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BOOK REVIEW: “WHERE SHE BELONGS”

Hatfields  vs. McKoys

Sullivans vs. Lassiters

Feuding families.

Anger carried from generation to generation.

In Johnnie Alexander’s latest book, Where She Belongs, she tells the story of the Sullivan/Lassiter feud through the lives of the grandchildren, AJ Sullivan and Shelby Lassiter Kincaid.

Where She Belongs is a descriptive story and one that is hard to put down. It takes the readers back to their own childhood memories, good ones and perhaps not so good. It is rich in drama, intrigue, surprises, and of course, love. Just as you think you have the story figured out, Ms. Alexander throws in a curveball and then another one.

This book is the first in the Misty Willow series and I am already eagerly waiting the release of Book Two.

 

I was given a free copy of this book for the purposes of writing a book review. I was in no way influenced on my opinion, which is expressly my own.

 

 

 

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RECIPE MONDAY: Crock Pot Cream Cheese Chicken Chili

Try saying that title fast 5 times!

I don’t know where I got this recipe – or I’d be glad to give credit where credit is due! All I know it’s  delicious!

  • 2 chicken breasts, still frozen
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes
  • 1 can corn kernels, do not drain
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pkg. Ranch dressing mix
  • 1 T cumin
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 1 t onion powder (I suggest chopped green onions)
  • 1 8-oz pkg. cream cheese

Put chicken in crock pot. In a separate bowl, add tomatoes, corn, drained and rinsed black beans, ranch dressing, cumin, onion (chopped or powder). Stir to combine, and pour over chicken. Top with cream cheese. Cook 6-8 hours, stirring once or twice to blend in the cheese. Shred the chicken into large pieces and serve over rice. (I didn’t do rice – I had some leftover corn muffins and heated them up to eat with the chili.)

Serves 4.

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PLEASE HELP…

PLEASE HELP When the face on the milk carton is your Daddy’s. PLEASE HELP

Missing: Lamar Putnam, 79. Last seen in Cleburne, County, Alabama on January 16, 2016. He was wearing an orange and white checked shirt, khaki pants, and a black hat. He is 5’8” and 170 lbs. If you have ANY information, please call 911 immediately and tell them that a Mattie’s Call has been issued for his return. 

 

lamar 3

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RECIPE MONDAY: Chopped Steak with Mushroom & Sour Cream Gravy

I’ve had this recipe for so long that I don’t remember where I got it nor do I remember the actual title. So, for naming purposes, I’m calling it Chopped Steak with Mushroom & Sour Cream Gravy. This recipe is super simple and delicious!

  • Canola or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 4 pieces of chopped steak
  • Flour
  • 1 can mushroom soup (I use 2 cans for extra gravy)
  • 4-8 oz sour cream

Over medium heat in  a large skillet, heat approximately 2 tablespoons of oil. Slice the onion and separate into rings. Cook the onions in the oil until soft. Remove from skillet.

Generously flour the pieces of chopped steak. When onions have been removed from skillet add more oil, if needed (depending on how many pieces of chopped steak you are cooking) and  allow the extra oil to heat up. Place pieces of steak into pan and fry until completely done and browned on both sides. Remove from pan.

Reduce heat to low. Remove excess oil from pan, but leave any crust that is still in pan. Scrape crust up and mix with 1-2 cans mushroom soup. Cook soup until it begins to bubble. Add approximately 1/3 cup of sour cream and stir until combined. Continue adding sour cream by 1/3 cups until the gravy is the consistency you want. Continue heating. Once gravy is hot, place onions back in pan and stir to combine with soup. Allow the onions to reheat, place steak pieces back in pan to reheat, if needed, and cover with gravy.

Best served with creamed potatoes or baked potatoes topped with some of the gravy.

This gravy is also good over chicken, pork chops, and roast.

 

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Great is Thy Faithfulness

I have a friend who posted this picture on FaceBook just the other day:

 

Christi Moore Estes's photo.
     I am sure she posted it for encouragement to everyone who is going through a trial(s) right now – and that probably includes all of us. And I’m sure she posted it for encouragement and a statement of faith for herself and her husband.
     I want to add a couple of verses to the verses above. Lamentations 3:24-26 “The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I hope in Him. The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”
     When I read this post, I wanted to look up this scripture in The Message. If you’ve not read any scripture from the Message, I encourage you to do so. It is all of the Bible that has been written in a plain, easy-to-understand voice to help the reader better grasp the meaning of the scriptures.
     Here is Lamentations 3:21-26 from The Message:
     “I remember it all – oh, how well I remember – the feeling of hitting rock bottom. But there’s one thing I remember, and remembering it, I keep a grip on hope: God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great is Your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over.) He’s all I’ve got left.”
     When ‘He’s all we’ve got left’ he is all we need because he is still bigger than any problem we face.
     “Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the Lord.” (Psalm 31:24)
     Many years ago, I saw something on a church sign that I’ve never forgotten:
H  eart
O  f
P eace [and]
E xpectation
     If we have HOPE in the Lord, we can have a heart of peace and expectation. We may not understand what He’s doing, we may not know when He’s going to do “it,” but we can know – that we know – that we know we can trust Him because of His great love for us and because of His great faithfulness.
     My prayer today is that you will be reminded of His faithfulness and love for you and that problem you are facing – you are not facing it alone.
Blessings,
Edwina
(c) 2016 Edwina E. Cowgill
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Book Review: A Reluctant Melody

Set in North Carolin in 1892, A Reluctant Melody, by Author Sandra Ardoin, is rich in characters, scenery, plot and suspense. With romance thrown in for good measure. It is  a book that, once you start reading it, you will hardly be able to put it down. Each chapter builds upon the previous chapter and Ms. Ardoin has thrown in twists, turns and curves that keep you up at night to see what happens next.

A Reluctant Melody is the story of Joanna and Kit–when they met in a different state and a different time–and when their paths cross again–in North Carolina in 1892. Because of things that happened to each of them before they ever knew one another, and what transpired between them after they met, both Joanna and Kit need to be healed of deep emotional wounds. Ms. Ardoin did an excellent job of weaving the message of God’s love and forgiveness -not just for Joanna and Kit, but for all of us-throughout the book. Kit and Joanna’s story reminds us that God’s mercy and grace are freely given and that it’s never too late for forgiveness and reconciliation.

If books were rated 1-10, with 10 being the highest,  I would give A Reluctant Melody a 15. It is that good. It is a book that you definitely need to add to your list of books to read this winter!

I was given a free copy of this book by the author for the purpose of writing a review. I was in no way influenced by the gift or by any person to write a good review. This review is solely my opinion.

 

(c) 2016 Edwina E. Cowgill

 

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A Reluctant Melody by Sandra Ardoin

 I am delighted to have Sandra Ardoin as my guest today! Welcome, Sandra!

Thanks for having me today.

 Tell me, what did you find most satisfying about writing A Reluctant Melody?

I enjoyed getting to know the characters. I knew a little bit about Kit already through the writing of the Christmas novella “The Yuletide Angel.

Edwina: The Yuletide Angel was a wonderful book – if you haven’t read it – you should. You will love it! I just had to make this comment. Back to you Sandra!

Thanks for the plug, Edwina! Though her name was mentioned in the novella, I knew nothing about Joanna until I began the novel. For me, she was the most compelling character. Her story tore at my heart.

How long does it take you to write a novel?

Too long.  I’m a slow writer, so it can take me eight to nine months to get 85,000 – 90,000 words ready to submit. Although I edit as I go, it doesn’t mean I’m finished once I write “The End.” That’s when the real editing starts.

Are there any themes that seem to repeat in your stories?

For some reason, forgiveness is a major theme in all my stories. Maybe it’s because it is such a universal theme for all of us. We can relate to the need to forgive someone else or ourselves. In “A Reluctant Melody” forgiveness is present, as well as redemption and reconciliation.

What is the hardest part about being a writer? 

For me, it’s trying to balance my writing time with other tasks a writer must do. Between building and maintaining a platform—blogging, social media and making sure readers know about my books, or any specials on them—it can almost be a full-time job in itself. Though I’m not complaining, I wouldn’t mind seeing the bottom of the well for a day or so. 

Have you written a character you feel you most resemble?

I think a little of a writer goes into every major character. It might only be an opinion, a hobby or a past experience. I would say I most resemble Violet Madison from “The Yuletide Angel.” Violet is shy around others, but she has bold dreams—to open a bakery, to captain a schooner, and to win the love o Hugh Barnes. Mine was to be a writer and expose my work to the public. We both married at an older age than we’d planned. She doesn’t like to advertise her good deeds. I try to keep those things as private as possible, too. 

How has publishing changed your life/writing?

My husband retired three years ago, when I was just getting going good. It would be nice to be able to relax and go places together during the day without feeling I should be working. My house used to be spotless. My garden areas were kept up. As for writing, I concentrate more on deadlines and plans for the next best story to tackle.  

What would you say to your main characters if you met them in person?

I would tell Kit and Joanna how much I loved writing their story and that they will be a part of me forever. I would say thank you for reminding me that God’s grace means we don’t have to dwell on our past mistakes and His mercy means we don’t have to fear the future. Kit said it well: “God doesn’t demand perfection from us first. . .He perfects us through our faith in Christ.”

Sandra, thanks so much for sharing with us today. I have enjoyed getting to know you a little better, and I’m sure my readers will enjoy learning about you and your writing as well.

Thanks again for having me!

BIO:                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sandra Ardoin writes inspirational historical romance. She’s the author of The Yuletide Angel – http://www.amazon.com/The-Yuletide-Angel-Inspirational-Historical-ebook/dp/B00OH01X50 and A Reluctant Melody – http://www.amazon.com/A-Reluctant-Melody-SandraArdoin/dp/1941103677. A wife and mom, she’s also a reader, football fan, NASCAR watcher, garden planter, country music listener, antique store prowler.

Visit her at:

 

A Reluctant Melody

Kit’s alcoholism ruined more lives than his own. Now sober, he wants to make amends by opening a mission for drunkards. But the most suitable location belongs to Joanna Cranston Stewart, a love from his sordid past.

Friends of her late husband blame Joanna for his death. Although eager to flee from the rumors, she will let the walls of her rundown property crumble around her before she allows Kit back into her life.

When a blackmailer threatens to reveal Joanna’s long-held secret, will she risk losing everything she owns to Kit . . . including her heart?