yes”, and he walks away happy as can be.

He will also ask,

“Can we play it every day and every night?”

So, I suppose, in his mind, we are morphed into those characters, and go about our daily business, with the secret identities he has imposed.


I have spent a long time contemplating this. Does he think I am too busy to actually play the imaginary game with him? Or, does he want to share a unique secret with a mama who has been pulled by four different kids these past months? Or, am I just making it a bigger deal than it is, and I should just write it down as a cute little thing he did every day for much of his 5th year of life?

Whatever it is, I have discovered some nuggets out of our quick interchange, and would like to share them with all those busy mamas out there:

Nugget 1: Spur their imagination. My four year old is opening the door for me to help spur his imagination even further. What if the Sonic the Hedgehog mommy made her little Sonic, a special hedgehog treat? Or what if I continued the conversation, and asked him, “What does our Sonic the Hedgehog house look like?

Nugget 2: Fully engage. Instead of just saying “yes” and going on with my chores, what if I allowed my child to grow his imagination throughout the day, by actively participating in the scenario? A friend once told me that she set aside an hour each day, and dedicated it to whatever her child chose to do. She would participate in coloring, legos, swinging, even a movie, but fully engage with her child. So many times I get caught up in what needs to get done, or what I want to do, and miss opportunities to spend quality time with my children...leading me to my next nugget:

Nugget 3: Making memories. I don't want his sayings to just be forgotten words that I remind him about when he is older. I want him to have vivid memories of the time “Mom played Sonic with me, or the crazy fort we made because I wanted to be a secret spy.” Is my life so crazy, that I don't value the present, decorating a shadow box for future reminiscing?

Next time he asks me to be a fictional mommy, I am going to look at these nuggets and remember to live in the present, spurring on my children's imagination, fully engaged, and making memories along the way.

What ways do you minimize missed opportunities while you Make Home Work?

Monday, June 20, 2011

'Meant To Be'

It’s hard to be encouraging sometimes. I think sometimes when we ourselves need encouragement, is when we have the hardest time handing it out. Encouragement takes energy, as does happiness, anxiety, motivation and even depression. They are all different types of energy and when you don’t even have any of your own, in the ‘good’ energy bucket, you simply have none to give.

I thought I would address those down times and to make it even more specific, how to encourage ourselves in times of loss. I don’t mean a death necessarily, but losses that we suffer at the hands of others, whether deserved, legitimate, necessary or just plain ugly. Sometimes we lose a friend and not only have we lost that friend, but that friend’s actions have been hurtful as well. We lose jobs, perhaps in our opinion, at the hands of a coworker or a client. Relationships, whether casual or committed, cause us to lose ourselves again and again. We lose people, we lose self confidence, we lose focus and we lose that picture in our heads of how things are supposed to be, how things are supposed to happen.

I’m no good at receiving encouragement. The typical clichés are lost on me, because I have usually so over analyzed the situation, from every angle, I have a counter argument for everything under the sun. We do this, because when things are still raw, we don’t want to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Now that I have bad mouthed the clichés, here’s my spin on ‘meant to be.’ I hate that. It was meant to be, when a door closes, a window opens, the silver lining, blah, blah, blah. When I say ‘meant to be,’ here’s what I mean…

We all have choices. Sometimes we make the right choices, sometimes we don’t, sometimes it isn’t clearly either one. The people who hurt us have choices too! This means our friends, our family, our coworkers, our bosses, our neighbors and our partners. So, when someone does not choose you, put you first, fight for you, make you a priority, recognize your worth…then your connection to them, whatever your relationship…can it really be successful? Would the dissolution or conflict not have come eventually? You may have nothing to do with that decision! Nothing.

The choices unfold and there are those that include you as a priority and those that do not.
You can cling with steadfast resolve to your end of the rope, but you have no control over the other end. When someone ‘leaves us hanging,’ leaves us wondering what happened; Nothing happened on our end! Since I’ve wrapped my head around this, it has so helped me to be responsible for me and focus on my actions and spend less time mourning the decisions others make. Of course I didn’t say no time, but less, significantly less.

Imagine you’ve misplaced a savings bond and you are searching and searching, so upset that you have lost something valuable, something important to you. Then the bank calls and it turns out, that was just a copy, a useless piece of paper, not valuable at all. Relief.

I know, people and relationships cannot be compared to savings bonds. But the fact is, we are upset because we have lost something of value to us. But once we realize the company, the friend, the partner, did not place as high a value on us, it is easier to stomach the loss, to demand better, to go out and find more.

I encourage anyone reading this to think of something weighing heavy on your heart right now. Remember some time in your life, where you have been disappointed, let down, thrown away. Why would you long for a seat, at the bottom of someone’s priorities?

Now think of a time when you have been valued, cherished, loved. YOU KNOW HOW THAT FEELS! You also know how it doesn’t. :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Recipe~Heart Attack on a Stick

This should be a funny post, since I am a vegetarian, but alas this was not always the case and so here is the proof! :)

This is actually a recipe for two appetizers, both bearing the same name and both for bacon lovers, a group of which I was once a card carrying member! Both are quick and easy, if you don't mind handling greasy, raw bacon.

Heart Attack on a Stick/Water Chestnuts


1 can WHOLE water chesnuts
1 pkg bacon
wooden toothpicks, 1 per water chestnut (NOT with colorful plastic on top)

Do you see where I am going already?? That's right. Wrap bacon around water chesnut and secure with a toothpick! Whew! That was complicated.

There are a couple options for cooking. These can be microwaved, but it creates a lot of grease. I usually place SEVERAL paper towels on a plate and fit as many as I can on it, start at 5 minutes and then see where we are. The thickness of the bacon and each chestnut and how lean the bacon is, means not all will cook in the same period of time, but fast nonetheless.

Now, if you have the time, oven baking is healthier, creates a better taste and the bacon cooks nicely, ending up snug around the water chestnut. This I would do on a broiler pan so the grease can drip, about 300 degrees and just watch until they look done.

Want to go the extra mile? Add some color? Toothpicks are long enough to add one additional item... a slice of cherry tomato, zucchini, cheese!! These items can be added before, during or after, depending on how well you want them cooked.

Want to go crazy? Forget the toothpicks! Use disposable wooden scewers and throw all kinds of things on there for a kabob effect!

Heart Attack on a Stick/Breadsticks


1 pkg bacon
1 pkg sesame seed breadsticks (these are hard, like you might have with a salad, not doughy, not soft, about a centimeter thick)
grated parmesan cheese, artificial works best

Wrap each stick in bacon and lay on a broiler pan, or something that will allow for grease to drip. When pan is full, bake as indicated above, just watching for bacon to be cooked fully. When these are done, much of the grease has soaked into the breadsticks, but not enough to make them too soft. Then sprinkle with parmesan on both sides or roll in parmesan. The saturated sticks will absorb the cheese as well. Yum!

Both of these are great for finger foods, sporting events, picnics. Nothing fancy, but oh soooo good!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Striking a balance

Sometimes, I give myself permission to be slack.

My life is crazy, hectic, wonderfully full. In addition to working a full-time job (with an hour-long commute each way), I write from home, wrangling my Regency-era characters into finding their happily-ever-afters. And then there’s my family, my husband and my three-year-old daughter. Add to this the usual demands of the home…laundry, dusting, vacuuming, scrubbing toilets, etc. (I would add cooking to that list, but I’m blessed that my hubby takes care of that for me!)

Regardless of whether we work from home, or outside of the home, or both, we all have obligations—ones that can quickly become overwhelming depending on what’s going on in our lives. I usually find that as soon as I tackle the never-ending mountain of laundry, something crazy happens and I might let it pile up for a day or so…then I’m back where I started.

In the past, I’d really let that kind of stuff get me down. I’d start thinking about how I must be the worst wife and mother in the world because it had been too long since I’d dusted the baseboards in the house. Once the guilt started piling on, I’d morph into SuperMom mode.

As SuperMom, my mantra was that I was going to get everything done even if it killed me.

It never did kill me, but those moments of single-minded determination did hurt me in other ways.

In an effort to clean the hampers out or reorganize the pantry, I would stress myself out and deny myself the things that truly make me happy—spending time with my family, reading, relaxing, etc.

I don’t pretend to know what works for every mom, but I just wanted to share how I keep myself from going crazy. A little secret that’s not really so much a secret.

I stop beating myself up. I decide to watch Beauty and the Beast for the 50th time with my daughter instead of doing some menial chore that could wait an hour or two. I hide in my bedroom and read a book. Instead of stressing out when my husband and daughter make a wreck of the kitchen while they try to bake muffins, I laugh. And I’m reminded how rejuvenating it is to relax.

Because somewhere, in the quest to be a domestic diva, I forgot the importance of my home being a haven and a place of rest…and not just another set of items on my to-do list.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Home Remedies and Natural Cures for the Common Cold

Are you one to run for the medicine cabinet the second some sniffles start? Before you hit that next bottle of Tylenol Cold and Flu, try a few home remedies. You may be surprised how well they work.
Take a Natural Antiviral. Garlic and grapefruit seed extract both have antiviral and antibacterial agents. Try mincing a clove of garlic and swallowing it every two hours. If you get grapefruit seed extract in liquid form, you can slip some into your children's orange juice. But be warned, the stuff tastes wretched.
Take Vitamin C. Already taking it? Swallow more. Try upping your dose to at least 8000mg per day. Megadoses of Vitamin C can cure cold and flu symptoms. (When given intravenously, vitamin C as even been effective in killing cancer cells. That's how strong this stuff is.) Personally, I take 1000mg of Vitamin C about six times a day. This dosage is six times stronger than the recommended daily dose of 1000mg. Vitamin C isn't one of those things you can take to much of. However much of the vitamin you can force yourself to swallow, do it.
Jump on a trampoline. Yes, I'm serious. Jumping on a trampoline uses gravity to drain your lymph nodes and even your ears. This doesn't serve as an instant cure-all for your stuffy head, but it will bring temporary relief. As soon as you feel your ears begin to clog, start jumping on one of those little jogging trampolines. I jump several times a day for about fifty times per set.
Take honey for a cough. Believe it or not, my pediatrician is the one who recommends this treatment. She claims studies show that one teaspoon of honey three times per day is more effective than the cough medication on the market. While I don't claim to be a bio-statistician and understand how all these medical studies work, the practical side of me realizes that using honey is a lot cheaper! Plus getting a four year old to swallow honey is a lot easier than pouring cough syrup down his throat.
I hope you find these little tips useful the next time a cold arrives.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Grandma's Easy Chocolate Chip Fudge

OK, I'm not really much of a fudge person since it (1) usually takes too long to make and (2) is too sweet for me, but while visiting my grandma in the U.S. recently, she let me try a bite. It was WONDERFUL! And I couldn't believe it when I saw her super-easy recipe.

If I had access to chocolate chips in Brazil, I'd love to make this for everything: Christmas, birthdays, you name it. I might experiment with bar chocolate and see if that works. Delicious!


1 can sweetened condensed milk
12 oz chocolate chips

Microwave on high for 1 or 1 1/2 minutes or until chocolate chips melt when stirred. Stir in:

1/2 cup nuts, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla

Pour into a buttered 8"-square pan and cool. Cut into squares.

That's it! Could it be any easier?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lessons From Russia Ball

There’s a game I played often as a child called Russia Ball. You could play by yourself or with friends. The basic game followed a set of 10 tasks, such as throwing up the ball and clapping three times before catching it, that the player completed in order. You added an extra bounce with each of the tasks to make it harder.

For Russia Ball, adding bounces of the ball to the various tasks often resulted in wild misses and gales of laughter. In our own lives, we sometimes add too much and the resulting mess is nothing at which to laugh.

At the end of the day, I often wonder how so many things conspired to go wrong or at least not the way I had planned. Most times, I can trace it back to my making things unnecessarily complicated. Kind of like adding to many bounces to the Russia Ball game when you should just stick to the basics.

Monday was a prime example of that. I had my lengthy to-do list for the day and knew what I thought I needed to accomplish. Then one of my daughters needed to go to the doctor, and we all know what a big chunk of the day that will take. In my case, it took two hours plus: travel to and from doctor’s office, wait time at doctor’s office, office visit with doctor, wait for prescription from doctor, delivery of child to school and chat with school nurse about medication, and stop by pharmacy to pick up prescription. Oh, and did I mention I’d have to go back to the pharmacy tomorrow because the cream was not in stock? Add to that Monday’s early dismissal from school, plus piano lessons afterschool, and my available time for “my” tasks just shrunk in half.

But on Monday, I managed to remember about halfway through the day that this is what God wanted for me this day. These hassles were what I needed today, that I needed more than performing my “Russia Ball” list of things. And Monday turned out to be a better day than it could have been if I had let myself stay in the frustration that had enveloped me early on.

Does it always turn out as well as my Monday ended up? For me, no! I fail more than I succeed in remembering that complications are often my own doing and if I would submit more to God, I would have less of the frustrations and more of the peace.

As I hear my girls laughing and the slap, slap of the ball as they play Russia Ball, I remind myself once again of the joys of less complicated life.

If you want directions for playing Russia Ball, send me an email through my website,

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Interview with Amy Roberts - at Work.

by Doula Brandi

Welcome back! Amy from joins us for round two, focused on the subject of work. Amy has authored an eBook: Psalms for the Grieving Heart, which she is sharing with MHW readers!! Download it for free here!

Making Home Work is all about helping other mothers successfully work at home with children around. I’m a mother of three and sometimes I feel so totally overwhelmed. I look to mothers of many children for inspiration and sometimes a sympathetic ear! What is the best time management principle (or principles) you use that helps you work while your kids are around?

My philosophy is that the blog comes second, so my work around the house and with the children has to come first. Once that is on track, I can take the time to work online. That means no internet first thing in the morning!

My blog depends on social media to get the word out. I use Hoot Suite to schedule my social media promotions so that I don’t have to wake up in the morning and go directly to my laptop to promote, and inevitably get lost in cyberspace in the process.

Let’s talk about space: How do you arrange your surroundings so that you have a place to work?

Every house has been different as to where I could put my workspace. I’ve had everything from the living room, to my bedroom, to the basement, to the kitchen bar (where I am now). I have to have a printer nearby as well as a way to store all my paperwork. I also need to be where I am still engaged with all that is going on around me. No matter where I end up “setting up camp”, I am looking for efficiency. For me, that means having everything I need within arm’s reach.

I know that you place high priority on your family, have you experienced times when you put work off in order to place family first? What advice would you have for other women who find themselves feeling like their work is “suffering” due to family issues?

I schedule out my posts on the blog so that weekends are mine. When we go on vacation, the blog goes on autopilot and I leave the laptop at home. Being in the public eye, it is sometimes tempting to believe I can never “let my readers down,” but truth be told, I am just another voice in cyber space and if Raising Arrows were to disappear, someone else would take my place in the hearts of my readers. The same cannot be said for my family. Far better for the blog to suffer than for my family to suffer.

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

That I never feel like it is work! I am a writer. I write because it is who I am. Having the blog gives me an outlet to write and allows me to reach others with the important Truths the Lord reveals to me every day. If I never made a dime from doing this, I would still do it!.

Amy of is the homeschooling mother of 6 living children and one precious little girl named Emily being held in the Lord’s arms. Her days are filled with giggly girls, rambunctious boys and sticky baby kisses. At night, she writes about it all. Amy is the author of Psalms for the Grieving Heart, a 30 day devotional ebook for those who grieve. It is her deepest desire that out of the overflow of her heart, her mouth should speak…and her fingers type.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Author Interview~Meet Amy Roberts at Home

Introducing Amy Roberts! Amy is a wife & homeschooling mom, a successful blogger at Raising Arrows and author of an eBook "Psalms for the Grieving Heart".

Let's get started!

Amy, please tell our readers about your children: how many and their ages?
Blake – 13 – He’s a born leader. The talker of the bunch, he can often be found pontificating on all sorts of things from World War II to Christian apologetics. Very, very proud of this young man!
Megan – 10 – Creative and artsy (like her mama), she usually has a camera in one hand and a book in the other. A self-starter and deeply intuitive, you can be sure she never misses anything that is going on around her.
Melia – 6 – This little one has earned the nickname Sunshine. She’s the clown and actor of the group. She spends her days making up stories and loving on her baby brother.
Keian – 5 – Speech delays have not managed to hold this cowboy back! He loves to dress up and tell stories of the adventure kind.
Emily – forever 7 months – In her short life here on earth, Emily was a beautiful china-teacup of a child. She was content and serene, with one foot in Heaven from the very beginning.
Micah – 2 – I’m fairly certain that is mischief written all over his face! However, no matter what havoc he manages to wreak, God knew what he was doing when he made toddlers incurably delicious. This one is no different!
Garin – 8 months – The first thing you notice about this little guy are his dimples. Smiles and slobbery kisses abound!
What is your favorite activity to do with your children?
School. I know that sounds absolutely crazy, but I love homeschooling the children and learning right alongside them, watching the wonder on their faces, and hearing their first sounded-out words. School is my favorite time of day!
You’re a mom-of-many who homeschools and works from home, what do you find is your most challenging aspect of working from home while raising children?
Balancing the blog and the home. It is a constant struggle. I will think I have it mastered when suddenly I find myself spending too much time online trying to read one more email or answer one more comment.
When did you make the choice to stay at home with your children instead of pursuing an outside career? What influences did you have that helped you choose this path?
All my life I wanted to be the mother of children. I went to college because that is what you are “supposed” to do. As soon as I married, I quickly cast aside the desires to pursue any sort of career and focused my efforts on my home. I did finish my degree (in English) and I am using that training now, but I don’t know that I would have needed to go to college to be a writer. My mom has probably been the biggest influence in my desire to stay at home. She was a homemaker as long as I was in the home and it just seemed the right thing to do.
In what ways does your spouse support your efforts to work from home?
He’s very supportive! When I decided to take the blog to the next level, we spent hours and hours discussing and planning. He’s my sounding board for everything from what products to endorse to how to handle certain comments. When I have a webinar or something that requires me to concentrate, my husband is very good about helping out with the children. I also lean quite heavily on his business savvy and expertise in this area.
What one crucial piece of advice would you share with our readers about our role as “Mother”?
Being a mom must ALWAYS come first. If your home business gets in the way of your parenting, then the home business needs to be reevaluated. It would be awful to reach the world, yet lose my children’s hearts in the process.
Amy is sharing her eBook with MHW's readers. Please take advantage of this wonderful devotional book. Working through sorrow is something we all face eventually. Amy has shared a piece of her heart by writing this devotional:
"It is my deepest desire this devotional would reach grieving families everywhere,
offering comfort, peace, and hope that can only come through the goodness of a merciful God who sees every tear, hears every cry, and delivers us from every trial."
Please join us tomorrow as we explore more of Amy's life in our 'work' segment.

Amy of is the homeschooling mother of 6 living children and one precious little girl named Emily being held in the Lord’s arms. Her days are filled with giggly girls, rambunctious boys and sticky baby kisses. At night, she writes about it all. Amy is the author of Psalms for the Grieving Heart, a 30 day devotional ebook for those who grieve. It is her deepest desire that out of the overflow of her heart, her mouth should speak…and her fingers type.