Thursday, September 27, 2012

Announcing an Interview and Giveaway with Author Abby Gaines

This past winter, I read The Earl's Mistaken Bride by Author Abby Gaines. That was the first of the Parson's Daughters series from Love Inspired Historical. And the book starts when one of a parson's daughters gets tricked into a marriage by her younger sister. A super fun story that I enjoyed the entire way through!

Now the next book in the series is out, and it's entitled, The Governess and Mr. Granville:

Dominic Granville needs a wife—whether he wants one or not! And governess Serena Somerton intends to find one for him. A marriage of convenience would provide the wealthy widower’s five children with a mother’s tender care. And yet none of Dominic’s prospective brides can meet Serena’s increasingly high standards. 
Dominic can’t imagine why his sister hired such an unconventional, outspoken governess. Yet Miss Somerton’s quirks can’t curb his growing interest in this spirited young woman. His imperfect governess could be his ideal wife…

While I don't have an interview and giveaway here on Making Home Work, I am hosting one over at Regency Reflections this week. Make sure to stop by, say hi to Abby, and enter the giveaway if you have time.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Raising Children--Quotes

I've got some inspiring quotes about children today. As I scoured the internet looking these up, I found lots more to share. So I'll have others coming over the next few weeks. Enjoy!


“Whatever they grow up to be, they are still our children, and the one most important of all the things we can give to them is unconditional love. Not a love that depends on anything at all except that they are our children.”
Rosaleen Dickson

“Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression.” 
Dr. Haim Ginott

“Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes, they forgive them”
Oscar Wilde

“Adults are always asking little kids what they want to be when they grow up because they're looking for ideas”

"Children are the world's most valuable resource and its best hope for the future”
John F. Kennedy

"Children are remarkable for their intelligence and ardour, for their curiosity, their intolerance of shams, the clarity and ruthlessness of their vision."
Aldous Huxley

"The best way to keep children home is to make the home a pleasant atmosphere--and let the air out of the tires."
Dorothy Parker

"It goes without saying that you should never have more children than you have car windows."
Erma Bombeck
"Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man."
Rabindranath Tagore

"The people hardest to convince they're at the retirement age are children at bedtime."
Shannon Fife
"Children spell "love," T-I-M-E."
Dr Anthony P Whitman
"Perhaps the greatest social service that can be rendered by anybody to the country and to mankind is to bring up a family."
George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Banana Pancake Recipe

Within the past year, I've discovered the wonderful world of banana pancakes. I grew up eating blueberry pancakes, but never tried banana pancakes until I was making pancakes one morning and I glanced at my overripe bananas sitting on the counter. So I thought, "Why not throw them in and see how things turn out?"

The result was super yummy! They taste like banana bread, but all wrapped up in a pancake instead of a bread. Over the past few months, I've been experimenting with my recipe. Some recipes call for lots of banana and less flour, but I've found this gives the pancakes a rather mushy, banana taste. I like using a traditional pancake recipe and then tossing in some bananas for extra flavor. The end result is more like banana-bread.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon ground flax seed (just to make things extra healthy)
1-2 overripe mashed bananas (depending on how much flavor you want)


In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center.

In a separate bowl mix together the milk, egg, oil and banana; mix until smooth. (Here's a hint for mashing bananas: put them in a Ziploc bag, then give them to your kids to mash. Super fun for little ones!)

Combine the liquid mixture with the dry ingredients and stir until thoroughly mixed. Be aware that the bananas will leave little lumps.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.


And there you have it! A yummy banana pancake recipe. I recommend using maple syrup to top them off. 

So now my question for you: What's the weirdest pancake you've ever eaten?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Book Spotlight: Romance Novels Set in Michigan

Today I wanted to introduce you to two novels I've been waiting all summer to read. They're both set during Michigan's historical logging boom, which started just after the close Civil War and lasted until the end of the nineteenth century.

The first book is Unending Devotion by Author Jody Hedlund:

In Her Darkest Hours, Is He the Man She Needs?

Lily Young longs to find her lost sister or will die trying. Heedless of any danger, she searches logging camps and towns, posing as a photographer's assistant. And then she arrives in Harrison, Michigan--and the sights of Connell McCormick.

Connell is determined to increase the fortune of his lumber-baron father and figures as long as he's living an upright life, that's what matters. But when Lily arrives in town she upends his world, forcing him to confront the truth that dangerous men have gained too much power while good men turn a blind eye.

Vexing but persuasive, Lily soon secures Connell's help, drawing them ever closer to each other. Will standing for what's right cost them both everything?

I just read this book two weeks ago. (Okay, actually I admit to being a total book geek and having the release date set on my calendar, then waking up on September first and downloading the book to my eReader before I even got out of bed. Pathetic, I know. But that's what happens when you're a book geek.)

Anyway, Jody Hedlund did an excellent job of portraying the logging industry as a rugged, lonely, and even dissolute means of employment. She shows two different sides of the logging industry: both the side that provided timber and affordable housing to settlers in the west, and the side that mercilessly stripped Michigan of it's virgin pine forests and destroyed river life as the logs were floated downstream to sawmills.

On the opposite side of the table, you have Serena Miller's A Promise to Love, which releases the beginning of October:

Ingrid Larsen, a young Swedish immigrant, arrives in Michigan in 1871 to search for her brother who has disappeared into the woods to work the dangerous lumber camps. Destitute and barely hanging on to hope, she encounters a newly-widowed farmer who is struggling to raise five children on his own. Marriage would solve both of their problems, and so Ingrid proposes to a man she barely knows. She will fight to protect her new family--but the hardest battle of all will be winning the heart of her new husband.

You may wonder why I expect Serena Miller's novel to be opposite of Jody Hedlund's. After all, both have the same setting and contain a search through Michigan logging camps for lost siblings. But I expect Miller's novel to have a sweeter flavor than Hedlund's. Miller's already written one book set during Michigan's logging boom. It's called The Measure of Katie Calloway (I reviewed it here), and it was full of realistic yet quaint pictures of life in a Michigan lumber camp.

While Miller doesn't ignore the debauched lifestyle loggers often lived, she creates a rather wholesome lumber camp that offers safety rather than danger in the Measure of Katie Calloway. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Hedlund's novel looks at the debauched lifestyle that often went along with logging. It contains a bitter fight for morality in a world that is blatantly immoral and also looks at the large-scale picture of logging. Miller's last novel looked at a very specific logging camp.

Conclusion: Since I'm terribly fascinated with Michigan's logging history, I personally think everyone should read both these novels. But if you have to pick between them, I'd base my choice on the type of novel you like reading. For fans of sweet, gentle stories choose either the Measure of Katie Calloway or A Promise to Love by Serena Miller. If you like action-filled scenes and lifelike, flawed characters, then I'd go with Undending Devotion by Jody Hedlund.

Have any of you read these books? I'm curious to know your thoughts and whether you enjoyed the backdrop of Michigan's logging boom? 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Throwing in the Towel

Sometimes, the solution to a parenting problem can be as easy as looking at the problem from a different angle. As parents, we often get hung up on enforcing a solution that causes angst to both child and parent when there might be a better way of accomplishing the same thing. Here’s a personal example:

Every time I passed the hall bathroom, which served both our guests and our children, a hand towel would be on the floor. This drove me crazy with a capital C. The kids—being only in the beginning of the civilizing process—would simply yank the towel off to dry hands and then toss it in the direction of the towel rack.

The two youngest children simply couldn’t reach the towel rack, so I told them to put the towel on the sink and I would come by later and re-hang it. No amount of correction made a lasting change. It seemed that I was destined to lose this battle, one that was increasingly grating on my nerves.

Then I had an epiphany while looking at the kitchen towel hanging so neatly on the fridge handle: What if I made the hall bath hand towels the same way? An hour or so of sewing transformed the hand towels.

Now, the towels hang nice and neat on the towel rack, and my blood pressure doesn’t rise every time I walk by the bathroom. The children can reach the towels and, after nearly a year of use, have yet to yank the rack off the wall by pulling too roughly on the hanging towels.

Best of all, it was a solution that solved a problem in a unique way. (Please note that I’m not recommending this approach for behavior problems.)

However, for those occasional problems that come our way as parents—such as hanging up coats after school (consider bins for the coats, mittens and hats) or keeping library books in one place (perhaps a basket for each child’s books that’s stationed near the front door)—thinking of a solution that makes it easier for the child to comply with your request might just be the ticket to a little less stress in your house.

What are some ways you have solved a similar problem?

Sarah Hamaker is now a certified Leadership Parenting Coach through the John Rosemond Leadership Parenting Coaching Institute. She’s also a freelance writer and editor, and author of Hired@Home, a guide to unlocking women’s work-from-home potential now available on Kindle. Her stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Sarah lives in Virginia with her husband and four children. Visit her online at

Monday, September 10, 2012

Homemade Canned Salsa Recipe

Every year about this time, we start getting tomatoes from our garden. So many tomatoes, that we really don't know what to do with them. Bacon Lettuce and Tomato sandwiches become a staple. (Goodness, is there a difference between a BLT with a hothouse tomato and a BLT when the tomato and lettuce come from your own garden!) Plus we put up a few plain tomatoes for use in spaghetti sauce and chili and the like.  But the main thing we do with our tomatoes? MAKE SALSA!

If you've never canned homemade salsa before, I encourage you to try it just once. Salsa can be so expensive to buy from the store, and nothing tastes quite as good as the flavor of your own garden-fresh peppers and tomatoes in your salsa.

After trying different salsa recipes for the past few years, I've settled on one that I like. It contains lime juice, where most salsa recipes call for only vinegar, and more sweet peppers than most salsa recipes recommend, but my family really loves this recipe.

8 cups of tomatoes, blanched, peeled, chopped, and partially drained
2 cups sweet peppers
3 mild peppers
Hot peppers to taste
6 gloves minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 large onion
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup lime juice
1 TBS Salt

Combine ingredients and heat in large pot until boiling, then reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes before canning. Pour salsa into hot jars and seal. Process jars for 15 minutes in hot water bath.

(Notes: Homemade salsa tends to be rather runny, so I drain about half the juice from my tomatoes and then can it. This makes for less soupy salsa, but you still get to use the juice, so it's not like you're wasting anything. Sweet peppers can be green, red, or orange bell peppers, but I recommend you add some more eccentric peppers to enhance the flavor. We grew wax peppers in our garden this year, so that's what the majority of sweet peppers are. And we usually do two versions of salsa, one with just mild peppers for me, and one with lots of hot peppers for my husband.)

And there you have it! The most delicious salsa recipe I've found. The key to this salsa is the sweet peppers, garlic, cilantro and other things you add to the salsa to give it extra flavor. Once you've got a good flavor base, add the hot and mild peppers all you like.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Schooling the Cowboy: A Glimpse at the Story

Now that I've introduced you to my second novel, Schooling the Cowboy, a couple weeks ago. I wanted to let you meet the characters.

My hero, Luke Hayes, will be played by the stunningly handsome Paul Walker:

(Did you all just drool when you saw that picture? I sure did!)

Anyway, Luke is a rancher, through and through. He loves spending time on the wide open prairie, with the wind in his face, the sun on his back, and clear mountain air filling his lungs. In short, the Luke Hayes likes living here:

And the last thing he wants to do is travel someplace like here:

But travel to New England, he does, and he's none to happy about it. He wants to get out of the stuffy, citified town of Valley Falls, New York just as quickly as he can. Unfortunately he doesn't understand quite how much responsibility his late grandfather has left him. Not only does Luke inherit a slew of money, a massive estate, and a giant insurance and accounting company with over a dozen branches on the East Coast; he also inherits this:

A girls preparatory school on the brink of closing due to poor enrollment and lack of funds.

As far as Luke is concerned, he may as well just close the school down and be done with it, anything to get him back to his beloved ranch.

And so now we meet the heroine, Miss Elizabeth Wells, who will be played by the adorable Amy Adams:
Elizabeth Wells is the daughter of an esteemed local politician and the mathematics teacher at Hayes Academy. She's spent six of the past eight years earning a mathematics degree that the rest of society doesn't think a woman should even bother with. Then she's spent the last two years teaching at Hayes Academy.

Elizabeth's family isn't very fond of her teaching dreams. They'd much rather see her married to a rich, public figure who will help advance her own father's political career.

So Elizabeth is used to fighting for women's education. And she's not about to let some backward cowboy like Luke Hayes close down the school where she teaches just because he's anxious to return to back Wyoming.

And boy, oh boy, do sparks fly as Elizabeth and Luke hash out their battles over the school.

Do any of you have thoughts about this story? Does something strike you as interesting? Boring? Different? I'd love to hear your ideas.