Saturday, April 30, 2011

Two Great Minds - Audrey and I

Some days a girl needs needs a motto.

This would be mine today.



Sunday, April 24, 2011

Monday's Mouthful O'Joy - Bacon and Egg Toast Cups

I have a mouthful of this even as I type. It's so good that I could not even wait to finish eating before I plopped myself in front of the computer to post about it.

Sure it would be easier to slap a piece of bacon and an egg on a piece of toast and be done with it, but they look so much prettier this way. And if you have guests, this will actually be quicker.

I found the recipe at the Noshery but had to modify it to suit my family's taste. You can find the original recipe by clicking on the link. Or you can just click over because it's a pretty yummy site (I love it when a pun comes together).

Bacon & Eggs in Toast Cups (12 cups)
  • 3 slices of bread
  • 6 slices of turkey bacon (regular bacon would be even tastier)
  • 6 eggs
  • about 1 cup of shredded cheese (more or less to taste - I used sharp cheddar)
  • salt & pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray muffin pan with non-stick spray.

2. Tear bread slices into fourths.  You can get all fancy and use a round cookie/biscuit cutter, but then you'll have leftover bread pieces.  Your dog will thank you, I am sure.

3. Take bread and press them into the muffin pan, set aside.

4. Heat a large skillet on medium-high. Cook bacon on the skillet until partially cooked but still pliable, about 3 minutes.

5. Cut bacon strips in half and then shape them into the toast cups, fill with 1 Tbs of shredded cheese. Place in the oven for 3 minutes, allowing the bacon to toast just a little more. Remove from oven.  The longer you leave them in the oven on this step, the more you chance black edges on your bacon on the last step.  The original recipe called for 5 minutes.

6. Crack your eggs and stir them up a bit.  They won't look as pretty as the picture above, but my chickadees will only eat their eggs scrambled. Drop eggs into the cups, sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste. Place back in the oven and cook until white begins to set, about another 10 minutes. 

7. Remove from oven when done and pop out using a spoon, serve warm.

Next time I am going to try sausage instead of bacon.  Because I am more of a sausage girl.  The only thing that would make this recipe better (aside from sausage instead of bacon) is if someone else cleaned up the dishes afterward!  Ah, well . . . it's all a work in progress, I suppose.

Counting it all bacon and eggy joy,

Friday, April 22, 2011

Jello Eggs - Am I Crazy To Try These?!

I am thinking about making these with the chickadees:


(You can find the link to the recipe at Choose to Thrive)


Am I crazy? (A-hem: that was a rhetorical question, dear reader) They look so cool. And who doesn't love Jello? What a neat treat to find in your basket of goodies Easter morning.
With my luck they'd probably turn out like this:






I bet they'd taste just as good though.  I certainly wouldn't one turn down if offered to me!


And it looks so cool!   Thanks Choose to Thrive!

Counting it all jiggly-jelloey joy,
This is what I've been thinking about today:


















(click on the image to make it bigger)

Thank you to Ladybird Lane for the beautifully made image.

Counting it all joy,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What I've Learned Today : Buying Reece's Peanut Butter Eggs Make You A Good Mom


So, today I we had a bit of crisis in the Jubilant household:

We were out of Reece's Peanut Butter Eggs.   I KNOW!

I was faced with a dilemma:  dare I go without or brave the nasty rain that looked like it could turn to snow at any minute?  I decided would forge ahead into the wild wet yonder and tell myself that the peanut butter eggs were my reward for ruining a perfectly good hairdo.

I can justify just about anything.  Just sayin'.

When I got to the Wal-Marts, I realized that I could not just set down a package of Reece's Peanut Butter Eggs on the conveyor belt all by it's little lonesome.  It would garner too many raised eyebrows and looks of derision from my fellow shoppers.  Not to mention the dripping smirky-ness from the checkout lady.

I may have a bit of a problem with what other people think.  At any rate . . .



I took the only action possible:  I threw down a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk and I went from being the object of abject curiosity to just being a good mom.

SCORE!

I think I may be getting a handle on this Wal-Mart Mom thing.  And that's what I learned today.  What have you learned today?

Counting it all peanut buttery joy,

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Denise Hunter Interview - A Cowboy's Touch

 Don'tcha just love being able to find out just what the author of a beloved book is thinking about when writing, how he or she goes about the process, and what he or she wants readers to get out of the novel?  I do!  It's such illuminating insight and often helps us digest (for lack of a better word)  the story better.  Sometimes I've even re-read a novel after hearing the author talk about it or themselves so that I can have that in the back of my mind while reading.  Often the experience is enhanced in a way that nothing else can come close to.

With that in mind, in yesterday's review of A Cowboy's Touch, I promised an interview with Denise Hunter.  And here it is - enjoy!

(Again, thank you to Audra Jennings and The B&B Media Group)


Q: Have you always wanted to be a writer? When did you first begin to write?
 I’ve always been an avid reader, but I didn’t start dreaming about writing a novel until I was in my early twenties. By then I was married and busy pursuing a degree. I put writing on the back burner until my grandfather became fatally ill. While I was visiting him in the hospital, I was struck by the brevity of life and felt God pressing on my heart to take the first step. I started my first novel a couple weeks later. I had two small children by this time, so I wrote while they napped. I wrote my first four books that way. Even if you can only write a page a day, by the end of a year you’ll have a complete manuscript!




Q: Are you a small town or a city girl? What inspired you to write a book about the life of a cowboy?
I’m a little of both. We live in a country setting just outside the city. It’s the best of both worlds. There’s something very earthy and organic about a cowboy’s life. I was drawn by the idea of living off the land. I think it takes us to a simpler time and place—even though the life of a cowboy is not necessarily simple! And Montana is such a beautiful state. I thought my readers might like to journey there with me through story.


Q: Can you tell us a little about what you have learned about the cowboy lifestyle while doing research for this book?
 I learned a lot of fascinating details about the workings of a ranch: branding, breeding, cattle disease, etc. But what I came away with is a great respect for cowboys and their families. Those who choose this way of life do it because they love it. It’s not easy, and it’s not for the faint of heart.


Q: Abigail’s title at her job is “the Truthseeker.” What is the significance of this title, and what do you think a real truthseeker does?
I thought it would be interesting to write about a protagonist whose job was to seek the truth and have her find out that she was missing the real Truth the whole time. Since Jesus is the Truth, a real truthseeker follows Him.


Q: Forgiveness seems to be a recurring theme in your books. Why do you feel it is so important? Your main characters both dealt with forgiving their past mistakes. Do you think that it is just as important to forgive ourselves as it is to forgive the mistakes of others?
With sin rampant in all of us, this is something we need to get good at! Eventually, someone’s going to do something you struggle to forgive. I think this is partly because forgiveness is easily misunderstood. It’s not saying that what they did is okay. It’s saying that you’re not going to hold it over them anymore. I do think it’s just as important to forgive ourselves as it is to forgive others. Oftentimes, it’s even harder.


Q: Abigail and Wade both threw themselves into their work in order to escape their pasts. Do you believe it is easy to find an escape in work in order to hide from our problems?
No one likes to hurt, so I think the tendency is to avoid it however we can. Throwing ourselves into our work is certainly one way of doing so. But these things have a way of bubbling up to the surface eventually, no matter how hard we try to avoid them.


Q: What would you like your readers to take away after reading A Cowboy’s Touch?
Abigail was essentially trying to work off her guilt. She thought if she could just keep exposing other peoples’ wrongs, it would appease her own guilt. I’d like readers to see that only God can redeem us.



If you haven't already, please check out the first chapter of A Cowboy's Touch by clicking here.  You will also find my personal review at the end - bonus!






Counting it all interviewy joy,
 
 

A Cowboy's Touch - A Review by Jubilee



It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  Enjoy your peek into the book!




Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Thomas Nelson (March 29, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Wade's ranch home needs a woman's touch. Abigail's life needs a cowboy's touch.

Four years ago, rodeo celebrity Wade Ryan gave up his identity to protect his daughter. Now, settled on a ranch in Big Sky Country, he lives in obscurity, his heart guarded by a high, thick fence.

Abigail Jones isn’t sure how she went from big-city columnist to small-town nanny, but her new charge is growing on her, to say nothing of her ruggedly handsome boss. Love blossoms between Abigail and Wade--despite her better judgment. Will the secrets she brought with her to Moose Creek, Montana separate her from the cowboy who finally captured her heart?



Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 29, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595548017
ISBN-13: 978-1595548016

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Abigail Jones knew the truth. She frowned at the blinking curser on her monitor and tapped her fingers on the keyboard-what next?


Beyond the screen's glow, darkness washed the cubicles. Her computer hummed, and outside the office windows a screech of tires broke the relative stillness ofthe Chicago night.


She shuffled her note cards. The story had been long in coming, but it was finished now, all except the telling. She knew where she wanted to take it next.


Her fingers stirred into motion, dancing across the keys. This was her favorite part, exposingtruth to the world. Well, okay, not the world exactly, not with Viewpoint's paltry circulation. But now, during the writing, it felt like the world.


Four paragraphs later, the office had shrunk away, and all that existed were the words on the monitor and her memory playing in full color on the screen of her mind.


Something dropped onto her desk with a sudden thud. Abigail’s hand flew to her heart, and her chair darted from her desk. She looked up at her boss’s frowning face, then shared a frown of her own. “You scared me.”


“And you’re scaring me. It’s after midnight, Abigail—what are you doing here?” Marilyn Jones’s hand settled on her hip.


The blast of adrenaline settled into Abigail’s bloodstream, though her heart was still in overdrive. “Being an ambitious staffer?”


“You mean an obsessive workaholic.”


“Something wrong with that?”


“What’s wrong is my twenty-eight-year-old daughter is working all hours on a Saturday night instead of dating an eligible bachelor like all the other single women her age.” Her mom tossed her head, but her short brown hair hardly budged. “You could’ve at least gone out with your sister and me. We had a good time.”


“I’m down to the wire.”


“You’ve been here every night for two weeks.” Her mother rolled up a chair and sank into it. “Your father always thought you’d be a schoolteacher, did I ever tell you that?”


“About a million times.” Abigail settled into the chair, rubbed the ache in her temple. Her heart was still recovering, but she wanted to return to her column. She was just getting to the good part.


“You had a doctor’s appointment yesterday,” Mom said. Abigail sighed hard.


“Whatever happened to doctor-patient confidentiality?”


“Goes out the window when the doctor is your sister. Come on, Abigail, this is your health. Reagan prescribed rest—R-E-S-T—and yet here you are.”


“A couple more days and the story will be put to bed.”


“And then there’ll be another story.”


“That’s what I do, Mother.”


“You’ve had a headache for weeks, and the fact that you made an appointment with your sister is proof you’re not feeling well.”


Abigail pulled her hand from her temple. “I’m fine.”


“That’s what your father said the week before he collapsed.”


Compassion and frustration warred inside Abigail. “He was sixty-two.” And his pork habit hadn’t helped matters. Thin didn’t necessarily mean healthy. She skimmed her own long legs, encased in her favorite jeans . . . exhibit A.


“I’ve been thinking you should go visit your great-aunt.” Abigail already had a story in the works, but maybe her mom had a lead on something else. “New York sounds interesting. What’s the assignment?”


“Rest and relaxation. And I’m not talking about your Aunt Eloise—as if you’d get any rest there—I’m talking about your Aunt Lucy.”


Abigail’s spirits dropped to the basement. “Aunt Lucy lives in Montana.” Where cattle outnumbered people. She felt for the familiar ring on her right hand and began twisting.


“She seems a bit . . . confused lately.”


Abigail recalled the birthday gifts her great-aunt had sent over the years, and her lips twitched. “Aunt Lucy has always been confused.”


“Someone needs to check on her. Her latest letter was full of comments about some girls who live with her, when I know perfectly well she lives alone. I think it may be time for assisted living or a retirement community.”


Abigail’s eyes flashed to the screen. A series of nonsensical letters showed where she’d stopped in alarm at her mother’s appearance. She hit the delete button. “Let’s invite her to Chicago for a few weeks.”


“She needs to be observed in her own surroundings. Besides, that woman hasn’t set foot on a plane since Uncle Murray passed, and I sure wouldn’t trust her to travel across the country alone. You know what happened when she came out for your father’s funeral.”


“Dad always said she had a bad sense of direction.”


“Nevertheless, I don’t have time to hunt her down in Canada again. Now, come on, Abigail, it makes perfect sense for you to go. You need a break, and Aunt Lucy was your father’s favorite relative. It’s our job to look after her now, and if she’s incapable of making coherent decisions, we need to help her.”


Abigail’s conscience tweaked her. She had a soft spot for Aunt Lucy, and her mom knew it. Still, that identity theft story called her name, and she had a reliable source who might or might not be willing to talk in a couple weeks.


“Reagan should do it. I’ll need the full month for my column, and we can’t afford to scrap it. Distribution is down enough as it is. Just last month you were concerned—”


Her mother stood abruptly, the chair reeling backward into the aisle. She walked as far as the next cubicle, then turned. “Hypertension is nothing to mess with, Abigail. You’re so . . . rest- less. You need a break—a chance to find some peace in your life.” She cleared her throat, then her face took on that I’ve-made-up- my-mind look. “Whether you go to your aunt’s or not, I’m insisting you take a leave of absence.”


There was no point arguing once her mother took that tone. She could always do research online—and she wouldn’t mind visiting a part of the country she’d never seen. “Fine. I’ll finish this story, then go out to Montana for a week or so.”


“Finish the story, yes. But your leave of absence will last three months.”


“Three months!”



“It may take that long to make a decision about Aunt Lucy.”


“What about my apartment?”


“Reagan will look after it. You’re hardly there anyway. You need a break, and Moose Creek is the perfect place.”


Moose Creek. “I’ll say. Sounds like nothing more than a traffic signal with a gas pump on the corner.”


“Don’t be silly. Moose Creek has no traffic signal. Abigail, you have become wholly obsessed with—”


“So I’m a hard worker . . .” She lifted her shoulders.


Her mom’s lips compressed into a hard line. “Wholly obsessed with your job. Look, you know I admire hard work, but it feels like you’re always chasing something and never quite catching it. I want you to find some contentment, for your health if nothing else. There’s more to life than investigative reporting.”


“I’m the Truthseeker, Mom. That’s who I am.” Her fist found home over her heart.


Her mother shouldered her purse, then zipped her light sweater, her movements irritatingly slow. She tugged down the ribbed hem and smoothed the material of her pants. “Three months, Abigail. Not a day less.”


My Take:

It's been awhile since I read a romance novel that wasn't planted firmly in the historical romance genre.  Or the mystery novel genre.  But I picked a good one to delve into to get my feet wet again!

I gotta be straight with you and tell you, dear reader, that when it comes to Christian romance novels, I am a bit jaded.  I kinda feel like I've read my way through everything under the sun.  It is difficult to find unpredictable romance novels.  Especially well written ones.  I mean, sure, we know that the guy is gonna get the girl in the end -- that's why we read them, right?  But I am talking about settings and story lines that we haven't already encountered.

A Cowboy's Touch is refreshing and interesting enough to overlook the small predictable things and keep on reading for a very enjoyable and satisfying read.  And that is saying a lot coming from me.  I love that this novel takes place in Big Sky Country - a place that I've only dreamed about.  For me, Denise Hunter is able to lasso and pull down to earth, the detail and the vastness of Montana.  She makes it very easy to create a picture in your mind's eye.  She's done the hard work, all you have to do is enjoy the read.  And I hope you pick up this novel and do that very thing.

Tomorrow I will be posting an interview with Denise Hunter!  So, be sure to click back over!

Counting it all warm fuzzy, well written joy,


Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Little of This and A Little of That . . .

It's purging time here at the Jubilant household. Lately my days consist of waking up enough to get the kids on the bus, checking out FaceBook (I never was much of a newspaper reader) and then if I am not subbing, I put in a load or two of laundry and then hit the totes.

It's nothing like hitting the mattresses. On the other hand . . .

We have lots of totes stored away in the belly of the beast known as the Jubilant household. Mostly because we have moved so often (eleven times in thirteen years) that things often just stay packed. Now, kitchen stuff gets fully unpacked, cause, you know, gotta have the kitchen doodads handy at all times. But everything else is a hit or miss kind of thing. Just keepin' it real - and digressive . . .

Now that we are planning a move to Texas, I am going through everything we own and getting rid of the junk. And a lot of stuff that isn't.  I just don't wanna carry a bunch of stuff across the country that will be cheaper to replace than move, ya know?

So, the dining room and living room have been a complete disaster area for the last two weeks days.  A-hem.  On the bright side (?) I did find a few things that I had no idea I still owned.

The complete Weight Watchers set up for the year 2008.  It's a small lime green tote with all the notebooks and weight loss tools one could ever hope to own.  I am now 12lbs heavier than when I started WW back in 2008.  Do I need to mention it's been some time since I've used any of those tools in the little green tote?

I found exactly twelve glue sticks.  All in various states of use.  If only I knew I had these when Whirling Dervish brought home his school supply list that asked for 15 - yes 15 - glue sticks from each child.  Wow.  I could have saved a bundle at the Wal-Marts.  Like three whole dollars.  And then I could have spent those three dollars on Reece's Peanut Butter Eggs.  Because YUM to the E!

I also own three different styles of leftover birthday party napkins.  Did I actually think I'd use the same birthday theme twice?  What was I hoarding these for?  The Great Napkin Shortage?!  They are in the napkin holder as I speak type.

I seem to have an obsession with pedometers.  I have yet to locate a reasonably priced pedometer that works correctly.   They always miscount steps or count belly jiggle as a step (please, don't ask).  I have given up.  But evidently not until after purchasing different kinds over the years .  Ack!  Again:  The money I could have saved - and then spent on Jelly Belly jelly beans . . . just as well, I guess.

If I'd been a really good blogger, I'd have taken pictures of the piles in all their glory.  Alas . . .

Counting it all junky joy,

Friday, April 1, 2011

The big talk around the Jubilant household is moving to Texas.  There has also been a lot of praying.  And watching for signs.  I do believe that God still uses people and things/situations to confirm to us what He wants us to do or the direction he wants us to go.

I have to say, that other than a deep feeling of peace about the move, I haven't come across anything that screams, "Go To Texas!"  And that works for me too.  Peace about a decision is a very big thing.  Perhaps the biggest.

Now that the seriousness of the post is out of the way, I thought I'd share with you, some of the more precious and humorous "signs" that have occurred lately.

**  The Calm One came home from work the other day with a quarter in his pocket that he didn't remember putting there (we NEVER carry any kind of cash - just sayin').  He pulled it out and turned it over.  It was a state quarter - of Texas.  No joke.

 **  We are waiting on our income tax refund to fix up the house a bit and so The Calm One can get a plane ticket to Texas and do some interviewing.  The refund is a month overdue.  Just as the two of us were bemoaning over the fact that things seemed stalled because of needing the money, we passed a church sign that read,  ". . . though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come . . ."  I am so not kidding.

**  This one takes a little setting up, so hold on a bit.  When we first told the chickadees about the possibility of moving we were in the truck and The Calm One told the kids, "I sure wish God put on a billboard, 'Move to Texas' or 'Stay in Ohio!'  But God rarely works that way.  But it'd be cool, wouldn't it?"  Whirling Dervish asked what a billboard is and The Calm One told him, "It's a big sign on the side of the road that they use to tell people things." 

I mentioned that the kids might want to pray about how they were feeling about a move.  After a few moments of silence, Whirling Dervish piped up, "Daddy, I prayed and got put a sign in my heart that we should move to Texas!"  Since then every day he has asked me, "Has God put a sign in your heart yet?"  Sigh . . .


Counting it all signage as joy,

Verse of the Day