Look! A book and a contest

SweetCarolineCoverAbout the book:

Caroline Sweeney has always done the right thing–the responsible, dependable thing–unlike her mother who abandoned her family. But when her best friend challenges her to accept an exciting job adventure in Barcelona, Spain, Caroline says “yes” to destiny.

Then, without warning, ownership of the run-down cafe where she’s been waitressing falls right into Caroline’s lap. While she’s trying to determine the cafe’s future, handsome Deputy Sherriff J.D. Rand captures Caroline’s heart.

But when her first love, Mitch O’Neal, comes back to town, fresh from the heat of his newly-found fame as a country music singer in Nashville, Caroline must make some hard choices about love and the pursuit of the sweet life.

About Rachel:

I’m a forty-something, a child of the ’60’s, ’70’s, ’80’s, ’90’s and ’00’s.

I roller skated through the ’70’s into the ’80’s with Farrah Fawcet hair and a three-speed orange Camero.

Born in Ohio, I lived several years in Oklahoma and Kentucky before my parents moved the family to Florida.

I graduated from Ohio State University (Go Buckeyes!) with a degree in Journalism. As a member of Phi Mu sorority, I partied my way though the last few years of college.

But, the truth is, and always will be, I belong to Jesus. At the age of six, I knelt at the altar of a Tulsa Methodist church and gave my life to the One who loves me.

After graduation, hired on at Harris Publishing as a software trainer, determined to see the world. And I did it without a laptop, a cell phone, an IPod or portable DVD player. Those were hard times.

But, I traveled to Ireland, Spain, Venezuela, Mexico, Australia, Canada and the U.S. from California to Maine. But, life on the road is difficult. Working twelve to fourteen hour days, one doesn’t get to see many of the sites. In Ireland, our company’s distributor drove me around at night so I could see something of Dublin.

I met Tony, my husband, in ’87, at church, of all places. We got married in ’92. Tony has been a pastor for twenty years. I’ve worked with him in eighteen of those twenty. Our heart is to see teens and adults passionate, radical and whole hearted for Jesus.

Tony and I don’t have any children of our own, lots of kids-in-the-Lord and we love them all. However, we do have a very spoiled dog, and an even more spoiled cat.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. My dad used to tell me, “You’re a writer.” I have letters he wrote me post college, exhorting me to write. In this, I believe he had the heart of God.

In ’93, I started an epic WW2 novel with two plots. It was well rejected. After that ordeal, I took a break and put efforts into my job as a software project manager. But, I missed writing and in late ‘ 99, I took up the craft again.

With a little help from my friends, my first book was published in ‘ 04, Lambert’s Pride, a romance novel. I love writing chick lit and romance. I love writing. What an honor.

From the book: recipe for Bubba’s Buttery Biscuits!

3 cups self-rising flour
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled, plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted for brushing the tops
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Place the flour and chilled butter in a medium mixing bowl. Work the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter, a fork, or your fingertips until the butter pieces are a little larger than an English pea, but not larger than a lima bean. If you are using your fingers, work quickly so that the heat of your hands won’t melt the butter.

Pour in all of the buttermilk and, using light pressure, fold the mixture a few times with a plastic spatula until it holds together. Do not over mix. In order to make light biscuits, it is important to work the dough as little as possible.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead it quickly and gently 6 to 10 times or until it begins to be almost homogenized. There will be large pieces of butter throughout. Sprinkle a little flour under the dough so that it won’t stick to the board and lightly dust the top of the dough so that it won’t stick to the board and lightly dust the top of the dough so that it won’t stick to the rolling pin. Roll the dough out to about 1/2-inch thickness.

Cut the dough into 2-inch rounds, place on an ungreased baking sheet, and bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes. I like the biscuits to be crispy and brown on the top and bottom, but not dry in the middle. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter. Serve right away. (recipe from Louis Osteen)

The Contest Part: The Sweet Life contest! Enter to win a Scrumptious Baking Basket from Rachel. The basket contains a Super Cool Apron, a Low country cook book signed by PAT CONROY, rolling pin, and a pie plate! All you have to do to enter is sign up for Rachel’s newsletter.

For more info on the book tour

Hi Feed Readers!

I am the Queen of Misusing apostrophes. I, place, them, at, the, wrong, place, all, of, the, time…

BUT, I have been working on it. (isn’t this something most people seemed to have learned in 1st grade? Did I fall asleep that day?)

So imagine my horror when I looked at the previous post in my reader and saw WHO’S honkin’ truck, rather than WHOSE honkin’ truck. I’ve corrected it, but there it is in all of its FEEDREADER GLORY, still screaming at me.

Since I’ve started writing on the internet, I’ve become a nervous wreck when it comes to punctuation, as evidenced by my overuse of the ellipse… … … … … … and the exclamation mark!!!!!

I’m sure that there are no less than 100 commas misplaced or missing in this post alone.

I hear Billy Joel playing in the background

First off, y’all are so sweet. I feel so silly when I get to thinking about stuff like stats and subscriptions. But y’all are sweet and true enough to remind me to just be me. ~thanks

(Now I’ve got that Billy Joel song swirling around in my head. “Don’t go changin’ to try to please me… I love you just the way you are!”

Okay, gag, I can’t carry a tune in writing either.)

Moving forward.

My home (except for Declan and me) has turned into another coughing, snotty nose fest. Seamus had it first, then Sean, then Abbie and briefly, Quinn.

We made it through the entire summer without crazy illnesses. But now we are back to the germ-fests…

I have mentioned Abigael’s coughing fits before. I’m still convinced it has to do something with the whooping cough she had 3 years ago. She is dealing with one tonight. They get so bad, that even though she has no other symptoms, she has to miss school. Nothing will stop them. Sean prayed over her back in May, and literally, she had no coughing spells from May until this weekend. For her, that was huge!

So I am awake, and listening to my sweet girl coughing, unable to sleep. It is such a hard thing for a mother to not be able to take suffering (slight as it may be) away from her child.

This illness also coincided with the opening of deer hunting season in Tennessee. Sean was determined to be out there in the field. So, imagine his dismay when he came down with a cold. He is not one to take medicine. But this weekend he took more meds than I have witnessed him take combined during the entire 10 years of our marriage.

And so our hunter made it out to the woods all weekend and even tonight. We are looking forward to some backstraps and “deer steaks”. He has been seeing some nice deer, but has been unable to get a good shot. Seeing the deer is a great improvement over last year. He was spoiled by his Wisconsin hunting. Up there, the deer practically jump out at you. For Sean, hunting in Tennessee has been like learning to hunt all over again.

~~~~~~~~

I was catching up on some blog reading tonight and Meredith at Like Merchant Ships has done it again. I love her tips for frugal living. Her home is so lovely and she has the most interesting tips for living beautifully with out paying beautifully.

My mom is wanting to do something with her kitchen cabinets. And when I saw Meredith’s tip, I knew I had to pass it on to my mom. But then I thought maybe some of you are wanting to brighten your cabinets. If so, go check out this post at Meredith’s. If you decide to do it, be sure to post before and after photos!

*updated to add: 5 Minutes for Mom has 2 great giveaways going on now.
They are giving away a PINK Dyson! and a WD Passport Portable Hard Drive.
If you win either, remember how much you all claimed to love me!! ;0)

The learning curve has changed

I am not one comfortable with going around talking about how smart my child is — I spent 12 years of school having to listen to one of my good friend’s mother brag on and on about how intelligent and gifted and lovely her daughter was – usually in the same breath as a comparison/rag on me.

Therefore, I learned early on that rarely do any good feelings with a bragging attitude.

HOWEVER ;0)…

Tuesday, my daughter came home and gave me a dissertation on the planets and the solar system. It was nothing that I hadn’t learned somewhere in my own schooling. But she was cute as a button going on about what she had learned. She showed me pictures she had drawn and a story she had written during her creative writing about the planets.

Cute.

Yesterday, she came home and talked about the solar system some more and said she wanted to write some things down about it. We don’t have a book on the solar system so I did the next best thing: we got online and researched it. We discussed things we found online and then I printed some things out for her and told her I’d be in in a bit to go over it with her.

I was in the middle of something that took me a bit longer than expected. Apparently she was unfazed…

She walked out shortly and stated:

“The asteroid belt goes around the sun, too. It’s between Mars and Jupiter.”

HUH??!!!

She’s gotten to where she can read any and everything on her own. But not only that, she can comprehend it and recall it.

Like I said – the learning curve in our home has definitely changed…

Your Ways are Holy

This is one of those posts that I don’t want to write… I’ve been arguing with myself about writing it all afternoon. I’m sure you will notice a change in my usual tone. Therefore, it may be deleted the next time you come by. But, I also wonder if there are readers who actually need to see this side of me. After all, I might come across as always “glass half full”, when many times I struggle with seeing it as “half-empty.”

Lately, I’ve been struggling with what to post. If you look at my posts before the beginning of February, you’ll notice more depth than what I’ve been writing as of late. Apparently, my reader-ship coincides with the depth of my writing – because it has plunged (site meter is only a “good” thing when your blog is being read).

Frankly, I’ve been in a “mood”. I’ve been tired and run-down feeling. The funny thing, is that in many ways, I feel very cheery and light-hearted. But at the same time I feel very burdened and stuck. And right now, I just want to yell a hearty “It’s not fair” towards the Heavens.

When I was in high school, I was not the most motivated student. I just wanted to draw and do my art. (and listen to really cool music). However, as unmotivated as I was, I am sure that almost everyone that knew me would be shocked to know that at the age of 35, I am living in an apartment and expecting our 4th child.

This is not where I saw myself (not the 4 kids part… I always knew we’d have 3 or 4, God willing) I’m talking about our living arrangements. In, fact, a few years ago, we were sitting pretty. Comfortable house and cars. Then came a series of events that put us on the path we are currently on. We are certainly better off than we were 14 months ago. But we still have a long road ahead of us.

Most days I am okay with it all. I know God has been working a wonderful plan through us. And I know that my faith has grown in ways I could have never imagined. But then there are days like today, where my mood fits the gray that is filling the sky. Where an innocent word hits me like a rock to the middle of the forehead.

And I feel stuck – not in my marriage or with my children – but with the financial burden that sits on our shoulders. (and believe me when I say, that I know that we have it better than most people in this world – we have a roof over our head, food on our table and clothes on our backs. Which is the main reason I have struggled with writing this post. I don’t want to come across as ungrateful for what we DO have… ) I feel like our wheels our spinning in thick Alabama mud.

I look around and I ask “Lord, why all of them and not us!!???” Everyone makes it look so simple to own a comfortable home and be “stable” and “secure”. (which, my rational brain reminds me that looks are deceiving.)

And then, I realize I am being covetous. I am looking at what other’s are blessed with and comparing it to what I have or don’t have.

And no matter how I want to pout about it or shake my fist about it… it’s wrong to do so.

I don’t understand why God put us on this path and not one of great comforts and security…

But He has.

And I also know that He wants to bless us for remaining faithful to Him, even when things were dark and bleak.

Psalm 77
I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hand and my soul refused to be comforted.
I remembered you, O God, and I groaned;
I mused, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days,the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart mused and my spirit inquired:”Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. 

Your ways, O God, are holy.
What god is so great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.

The waters saw you, O God,
the waters saw you and writhed;
the very depths were convulsed.

The clouds poured down water,
the skies resounded with thunder;
your arrows flashed back and forth

Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
your lightning lit up the world;
the earth trembled and quaked. 

Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters,
though your footprints were not seen.

You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

And really… who AM I to argue with that?

I may never have a mortgaged roof over my head, or live beyond paycheck to paycheck. But, I pray that the Lord will be my one and only source of fulfillment. That I will not look to things, or others to do that.

I may shake my fist and pout, but when was the last time I ever parted the seas?