Archive | May 2013

A Great Summer Read

It’s not a secret here on Pages that Deb Raney is special to us. She’s become not only a friend to each of us, but also a mentor and cheerleader as we pursue our own writing dreams. This winter Deb gave me a copy of her new book that would be out in May. I took that book to bed with me and read until two a.m.. The next morning I grabbed it again and got nothing else done until I had finished the last page, sometime after noon.

TheFaceoftheEarthThe Face of the Earth is a true page-turner. It’s high suspense without any of the fear or creepiness that we sometimes associate with a suspense book. The premise is, what would happen if someone you love suddenly went missing without a trace. How and where would you find peace if you never knew what happened. Mitchell and Jill Brannon have a great marriage. They are recently empty nesters and life looks good as they start a new chapter in their lives–until Jill doesn’t come home from a conference in Kansas City. She called before leaving the hotel so when the sun sets and she still isn’t home Mitchell gets concerned. Was she unhappy with their marriage? Did she meet up with an old boyfriend? Was there foul play in the parking garage? Is it possible to fall off the face of the earth?

I had this story figured out at least five times while reading it and yet, when the truth came out, I never suspected a thing! Delightful!!

I’ve read every one of Deb’s books and I can honestly say her writing just gets better with each new novel. The suspense woven into this story keeps you turning the page. Somehow Deb wrote Jill in a way that you know her and can even hear her voice in the story and yet she’s the one missing. Often the characters in suspense stories are bigger than life, but these characters could be your next door neighbors–or you. Who hasn’t seen a missing person story on TV and wondered how they would handle that situation. Not knowing where someone you love is, would be the worst situation ever, in my opinion.

After reading this book, I had to drive to the airport in KC. The whole time I was watching and looking over my shoulder! This story kept playing through my mind. What would happen if I never came back? How long until anyone would notice and look for me? Would they look for me? Those questions made my own trip a whole lot more fun with just the right touch of suspense!! Now that’s a great story!

The Face of the Earth just came out in the middle of May. Add it to the top of your summer reading list and then let me know what you think. I’d love to discuss this book with you!

Happy Reading,

Sara

Skinny No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie

Recipe and Photo courtesy of www.skinnytaste.com.

Recipe and Photo courtesy of http://www.skinnytaste.com.

After Julane’s story, I feel pretty lame posting a recipe, but I got a hankerin’ for a dessert  this past weekend, and I wanted something that wasn’t off the charts in calories. I found this recipe on http://www.skinnytaste.com.  It was pretty tasty! Even with my few adaptations, it still wasn’t too bad on the calorie scale.

I thought I’d share it with you all as it’s a perfect recipe for a spring get-together or for just the family.

Here you go ….  super easy and fast  to put together.

Ingredients:

  • 5 oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened (I used Neufchatel Cheese.)
  • 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup Better n Peanut Butter (I used Organic Peanut Butter which has no sugar)
  • 8 oz fat free frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • reduced fat graham cracker pie crusts (I used an Oreo Crust I had. Sooooo good!)
  • 3 tbsp Hershey’s chocolate syrup (I used Special Dark Hershey’s Syrup.)

Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar together in a bowl.  Add peanut butter and blend well.  Then stir in whipped topping.

Pour in graham cracker pie crust.  The Oreo one I had on hand and used was extremely good. Enough said.

Drizzle with chocolate syrup before serving.

Nutritional Information:

Skinnytaste.com

Servings: 10 • Serving Size: 1/10 • Old Points: 5 pts • Points+: 5 pts

Calories: 216.8 • Fat: 6.4 g • Protein: 2.9 g • Carb: 32.9 g • Fiber: 1.3 g • Sugar:16.7 g
Sodium: 94.6 mgx in peanut butter until smooth.

Okay, so I just have to make note that those pre-made graham cracker (or Oreo) crusts are not huge pie crusts.  They say this is supposed to make 10 servings. Yeah, right. We cut ours in eight.

My family really enjoyed it.  I hope you will too!

Blessings,

Susan Hollaway 

Mom cover original

O’That’lldo

In the country of Perhaps, in the province of Say-Who, was a tiny little village that was called O’That’lldo. There was just one little problem—had you ever cared to visit—it was such a little place that if you blinked you’d miss it.

The villagers were all quite sad, some even cried “Boo-Hoo. No one ever stops by here, whatever will we do? We need to come up with a plan—perhaps some flags and gidgets—so when they journey past our town they won’t blink and miss it.”

And so the Mayor shouted “Ye shall gather in the Square. Big and little. Young and old. Come one! Come all! Be There!” Now they all came running, from every nook and cranny. Mamas, papas, boys and girls and one old, old, old Granny.

Oh, the villagers had such big plans. The Mayor listened to them all. “We’ll have a picnic…a parade…and yes!, a Fireman’s Ball. We’ll sell tickets and build floats and hand out shiny whizzets. And from now on—just wait and see—they’ll come! They’ll stay! They’ll visit!”

Mamas, papas, boys and girls were all so busy talking they hardly noticed old, old, old Granny as she was slowly walking. She made her way down to the front and with a shy “yoo-hoo”, she said, “Mr. Mayor, I’ve a plan, and it’s a good one, too.”

“How can she help? What can she do? Why, she can hardly walk.”

“Quiet! Hush! Be still, I say, just listen to her talk.” With that the Mayor picked her up and set her on the stand, then to the crowd he said—quite loud—as he held up his hand, “I declare you must be still. Ye all shall cease to visit. Old Granny has something to say, and I don’t want to miss it.”

“I’m old, you know, a hundred years, a hundred years plus two, and I’ve outlived every Mayor except for Lazy Lou. Every village has a villain, and this one’s no exception. Lazy Lou still lives here, and he’s a master of deception. Oh, I know you cannot see him, that’s his dirty trick, I fear. You will never see him, but he’ll whisper in your ear.”

“Remember when your mothers said, “It’s time to pick up toys?” Old Granny shook her finger at all the village boys. “Old Lou was there, he’s always near, and you listened to him, too. He said, ‘just pick up three or four and then O’That’lldo’.”

By now the girls were giggling. Oh, they felt so very sly until old, old old Granny looked them in the eye. “Your mama’s said to each of you, ‘please sweep out all the dirt,’ but you listened as Lou whispered ‘some ‘neath the rug won’t hurt’.”

***You’ll have to tune in for the next free-wheeling week to get the end of this story!! And it’s a good one–you will see. Because this old, old granny is seventy years–seventy years plus three!!***
road 2 we like!

People are People

I really wanted to write a light-hearted post today, but ideas just wouldn’t come. Perhaps it’s the two days of rain. Perhaps I was meant to write about a topic that’s been heavy on my heart.

While I’m on this journey to publication, I work for a grassroots family organization that supports those affected by disability and advocates with government for supports. I can do this because I have family like those I represent.

Child alone on the beachIt’s this time of year that I hear from families that they have both apprehension and joy at the approaching summer season. Summer has its benefits of glorious weather, a slower pace, beautiful flowers and fresh local produce at the market. But it also can be a lonely time for families supporting a loved one with disabilities. In truth, though, many families report social isolation as the greatest challenge they face year round…greater than health and well-being challenges.

I understand that many people want to be more inclusive, but they just don’t know how to do it. I wrote an article last year with some practical suggestions. (Click here to read the article.)

I think social inclusion can be more easily achieved if we simply remember that people are people and families are families. Those with disabilities and their families don’t want pity. We want friendships. We would love for you to come visit…but don’t come on a charity trip like some people do when visiting an old age home.

It may require flexibility and creativity to spend time together. Talk to the family and see what can be agreed Children on the beach togetherupon. Maybe a family you know has a child who can’t handle crowds. This family may not be keen on joining you at a water park, but perhaps a quiet walk at a conservation area might work. Maybe someone relies on a wheelchair for mobility—an indoor playground may be out of the question, but what about going to the movies? My family can’t go to restaurants during busy times, so we’ve joined others for a late breakfast or an early dinner.

When my kids were both small, I approached a long-time friend who also had young children to say how much I missed our times together and expressed my hope to change that. I was simply told that we had different lives now. Why was that? I’m a mom, she’s a mom. I have children, she has children. Why were our lives different? Truthfully, I’ve hugged many young mothers who have cried over lost friendships after their child with disabilities was born.

But I remind these moms to remember those friendships they still have. To celebrate and enjoy those who can see the beauty in their child and family. To use their experiences to embrace others who need love and compassion.

And we must not to forget that we might have been the one who inadvertently lost connection with someone else whose life changed for various reasons. It’s very humbling to think we might have done this very thing without intentions to hurt someone.

My husband and I have some wonderful friends and family who have a soft spot for my kids and include us. I’m also blessed to have friends who have walked this very path that my family is on and can relate, encourage, and give sage advice. Mostly, I’m grateful to God for His loving arms that embrace us each day.

Much love,

Cherie GagnonCherie

Orin’s Tulip bed still welcomes me each spring

tulips  For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;

Song of Solomon 2:11-12

I love spring.  Just after the trees turn green and the grass starts to grow.  Every where is vivid and fresh in hundreds of shades 0f green.   And then there are the flowers that spring forth from the cold winter earth.  I am certain that heaven will look this way.  Just beyond the streets of gold and punctuated by the crystal streams.

There the aroma of our morning coffee will  always smell like we just opened the can. The warm light of the Lord will wrap around us and the beauty will be amazing.

My mansion has a wrap around porch so every moment there will be a perfect spot. It will be painted white with white wicker chairs waiting to be used. The ceiling fans will be the fancy kind with blades that look like palm leaves. Roses will bloom on every trellis. And just in view of my favorite chair, God will have given Orin these wonderful tulip bulbs to plant.  Oh, I just can hardly wait.

What kind of porch will be on your mansion? What kind of flowers will bloom in your yard?

God’s Creation Never Ceases to Amaze Me

One of my daughter's past  county fair photos.

One of my daughter’s past county fair photos.

I love the beauty of all kind of flowers and plants.  I particularly like perennials, because it’s like a “surprise” every year when they make their appearance and bloom.  Sure you know they’re there, because you planted them. But you’re waiting. You’re waiting. Then shazam! There it is!  A sight to behold. And even though you know, year after year what they look like, their beauty never ceases to amaze and delight you.

If you plant annuals among the perennials, you’ll always have something blooming throughout the summer and into the fall.    Much of what you plant depends on where you live, of course.  I’ve always wanted a lemon tree in my yard, but living in Kansas sort of nipped that in the bud.  (I know. Pathetic pun. I  couldn’t help myself.) Purple-Mum_thumbnail13

I would have to say that one of my very favorite perennial plants is the mum.  It’s green throughout the summer, but then blooms in all its glory in the autumn.  Each individual little bloom is nice, but it’s the massive blooms all over the entire plant  that make it so beautiful to me.  It’s like a huge bouquet in every plant.  There’s a certain kind of mum — available in a variety of colors — that I see most often here in Kansas. I don’t even know the official name for it.  But while searching the internet for pictures,  I learned there’s a lot more varieties than I was aware of.  I love mums. Who knew there were so many kinds? Hmmm, I guess mum’s the word, eh?

White-Mum_thumbnail9

God is most assuredly the  Master Gardener and Creator of the heavens and earth.  No matter what your favorite flower is, gaze upon all of His handiwork. Let the beauty fill your heart. Inhale the perfume from His flowers. And praise Him.  I love hearing the birds sing His praises every morning.  Let us not forget to do the same.

Then God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind, with seed in them, on the earth”; and it was so. And the earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit, with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good.”  Genesis 1:11-12 NASB

May you never cease to be amazed at the miracle and beauty in God’s creation.

Susan Hollaway

Mom cover original

Hidden Treasures

For the past several years, one of my daughters-in-law has given me a Fuscia plant for Mother’s Day. At first they put on these little buds…

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Then they continue to swell up, like a little balloon.

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Then they get bigger and bigger and reveal a whole new flower…

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Until finally….

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Isn’t it just like God…Who sees what’s really deep down inside…and reveals it when one is patient enough to wait?
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Fancies…by Lucy Maud Montgomery

First, I would like to congratulate, Larry Timm, for winning a copy of Angelguard by Ian Acheson in the book giveaway last Tuesday! We’ll be in touch about getting a copy to you! Click here to read my review of this supernatural thriller.

This week we are talking about flowers. I’d like to share with you a poem by one of Canada’s beloved authors, Lucy Maud Montgomery. Many of you will recognize the name as Montgomery is the author of Anne of Green Gables. Along with this poem, I’ve posted a few pictures of flowers that I took this spring.

Fancies

– by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Daffodils from my garden

Daffodils from my garden

Surely the flowers of a hundred springs

Are simply the souls of beautiful things!

The poppies aflame with gold and red

Were the kisses of lovers in days that are fled.

The purple pansies with dew-drops pearled

Were the rainbow dreams of a youngling world.

 

Flowers from a park in Amherstburg, Ontario.

Flowers from a park in Amherstburg, Ontario.

 

The lily, white as a star apart,

Was the first pure prayer of a virgin heart.

The daisies that dance and twinkle so

Were the laughter of children in long ago.

The sweetness of all true friendship yet

Lives in the breath of the mignonette.

To the white narcissus there must belong

The very delight of a maiden’s song.

 

Wild Flowers from Ojibway Conservation Area. Windsor, Ontario.

Wild Flowers from Ojibway Conservation Area. Windsor, Ontario.

 

And the rose, all flowers of the earth above,

Was a perfect, rapturous thought of love.

Oh! surely the blossoms of all the springs

Must be the souls of beautiful things.

What is your favourite spring flower?Cherie Gagnon

–  Cherie

Flowers and Rain Showers

We had a storm go through last night. It knocked the power off for several hours. In a way, the quiet was kind of nice. But I was very glad to wake up in the middle of the night to turn off the lights – and turn on the fan!

This week, we’re blogging about flowers. I didn’t get a picture uploaded because of the power outage – so here’s a shot of last year’s crop.

flowers

These were planted to fill a space that was too hard to mow. It reminds me that even my “problem areas” can be turned into something beautiful in God’s hands.

Irises are one of my favorite flowers. They’re beautiful – but also so strong and hardy. The pale lavendar and yellow ones can be traced back to my grandmother’s farm.

Susie-3994-EditPS 72As we say in farm country – How much rain did you get?

~ Susan

Friendship, Fellowship & Fun

Last week Cherie came to visit for a few days. Usually we only get to be together at the writers conference in September. Those days are filled with nerves and stress so it was wonderful to get together just for fun. On Saturday, Susie M, Kathy and Julane joined us for an afternoon of talking, sharing and laughing. Here are a few pictures from the weekend.

The boys were happy to let Cherie take over their chores for a while.

The boys were happy to let Cherie take over their chores for a while.

The ladies humored me by creating paper beads for bracelets!

The ladies humored me by creating paper beads for bracelets!

Over the years of being on this writing journey, I’ve learned writing and getting published isn’t easy, but the friendships I’ve made are worth it. I often think if I never get published, it will still be worth it because of the wonderful people I’ve met and the ladies I consider to be dear friends!

Have a wonderful weekend,

Sara