Friday, March 29, 2019

Spring in Georgia

Missy Tippens

It seems everyone has been sharing spring in their area this week, so I figured it's time I share some too. Especially since we're going to be past the peak of flowering trees before long.

This is a beautiful tree, and I loved the lamp post in the photo. There's also nothing quite like the blue of the sky this time of year.

This is the view out our front window. It looks like snow!

And this is that same tree you can see through the window--across the street at the neighbor's house.

This photo has a terrible glare, but as you can see my camellia bush is loaded with blooms this year!

Below, a close up of a gorgeous tree near the grocery store. Yes, I parked in the bank parking lot and took a ton of photos!

 As you could see above, the Bermuda grass in our yard is still brown. But a few weeks ago, I snapped this photo at a nearby hotel. They'd just mowed the grass and I got my first whiff of freshly-cut grass of the year. Such a wonderful smell that brings memories of relaxing childhood days, listening to the drone of a lawnmower while the distinctive fragrance of summer wafts in the window. Ahhhh...

And because we usually talk about food, I thought I'd share this quick twist on comfort food that I saw last weekend on a Food Network show with Damaris Phillips. (Click here for recipe.)

Basically, Damaris doctored up macaroni and cheese with roasted veggies. It looked sooo good to me! Yesterday at lunch, I decided to just quickly roast the veggies but eat them by themselves. Next time, I'll take the time to make the mac and cheese first.

I used sliced portobello mushrooms, broke cauliflower into bite sized pieces, and cut fresh corn off the cob. I sprinkled with a little bit of olive oil and added seasoning salt, then roasted at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Before serving, I sprinkled the veggies with a few flakes of Maldon sea salt. (I can't tell you how much I LOVE Maldon flaked salt as a finishing touch on certain foods--especially corn!) With some grapes, this made a great meatless lunch!

Thursday, March 28, 2019


I know this because the robins that have been grouped and hiding en masse in the woods are now doing curtsies and bobs and weaves while the boy robins are beating their chests like flighted Tarzans...

And the cardinal males are chasing each other from tree to tree in a show of true manliness!!!

While the women are gathering stuff for the house.


But we have more sun in the evening so things are beginning to ramp up here on the farm.

The guys are pulling wood that will be split for firewood for next winter for us and customers. Mostly customers because this is PRETTY WOOD.... I burn all the less than stellar looking wood because that way we've got the best of both worlds...

And Dave has cut log rounds for customers.... People love these log rounds, they use them for so many things....

And I want to be outside working but I'm doing tax records stuff right now and then next week I'm gone, so I won't be getting anything accomplished outside for two weeks...which is all right, but as winter winds down, we're all just so anxious to clean things up... rake.... trim.... pick up the plethora of things winter winds have set a-sail!!!!

And this is what's going on at Grammy Preschool:

Lena learning to measure flour evenly with a handy-dandy knife for leveling:

Here we're doing a change of seasons project, making spring flowers for Mom and Dad:

Do you see that button jar? An old glass Planters Peanuts jar....

And the top isn't broken!!! (yet)

They'll be so cute when they're done!

And we celebrated National Waffle Day last week with this:

We did those delicious Saveur Belgian Waffles RECIPE HERE that come out perfect every time. And I double the recipe and freeze them, individually wrapped so folks can have waffles anytime. Really good ones!

I've had a busy week... and more to come. And I'm always happy when taxes are off my plate and sent in. It's such a hassle and that is like the one thing I procrastinate on and I  do it for a reason.... because then everything is fresh in my mind as I go through the lists.... but gosh, I hate giving up a few days of writing and cleaning and whatever to do it!

(I do like spring cleaning. It's like therapy up here.)

Pantry cupboards have been cleaned and organized!!!!


Like OH MY STARS. I can actually see things again.

Do you get that giddy feeling when things are organized??? Or am I total nerd? Because I'm not Mrs. Clean by any stretch of the imagination, but I do love it when stuff is in place...


And it feels so right to have that happen in spring!

Multi-published, bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne loves chatting with folks mostly because she loves doing the chatting... email her at or stop by her website and feel free to friend her on facebook... where (you guessed it!) she likes to chat!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Anniversary Cinnamon Bread

Best laid plans and all that...

This Sunday (31st) would have marked our 35th wedding anniversary.

When we first were married, I used to bake a cinnamon bread from a cookbook a friend of ours wrote. My husband loved the bread.

Since I can't bake it for him this weekend, I thought I'd share it with you.

But when I went to look for the cookbook, it was gone.


So I had to find an alternative.

Most of the time these days, I don't bake for just me. Bread Alone, which has a stand at our farmers' market makes a pretty delicious one, so I buy that when I'm craving cinnamon bread.

And if you're a bread pudding fan, the Bread Alone website has a bread pudding recipe with a twist of fig,

But if you really want to bake cinnamon bread, a Google search brings A LOT of amazing sounding recipes.

Mindy shared a Texas spring with us yesterday. We're not quite so far along here in Brooklyn, but we're getting there.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Embracing Spring

Spring is coming on like gangbusters here on the coastal plains of Texas. Wildflowers are turning roadsides into colorful spectacles, surfaces are coated with yellow pine pollen and it's time to get outside and show the yard a little TLC.
Dixie was particularly happy about that. She lounged and napped on the grass or patio all day long.

While she slept, we were busy cleaning out flowerbeds, digging up and replanting some bulbs before adding a fresh layer of mulch.
One amaryllis has already bloomed while others aren't far behind.
And get a load of this incredible hydrangea. 
I love hydrangeas and the colors in this one are just gorgeous.

Of course, the highlight of spring in Texas is the wildflowers.
Especially the bluebonnets.
Whether they're sitting beside red...
Orange or white...
They're beauty is hard to beat. And there's nothing quite like a wildflower bouquet.
Though they're pretty spectacular by themselves, too.
The only thing better than wildflowers are babies and puppies.
Taegan has come up with her own special way of hugging. She simply touches her forehead to whatever or whoever she wants to show some love. This time Maddie was the lucky recipient. So glad my daughter captured this sweet moment.

Now it's your turn. What are some of your favorite flowers? Are you getting close to seeing them or does winter still have you in its grip?

Three time Carol Award finalist Mindy Obenhaus lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, the youngest of her five children and two dogs. She 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 a

Monday, March 25, 2019

Easy Chocolate Eclairs

Missy shared about a new tradition at her church last Friday. The High Tea sounds so elegant and fun, and definitely Southern! If you missed that post, you can read it here.

Isn't it great when churches have traditions like that? Times of fellowship and food, and perfect events to invite friends along for the fun.

Our church has a few traditions, too. Our Great Christmas Tree Hunt and Chili Supper is one of our favorites, but it's a long time until the first Sunday in December! So we have other fellowship times scattered through the year.

Another favorite is "Pasta and Music Night." A couple Sunday evenings a year, we have dinner together, then we are entertained by the musically talented folks in our congregation. Some are wonderfully talented, some are just beginning their musical journeys, and others (raising my hand!) are just having some fun.

Last night, my oldest son and I played a duet together for the first time. He's recently taken up the violin again after many years, so with him on the violin and me accompanying him on the piano, we shared this plaintive piece from Ken Burn's Civil War (note: this is NOT us playing!)

I've grown to love this song. It has been my writing background music as I've been working on The Amish of Weaver's Creek series that takes place during the Civil War.

But the evening isn't only music! It's Pasta and music night, so we had plenty of food, too!

I took one of my favorite carry-in desserts. I've shared it here before, but it's been a few years. This is so easy and sooo good! And it disappears quickly! I usually have to sneak a serving into the refrigerator for our pastor just so he can have some!

Easy Chocolate Eclairs


1 (8 oz). tub frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 large (6 servings) box vanilla instant pudding
3 cups milk
1 (16 oz.) box graham crackers


1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together the whipped topping, pudding and 3 cups milk. Place a layer of graham crackers in the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking dish (you can break them apart to fit), then cover with 1/2 of the pudding mixture. Repeat, and then add a third layer of graham crackers. (I never use all the graham crackers).

Now for the topping. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together sugar, cocoa and 1/3 cup milk just until boiling. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla. Pour into a medium mixing bowl and cool, stirring often.

Hint: this is your time to change the laundry, or read a book, or take a cat-nap...

Once it's cool, pour evenly over your eclairs. The topping will ooze its way around until the whole surface is covered.

Refrigerate for at least 12 hours. IF there are any leftovers, store in the refrigerator.

This is a great make-ahead for covered dish dinners. Once you make it, the only problem you have is keeping people from sneaking tastes ahead of time :)

And yes, you can substitute ingredients! If you make homemade pudding, use 3 cups and then don't use the 3 cups milk. Whipped cream can be substituted for the whipped topping - I think you'll need about 4 cups.

I've also had this made with Club crackers instead of graham crackers. They give it a very different, kind of sweet/salty taste.

* * * * * 

In other news, our blizzard from last week is gone! The snow has melted into tiny, icy piles, and you would never know they were four to six feet high a week ago!

Of course, melting snow means water, water, and more water downstream and downriver from us. Our little creek behind our house empties into another creek, then the Cheyenne River, then the Missouri...and adds even more water to the flooded areas of Nebraska and Iowa. Continue to keep those farmers and ranchers in your prayers!

We don't have any flowers yet, but we did see our first robin the other day! And the house finches are checking out last year's nest under our deck. From the sounds of their cheeping in the morning, I think it meets with their approval. :-)

I love our little finches, and their song is lovely.

How is spring looking (and sounding) around your house this week?

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, March 22, 2019

Second Annual High Tea!

Missy Tippens

I thought I'd share about our second annual High Tea held at our church, sponsored by our United Methodist Women. We had a wonderful time again! And this year, my daughter got to attend as well.

I shared a lot of photos from last year's tables (click here). I didn't take as many this year because I was so busy talking with friends, new and old!

Different ladies sponsored tables, and brought their own linens and china for the place settings. Some brought their mother's or grandmother's china.

I believe I got to enjoy using the same china again this year--my friend Terrie's mother's china. The centerpieces were gorgeous spring flowers as well.

We had quite a few ladies who really dressed up and wore fancy hats. This precious girl at our table wore a new fascinator her grandmother had bought her just for the tea.

Like last year, several men in the church served the tea and all the courses. We appreciate them so much!

Below, a photo my daughter took of our teacups side by side.

And a mother-daughter shot. 

I was so busy eating and drinking that I didn't think to snap shots of the food this year. However, at the last second, I took a quick one of my last course, a mini-cupcake. Notice the messy plate with scone crumbs and leftover jam and clotted cream! :)

We had a great time and hope to do it again next year!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Mouth-watering Whole Wheat & Honey Apple Bread

I am not a whole wheat person as a general rule, but rules were made to be broken!

My little friend Brody loves the whole wheat and honey apple bread sold at our local Wegman's food markets.... It's delicious.

But I wanted to see if I could come up with a reasonable facsimile at home... so I hopped onto the World Wide Web and came up with this likely candidate aimed at a bread machine.

I don't do bread machines.

I did once. Someone got me one, but I'm not a bread machine person. I like the hands-on of me doing it. I like the texture. I like to eyeball my work and see if something needs a pinch of this or a dollop of that.

So I converted the recipe. Followed standard bread rules... warmth, time, enough moisture and yeast.

It came out great. I did an apple version and a dried cranberry version. I found that dried apples are crazy expensive so I peeled three small apples, sliced them and dried them in a 225 degree oven for about 25 minutes.... Better than letting them go soft in the crisper, right?  I doubled the recipe to make two 8" x 4" loaves.

And here's the recipe inspired by this one on All Recipes dot com:

Wheat & Honey Apple Bread

1 1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
2 tablespoons soft butter
1/3 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup dried fruit


Stir yeast into water. Add butter, honey and salt. Mix in bread flour. Mix on medium for about two minutes,. Add whole wheat flour and spices... Mix on low until well incorporated, then use dough hook to knead until dough cleans sides of pan and looks firm.

 Add 1 cup of fruit now and knead again or turn dough onto counter, table, and clean spot you have and knead the fruit in by hand.

Put dough in greased bowl, cover with towel and let rise in warm spot. (This takes more time to rise than traditional white bread, so that's a major difference. The heavier dough and fruit weigh this down.... patience is a virtue.)  :)

When risen, push or punch down dough, roll it into a 9 x 18 inch rectangle, then roll it up from the 9" side.... fold ends under and tuck into 8" x 4" greased pan. Grease top of dough. Let rise about a half hour or so in warm spot.

Bake at 400 on center rack. (I had them on the bottom rack and one of the loaves got overdone on the bottom) for about 25 minutes/30 minutes depending on oven. Bread should rise and be firm and dry and when you turn it out onto a cooling rack, sides should be light brown.... Butter the outside of the bread while warm (retards toughening) and then wrap tightly once cool... but it is okay to taste it while warm.

I'm just sayin'... :)

This was great bread for eating and especially good for toasting with a little bit of soft butter... Oh my stars, so good!

Life here is showing hope for spring.... still cold and now muddy and with the promise of 50 degree weather.... Happy dancing!

So as I work on an autumn-set book the promise of spring prickles and teases... but for the moment, I've got plenty of inside work to get done before spring really comes.

I'm letting myself enjoy these final weeks of inside work and writing fun.... and still baking!

Award-winning, multi-published author Ruth Logan Herne loves to write beautiful stories embracing faith, hope, love, cute kids, great food, a loving God and heartfelt romance. Find her on facebook, follow her on Twitter, email her at or stop by her website

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A Barren Beauty

When my husband was alive, he did the morning dog walks. Since he passed, that's become my task, the early morning walk before I leave for work. 

For most of the winter, that walk has been pretty much in the dark, as has the evening walk when I get home. 

But there has been an unexpected beauty in these walks. I've come to really appreciate the stark beauty of the trees in winter.

Those early morning walks had me noticing the play of the branches against the sky at other times during the day as well. I'm particularly partial to the dark before dawn or the twilight ones, but the bare branches against a bright blue sky with puffy clouds are lovely too. 

Since today is the first day of spring, and soon (fingers crossed) everything will be budding with new life and color, I thought it might be fun to share some of the photos I snapped on those cold morning and evening walks.

That's the top of the Verrazano Bridge you can see in the background.

You'd really have to zoom in on this to see it in the photo, but I thought the sticky balls look like nature's Christmas balls hanging from the branches.

You can tell I've gotten a little carried away. Who knows, maybe this was just my time to note the beauty in the barren season, but I've come to truly love studying the differences in the patterns of branches in the trees. It's a reminder of how we sometimes miss the hidden beauty once the colors come out to dazzle us.

Do you stop to admire winter's bare beauty or are you a spring/fall only aficionado?