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Rhubarb Crisp – My One Weakness

Rhubarb Crisp Recipe from Cathe Swanson

First of all… Let’s get real. I have more than one weakness. I admit it – I am a multi-flawed individual. But this is a big one:  I love rhubarb crisp. At least once a year, during rhubarb season, I make as many pans of rhubarb crisp as possible and eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks until it is all gone. It’s good hot from the oven, or at room temperature or cold. I don’t need ice cream or whipped cream. It stands on its own merits. I love rhubarb crisp.

Rhubarb Plant at the Castle - Cathe Swanson - Rhubarb RecipeIt’s seasonal

Normally, I eat a fairly clean diet relatively low in carbs and high in protein. I eat weird things like coconut oil and apple cider vinegar (not together). All year long, I avoid cakes, candy and other sweets, but during rhubarb season, I eat enough sugar, fat and empty calories to make up for it. And I don’t feel guilty.

In the past, I was dependent on the kindness of my friends, so sometimes I could only make one batch a year, but there is an established supply of rhubarb here at the castle.

I’ve already moved most of my plants to the new house, but I want to use the rhubarb this spring, so I’ll come back here in the fall to dig it up and transplant it. Rhubarb is easy to grow and harvest, and YES, you can compost the leaves. You can find more information about rhubarb HERE. 

 

Rhubarb Crisp – the Recipe

My rhubarb crisp recipe came from my friend’s mother. LaVonne assured me it’s not a family secret. LaVonne doesn’t like rhubarb crisp. (That’s why we are such good friends. She doesn’t expect me to give her any of my rhubarb crisp.  Since I won’t be sharing mine, here’s how you can make your own rhubarb crisp.

Harvest rhubarb stalks, cut off the leaves, wash them and chop them into pieces – about 1/3” wide. You will need 3 quarts of chopped rhubarb.

Rhubarb Crisp Recipe - Cathe SwansonHeat the oven to 350*
Grease four 9” square or round cake pans. I use that old-fashioned, much-maligned, trans-fatty Crisco shortening for greasing pans. Butter will scorch.

Put into a large pot:
3 quarts chopped rhubarb
3 C. White sugar (I use 2 1/2 cups, to assuage the guilt)
3 C. Water
3 t. Vanilla
6 T. Cornstarch
Cook this until is it thick and syrupy.
While it is cooking, melt 1 1/2 C. (three sticks!) butter. Put it in a large bowl and stir by hand into crumbles:
3 C. Flour (I use half whole wheat and half unbleached)
2 1/2 C. Oats
1 1/2 C. Brown sugar (I usually use 1 1/4 cup.)
1 1/2 C. White sugar (I usually use one cup.)

Put half the crumbs in the greased pans. Pour the sauce over the crumbs and then put the rest of the crumbs on top. Bake for 40 minutes.

 

I hope you like this as much as I do!

Recipe for Rhubarb Crisp

What is your favorite food weakness?

(It doesn’t have to be a weakness, really. Maybe your very favorite food is green beans!)

 

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Celebrating Good Mothers-in-Law – by Heather Day Gilbert

I always like a family story, especially if it has a good mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship. My favorite woman in the Bible is Naomi. She is the ultimate mother-in-law role model. Ruth’s promise to her – “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.   Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. – indicates a rather staggering level of commitment. That is love.

When I read Heather Day Gilbert’s Miranda Warning, I found a new heroine in Nikki Jo Spencer, the mother-in-law of the main character. She’s amazing.  I want to BE Nikki Jo. She gets even better in Trial by Twelve! So when it was time to write about Mothers Day, I thought of Heather, and she kindly agreed to share her thoughts about mothers-in-law . Thanks, Heather!

 

Happy Mothers Day… Celebrating Good Mothers-in-Law

By Heather Day Gilbert

 

Yes, you read that title right. Despite popular opinion, some mothers-in-law are indeed good.

We’ve all heard the mother-in-law jokes that sometimes seem eerily accurate. The controlling MIL. The imperious MIL. The _________ MIL (add your own adjective).

But I also know that good mothers-in-law exist, because I HAVE one. And I constantly ask myself how I can be a good mother-in-law someday (yes, I think about things like this and I actually keep a list of things I want to do as a MIL and grandma, although given my lack of organizational skills, I might not stumble across that list before I’m dead).

As an author, it makes sense that I write both healthy and strained mother-in-law relationships. I thought about doing a rundown of all the MILs I’ve written (Thjodhild and Runa in God’s Daughter and Forest Child), Nikki Jo in Miranda Warning and Trial by Twelve, and Esther Sue McClure in Out of Circulation and the upcoming Undercut, but I decided to focus on Nikki Jo Spencer, because so far, she’s my favorite.

If you’ve read my books, you know I have no “perfect” characters. Each of my characters struggle with real-life issues, and mother-in-law Nikki Jo Spencer in A Murder in the Mountains series is no different. She has her foibles—she’s a bit of a gossip and she can be nosy—but she’s also solid gold when it comes to backing up her daughter-in-law Tess, no questions asked. She’s a superior cook and one of the wealthiest women in the small town of Buckneck, West Virginia, but you’d never know it by the way she treats everyone.

But I think the thing about Nikki Jo I’d like to emulate is this: she respects Tess and she loves her like her own.

That might look like bringing Tess a meal when she’s wiped out. That might look like letting Tess (a relentless sleuth) stay with her when a serial killer has discovered where she lives. Obviously the danger level is more dramatic in a mystery series than in real life, but I do think there’s something admirable about Nikki Jo and Tess’ relationship.

Nikki Jo’s personality isn’t the same as Tess’, which I think is often the case with MIL/DIL relationships. Nikki Jo is chipper and peppy. Tess is a realist and a risk-taker. But they have things they can learn from each other. Tess knows she carries the Spencer name now, and that means something special to her. She loves the family God allowed her to marry into.

I’m not saying MIL/DIL relationships are easy. I’m not saying they’re all ABLE to be as good as Nikki Jo and Tess Spencer’s. Sometimes boundaries have to be set, to maintain your own sanity (whether you’re a MIL or DIL). Not everyone is a Ruth and Naomi. And let’s face it—sometimes love looks like telling the truth in love so the air can be cleared.

But if you happen to have a loving mother-in-law like Tess Spencer does, be sure to tell her so this Mother’s Day. Let her know what a blessing her love is in your family’s lives. Celebrate this extra layer of love God has wrapped around you.

Miranda Warning by Heather Day Gilbert

Read more about Nikki Jo and Tess Spencer’s good in-law relationship in  in A Murder in the Mountains Mystery series.

LIMITED TIME OFFER:

Click HERE to get Miranda Warning FREE for Kindle. The audiobook is only $1.99. That’s a super deal for audiobooks! Be sure to pick it up soon, though, because this special offer ends on Memorial Day.

 

HEATHER DAY GILBERT

Heather Day Gilbert

HEATHER DAY GILBERT, a Grace Award winner and bestselling author, writes novels that capture life in all its messy, bittersweet, hope-filled glory. Born and raised in the West Virginia mountains, generational story-telling runs in her blood. Heather writes Viking historicals and Appalachian mystery/suspense. Publisher’s Weekly gave Heather’s Viking historical Forest Child a starred review, saying it is “an engaging story depicting timeless human struggles with faith, love, loyalty, and leadership.” Find out more on heatherdaygilbert.com.

 

 

 

 

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A Spring of Weddings – A Novella Collection

A Spring of Weddings

 

A Spring of Weddings by Toni Shiloh and Melissa Wardwell

Toni Shiloh and Melissa Wardwell have teamed up to create a delightful, romantic read. A Spring of Weddings is a pair of novellas with creative plots and interesting characters.

 

A Proxy Wedding by Toni Shiloh

Carly James values loyalty and friendship above all, so when her best friend calls asking her to be a proxy bride, she says, ‘yes.’ How hard can it be to say ‘I do’ so that her best friend can be with the one she loves? Only, Carly never counted on the feelings that began to swirl around with the proxy groom.

Damien Nichols likes life lined up from A to Z, but when his best friend calls in a favor, disorder begins to reign. Instead of taking a quick flight to the proxy wedding, he must take a road trip with the proxy bride. Carly’s free-spirit attitude bumps heads with his meticulous approach to life. As Damien discovers the woman underneath the carefree façade, his emotions become involved.

Will love become real at A Proxy Wedding?

 

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace of the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes soulfully romantic novels to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness. Before pursuing her dream as a writer, Toni served in the United States Air Force. It was there she met her husband. After countless moves, they ended up in Virginia, where they are raising their two boys. When she’s not typing in imagination land, Toni enjoys reading, playing video games, ​making jewelry, and spending time with ​her family.
Toni is a member of the American Christian ​Fiction Writers (
ACFW) as well as the ACFW Virginia ​Chapter.

 

 

 

Hope Beyond Savannah by Melissa Wardwell

 

Lily Allman and Nikotemo (Nik) Lagatuo were the poster children for the term “opposites attract.” He was an evangelist and CEO for a non-profit from Samoa who grew up in a large loving family. She was a blond bombshell with a funky style and no family to call her own.

Two of the most unlikely people meet in the most unlikely of places, but God had a plan when He brought them together. They never let their differences deter them from the love they had for each other, but when Nik’s mother comes to the States for the wedding, the idea of wedded bliss is shaken. Can prejudices be over looked, insecurities overcome, and hope for a better future be restored so that these two can have all that was promised?

Melissa Wardwell

 

Melissa was born and raised in a small mid-Michigan community living there still with her Husband and three children. She enjoys taking pictures, reading, and leisurely rides with her husband on their motorcycle. All her stories revolve around women who are mothers. Single mothers, widowed mothers, young mothers, married mothers, and even women who have a mother’s heart but no children of her own. She hopes that each story touches your heart, gives you hope, or just gives you a moment away from the chaos of life.

 

 

 

 

 

Spring and summer are the perfect seasons for reading novella collections. We all love to read, but it’s hard to find time for long books in our busy lives.  Novellas are just right! What are you reading this spring? Do you have a summertime TBR list?

 

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ACFW Christian Fiction New Releases May 2017

May 2017 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

 

Contemporary Romance:

Amish Brides by Jennifer Beckstrand, Molly Jebber, Amy Lillard — Under bright blue skies, wedding bells ring–fulfilling sweet dreams, impossible wishes, and joyous new beginnings among these three new stories. (Contemporary Romance from Kensington Publishers)


Sprouts of Love by Valerie Comer — An overzealous community garden manager delivers more than the food bank manager can handle. Can love sprout amid the tsunami of vegetables? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Summer Dreams by Delia Latham — God’s love…reflected in the waters of the Pacific, and in the eyes of a young couple who walk its moonstone shores. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])


Right Where We Belong by Deborah Raney, Melissa Tagg, Courtney Walsh — Three sweet stories of small-town romance by three tried-and-true authors. Whether in a quaint home bakery in Langhorne, Missouri, a cozy boho coffee shop in Maple Valley, Iowa, or a charming lakeside cottage in Sweethaven, Michigan, love grows best in small towns just like this! (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

A Spring of Weddings by Toni Shiloh and Melissa Wardwell — Two Spring wedding novellas, “A Proxy Wedding,” and “Hope Beyond Savannah.” (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit Publishing)


True to You by Becky Wade — Former Navy SEAL John Lawson hires genealogist Nora Bradford to help him to uncover the identity of his birth mother. As they work side-by-side, this pair of opposites begins to suspect that they just might be a perfect match. (Contemporary Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

Cozy Mystery:

What the Bishop Saw by Vannetta Chapman — A fire blazes out of control in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, leaving an elderly, Amish bachelor dead. Bishop Henry Lapp rushes to the scene, and he learns the fire was no accident. When the police point the finger at a suspect Henry knows is innocent, the bishop must decide whether or not to use his mysterious, God-given gift—one he’s tried desperately to ignore all these years—to try and set the record straight. (Contemporary Romance from Harvest House Publishers)

General Contemporary:

A Season to Dance
A Season to Dance by Patricia Beal — The heart wrenching love story of a small town professional ballerina who dreams of dancing at the Met in New York, of the two men who love her and of the forbidden kiss that changed everything. (General Contemporary from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Looking Glass Lies

Looking Glass Lies by Varina Denman — A poignant and relatable novel, Looking Glass Lies captures the war women wage against themselves, and the struggle to see beauty reflected in a mirror not distorted by society’s unrelenting expectations. (General Contemporary from Waterfall Press)

Historical:

Blind Ambition
Blind Ambition by Carol Ashby — What began as a bored man’s decision to try a different road turns into an emotional and spiritual quest that changes the direction of his entire life. (Historical from Cerrillo Press)

Wings of the Wind

Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette — A broken and bitter Canaanite woman dresses as a man to fight against the invading Hebrews, never expecting that she would live to be captured and married to one of her enemies, and certainly not to find love and healing among the very people who killed her family. (Biblical/Historical from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

Historical Romance:

 

The Secret Admirer (collection)The Secret Admirer Romance Collection by Amanda Barratt, Lorraine Beatty, Molly Noble Bull, Anita Mae Draper, CJ Dunham, Jennifer Uhlarik, Becca Whitham, Kathleen Y’Barbo, Penny Zeller — Shy expressions of love lead to nine historical romances. Declaring one’s love can be hard–even risky–especially when faced with some of life’s greatest challenges. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Noble Servant

The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson — She lost everything to an evil conspiracy . . . but that loss may just give her all she ever wanted. (Historical Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho: Rebecca's Plight
My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho: Rebecca’s Plight by Susanne Dietze — It’s a mail-order disorder when newlyweds realize they’ve married the wrong partners with similar names. An annulment seems in order–and fast. But when the legalities take longer than expected, Rebecca Rice wonders if Tad Fordham wasn’t the right husband for her all along. . . . (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Love So True

A Love So True by Melissa Jagears — They begin with the best of intentions, but soon the complications pile up and Evelyn and David’s dreams look more unattainable every day. When the revelation of a long-held secret creates a seemingly insurmountable rift between them, can they trust God still has a good plan for them despite all that is stacked against them? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

Road to Harmony
Road to Harmony by Sherry Kyle — When Jonas returns to Harmony, Elena’s heart is torn between her secret love, and the storeowner her parents hope she marries. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Hills of Nevermore

Hills of Nevermore by Janalyn Voigt — Can a young widow hide her secret shame from the Irish preacher bent on helping her survive? (Historical Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Romantic Suspense:

ACFW Christian Fiction May 2017
Fatal Mistake by Susan Sleeman — Each day could be her last…but not if he can help it. An FBI agent must protect the woman who can identify a terrorist bomber in bestselling author Susan Sleeman’s riveting romantic suspense novel. (Romantic Suspense from Faith Words [Hachette])

 

Fiction Finder – the best in ACFW Christian Fiction

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Exceedingly, Abundantly

Introducing… Soren

SorenWe welcomed a new baby into our family this weekend.  Our grandson, Soren, was born late Friday night. He’s the first child of our youngest son,  and it brings me joy to see his parents love and cherish their newborn baby. Their awe blesses me.

When my own children were little, I was always pushing for the next milestone – the first tooth, the first word, solid foods, walking, riding a bike, learning to read… forward, forward.  Now, with my grandchildren, I want to slow it all down. To treasure each moment and fully appreciate each stage of their development.

This is a good era for being  a grandparent. Soren is the only grandchild who lives near us, but we see pictures of the others online.  (Never try to tell a grandparent that Facebook is a bad thing. I have even “face-timed” with my grandchildren several times!) Grandchildren grow with astonishing speed. They change too quickly. I’m sure it’s no faster than their parents did, but from a distance, time passes alarmingly fast. We can’t catch it and slow it down. All we can do is be aware of life in each moment.

A few years ago, I heard a man used the phrase: “I’m killing time until…”, and I wanted to shout, “Don’t do that!”  Don’t kill time. You only have so much of it, and once the moments or hours or weeks have slipped past (or been killed), they are gone. Instead, redeem the time.  Let peace abide in your heart for each moment, each slice of life that God gives us. See what He gives us. Give it your full attention. Use it. Treasure it.

As a young mom, the days were long. As an older woman, the years are short.

I see my daughter-in-law stroke her son’s head with wonder, and my own heart overflows. She’s not reading a book or looking at her phone while she feeds him. She’s looking at Soren, marveling at this precious gift. I think I often fail at that. I don’t always give God’s gifts my full attention. Sometimes I wonder why He continues to bless me so abundantly, exceedingly, when I let so many of His “smaller” blessings slip by unnoticed.

Oh, right.  It’s all grace.

I do fail to appreciate the small things sometimes, but He continues to pile on the blessings, filling my cup to overflowing – and then continuing to pour more on top. He is good, kind, loving. His mercies are new every morning. This morning, I am going to keep watch and really see the mercies and the blessings, big and small.  And give thanks for my family – every one of them, individually.

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Baggage Claim Blog Tour and a Giveaway with a Grand Prize

Grand Prize Baggage Claim Blog Tour Giveaway

Celebrate Lit’s Baggage Claim Blog Tour

Baggage Claim is being featured in an online book tour until April 10th. I’ve been blessed by several kind reviews from experienced book reviewers. It’s interesting to read other people’s perspectives on my story. Some people found it suspenseful, others not so much. Most of them liked the children. Some readers thought the book is very romantic, some found it not very romantic at all.  A few people were surprised by the romance!

(Note: I am not good at writing romance. My editor laughed at my first attempt at the kissing scene. I spent two hours rewriting those two lines and then realized I hadn’t actually described the kiss – just the lead-up to it. That’s how I left it.)

The Grand Prize

Celebrate Lit, the organizer of the blog tour, is hosting a giveaway for readers. I enjoyed putting together a grand prize package that reflects my own interests and – hopefully – appeals to readers. I included:

A decorative suitcase

Suitcase… baggage… get it?? I collect beautiful chipboard boxes. Well, not “collect”, exactly. I just keep buying them because they are beautiful. I usually get them on sale at Michaels and then try to find things to store in them so I can justify my purchases. Michaels also has inexpensive, pretty photo/shoe boxes, too, and I use them to store crafting supplies, projects, and all sorts of other things. Sometimes, I even use them for photos and shoes. (Cathe takes a deep breath and curbs her enthusiasm) This suitcase has metal clasps and a leather handle. Isn’t it pretty?

A paperback copy of Baggage Claim

I will sign it if you want me to. 🙂

An assortment of handmade cards

I love making cards. It’s like scrapbooking for the person with a short attention span. Instant gratification. Besides, in this digital age, getting real mail is a treat. I have included 14 assorted cards: birthdays, babies, weddings, get well, thinking of you, sympathy, congratulations and a couple that are blank inside.  They were fun to make, knowing they would be going to a reader!

A box of Earl Grey tea and a pretty cup

Tazo teas are nice. I like most kinds of tea, but I usually drink coffee, so I decided a full-size coffee mug would be preferable to a dainty teacup.

A handmade quilted mug rug

I have been a quilter and teacher of quiltmaking for over 25 years. My website, GloryQuilts, has more information about that side of me. Mug rugs seemed remarkably silly when I first saw them, but I use them every day. They’re like an oversized coaster or snack mat. I also use one for a mouse pad sometimes. When I give them as a gift or sell them, I include this poem on a tag:

This useful little mug rug
for your table or your desk,
is a safe and pretty coaster
where your coffee mug can rest.
It makes a handy mouse pad
and a crumb catcher, too,
so enjoy your morning coffee
with a muffin and the news.

How to enter the contest

Visit the Celebrate Lit website or any of the blogs listed there to enter the contest. No purchase is necessary. You can earn bonus entries, too!

Celebrate Lit

Tell me…

I’m interested in your opinions. Do you enter many giveaways? What kind of prizes appeal to you?  A free Kindle? Books? Gift cards? Packages like this one? Leave a comment and let me know.