Archive | May 2014

Look, Mom! No hands

Last week I agreed to help Mark with the planting. The seven-day forecast looked promising for rain, so it was a rush to get the fields planted.

This wasn’t my first time to plant so I knew what to expect and figured that after his one-round explanation/demonstration/reminder, I’d be left in the tractor alone (after a busy school year, it’s a wonderful place to be). I’ll admit, I was kind of tuning him out as he once again explained the basics–and then he took his hands off the steering wheel and the tractor kept going down the row. Welcome to auto-steer. Did I really have to learn this?

Okay, how hard could this be? You lower the planter at the end of the row and start driving. When the little light turns yellow, you touch it and it will auto-steer. At the end of the row, you touch the little light again to turn it off and raise the planter. Easy, right?

You’d think, but do you know how many times I grabbed that steering wheel, only to have my fingers run through this tight little space?photo (3) More than once, I’m afraid. I lost count of the number of times I turned the tractor around at the end of the row and then didn’t get my row lined up good enough and it would start wiggling back and forth. If the trees were too close, I’d lose the satellite and suddenly the tractor would be headed in a diagonal line across the field. The worst part? B.O.R.I.N.G.

After months of going and running and planning and doing, I was only needed for a few seconds on each end of the field to turn the tractor around. That left the entire length of the field for me to sit and–and–and sit. I could have read a book. I could have learned to crochet. I might have even had time to write a story.

The longer I sat, the more I began to relate this auto-steer ability to my own life. I’ll admit, it’s pretty neat to see my straight rows  fanning out behind (4) Auto steer really does control the tractor–until I’d get nervous and grab the steering wheel, hoping to take over control. It never failed that when I thought I was really getting the hang of it and doing a good job, the tractor would take off on a diagonal across the field and I’d have to turn it around and start over.

You’re seeing where I’m going with this, aren’t you? I KNEW that auto steer would make my rows amazingly straight. I KNEW auto steer would get me to the end of the field without help from me. I KNEW my husband would finally not cringe at the direction (or non-direction) of my rows. But I still found myself reaching up to take control. It wasn’t deliberate. It wasn’t even thought about. My hands just suddenly grabbed the wheel and then the rows wobbled and (5) My fingers were pinched through the little ball that is supposed to be doing the work.

Isn’t that life? It was a good lesson for me. A reminder. One I’m sure I’ll need again.


Watermelon Punch

watermelon punchI suppose this is more of a summer than spring recipe… but I just bought my first full-sized watermelon of the year this week. Obviously, they were imported to Canada and I’m grateful for the warmer locations for providing out-of-season produce!

You know when you buy a large watermelon and it just becomes too much to eat? Or, you think you bought a perfect watermelon, only to find it overripe and too mushy?

You don’t have to throw anything away! Scoop out that watermelon and puree it (either with a wand directly in a pitcher or in a blender). Mix in sparkling water, 7-Up or ginerale. About a 1:1 ratio. I also like to add the juice of one lemon or two limes.

If you want, decorate it with a sprig of mint or a slice of lemon.

Cherie GagnonCherie


Yesterday was the last day of school and it was time for me to give my first final test. What do you do in FACS class for a final? We did a very small version of the popular TV show, “CHOPPED”.

The girls paired up and then opened their brown paper bag with three items they had to use: 1 can crescent rolls, cream cheese, and spinach. In the pantry, I’d put cooked chicken, browned ground beef, strawberries, blueberries, pie filling, etc.

These girls amazed me one more time! They didn’t let the lack of a recipe stop them from creating.

The judges plate

The judges plate

The girls used the chicken, beef, strawberries, and blueberries. If the judges were a bit timid coming in, they left with smiles on their faces because they got to try some great food!

It was fun to see these girls and their confidence to create without a recipe. One of the girls commented, “When I move out on my own, I’ll always remember that if I have nothing else to fix for supper, you can do just about anything with crescent rolls!”

This was a great way to end our class. What a great group of young ladies I have been blessed to work with. Sixteen ladies who have touched my life. I can’t wait to see what God has planned for them!

Enjoy your weekend,

A new theme song

Theme songs are a wonderful thing. In just a few notes, you know exactly what it is about – whether it’s a TV show or a graduation processional.
This is my new theme song – or prayer – for the summer. It’s not a new worship song, yet it is fresh water. If you haven’t heard it, you’ll want to give it a listen.

~ Susan

First Dip of the Summer


Summer is fast approaching, and it will soon be time to TAKE A DIP!!

I guarantee, if you take this one you will be invited back often!!


Jalapeno Popper Dip


Two (2) 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened.

One (1) Cup Mayo (the real stuff)

6-8 slices bacon, diced, fried crisp and drained

6-8 jalapenos, chopped (I used 1 4 oz can of diced jalapenos. Two would have given it more zip but there were small children at this gathering and didn’t want to burn their mouths).  However, if you use the real jalapenos, you can choose whether or not to keep the seeds….the seeds will make it VERY hot. The canned jalapenos have the seeds.

one-half (1/2) cup grated cheddar cheese   (I used sharp cheddar)

one-half (1/2) cup mozzarella cheese

Mix together well (helps if cream cheese is really soft)

Then TOP with:

One (1) cup crushed crackers (I used Ritz)

one-half (1/2) stick butter

one-half (1/2) grated parmesan cheese

Spread dip mixture into a pan of choice (I used a stoneware  pie plate but glass would do just fine.)

Add the topping, and make sure it goes clear to the edges.

Bake at 350 until bubbly.  Can be served hot….or cold.  We found that after it sits it seems to have a bit more zing!



Do You have a favorite dip. Share it, please.  And we’ll all take the first summer plunge!!




road 2 we like!

Grandma’s Lemon Cake

lemonadeYesterday, I wore a floral print top to church – in honor of my Grandma Violet’s birthday.

Grandma loved bright colors and floral prints. (I inherited her sense of style, just ask my sisters.) And she loved having us all over for her birthday, which often fell on Mother’s Day as it did this year, to enjoy her delicious cooking and sit on the patio and enjoy her flowers.

Chatting with my sister yesterday, she mentioned it was her turn to take treats to Sunday school, so she made Grandma’s lemon cake in honor of her birthday. Several people in the class said their grandma made that cake, too!

It’s a simple and delicious dessert that tastes just like a sunny spring day.

Grandma’s Lemon Cake

1 lemon cake mix
1/3 c. oil
3 eggs

1/3 c. frozen orange juice concentrate
1 c. powdered sugar

Bake cake according to directions. Mix orange juice and powdered sugar for glaze. While cake is still warm, poke lots and lots of holes in it with a fork. Pour the glaze over the top. It tastes best to prepare the night before and let it get really moist. I’ve also used pre-made orange juice and it works just as well.

Wearing my floral - Grandma style.

Wearing my floral – Grandma style.

Did your grandma make this cake?


~ Susan

Aspiring Novelist In the Works

bookYou know it was a great book when you are sorry it’s over. When you have to convince yourself that the characters are only fictional and you really can’t go with them for a coffee date. When you look online to see if there is a sequel or a movie version…anything to keep you attached to the characters just a little longer.

Or maybe, you think you wish you could write something that good to give readers that same experience you just had.

I might not have been able to articulate that sentiment so well when I was a little girl, but I believe that is what I felt after reading Anne of Green Gables. I remember visiting the house on Prince Edward Island where Lucy Maud Montgomery penned the classic novel and thinking how wonderful it would be to become an author.

Over the years I’ve enjoyed many other authors who’ve taken me to foreign countries, cross the Atlantic on ships, been to court with dukes and duchesses, and coffee shops in the Mid-West America. I’ve fought fires, worked in World War I factories, created beautiful cloth on the looms in New England, solved crimes, danced in resplendent ballrooms, and delivered babies.

Perhaps one day I’ll be able to take you on a journey created in my imagination. But for now, I’ll keep writing, learning and pitching projects at conferences. Most of all, I’ll keep reading.

Have you written a novel? Is writing a novel on your bucket list?

– Cherie

Three More Ways to Know You are a Writer

You just like to write things—grocery lists, cleaning lists, to do lists, names of people you know, what the pastor says when he gives the sermons, what the teacher says when she teaches, what the boss says when he bosses—you write.

You are a visual person.  You say  “I see”  instead of “I understand”.   Emails not phone calls  are your preferred form of communication.

You write things that later you think. “Really? Did I write that?—and know you couldn’t recreate it unless you copied.  I think this is God, inspiring us to share our hearts and often results in the most powerful stuff we write if we have been obedient to write it down.


Blessings,   Kathy

10 Ways To Know You Want To Write

Give even a small child a pencil, and they intuitively know what to do with it. Thus–they write!!  We are all writers.


1.  You are a reader.

2.  The stationery aisle is your favorite haunt.

3.  You like to make-up stories. (not lies, just stories)

4.  You’d rather sit and watch people than shop.

5.  You have characters who talk to you, tell you what to do and when–and you listen and often talk back.

6.  You keep a file of names that you don’t share because you want to be the first to tell their story.

7.  You keep a pad of paper and a pencil by your bedside because some of the best ideas come to you at night, and you know you’ll forget by morning if you don’t write it down.

8.  You read an account of a tragedy, and want to give it a happy ending.

9.  A leaf blowing past your window gives birth to a new idea for a story.

10. You realize you march to a different drummer, and there’s no parade!




road 2 we like!

Louis L’Amour inspires dreams

My brother Dave gave Dad a treasure trove this Christmas – a grocery sack filled with paperback Westerns.

The picture of Louis L'Amour on the back of every book in that sack.

The picture of Louis L’Amour on the back of every book in that sack.

Like flies around honey, we swarmed over those books, trading book reports and literary opinions. I helped myself to a few Louis L’Amour titles. As I read one, I realized why so much of my idle youth was spent dodging desperadoes and chasing gunslingers through the pages of a paperback. Man, that guy is a good storyteller! And he was a prolific writer. Last year, I re-read another classic I loved – Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey.

I picked up a very interesting piece of news at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Indianapolis last year. I met with an agent who told me Westerns were coming back in popularity. So there’s this idea in my head…

Susie-4022-EditPSThis week as bloggers we’re to answer the question, “When did you know you wanted to write?” Growing up in a family that goes through books by the sackful, I don’t think I can pin that down. But I can say I have a fresh itch to write a Western that Dad and Dave would enjoy reading. Maybe one Christmas, I’ll put that book in a paper sack and give it them.

~ Susan

Have you ever been given a book that inspired you?