Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Cardiac Inspired Menu

Well, this was a week.

My husband has been suffering excruciating back pain, and some combination of pain, no sleep, and heavy duty meds made his heart go haywire last Wednesday. So I ended up keeping him company in the hospital for the rest of the week.

Ah, the best laid plans. I had the week off and had planned to spend it writing.

Man proposes and God disposes.

Anyway, there's nothing like a week on a cardiac care unit to have you self-conscious about your diet.  If my husband - who has never had a day of high blood pressure, has "beautiful arteries" according to the cardiologist, is ridiculously skinny, and has such low cholesterol that we joke about whether he has enough - can have "heart failure" then what about the rest of us?

So, usually if I was visiting someone in the hospital, I'd live on fast food for the week, but as I mentioned, cardiac unit - scary.

So, instead, I lived on a diet of kale, sweet potatoes, and lentils or chick peas, and hemp seeds.

My apologies that the photos aren't the best. I snapped them as I could.

One happy discovery is probably going to have some of you shaking your heads.
I needed something healthy to eat for breakfast that wasn't going to wear off quickly (like my preferred muffin).

I had an inspiration. I grabbed a loaf of Killer Dave's bread and  toasted two slices.

Then I fork smashed my leftover chick peas and spread them on.
My breakfast sandwich. I know it doesn't look particularly appetizing. Sorry, I was in kind of a rush. But I really liked the flavor mix of the raisins in the bread. It meshed really well with the cold chick peas. Best of all though, it gave me the energy I needed to get through the day.

So, what do you eat in a pinch when you have to be away from home.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Brighter Days on the Horizon

Mindy here, feeling kinda blah. It's been pretty gray on the coastal plains of Texas for the last couple of weeks. Normally, I like gray weather. I mean, I've always said I have dyslexic seasonal effectiveness disorder. In other words, I get tired of the sun. 

But these last few weeks have been plain lazy. There's a part of me that wonders if God's not giving us a respite from the disorder and chaos of the last year, now that the renovations are complete and we've pretty much settled into the big house. 

But it still drives me crazy. Lazy isn't my style. 

However, this cool, rainy weather hasn't motivated me much.
The deer don't seem to mind it, though.
Just the other day I watched this pair meander across the field behind our house for hours.
They didn't even care when the rain picked up. Instead, they stood like statues, until the one on left finally decided to relax and lie down, too.
As a former city-dweller, I can't tell you how much I love watching this.

Despite the cool rains, there are tell-tale signs that spring is on the horizon, though. Bushes are budding.
Signs of new life are everywhere, if you look.
There are even a few flowers.
Yes, hope springs forth. In the garden and in the kitchen as another birthday is celebrated--with cupcakes, of course.
Meaning even when the rain falls, things look just a little bit brighter.
Of course, this smile always brightens my day.
Guess who turned two months old yesterday? She sure is growing fast. Before we know it she'll be crawling, walking, riding a bike! 

Oh, this grammy is so not ready for that. 

Now it's your turn. Since Missy, Jan and I have talked the last three days about the whole winter/spring transition, I want to know what it is about spring that you look forward to most?

Mindy Obenhaus lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, the youngest of her five children and two dogs. She's passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren. Learn more at  

Monday, February 26, 2018

Beautiful Music and Frugal Soup

Jan here, with a special treat for you!

Cantio Flutes
My friend Olya is part of a flute ensemble that plays gigs all around town. They formed last year, and are already in demand for Christmas parties and weddings. Check out their Facebook page! Cantio Flutes Facebook page

Olya has uploaded some of their music to YouTube, set to lovely pictures. Here's a sample for your enjoyment: Beautiful music here. (By the way, this is the first time this video has been shared publicly!)

You'll find links to the YouTube videos on their Facebook page.

Isn't the music lovely? Sigh.

Meanwhile, winter is hanging on in the Black Hills. We've had some warmer temperatures and sunshine the past couple days, but snow still covers the Hills. As it melts, it provides us with some much-needed moisture, but we won't be seeing flowers for a couple months.

With our cold weather, we're still deep in the soup mode. I've been making soup for supper three or four times a week. My husband recently asked me why I don't make "Freezer Soup" anymore. I told him that it is a recipe from a bygone era.... A throwback to years ago...

Our four children with Grandma and Grandpa
back in 1994

Back to the days when...yes...our children were that small. Now they're grown, two are married, and all of them are way too big for me to tell them what to do!

But back in those days, we lived in a great older neighborhood in a great small town in northern Indiana, and life was good.

We had no time. No money. Going every-which-way. Refereeing sibling squabbles. Falling into bed exhausted every night.

But life was good. More than good...blessed beyond belief.

In those days, we would have leftovers at the end of a meal. Can you believe that??? It never happens now, and hasn't for years! But little bodies don't eat as much - and their appetites are unpredictable - so there would be extra food.

After dinner, I would save the leftover hamburger patties, meatloaf, pork chops, mashed potatoes, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, leftover spaghetti sauce... You name it! I would cut everything into bite size pieces and put them in a container in the freezer.

Once a month (or when the container got full,) we had freezer soup for dinner.

Freezer Soup

Actually, there is no recipe for this soup, and it's different every time you make it!

Here's what you need:

My home canned tomato sauce was always more
juice than sauce

1) About a quart of leftovers, cut in bite sized pieces.
2) 1 quart tomato juice/sauce (I used my home canned sauce which was never as thick as store-bought)
3) Beef or chicken broth, as much as you need for the amount of soup you want to make
4) Additional vegetables as desired - I quite often threw in a pint of frozen green beans or an extra diced potato
5) Seasonings to taste - garlic, basil, thyme, and marjoram make a good blend

Combine the ingredients in a large pot, then bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for about an hour, more or less. Add salt and pepper to taste, if needed.

I always served this soup with some bread (often homemade) and some homemade applesauce.

I used to can 70 quarts of applesauce every year!

Times change. I haven't made freezer soup for a long time. Partly because of the lack of leftovers! But mostly because I'm not feeding growing bodies anymore.

When I make vegetable soup now, I use a basic simple recipe. But it turns out the same every time I make it. It lacks that surprise element!

It reminds me of how our lives have longer chaotic, rarely surprising. The only sibling squabble that erupts is when Thatcher tries to eat Wynter's food. Life these days is quiet. Predictable. These are the years in between watching our children grow and the time when grandchildren bring new life to the family gatherings.

But it's still good. More than good... Blessed beyond belief!

Have you ever made soup from leftovers? Or are you so ready for spring that you're sick and tired of hearing about soup? :-)

Jan Drexler lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and growing family. When she isn't writing, she loves hiking in the Hills or satisfying her cross stitch addiction.

You can find Jan on Facebook, Jan Drexler, author, or her website, Jan

Friday, February 23, 2018

A Taste of Spring from Georgia

Missy Tippens

We're actually getting a taste of spring in Georgia! After Ruthy shared her post yesterday, I remembered photos my daughter sent me the other day and thought I'd share them with you. I hope it'll give you a little ray of sunshine if you're still in the midst of winter.

We're starting to see trees blooming! And I noticed some daffodils the other day, too. I just love this time of year when we begin to see bits of color amidst the brown.

Pink!! It makes me happy. :)

And I made a spring dish for lunch yesterday. Some wonderful spring vegetables are showing up and tasting at their peak!


I used to see recipes for fresh peas and wondered where to find them. I finally found them shelled and bagged at Publix Market! (Had to fish the bag out of the trash for a photo when I realized I wanted to share this recipe with y'all.) :)

I sautéed the fresh peas, sliced carrots and chopped asparagus in olive oil. Then I added some of the starchy pasta water to make it a bit saucy.

A quick note about buying asparagus. I've found that the grocery stores that display it standing up with the stems in water have the best asparagus. It stays fresher and is crisper when stored like that. So I suggest you check markets near you to find out if any of them use this method!

My veggies served over pasta. A quick, healthy, springy lunch!

Oh, and don't forget the Parmesan cheese. Yeah, that's pretty well smothered. Yum. :)

I hope you'll drop by my website and sign up for my quarterly newsletter!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Not Quite Spring and Not Quite Winter

The weather commands attention in the north this time of year. Shoot, probably any time of year, but it's a guarantee at this time of year. Two years ago we had a cold snap that allowed for over 8 straight weeks of frozen tundra weather, with snow three feet deep on the level. That meant where you walked there was at least three feet of snow to your right... and three more to your left, but often more because the snow shoveled from the path you're walking had to go someplace....

But this year we've had peepers wake up twice... (peepers are the little tree frogs that burrow down in marshland or bogs and wake up the world with their joyous voices every spring...) and the rooster is pretty sure that 4:30 AM is a great time to let the world know he's made it through another winter...

Oh, Rocky!!! :)

In my search for the dark chocolate raspberry cupcakes that Hostess was touting on Twitter, we turned up these instead... Not the dream I was hoping for. The top frosting was blah and that took away from the fun cake and minty filling... so I would replace the drab frosting with the standard dark chocolate and love it....

And there lies the power of suggestion. @Hostess bragged on a product and we checked all over for it and none of our big grocery stores carried any of the new Limited Editions... but the Super Walmart in Brockport, the same one that carries a lot of my books.... They had four different Limited Editions.

Yay, Walmart!!!!

Our crescent moon this week as we ascend toward the full moon, and then one month until the next full moon, the one that brings Easter in its wake.

We love stargazing but this time of year it's often cloudy, so the winter sky is a pleasure to see, but between the cold and the shorter daylight, we kind of figure an early bedtime is our mode of hibernation....

We tore apart a storeroom (DEMO DAY!!!) to install a new bathroom, a project that's been waiting 30 years (no, I'm not kidding!!!!) and check out this newspapr from 1961 we found in the wall... First Communion dresses...

OH THESE VINTAGE STYLES!!!!  And those prices!

And look at these Polly Flinders style smocked dresses... Oh be still my heart

And our last snowstorm two weeks ago.... :) So fun!!!

Outside playing the way kids used to! :)

And a happy family testing Grammy's stuff... Every successful Grammy needs taste testers!  This was my version of Cronuts and they were beyond amazing. Like... way beyond!

It's deadline and edit time on the farm so that means I will be busy for the next six weeks making sure I've got edits done and stories complete before the higher light of April draws me outside by necessity...

Wishing you and yours a great Presidents' Day week and may God bless you and keep you as weather does what it's wont to do...


Multi-published author Ruth Logan Herne loves writing sweet stories about faith, hope and love... and she loves visiting with readers and friends. Including you! Follow her on @Twitter, friend her on facebook or follow her on Bookbub or Amazon, all of which makes the people who pay her... very happy!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

An interesting book... and kale

For awhile, every time my husband and I were in Barnes & Noble, I noticed the same book as I walked past a display.

It jumped out at me because of the odd title.

Would you pick it up?

I have to admit, I shied away the first few times I saw it, but then curiosity got the better of me.

I opened it and scanned through... and then brought it home with me.

I like Dr. Michael Greger. He candidly admits to being a nutrition nerd. He loved to sit in the library and read scientific literature because he loved the whole concept of learning from scientific inquiry. But when his grandmother beat back end-stage heart disease by changing her diet, he decided to commit his life to being a doctor with a specialty in nutrition.

So, with apologies to all my steak-loving cafe pals, here we go.

According to Dr. Greger, most of the life-threatening diseases we face can be prevented, halted, or reversed by adopting a healthy plant-based diet. He has 412 pages of information devoted to this followed by over 100 pages of citations. The book is arranged with general information and then according to diseases that can be dealt with by dietary changes. Then he devotes a section to what he calls his Daily Dozen: beans, berries, other fruits, cruciferous vegetables, greens, other vegetables, flaxseeds, nuts, spices, whole grains, beverages, and exercise. He got me with allowing coffee!

There are two lines in the back of the book that sum up what I like best about his philosophy. "If there is one takeaway message, it's that you have tremendous power over your health destiny. The vast majority of premature deaths can be prevented with simple changes in what you eat and how you live."

Dr. Greger is quick to admit that death is inevitable and often unpredictable. His focus is on preventing manageable, premature death.

There is an accompanying cookbook which I intend to purchase. I leafed through that in the store recently and I liked the look of a lot of the recipes.

You can also find information without buying the book, by going to

So, let's talk.

I know I'm not the only one here who enjoys kale, and yesterday I had my orange kale salad again, but this time I sprinkled it (heavily) with hemp seeds. They're high on the nuts/seeds list. Tonight it's kale, chickpeas, beets and hemp seeds.

I'm enjoying the healthy food. Granted, I'd much prefer a snickerdoodle, but I'll be honest. I ate a bunch of those on Sunday and didn't feel as good afterward as I do when I eat the kale.


No arrows allowed.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

What's In Your Pantry?

Whether it’s a pantry, cupboard or freestanding shelf, you likely have a place in or near your kitchen where you store canned goods and nonperishables. Some things are used and replenished often. Things like flour, sugar, cereals… Then there are those items that fall into the just-in-case or that’s interesting category. Things you might need. Things that made you go “Hmm…” in the grocery store and you decided to give them a go.

Join me as we explore a few items from my own pantry.

Velveeta Mini-Blocks.
Personally, I think this is one of the greatest inventions ever. Not just Velveeta, but these mini blocks are genius. You can use them in or on so many things--queso, macaroni and cheese, casseroles, baked potatoes... But the beauty of the mini blocks is that each block is only 4 ounces. So if I'm making a half batch of my daughter's macaroni and cheese recipe, I don't have to worry about leaving half a block sitting in the fridge. Instead I simply grab a mini block. Yes, it's a convenience item and those usually cost a little bit more, but knowing that it's always there, ready to go when I need it is worth it. Something else to consider, there are 5 - 4 oz blocks in each box for a total of 20 ounces, so keep that in mind when comparing its convenience price against the 16 oz package.
Soups, especially cream soups, are almost always a staple. Cream of Chicken and Cream of Mushroom are key ingredients in loads of recipes, so I always make sure I stock up on those when there on sale. But then one day I saw this.
HEB is Texas grocery store chain, so you may not find cream of poblano soup where you live. But given the fact that my husband loves poblano peppers, I thought this might be something interesting to add to my pantry. It could be a great substitute for one of the other aforementioned cream soups in a casserole. Especially something like a King Ranch Chicken Casserole or anything with a Mexican bend to it. 

Interesting jellies or sauces

This little bitty jar of raspberry chipotle sauce is the perfect thing for a quick appetizer/snack when unexpected guests drop by. I simply pour the sauce over a brick of cream cheese (a staple from my fridge) and serve it with some crackers for a delicious treat. And for those of you cringing at the chipotle part, it's far more sweet than it is spicy and cream cheese counters the spice, making it the perfect go-to.

While we're talking about heat...
My heat-loving husband was into this sriracha sauce long before I was. Of course, he'd squirt it on things and eat it as is. However, I can't do the super-hot stuff like he does. Then I started mixing this sauce into things and fell in love. It's a key ingredient in my favorite dipping sauce. Start with some mayo, add just about as much ketchup, then start with a little squirt of sriracha, stir it in, sample, then add more until it's just right. Even if you don't like hot things, you'll be surprised how just a little bit of spice will wake up the flavors of other ingredients.

Okay, so I saw these on an end cap the other day and immediately thought of my favorite oatmeal cookie recipe (find it here). I don't know when I'll make them again, but this mix of dried cranberries, cherries and blueberries will definitely be in them.

Now it's your turn. What are some interesting things in your pantry/cupboard?

Mindy Obenhaus lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, the youngest of her five children and two dogs. She's passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren. Learn more at

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Story Behind "The Amish Nanny's Sweetheart"

Order your copy here!
We're getting close to the March 1st release of "The Amish Nanny's Sweetheart," and some readers already have their copies!
This story is close to my heart. I loosely based the hero, Guy, on a real person – my grandfather. I never met the real Guy, who passed away several years before I was born, but his story is one I had to share.
I had a couple helpers as I worked on developing Guy's character. 

One was an essay my grandmother wrote for a college class. She had attended college before her marriage, but at that time only needed a limited number of classes to earn her teaching certificate. After my grandfather passed away in 1951, Grandma went back to college and earned the additional credits she needed to return to teaching.

In the essay, she talked about Grandpa's childhood and the boy who grew up to be known as "Daddy" by his five children. Her love for him gave her a special insight into his formative years.

Grandma in the late 1950's

But the best source of information was Grandpa, himself. He kept a journal from the time he was a young man - just a day book filled with short entries - but it was an invaluable record of his day-to-day life. I'm in the process of transcribing the collection of journals, and his entries let me learn to know Grandpa in a unique way.

Grandma and Grandpa's engagement picture

Born in 1902, Guy’s life changed dramatically when he was seven years old. His mother gave birth to a daughter and died of complications soon after the delivery. Faced with raising three very young children on his own, their father placed Guy and his younger brother in an orphan’s asylum and put his newborn daughter up for adoption.

Grandpa Eugene, Orville, and Guy

It was a hard life for a young boy. When he was old enough to do farm work, he was hired out to farmers in the area as an indentured worker. Abuse of various forms were part of his life, while the father who had left his sons in the orphanage traveled from job to job, never able to provide a home for them, but never signing away his parental rights. 

Grandpa Eugene (aka "Slim") is the man standing
at the left with the suitcase in his hand. He was
a "traveling man."

From 1909 to 1926, Guy lived and worked in thirty-two different homes.

The orphanage where Guy and his brother grew up

But, as in every story of redemption, God stepped in. 

This is from my dad's telling of his father's story: "When he was 20 or so years old, he found a steady job with {the couple who were the inspiration for David and Verna Mast} who lived on a 400 acre farm south of Topeka {Indiana} in Noble County. They needed someone to look after their fences, do chores around the farm, and to drive their car. Guy lived with them and worked on the farm...Guy's relationship with the {Mast's} was nearly that of an adopted child, a son that they did not have. {Verna} became a second mother for Guy and 'grandma' to his children."

The couple who inspired David and Verna Mast

Early in his young adulthood, Guy dedicated his life to serving the Lord. He met my grandmother, they married, and had five children, including two sons who became ministers.

The year after Guy’s death, Grandma wrote, “He wanted love and respect, but most of all he wanted a home and security, something he hadn’t had since his mother died.”

And what happened to the rest of Guy's family? The father who left the boys in the orphanage and the baby sister who was adopted out of the family?

Grandpa Eugene and his second wife
(Notice Grandpa Eugene's Plain clothing!)

Orville, Ruth, and Guy at their reunion in 1926
Those are stories for future books!

"The Amish Nanny's Sweetheart" is the story of a lost boy. A boy who longed for a home, a place to belong. In the story, Guy found that home.

In real life, there are children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren who can testify that yes, Guy found his true home.

Guy in 1929 with his oldest son, my dad
I hope you get an opportunity to read Guy and Judith's story!

Jan Drexler lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and growing family. When she isn't writing, she loves hiking in the Hills or satisfying her cross stitch addiction.

You can find Jan on Facebook, Jan Drexler, author, or her website, Jan