Thursday, December 31, 2009

writing magazine articles, any questions?

Hi all,
Did you know that I write articles for magazines? Often my topic is garden related but I do range over any subject I find interesting.
I have also written on prayer walking, visiting botanic gardens, training Karelian Bear Dogs to save Grizzly bears, African American bicycle soldiers in the 1890s, bats, the history of wine, the history of bicycles, rescuing aquarium fish and penguins from New Orleans hurricane, etc.
A friend recently told me that I am a prolific writer of articles, and that took me aback, and I like that way of looking at my writing. I did not think of myself that way.
I told her that I have 3 contracts for articles in 2010 and that I aim to write at least 6 articles for publication in 2010. Can you see I am never satisfied? That is not the ideal way to be!
Are you interested in writing for magazines?
One tip is to submit articles to magazines that you love to read.
If any of you have questions about writing for publication please send them to me and I will answer them as best I can.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wordless Wednesday Brown Pelican

Pelagic Boat Trip - 2008 Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival, Baird
Originally uploaded by mikebaird

Brown Pelicans have a special place in the hearts of my family members

Monday, December 21, 2009

Season of Hope and How Rich We Are

Hope is the theme of this season.
For many, hope's birth will be celebrated this Christmas, when a small wonder was born in a rude stable in Bethlehem.
I treasure what C.S. Lewis wrote about a stable that was much bigger on the inside than on the outside, because it contained the whole universe.
Do you know that today when I ate fresh red raspberries, straight out of their container, I realized that I am rich?
Eating raspberries in late December is something King Henry VIII may have been able to do, but not a solidly middle class citizen of that time. My husband and I are watching the Tudors tv series so Henry VIII is royalty that comes to mind.
In some ways, we people living in 2009, live like kings and way beyond that of a royal lifestyle. Royalty hundreds of years ago could not imagine tv, or electric lights, or likely even raspberries in winter.
Sometimes when I exercise in a warm water pool I tell the other ladies in the water that we are like queens and princesses, buoyed up by healing waters at a nominal cost.
So I hope each of you dear readers enjoys some sweet winter berries and other tender gifts today.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Chihuahua Christmas

december25 020
Originally uploaded by patriotworld

I learned that California's dog shelters have a glut of Chihuahuas and east coast dog lovers are clamoring for more Chihuahuas to adopt.
I am happy to read today that animal rescue groups, including an actress, are paying the airline tickets for many of these great dogs to be sent to the east coast for adoption.
The first flight of about 25 dogs were all adopted with a waiting list of 100 people wanting to adopt.
I love all of God's creations, and Chihuahuas are special to me, because my family dog as a child was Chili Rey of Martini, a wonderful Chihuahua.
We drove from Wisconsin to the Florida Everglades many years ago, for a camping trip at Christmas, and Chili went with us, as protection. Ok, he did not charge at an alligator to protect us, but he did love us bunches.
I wrote about this camping trip in the book I co-authored, "Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts", and he was a dear little dog, so I am very happy about the new program to match Chihuahuas with families.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Joy and Santa Claus Hat

Santa X Factor
Originally uploaded by sarniebill1

One fun thing I have found at this time of year is to wear my Santa hat when I am out and about.

It gives a spark of joy to folks all over town.

One man held out his arms and said "Santa, you are here!" I replied "I am Mrs. Santa, my husband is very busy."

Two young clerks in a bicycle shop, where I was on a secret gift buying mission, loved my Santa hat, and one of them offered to trade me hats. His was a plain watch cap, and I told him no way, mine is prettier. His co-worker said "See that spot on his hat, that is dog drool."

So no way in the world did I do a hat trade.

I realized that the silly Santa Claus hat I wore cheered people up, and that cheered me up just as well.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Angels From the Realms of Glory

heark, the herald angels sing
Originally uploaded by Melvin T. Schlubman

Do you love the words to hymns?

I bought a book "Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World's Greatest Hymn Stories" and aim to post about it in future.

Today I read the lyrics to "Angels From the Realms of Glory", written by James Montgomery (1816) and Henry Smart (1867).

It begins:

Angels from the realms of glory,

Wing your flight o'er all the earth;

Ye who sang creation's story,

Now proclaim Messiah's birth:

Come and worship, Come and worship,

Worship Christ, the new-born King.

James Montgomery was inspired to write the words after reading Luke 2, in particular verse 13. He was orphaned at a tender age, when his parents felt the calling to be missionaries in Barbados, and they died there. His parents had left him in Ireland in a Moravian community. He became a respected community leader and publisher of the Sheffield Iris newspaper, and this song was first sung on Christmas day in 1821 in a Moravian church in England.

I love to sing these songs when alone. Trust me, you don't want to hear me, though I do sing with enthusiasm.

This Advent season is when angels are especially winging o'er all the earth, I believe.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Candy Cane Christmas

Candy Cane Christmas
Originally uploaded by tres.jolie

Here's a little red story, in honor of candy canes.

I recently learned that straight white sticks of candy were a welcome treat in Europe hundred of years ago.

The choir master of Cologne Cathedral created the modern shape for the canes in 1670, by having the sticks bent at the top to look like a shepherd's staff or crook.

This shepherd's staff shape was to remind church goers of the shepherds who tended their sheep in the hills of Bethlehem on that holiest of all nights.

Christmas music at the Cathedral was sometimes disrupted by children being noisy, so the choir master devised the clever idea of handing out "candy canes" to children as they entered the cathedral.

His ploy was so popular that it spread quickly throughout Europe, as churches adopted his idea and in 1847 August Imgard, a German immigrant, used candy canes to decorate his tree in Wooster, Ohio. Red and white stripes were first seen in about 1900, and now they are a welcome and tasty Christmas decoration in countless homes.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

And the winner of a children's book is ...

Originally uploaded by worobod

Hi All,
The winner of one of the two children's books is Coralie of A Vintage Cottage Home blog.
She can select either book, and send me her snail mail address, to thekilns at excite dot com
Congratulations Coralie, and thank you to all who commented to enter.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday Poinsettia

Originally uploaded by /!

Wordless Wednesday Poinsettia.

Friday, December 4, 2009

children's book giveaway God Gave Us Christmas & God Gave Us Love

The author, Lisa Tawn Bergren, wrote 2 lovely children's books, "God Gave Us Christmas" and "God Gave Us Love", each featuring the polar bear family.
I will send one of these books to one bloggy friend who leaves a comment here by Dec. 8, 2009 and that person can choose which book. Yes, each of you who leave a comment on my blog, is a bloggy friend of mine.
"God Gave Us Christmas", ideal for ages 2-9, begins when a baby polar bear asks "Who 'vented Christmas? Was it Santa Claus?". Little Cub goes on a hike with Mama Bear, and sees God's creations, including dancing lights in the sky and learns that God created this holiday.

In "God Gave Us Love", also for ages 2-9, Little Cub and Grampa Bear have a fishing adventure, and Little Cub learns about loving even the unlovable, and how all love comes ultimately from God.
Any child would love having these books read to them, or reading them on their own.
The books were provided for review by Multnomah Random House Publishing.
Leave comment for chance to win one of these two sweet books.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

review of Treasured by Leigh McLeroy

In her book "Treasured: Knowing God by the Things He Keeps" author Leigh McLeroy examines the tangible treasures that God gives to people as he guides our lives. She weaves together things she has kept as humble treasures, beginning with examining a box containing things her deceased grandfather left, and going on to look at objects from Scripture.
Leigh recalls how God sent a tiny heart shaped leaf to her doorstep when she was sad and lonely one Valentine's day, being as she wrote, "an unmarried forty something woman." This leaf is one of the items in her own treasure box. Her ideas will help you create your own collection of treasures.
She continues with separate chapters about treasures in the Bible, including the olive sprig sent to Noah, a shepherd's harp string and a golden bell.
This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.
Anyone interested in exploring what their own treasured objects are, and learning more about Bible treasures will enjoy reading this book.
For purchase info see

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas King Cake

Christmas King Cakes are familiar to lots of families, especially if you are from Louisiana and other southern areas, since this cake tradition arrived in the United States, in New Orleans, in 1870.
These cakes are often enjoyed on January 6, on Epiphany, to celebrate the coming of the wise men to visit the baby Jesus.
A King Cake is baked with a bean, or a plastic or ceramic baby figurine, symbolizing the baby Jesus, in it. Tradition says that whoever gets the piece of cake with the bean or baby in it is King or Queen for that day, and is obliged to host the next Christmas King Cake party. In Louisiana it is common for schools to have the party on a Friday, with the person who finds the trinket bringing the cake for the next school day.
The cakes have icing in three colors: purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power. This tradition is celebrated world wide, with each country having its own twist. Mexico celebrates “La Rosca de Reys” on January sixth, with a bean inside an oval shaped cake decorated with dried and candied figs, cherries, quinces, etc.
You can buy King Cake Mix, and I located two online stores that sell Mam Papaul’s Famous King Cake Mix, which includes praline filling, icing, a baby figure, and serves twelve. These stores are in Louisiana, which is appropriate.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Asparagus about to be baked

Asparagus about to be baked
Originally uploaded by trenttsd

Ssshhh, don't tell my dh but I am on an asparagus mission.
I aim to buy asparagus tomorrow (Monday), and for the first time, bake it on a cookie sheet with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.
Have you done this? If so, I appreciate tips.
I am guessing 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.
Anyway, people tell me this is a delicious way to prepare asparagus. The way I cook it so far is to steam it on the stove top.
Now a friend told me that she bakes portabello mushrooms and Japanese eggplant in the same manner, slicing the long eggplant lengthwise before cooking and placing the cut side down on the cookie sheet so that it carmelizes a bit.
Does this sound as delicious to you as it does to me?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Comments from a kind reader in Devon, England

I have received many kind comments from readers of our book "Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts: Stories to Warm Your Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday" and each of these comments is very precious to me.
One woman whose comments about our book warmed my heart is Monix who lives in Devon, England.
I love Devon, England, by the way, and have not met Monix in person, though I find her blog charming.
Here is what she wrote on September 27, 2009 on her blog at
"I recently bought a copy of Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts and I recommend it to anyone who wants to recapture the real spirit of Christmas."
I love to see our book being read and enjoyed around the world and I understand it is being sold to readers in India and South Africa in addition to the United Kingdom. It is fun to imagine a reader far away holding my book and enjoying it.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!
Originally uploaded by lordog

"Give thanks to God. Call out his name.
Ask him anything ... spread the news of his great reputation." Is 12:3-4

Happy Thanksgiving to all my bloggy friends around the world, as family and friends gather here in the USA. Joy to all of you.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Winners of the two books are ...

Insert trumpet flare here, please
Ta da!
Kat at Heart2Heart won the copy of Thirsty and Jennifer won the copy of Touched by a vampire.
Congratulations, and my next book giveaway will feature a Christmas book for children, among others.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nutcracker Collection at Our House

The nutcracker collection on our fireplace mantle last year. The lion nutcracker on the left symbolizes Aslan, for me. What is your favorite Christmas decoration?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Faith and Fangs, Touched by a Vampire, book giveaway

I am happy to give away a copy of "Touched By A Vampire", by Beth Felker Jones, to one person who leaves a comment here by November 23, 2009.
The subtitle is "Discovering the Hidden Messages in the Twilight Saga". which is that bestselling series of books by the new household name, Stephanie Meyer.
Touched by a Vampire is the first book to investigate the themes of the Twilight Saga from a Biblical perspective. Some Christian readers have praised moral principles illustrated in the story, such as premarital sexual abstinence, which align with Meyer’s Mormon beliefs. But ultimately, Beth Felker Jones examines whether the story’s redemptive qualities outshine its darkness.

Cautionary, thoughtful, and challenging, Touched by a Vampire is written for Twilight fans, parents, teachers, and pop culture enthusiasts. It includes an overview of the series for those unfamiliar with the storyline and a discussion guide for small groups. I think that "Touched by a Vampire" is a valuable resource for parents who want to guide their young readers, and find some meaning in the saga. Beth Felker Jones is assistant professor of theology at Wheaton College, so her credentials are impressive.
She offers many thought provoking questions related to the books in the series, including "Does your family try to put on a perfect face to the world?" and "How can ordinary, weak people reflect God's goodness to the world?"
A chapter titled "The superhero and the girl next door" examines gender roles in Twilight. Jones notes that there are two sides to Bella, she is both strong and weak and Jones writes that readers identify with Bella because she is an everygirl.
I haven't read the Twilight books, I admit it!
Thank you to the publisher for supplying my review and giveaway copy.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Faith and Fangs, Thirsty, book giveaway

Today is the first day of the book blog tour for the novel "Thirsty" by Tracey Bateman.
This book was provided by the publisher and I am giving away one copy to one lucky commenter.
"Thirsty" has a vampire main character in it, and a human heroine, and a Christian perspective. Nina Parker is the center of this novel. She is 3 months sober, just out of alcohol rehab, and living 3 states away from her ex-husband and their two children.
There's no place like home, they say.

"Hello, I'm Nina Parker…and I'm an alcoholic."

For Nina, it's not the weighty admission but the first steps toward recovery that prove most difficult. She must face her ex-husband, Hunt, with little hope of making amends, and try to rebuild a relationship with her angry teenage daughter, Meagan. Hardest of all, she is forced to return to Abbey Hills, Missouri, the hometown she abruptly abandoned nearly two decades earlier–and her unexpected arrival in the sleepy Ozark town catches the attention of someone–or something–igniting a two-hundred-fifty-year-old desire that rages like a wildfire.

Unaware of the darkness stalking her, Nina is confronted with a series of events that threaten to unhinge her sobriety. Her daughter wants to spend time with the parents Nina left behind. A terrifying event that has haunted Nina for almost twenty years begins to surface. And an alluring neighbor initiates an unusual friendship with Nina, but is Markus truly a kindred spirit or a man guarding dangerous secrets?

As everything she loves hangs in the balance, will Nina's feeble grasp on her demons be broken, leaving her powerless against the thirst? The battle between redemption and obsession unfold to its startling, unforgettable end. Markus is an old vampire who is obsessed with love for Nina, since she looks like the lady love of his life, who died long ago, and another vampire wants the love and allegiance of Markus, and will kill anyone who thwarts her desires.
This is the first novel I have read by a Christian author, where the novel has a vampire in it. The author did a great job of welcoming the reader in to her characters' world and entertaining the reader.
Two other novels feature a Christian writer's take on merging the vampire legend with Christianity, Eric Wilson's Jerusalem's Undead Trilogy and John Olson's Shade. I will keep a lookout for these two, now that I have read "Thirsty."
The publisher has given me one copy of "Thirsty" to give to one person who leaves a comment on my blog, and who I will select using

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gooseberry Patch publisher giveaway ends today

Ooops, I accidentally posted this cover in two posts. Since there is a comment I won't delete this duplicate post, since I love all my commenters and want to keep the comments.
See yesterday's post for the details about the publisher's giving away 3 of their books.
I created this post as I was playing around trying to make photos of book covers BIGGER on my blog, and succeeded here, but recently all the cover photos I post are too small.
Anyone know how to adjust the size of the book cover photos?
Thanks in advance, friends.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

You can blog to win Gooseberry Patch cookbooks

Yes, three gorgeous Gooseberry Patch cookbooks are going to be given away by the publishers to one lucky blogger.

The books are so pretty and fun while being useful!
To enter their giveaway post about the books by midnight EST Wednesday Nove. 11, 2009 and leave a comment on their blog with the link to your blog post.

Oh me oh my, I hope I win! They have a recipe book on slow cookers, 101 Christmas recipes, Autumn recipes and so many more.
If you read about it here, and win, let me know so I can do a happy dance for you!
I read about this contest on Sandy aka Doris the Great's blog at

Monday, November 9, 2009

Coloring books to buy or make, Inexpensive gifts

Many kids love coloring books and these make fun gifts. Today in the store I saw packs of crayons, 64 gorgeous colors for under $6.00, and on sale for $3.00. You may find them on sale too; if you do, leave a comment here, please, to inspire other bargain hunters.

Coloring books cost from one dollar to five dollars, and you can find many subjects including trucks, cars, dinosaurs, fairies, Bible stories, famous people, Disney characters, and the all important horses subject. The horse and pony topic was very beloved by me as I rode horses at age 10 at the local riding stable. Hello dear Frosty and Sunset, my favorite horses from the stable.

To save lots of money and use your creativity do an online search of "make coloring books" and a whole world opens up. You choose the subjects and print the coloring pages.

National Geographic has a page of outlines you can print of all kinds of wild animals and other sites offer topics ranging from bugs to farms to Christmas and holidays.

The website offers lots of page for you to print, which you can assemble into unique coloring books tailored to your favorite kids and their interests.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Christmas Santa cat

a.k.a. Mrs. Claws.
Originally uploaded by Malingering

This is from and I think it is delightful.
What a cute Mrs. Santa Cat!
Can you tell I am getting in the mood for Christmas?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Book Finds

I read about Friday Finds on and want to take part in sharing a book that I've "found."
Please leave comments here on a book you are excited to be reading or plan to read so I can get more ideas for my TBR list :) I am delighted to begin reading "Swann's Way", which is volume 1 of Marcel Proust's "In Search of Lost Time", which I recall being translated as "Remembrance of Things Past." Thus far, the words are formed and flow like quicksilver, or a mountain stream. They are dream like, and are the thoughts of a young boy.

I bought the translation by C.K. Scott Moncrieff, although many people recommend the newer translation by Lydia Davis. When I looked on Amazon I saw translations and thesaurus editions in Chinese, Turkish, Swahili, Hindi, Afrikaans, Catalan, Thai and more. Wow, that is an honor for any book! I would love to see my own book published in other languages.
"Thank you to me" for buying this book at a local bookstore. When we post reviews on our blogs we are 'sposed to say from whence the book came.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Our YouTube video and a review

For a very kind and informative review of my book, "Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts: Stories to Warm Your Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday" visit Cathi's Chatter and her post on 10/29/09

On her blog Cathi also includes our YouTube video for the book, and Karen Robbins, a co-author, created the video.
Here is a link to the YouTube book trailer. The dogs with the Santa Claus hats are Brenda's dachshunds and so cute!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

Me so happy, me won!

Hi friends,
I am so happy to learn that I won a spectacular array of gifts, by leaving a comment at
Liane offered a mystery prize and I won, yes, little ol me.
Be sure to follow the link above and see the photo of all the goodies. This is a very amazing collection of gifts, even involving Godiva dark chocolate and a loaf pan with a fall harvest theme. Too many to mention, I suggest you look at the photo on Liane's blog.
I found Liane's blog when I visited her sister, Diane's Bittersweet Punkin blog.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Plant Crocus in Fall

Originally uploaded by stevegarfield

Hi Gardening friends,
Now is the time to plant crocus, for late winter and early spring blooming.
Most crocus bloom in spring, except for Saffron Crocus which bloom in fall and are planted in spring.
In autumn you may see bags of crocus bulbs (which are actually corms, which grow from a bulb like stem), in your local garden stores. Sometimes bags of mixed crocus can be found for 25 corms for under $10.
Online sources like have wonderful selections and bargains too.
Crocus will grow in sun, partial sun and shade, need well drained soil, and I recommend that you add compost and bulb food to the soil.
What is more joyful than seeing a colorful crocus blooming in the snow?
As is written in Isaiah 35:1-2 "The desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Your Favorite Book This Week

What is your favorite book this week?
Please leave a comment and tell us so we share ideas here for books to read.
I got the idea for Favorite Thursdays books from a fun blog
Do you ever read a book that is so beautiful that you want to celebrate? Yes, sing and dance and cry grateful tears?
This week I had that thrill when I read "Peace Like a River" by Leif Enger.
Yes, this book has many fans and I am so glad that I finally read it. It is my favorite novel that I have read thus far in 2009.
The prose is lyrical, the story compelling, with an underlying outlaw theme, set in rural Minnesota and the wild Badlands of North Dakota, and the narrator is an 11 year old boy. The father, Jeremiah Land, sometimes works miracles, the older brother Davy risks all to defend his family, there is a federal agent in pursuit, and horses play key roles in the drama.
Yes, "Peace Like a River" is brilliant and will whisk you away to the Badlands, miracles, danger and family love.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cute baby bat photos and my article

To read my article on the good points of bats visit San Diego Family Magazine for October 2009
It is on pages 30-32 and click on zoom to make the text larger. I included 2 cute baby bat photos provided by Cindy Myers of the San Diego Wildlife Project Bat Team.
For the photo of the adorable red baby bat, click on the above link.
Bats can be very welcome additions to our gardens, parks and cities. They are important plant pollinators and eat huge amounts of insects, including mosquitoes and insects that damage crops and our gardens.
As experts I interviewed point out, do not pick up injured bats, but please do call wildlife animal rescue in your area.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mystical Cats

cat's eyes
Originally uploaded by strollerdos

I was visiting and looking for a cat photo. Isn't this a beauty?
I just wanted to post a photo of a cat here after watching my cats play. Well, ok, nap!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

And the winner of When God Turned Off the Lights is ...

And, drum roll please, the winner of When God Turned Off the Lights, by Cecil Murphey, is
So Jen please contact me by Monday with your snail mail address. Contact me at thekilns at excite dot com
If I don't hear from you by Monday I will select another winner.
Thanks to all who entered and stay tuned for more book give aways here, including some Christian vampire themed books a publisher has offered to send us. I didn't know such a genre exists.
Actually I am a big fan of the Jim Butcher books which have an engaging wizard as the main character, and he does battle evil things like vampires. That's not a Christian series, though.
Happy reading all.

Monday, October 5, 2009

When God Turned Off the Lights book give away

Cecil Murphey has written many books and I am pleased to offer a free copy of his newest book to one of you, my dear readers.
The book "When God Turned Off the Lights" is about helping us face dark despair, doubting that God could love us because we fall short as Christians, and being disappointed with God for not fixing things as we want.
The author describes three times in his own life, when he was suffering and in deep despair, while pretending to be a cheerful Christian, and teaching Sunday school, writing Christian books and advising others.
Most of us have probably kept up a happy facade at times, so that when suffering and someone asks how we are we smile and say "Fine, fine."
He shares here his insights from his new perspective of happiness, and tips for changing so that God will turn on the lights. One thing he began to do was to thank God for 10 things before getting out of bed in the morning. This set a better tone for his day.
I began doing this and find it is enjoyable to find ten good things in my life, before starting my day, and each day I find a few new things that make me smile to add to my list.
Midway through his journey and this book, the author writes "God's provision is based on unconditional love - not on my faithfulness. I was getting closer to the light." He explains that God knows us and our faults, and loves us anyway. He loves us even when we are flawed, which is a great relief, and accepting this is part of the journey out of the darkness and into the light.

For a chance to win a free copy, leave a comment here. If you become a follower or are already one, you will have two chances to win. I use to select the winner.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Grow Your Very Own Rosemary Christmas Tree

Originally uploaded by ceejayoz

Grow a Rosemary Christmas Tree

Do you like rosemary "trees" as part of your Christmas decorations? You can save money by buying a plant and shaping it into your very own Christmas tabletop tree.

Trimmed to a triangular Christmas tree shape, or a round shape, and decorated, rosemary plants look festive on a table or on your front porch. If your porch has room, one plant on each side of the door looks cheery and welcoming.

Now is a good time to visit your plant store and buy a small rosemary plant that has the potential for you to trim it to a pretty shape. You can do the shaping over a period of weeks if appropriate. This can be a family project to find a rosemary plant that you will use as holiday decor each year. When you buy a rosemary plant in October or November, ask your store expert if you can keep the plant outside until you display it or if it will do best indoors, with plenty of sunlight. Their recommendations will vary with the climate in your area.

Once your rosemary "tree" is selected and gently trimmed to the shape you want, look around for things to trim it with. Bows, strings of beads, and tiny ornaments will add color to your tree and room or porch. You can cover the pot with gold or red foil for even more holiday glow.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fun surprise about my book

Like me, do you love good surprises?
I had a grand surprise when I found that Monix from Devon England wrote about my book with enthusiastic words on her blog, and is giving away a copy of it.
Be sure and visit her fun blog at
Her post about my book "Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts" went up on Sept. 27, 2009.
Monix has blog topics for posts listed and I couldn't help myself, the Devon topic grabbed me (27 entries) and the Christmas topic. Under the subject of Devon I found her post with lots of photos about handsome old stone walls. My husband and I visited Devon years ago and completely enjoyed it.
Devon cream tea is the height of fabulousness as a treat, so be sure to enjoy it if you visit the area.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Five Words

Five Random Words is a fun game that I saw on Teresa's Treasures
On her blog she gave her responses to Five Words, and sent me five random words.
Here are my five:
Happy. Overall I am one happy camper. Yes, sadness appears from time to time, but I count my blessings often. In fact, in church this Sunday we all paused to count our blessings. I hope your own list of blessings is as long as the Mississippi River and as deep as the Pacific Ocean.

Today. After church today I visited some blogs that are new to me and left comments.

Astounded. I am astounded by all the beauty I see around me, in my own wee garden and all around town. One neighbor has a front yard completely full of mulit-colored dahlias in full bloom, that are so pretty I stopped and took some photos which I will post here one of these days.

Baby. I gave birth to two delightful babies who grew up to be great young men. There are no babies in my life right now, but I do adore them, especially their perfect little fingers and toes, and their grand potential.

Finished. I am so disappointed when my favorite tv series finish, like Fire Fly. And they are hinting, only 1 more season of Monk and of Curb Your Enthusiasm. I will not cry but still, waah!

If you want to join in, and play this on your own blog, send me your email and I will give you five random words.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

You can plant historic trees' offspring

There is a company that creates offspring of famous trees from cuttings from the historic trees.

You can plant a tree that is the offspring of the Elvis Presley Southern Magnolia from the tree at Graceland, the Moon Sycamore grown from seeds taken to the moon and back in 1971 on Apollo XIV, and the Johnny Appleseed tree from the last remaining tree planted by him, which still grows on a farm in Ohio. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke in the shade of a Live Oak tree in Selma, Alabama and that tree's offspring is available, and the Live Oak tree growing at the Alamo.

The American Forests Historic Tree Program at (800 320-8733) sells these precious trees and many more including the Walden Woods Red Maple and the Gettysburg Address Honey Locust.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Muscari to plant in my garden

Muscari armeniacum 'Blue Pearl' - Grape Hyacinth
Originally uploaded by The County Clerk

Do you love "plant therapy" where you wander the rows of plants in a garden store and buy a few plants?
Today I bought a pack of 10 Muscari "Dark Eyes" , ideal for fall planting and which will bloom in spring. I have a big pot to plant them in.
For bulbs pots work best for me: it foils the gophers, if the ground gets soggy the bulbs don't rot since the pot soil drains well, and when they are done blooming I move them to the side garden.
I believe gardeners are hopeful people. We plant a seed, or a bulb, or a sapling in hopes it will grow strong and healthy.
That hope is part of me as a gardener and as a Christian.
What bulbs are you planting for spring?
Oh, and today I mailed the two books to the readers who posted comments this week, and who were selected to receive the books.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Squirrel and Sunflower in Our Garden

I have written before about my black squirrel who
visits our garden and plants raw peanuts. That post was on 2/8/08 in case you want to read it. Well, now a grey squirrel visits too, and climbed up to a precarious

perch on our 10 foot tall sunflower. If you look carefully you can see the twine in lower right corner that is tieing the sunflower to our roof. After the sunflower fell over, I tied it and it recovered.
My husband took this photo from inside the house, and it seems very cheerful to me. I hope it gives you a smile.

winners of 2 books are ...

Ta da! "The Book that Made America: How the Bible Formed Our Nation" is won by Becca (Becca's Dirt) and "Stray Affections", a fun novel, is won by Garage Sale Gal.
I will be giving away more books soonish.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Book that Made America book giveaway

I am delighted to have a copy of this book to give away here.
"The Book that Made America: How the Bible Formed Our Nation" by Jerry Newcombe documents the Christian roots of our nation.
Secularism is working its way through our culture, asserting things that are not correct, and even some political leaders are wrongly asserting that America did not begin and continue as a Christian nation.
Americans today have the right and the duty to preserve and uphold that heritage. This book provides readers with the facts of American history.
Those who want to restore knowledge of our Christian heritage have their work cut out. As secularism prevails in our schools, we move further and further away from retaining our Christian roots. The Book That Made America will challenge anyone to know the true origin of our Nation and to fight to keep it. Newcombe hopes to educate Americans by providing the facts of history, proving that America began as a Christian nation and Americans have every right to preserve and uphold that heritage.

Most of what is positive in our country's foundation can be traced back to the Scriptures. Recently, President Obama declared that America is not a Christian nation, while Newsweek announced the demise of Christian America. This book answers secularists with the facts.

Leave a comment here for the chance to win the free copy that the publisher is providing.
For two chances to win, sign up as a follower of my blog.
If you are already a follower, and leave a comment, you will have two chances to win the copy.

Monday, September 7, 2009

free copy of Stray Affections

I enjoy Charlene Ann Baumbich's Dearest Dorothy novels for their sense of humor since a giggle or a laugh is a great gift to provoke from a reader. Her new book "Stray Affections" is deep, tugs at heart strings, and gives readers plenty of smiles.
This novel begins with Cassandra buying a mysterious snow globe. She’s enjoying some shopping time, with husband Ken at home tending their brood of four young boys, when she’s utterly charmed by the one-of-a kind globe containing figures of three dogs and a little girl with hair the color of her own. She can’t resist taking the unique globe home– even if means wrestling another shopper for it!
The beautiful snowglobe sparks memories for Cassie, of her beloved Grandpa Wonky, the stray she rescued as a child, and the painful roots of her combative relationship with her mother, “Bad Betty” Kamrowski.
A happy touch is that "Bad Betty" charmingly begins to mellow. After a strange–flurrious, as Cassie deems it–moment happens with the remarkable snowglobe, Cassie and the people she loves are swirled into a tumultuous, yet grace-filled, and life-changing journey.
With the quirky, close-knit Midwestern small-town feel that made Charlene Ann Baumbich’s acclaimed Dearest Dorothy novels so popular, Stray Affections invites you to experience the laughter and the healing of second chances.
The author reads in a fun manner and gives readers some insights into this book with her video here:
This is a fun book to read, so leave a comment here by Sept. 12 for a chance to win a free copy.
For one chance leave a comment.
For TWO chances, comment and follow me.
If you leave a comment and already follow me, you will have two chances. One commenter will be selected, using

Monday, August 31, 2009

Garden created in honor of my dad

I share with you this photo I took on my visit in August to Wisconsin.
The photo shows a gorgeous garden on a golf course, created in memory of my dad.
Notice that the bluebird house has a perch which is part of a golf club. I love that touch, since my dad enjoyed golf, birdwatching and gardening.
I am sure my dad is smiling down from heaven as he sees the pleasure people receive from experiencing the flowers and bluebirds.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

English Cucumbers

Originally uploaded by La Grande Farmers' Market

I harvested our first two English Cucumbers from the garden today. I grew them on a tomato cage so that the cucumbers hang down and grow not touching the ground.

The one I planted is English Telegraph Cucumber, and these cucumbers are long and thin and they are delicious. We like them sliced with celery salt or lemon pepper, or sliced thin in plain yogurt with dill, salt and pepper.

Do you grow a favorite type of cucumber or have a recipe to share here? We would love to hear it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Blogging Tips, signed by Lorelle VanFossen
Originally uploaded by liewcf

I haven't read the book "Blogging Tips" by Lorelle VanFossen, but it is a neat photo to accompany this post.
I joined a useful online group a few days ago
This group is for readers, people who blog about books, and for writers and there are lots of small focused groups in it.
It is likely you fit in one or more of those categories, like I do.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Buzz Aldrin Apollo 11, Communion on the moon

Originally uploaded by jeditrilobite

I recently learned that American astronaut Buzz Aldrin celebrated communion on the moon during Apollo 11, on July 20, 1969.

Maybe I am the only one who didn't know that (smile).

Well, Aldrin's celebrating communion on the moon was not disclosed for 20 years, in reaction to a lawsuit about Apollo 8 astronauts reading the beginning of Genesis out loud on Christmas, 1968.
The pastor of the church Buzz Aldrin attended, Webster Presbyterian in Houston, prepared a communion kit for Aldrin.
I understand that the church has the original kit and uses it for communion each year, on the Sunday closest to July 20.
I love the image of this American hero, on the moon and rejoicing.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Friends We Keep review and Bible study series

I highly recommend "The Friends We Keep" for insight into friendships we have over the years, new and old, some supportive and nurturing, and some that come to an end.

During a particularly painful time in her life, Sarah Zacharias Davis learned how delightful–and wounding–women can be in friendship. She saw how some friendships end badly, others die slow deaths, and how a chance acquaintance can become that enduring friend you need.

The Friends We Keep is Sarah’s thoughtful account of her own story and the stories of other women about navigating friendship. Her revealing discoveries tackle the questions every woman asks:

• Why do we long so for women friends?
• Do we need friends like we need air or food or water?
• What causes cattiness, competition, and co-dependency in too many friendships?
• Why do some friendships last forever and others only a season?
• How do I foster friendship?
• When is it time to let a friend go, and how do I do so?

With heartfelt, intelligent writing, Sarah explores these questions and more with personal stories, cultural references and history, faith, and grace. In the process, she delivers wisdom for navigating the challenges, mysteries, and delights of friendship: why we need friendships with other women, what it means to be safe in relationship, and how to embrace what a friend has to offer, whether meager or generous.

Summary for 40 Minute Bible Studies

The 40 Minute Bible Study series from beloved Bible teacher Kay Arthur and the teaching staff of Precept Ministries tackles important issues in brief, easy-to-grasp lessons you can use personally or for small-group discussion. Each book in the series includes six 40-minute studies designed to draw you into God’s Word through basic inductive Bible study. There are 16 titles in the series, with topics ranging from fasting and forgiveness to prayer and worship. With no homework required, everyone in the group can work through the lesson together at the same time. Let these respected Bible teachers lead you in a study that will transform your thinking—and your life.

Titles Include:

•The Essentials of Effective Prayer •Being a Disciple: Counting the Cost

•Building a Marriage That Really Works •Discovering What the Future Holds

Forgiveness: Breaking the Power of the Past •Having a Real Relationship with God

•How Do You Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk? •Living a Life of Real Worship

•How to Make Choices You Won’t Regret •Living Victoriously in Difficult Times

•Money & Possessions: The Quest for Contentment •Rising to the Call of Leadership

•How Do You Know God’s Your Father? •Key Principles of Biblical Fasting

•A Man’s Strategy for Conquering Temptation •What Does the Bible Say About Sex?

The publisher is kindly offering one of the Bible studies free to one person who leaves a comment here. The title is "What does the Bible say about sex?'

Monday, August 3, 2009

Central Park and Frederick Law Olmsted photo originally uploaded by Wallyg
I read recently about Central Park, and am sorry to say that I have not seen it in person. I am certain that this is the kind of park that I would rave about if I visited it, like parks I've enjoyed in Paris and in Istanbul.

Central Park seems like it is America's Park.
In 1800 there were only 60,000 people living in New York City, and immigration drove the numbers up to 400,000 by 1844, when it became America's largest city.
Central Park was designed in 1856 by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, and was the first landscaped park in the United States. Their genius was to plan it as "a single work of art", with 843 acres transformed into a pageant of open meadows, bubbling brooks, waterfalls, walkways, lakes and forest paths. The park has many fine bronze statues, Belvedere Castle, and is home to music events and many other public activities.
All these years later I want to thank the men who planned Central Park. The Park keeps changing and yet holding firm to be a place where people can encounter a touch of nature.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Garden strawberries and blackberries

This photo shows scrumptious blackberries from our huge wild blackberry patch, and Chandler strawberries from our twelve sturdy plants.
My husband took this photo of the bowl of blackberries and strawberries I picked this morning.
We don't water or feed the seven foot tall and ten foot wide blackberry brambles, and can only pick from the edges of it, due to extreme danger from the thorns. Smile.
This leaves most of the berries for the birds and wild critters that visit our city garden. We have a pretty skunk and a light grey possum among our visitors, and they may actually live in the thorny berry patch, which is fine by us.
So these berries are all organic and sweet as sweet can be.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Flower Garden גינת פרחים
Originally uploaded by Exothermic

"Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made." Henry Beecher 1858

What are your favorite flowers?

This week I bought Double Magenta Petunias that will trail over the containers, and Blue Springs Penstemon, with flowers that are the unique & glorious blue with tinge of pink and purple mixed into the blue.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Beatrix Potter's Birthday & Garden

Hill Top @ Near Sawrey
Originally uploaded by Mexicanwave
Does every gardener wish to visit Hill Top Farm, the home of Beatrix Potter?
She was born July 28, 1866, and purchased and preserved Hill Top Farm in 1905.
The farm is located in the English Lakes District, in Near Sawrey.
I highly recommend the movie "Miss Potter". Her story of being an accomplished author & painter in times when women had limited options, the way she preserved this rural retreat and farm and even the cinematography combine to make this a must see movie, for my husband and I.
Visit for a glimpse of Hill Top Farm today. Beatrix Potter left Hill Top Farm to the National Trust when she died in 1943, with the proviso that it remain unchanged, including her furniture and china.
Happy Birthday Dear Beatrix.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mozzarella and Tomato Salad

Tomatoes and Mozzarella
Originally uploaded by ohdearbarb

Any time of the year is perfect for a Mozzarella and Tomato salad, and summer is ideal if you have tomatoes and basil in your garden.
This salad is from Italy and is also called Insalata Caprese salad.
First, buy a container of the tender round cherry size fresh Mozzarella balls. On the container it will say "Fresh Mozzarella."
The other essential ingredients are tomatoes, fresh basil and olive oil. I add a splash of balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. Any tomatoes are fine, and cherry tomatoes are wonderful. Feel free to use whatever you have available.
Some people like to add some black olives and or capers, and a pinch of oregano. That sounds delicious, doesn't it>
Today I cut up 2 medium tomatoes, used 20 of the Mozzarella balls (called Ciliegine on the container), added about 4 tablespoons of olive oil, ten gently torn basil leaves from the garden and there it is.
Let it sit in the refrigerator until you are ready to feast.

Monday, July 20, 2009

one free copy of Cecil Murphey's new book

"When Someone You Love Has Cancer: Comfort and Encouragement for Caregivers and Loved Ones" by Cecil Murphey.

Cecil Murphey is a gifted author and generous in his help to other authors. I know this first hand, and am happy today to participate in his book's blog tour. One person who leaves a comment on my blog will receive a free copy of his book, and one commenter on one of the blogs on the tour will receive a wonderful prize (see below).
Here is what Cecil shares with readers about how he came to write this book. "When Shirley walked in from the garage, she didn't have to say a word: I read the diagnosis in her eyes. I grabbed her and held her tightly for several seconds. When I released her, she didn't cry. The unshed tears glistened, but that was all.

I felt emotionally paralyzed and helpless, and I couldn't understand my reaction. After all, I was a professional. As a former pastor and volunteer hospital chaplain I had been around many cancer patients. I'd seen people at their lowest and most vulnerable. As a writing instructor, I helped one woman write her cancer-survival book. Shirley and I had been caregivers for Shirley's older sister for months before she died of colon cancer.

All of that happened before cancer became personal to me--before my wife learned she needed a mastectomy. To make it worse, Shirley was in the high-risk category because most of her blood relatives had died of some form of cancer. Years earlier, she had jokingly said, "In our family we grow things."

In the days after the diagnosis and before her surgery, I went to a local bookstore and to the public library. I found dozens of accounts, usually by women, about their battle and survival. I pushed aside the novels that ended in a person's death. A few books contained medical or technical information. I searched on-line and garnered useful information--but I found nothing that spoke to me on how to cope with the possible loss of the person I loved most in this world.

Our story ends happily: Shirley has started her tenth year as a cancer survivor. Not only am I grateful, but I remember my pain and confusion during those days. That concerns me enough to reach out to others who also feel helpless as they watch a loved one face the serious diagnosis of cancer.

That's why I wrote When Someone You Love Has Cancer. I want to encourage relatives and friends and also to offer practical suggestions as they stay at the side of those they love."

Leave a comment here for the chance to win the free copy of this book. Also, a grand prize gift worth $300 will be given to one person who leaves a blog comment on one of the blogs participating in this tour, July 20-31, 2009.