Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Monday, July 29, 2013


The weather looks like it is going to be PERFECT camping weather!  50's at night - 70's during the day!  We can't wait!

I'm so excited - someone must have canceled at one of our favorite spots in the campground - so we will be drinking coffee by the lake tomorrow morning!

We love our 63' Holiday Rambler that Mr. and Mrs. Lepeak "sold" us in 1986.  It is the camper that I went camping with them in all those years.  Grand Marais and Tawas were the spots.  Mr. Lepeak would drive us up, set up the trailer and go back to work!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Always Inspired by Mary Lynn!

My cousin sent me pictures of her reverse appliqué Tiffany-inspired art quilt.  I would love to put it on here - but I am going to wait until she enters it into her show.

I did want to acknowledge her creativity has gone in directions that are so unusual and beautiful. I love that she shares with me!

I will post the lovely picture in the next few months - anticipate - it will be worth it!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Dinner with Friends

We went over to Mary Beth and John's for dinner last night.  It was such a nice and relaxing evening.  The table was set so beautifully, the steaks were cooked perfectly and the conversation was fun.

After dinner we relaxed on the deck in the midst of spectacular gardens.  The birds were at the bird bath and the fountain was trickling in the background.

So - here is a sneak peak of how something gets included in one of my books - John was telling a story.  Then he stopped and said, "I won't go there!"  Mary Beth laughed as she said, "Good, don't go there!" Then he proceeded to tell what he was trying to filter from leaving his mouth, because we all know John can't help himself.  All of a sudden the fountain stopped!  Mary Beth said, "Even the fountain wants to hear what you have to say!"

For sure - next book!

Anyway - it was a delightful evening.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Long Night

On our way to pick up Sheala. Her flight was delayed so it isn't coming in until 2:18 am!

Robbie is asleep in the back seat. I am staying awake by posting! Pat is his old reliable self - he's driving.

The good thing is there is no traffic!

I know Sheala didn't want to leave Conner. Hope she is doing okay on her flight home.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

National Hot Dog Day?

There is controversy about whether today is National Hot Dog Day or not. It has always been the third Wednesday of July. However a few years ago it fell on the 23rd of July and now everyone thinks it is on the 23rd!

So, celebrate it when you want - we decided today!

Old Town Drive In in Saginaw - Mmmm.. YUMMY!

MMmmm...... Unexpected Goodness

 Oh Yum!  Honey Custard Rhubarb Pie

My friend, Clarence, called to ask if I wanted some Rhubarb.  Mrs. Lum's garden has lots of rhubarb! I was very happy to take some off his hands!
So yesterday I baked my favorite pie, Honey Custard Rhubarb Pie. When the kids were little I went through a whole "healthy" cooking stint.  This is the ONLY recipe that survived that period!
It is so easy to make - I made three pies and took one over to Clarence.  He said it wasn't necessary - but yes it is.  If someone is kind enough to give you enough fruit to make three pies then one of them better go back to say thank you! (Besides I shamelessly stole his picture of my pie of his website!)
Here is the recipe:
Preheat the oven to 425.
1  -   9" pie crust for a deep dish pie
3 cups rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Boiling water
3 egg yolks, beaten
3 egg whites, beaten
2/3 cup warmed honey
3-5 TBS flour
Pinch of salt
1 TBS butter
Put cut rhubarb in a deep bowl.  Cover with boiling water then cover the bowl.  Let sit for 20 minutes. 
While waiting for the rhubarb, beat the egg whites.
Drain the water off the rhubarb
Add the warmed honey, egg yolks, salt and flour.
Mix well.
Gently fold in the egg whites
Dot the top with small pieces of the butter.
Bake for 10 minutes at 425
Bake for 30 additional minutes at 350
This pie should be refrigerated after cooled.

Monday, July 22, 2013

So Many Blessings!

So tonight was the final game of regular season softball. Ayva played "I'm thinking of an animal" with Aunt JoJo and Uncle Rob. They were all on the big black blanket, her head on Uncle Rob's leg.  Giving each other clues to figure out which animal they were thinking of at the time.
We went out to dinner afterwards. I love our family. We so enjoyed our time together.
We sat on the patio at Harveys. We had our favorite waitress. The laughing and talking was so enjoyable.
Prayers tonight for our family to always enjoy being together.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Holiday Series is Available!

Holiday Series tackles some pretty difficult subjects.  My hopes are that Mothers and Daughters read these books together and then discuss them.  Internet bullying, abortion, zero tolerance and its consequences, disrespectful and rude behavior as well as forgiveness, cancer, waiting for answers from God in God's time not ours, finding out the world does not revolve around us.
It is difficult raising teens in today's world.  It is also difficult to find a way to talk with them without it being stilted and preachy!  Maybe reading these books and then just discussing them on a car ride or sitting at the kitchen table would be a great way to begin these difficult situations. 
I would love to hear from you - let me know how the discussions were.  I'll be praying for you! 

Book One of the Holiday Series - No Christmas for Olivia

Olivia is hurt and angry that her family is going to visit Aunt Fran in Phoenix over Christmas vacation.  It means there will be no trip  to the tree farm to cut a Christmas tree.  Her beloved decorating traditions will go out the window.  And most upsetting, absolutely no snow on Christmas Eve!  Olivia decides to skip Christmas this year.  Her parents can make her go to Arizona but they can't make her enjoy the holidays!  Follow Olivia out to Phoenix as she learns the true meaning of Christmas.


Book Two of the Holiday Series - Easter Break in Florida

Olivia and her sister Kyla are disrespectful to one of their teachers at St. Mary Cathedral High School in Saginaw, Michigan.  Their mom tells them a secret about him.  Can they keep the secret?  They have to go with him to Florida for an Easter break  mission trip.  Will they be able to mend fences and get along? Take a trip to Little Havana as the students and teachers learn together  lessons in  humility and the importance of sharing God's love.


Book Three of the Holiday Series - Independence Day

One of the girls is targeted with online bullying.  Accusations and rumors are running rampant at the end of the school year at St. Mary Cathedral High School in Saginaw, Michigan.  Have Kyla and Matt done what the blog says they did? Some of the students think they may have! The principal turns the investigation over to the Chief of Police.  Who is targeting the students?  Can the they put a stop to the bullying?  Will it continue through the summer ruining their vacation or will the guilty party be caught? 


Book Four of the Holiday Series - A Very Thankful Thanksgiving

The school board of St. Mary Cathedral High School in Saginaw, Michigan change their student policy handbook.  One of the girls finds out the hard way that the school board means business about zero tolerance.  New friends, budding romances, a long distance wedding and life changing events lead the families to the discovery of why this Thanksgiving is so special!


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Using Webber House in My Classroom - Guest Blogger - Theresa Bills

Theresa Bills teaches the "tween" girl's group at Hillside Bible Church in Ortonville, Michigan.  I asked her to write about her experience using my book in her class.  Here is her response:

What young girl hasn't had secrets to share or secrets to keep?  What does God say about secrets?    The girls in the book, Webber House, provided a great platform in which to discuss ways that we should handle secrets in our own lives.  With the enthusiasm of a bunch of girls and a great book to read, this combination had all the makings of great teaching!

This book was used as a "read-out-loud" with tween-aged girls ranging in age from 9-12.  They met on Wednesday nights to learn about the Bible, giggle, memorize scripture, giggle, play games, socialize, giggle and learn life lessons all aimed at helping them glorify God with their lives.  Fun, fun, fun, but without a relevant curriculum, the program wouldn't reach its potential for changing lives.  When I discovered Webber House, I knew my girls would be hooked!

For about 6 weeks, one of the leaders would read aloud from Webber House as the girls listened and interacted with their journals and each other during discussion time.  As the book's primary lesson revolved around whether or not it was appropriate for someone to keep a secret, it was very relevant to our girls and blended well with scripture study.  Mary Ellen Shea Clifford's voice and writing style made the book a joy to read because the reader sounded exactly like a story-teller.  Since the leader/reader had read the book ahead of time, she picked out various places to stop and ask the girls questions or elicit responses from the listeners.

The girls each kept a journal that she would write or draw in during the reading time.  The girls were encouraged to write about various things. They might record predictions at the beginning of the sessions, things they wondered about or questions they might want to ask the author, experiences they had that were similar to any events in the book and feelings that they had while hearing Katy and Jen's story.  At the end of each reading session, the girls would excitedly share pictures they drew and ask questions.  Since our evening program had three half-hour sections, this sharing time would often encroach upon game time, but our girls were in no hurry to run off.  They wanted to finish talking about the book.

When the book came to an end, the girls were told that they were going to meet the author.  They wrote questions they wanted to ask and had plenty to say when Mary Ellen came to visit.  Mary Ellen was a delight to have as a speaker for our girls.  Her positive energy and enthusiasm for writing and for life in general was obvious.  She encouraged all of us to pursue our inspirations.  She looked at every journal that the girls wanted to share and smiled the entire time.  She told the girls to add dates to their journal entries and to journal often.  She also  encouraged the girls to write about things that make them happy.  That's why I'm writing this today.  The book, Webber House, made me happy.  It took me to a simpler time and although I didn't live in it, I could relate to it and the characters I met while reading.  

 Knowing a bit about the author myself, I could completely imagine how she must have remembered things.  I also previewed the other books in Mary Ellen's series and I can't wait till next book.  You can believe that it will be read to the next group of girls in my program.




Wednesday, July 17, 2013

She's Off!

Sheala is all checked in and soon will be on her way to see Conner. She didn't sleep last night at all!

It was an easy drive down with hardly any traffic. Hope the drive home is too!

Monday, July 15, 2013


We celebrated Pat's Mom's 89th birthday yesterday. We went to his cousin Fed's farm. Mary Ellen and Dale, John and a couple of his kids and granddaughter, Rosie and Maurice, Monica and Roy and Cathy and Mom and Dad.

It is always nice to sit and talk with these people. They were so nice to let us crash their dinner!

It was so hot! And it is going to be almost 100 today. I hate hot!

At 5:30 I started making custard for Pat's mom. I want it done and the oven off!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Grand Rapids!

We went to Grand Rapids to take the presents to Liz and Joe from the virtual shower.

So we left early and went through the Shiawassee.  Saw the biggest snapping turtle ever!

We stopped in Lansing to fix the window on the trailer. Pat had the glass replaced so he just needed to put it in the frame.

We still had a couple of hours so when  we got to Grand Rapids we went to see Man of Steel. It was good, but too much action and not enough story.

Then we went to Liz and Joe's. They loved all the presents. Then Pat and Joe put the air conditioner in their bedroom window. That involved a trip to Lowes. So Liz and I got  chance to talk. I know I have said this before, but I love being an aunt!

Then out to have delicious pizza for dinner.

Now we are on our way home. We just drove past a mint field. It smells so good in our car! What a great day!

Paco being Paco

We are on our way to Grand Rapids to deliver the virtual baby shower gifts to Liz and Joe.

We have lots of time before Liz and Joe get out of work.

On our way he barely missed a huge rock on the road. So we turned around and went back.  He picked it up and threw it into the ditch. Might have saved someone from a terrible accident!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Playing School

We studied our numbers and now we are reading stories with Clifford and Avila. When the clock chimes we are going to St. Pete's to play on the play structure.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Shmavers Spending Her First Night at Nana and Papa's!

We are having chocolate chips. Nana already has her jammies on. Ayva is playing beads and wiki sticks. Papa is watching the Tigers. Now I had to cut her nails! She wanted them short and smooth!

Pope Francis - his first encyclical - The Light of Faith

My nephew Michael and niece Theresa both said we should read the first encyclical of Pope Francis.  I began reading and just after getting to chapter two I read this statement over and over and over:

"Only to the extent that love is grounded in truth can it endure over time, can it transcend the passing moment and be sufficiently solid to sustain a shared journey."

I was compelled to stop reading and write to Pope Francis.  I never wrote a Pope before!  I wanted to tell him about Michael.  After writing my letter, I went back to reading the rest of the encyclical.  I am glad I did.

I was moved many times during the reading.  The role of parents and Godparents in a child's life.  (I am Michael's Godmother). The role of our Blessed Mother in our lives.  How growing closer to the pain of others, like Mother Theresa did, brings about clarity.  The closeness of marriage and how it mirrors faith.

This encyclical was started by Pope Benedict to commemorate the Year of Faith.  It was part of a trilogy of encyclicals he had been writing on the three virtues of faith, hope, and charity.  Pope Francis decided to finish the third.

If you would like to read the encyclical you can find it here.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Virtual Shower

We had such fun at the virtual baby shower for Liz. Laura was in California, Theresa in Boston, Liz and her Aunt Anne in Traverse City (with her Aunt Sarah on the phone), several in Tulsa.

Cindy and Jim were nice enough to host Saginaw. Mary Lynn came with her great granddaughter, Carmella. Then Stephanie came with Carmella's brothers Deacon and Grayson. Kathy came with her daughter-in-law Kristina and three grandchildren, Ari, Ali and AZ. Caroline came with her grandchildren Javier and Ayva. Joanna came with Sheala. Bill and Julie came with Ethan and Tsipporah.

It took a bit but then we could see and hear everyone. It was so nice to see everyone! I don't Skype so it was such a treat.

Speaking of treats - Cindy made the most delicious chicken salad with grapes and celery and pecans.

Stephanie's friend opened a gourmet cupcake shop in Fenton and Mary Lynn brought cupcakes. The picture is of a partial cupcake that I thought to take after we started eating them. Seriously these cupcakes were to die for! I had an Elvis cupcake. Banana cake, peanut butter frosting with fudge ganache on top. It was yum!

Liz got great gifts.

A great day!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

He makes me so happy!

He doesn't even mind when I ask him to stop and pose! He really is the sweetest guy ever!

Sand Lake

Ok - party at Sand Lake! What should I bring? Ma's molasses cookies of course!

I just baked these for the first time. Fran, Ma's great granddaughter, gave me the recipe to use in the series I am working on - the Four Season Series.

When I was little I used to love watching a woman I cherished in her 90's make these cookies. I could barely wait for them to come out of the oven and cool enough to eat. That is how I feel right now!

I am taking my first bite - oh my goodness - not too sweet - just right - the jelly on top is essential. (Fran said to use grape jelly. ) The cloves and cinnamon and ginger and nutmeg are in perfect proportions!

I just went back in time.

Molasses Cookies
1 Cup Crisco
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Molasses
1 tsp Soda
2 tsp Ginger
2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Cloves
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Salt
6 Cups Flour
1 Cup Buttermilk

Cream Crisco and sugar, add molasses.  Sift flour 3 cups of flour with other dry ingredients.  Alternate dry ingredients with buttermilk.  Add the remaining flour and mix just until all ingredients are mixed.  Divide into equal parts.  Roll 1/4 inch thick.  Cut out with three inch cookie cutter.  Place on greased cookie sheet with a standard measuring spoon press a dent in center of each cookie (use back of spoon).  Place 1/4 tsp raspberry or strawberry (Fran says to use grape!) in dent.  Sprinkle cookies with sugar.  Bake 9 minutes at 375 degrees.  Do not overbake. 


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Another Church Sign

Cars are not the only thing recalled by their maker!

Herons and Egrets and Bitterns, Oh My

Last night we drove through the Shiawassee Auto Tour.  It was so fabulous we went back early this morning.  We saw so many birds.  Three hundred egrets, maybe more.  A flock of Bitterns.  Night Herons.  Great Blue Herons.  A Blue Bunting.  Sandhill Cranes.  An immature Eagle. And one we couldn't identify.  It was bigger than the immature Eagle.  We were too far away even with the new binoculars to be able to figure out what it was.  And of course a turtle!

We had a wonderful time.  I took a ton of pictures.  Here are a few.




Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Janet's Birthday

Just a short story about my best friend in Heaven on her birthday.

One year Janet Lepeak and I went to see our friend Barb who lives in Tawas. It happened to be Janet's birthday. Back then Pat and I lived in Sanford.  On our way home from Tawas we stopped in West Branch for the sidewalk sales.

The next year I told Pat the sales were so good that we should go. That afternoon I called Janet to tell her happy birthday and to say I was disappointed because West Branch had their sidewalk sales a week earlier.

Janet laughed and said "Yeah, I had my birthday last week, too!"

Never could remember birthdays! Miss you Janet!