Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Pumpkin Crunch. A recipe. A way of life.

I don’t usually post recipes, but since it’s fall and this particular pumpkin dessert is so easy and yumalicious, I’m breaking with tradition.

In fact — dare I write it? — this is better than pumpkin pie.

What’s even better is my 16yo budding culinary student made it.

It’s three simple layers.

The first layer, on the bottom of a 9x13 (no need to grease it), is pumpkin pie filling.

My most favorite – ever – recipe for pumpkin pie filling comes from a can of pumpkin I purchased at Aldi years ago.

1 15oz. can pumpkin
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup white or brown sugar (I prefer brown sugar.)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk, top milk, or light cream (I use evaporated milk.)

Mix everything in the order listed.

The second layer is a box of yellow cake mix. Don’t make the cake! Just sprinkle the powdery mix over the pumpkin pie filling.

The third layer is butter. Use two sticks. Cut them into slices to cover the top of the cake mix.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until golden-brown on top.

Did I mention a la mode? 😊

Bon appetit!

My 16yo and I are always looking for new ideas. What’s your favorite pumpkin recipe?

P.S. I'm going to send out an author newsletter in the next few weeks, and I'll be giving away a set of Under Duress and Deadly Disclosure as well as a snazzy mug to two subscribers. You can sign up HERE. Thank you!

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

My Top Ten Necessary Homeschool Supplies (They may not be what you think.)

As a child, I think I must have driven my parents crazy with my love of school supplies. I loved going up and down the back-to-school aisles, fingering the pretty binders and notebooks, opening and closing the pencil cases.

Mid-year, I always wanted to change everything, meticulously moving my papers from one not-pretty-enough-anymore binder to a newer, shinier, prettier binder.


I still love school supplies, although now the socially-acceptable adult mom thing is a pretty journal with colored pencils or pens. That’s good enough for me. J

On the teacher side of the homeschool couch/table, the supplies needed are a little different. Technology has also changed significantly since I was the student. Of course, we still have writing utensils and paper and binders. But now, from the teacher/parent side, in no particular order, are my top ten necessary homeschool supplies.

The Bible. The holy word of God guides, inspires, and comforts. It corrects me when my attitude needs adjusted, and instructs me on my teacher-student relationship. It’s the ultimate teacher’s manual.

Excel. For keeping attendance records, material lists, lesson plans, and grades.

Scanner. I would be drowning in paper if not for my scanner. In fact, I completely wore out my first, and now I’m on to my second. I can’t stand to throw away stacks of papers my children did. They worked hard, and it doesn’t seem right to throw them into the trash can. With my new scanner, I can scan a 300-page workbook in about forty minutes. This way, I also have a record of all of my child’s work, in case I need to refer back to it or the state comes to check.

Evernote/Google Drive. To keep in the cloud a backup of everything.

Coffee in a pretty and inspiring mug. Need I say more? 

Rolling cooler. Now that my Bigs are, well, Bigs, we’re on the go a lot more. Dual enrollment classes at the community college, PE with a co-op, field trips. That rolling cooler has saved us money as well as provided healthy lunches and snacks.

Social media. I know, what??? But some of the memes that go around from homeschooling pages on FB make my day. And discussion groups? A gift from heaven! Just yesterday, I asked about homeschoolers going to medical school. That afternoon, I had three long, comprehensive answers with excellent suggestions from homeschool parents who have been there, done that. Two more arrived this morning.

A good laptop. As I sit at the co-op PE or the community college and wait, I update school logs, look up lesson plans, check the library online catalog, work on blog posts, or get a little book-writing done. 

A comfortable sofa. For the past couple of years, we’ve been sitting on a 20+ year old futon in our upstairs library. For lots of reasons, I don’t enjoy the actual purchase of furniture. But just recently, we moved our old sectional from the downstairs living room up to the library where we do most of our school. It’s rather worn as well, but so much more comfortable for the hind parts.

Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE). Online resources, helpful people, conventions, community. That about says it all.

What are your favorite school supplies?

P.S. My blog will be undergoing a change sometime soon -- new name (just my name) and new look (hopefully more streamlined and simple). It'll still be me, though. Hope you like it!

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

How Do You Fit Reading into Your Day?

When I was a child, I read all the time.


All. The. Time.

When I was in middle school, I spent an entire day on summer break reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It hadn’t been assigned, since we were out of school. But I had heard of it and was curious. It was so good, I barely moved from the couch and read it in one day.

Now, decades later, I have six children, I homeschool, I write, I keep house {sort-of J}. There are too many responsibilities to list. You know what I mean. J

I can no longer spend an entire day reading. Some days, I can barely find five minutes to read.

How’s a busy girl to fit it in?

{Shameless photo plug:
My daughter reading my August Love Inspired Suspense, 
Deadly Disclosure, which is still available online.}

Of course, there’s always staying up late or getting up early. Too often, I stay up late. {Can I get an amen? J

But I’ve found another few ways to fit in reading. Keep your book or kindle handy when you ~~

I'm blogging over at the Love Inspired group blog today. Find me there for my suggestions. I would love to see you there!

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I don’t have time for wasting, and neither does my homeschooled high school senior.

Homeschooling tends to be a journey of firsts, doesn’t it?

This year is no different. A couple of weeks ago, we did something with one of our homeschooled children that we’d never done before.

We let our twelfth grader test out of Grammar.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it was her idea.

Our first clue that perhaps this subject was going to be busy work was when the books arrived. The twelfth grade handbook was the same as the eleventh grade book. But, like the diligent, by-the-book educators that we tend to be, we started on it anyway.

A couple of weeks in to the curriculum, my twelfth grader came to me to say that she had already learned everything in the lessons. “Do I really have to do all these exercises just to identify subjects and verbs?”

“Review is an important part of learning, especially when you start a new school year,” I said. “But we can cross out some of the problems.”

{Please note that this is, in no way, an incrimination of our curriculum. Review really is an important part of learning. It’s just that our particular student had absorbed it all. Also, she is continuing with the composition part of the subject so she can get more practice in writing and research.}

A few days later, we found out that she qualified for the National Bible Bee Competition. For this, she would study, in-depth, a book of the Bible and memorize approximately 900 verses. Much time would be required for study if she hoped to make it to the final round where cash prizes and scholarships were awarded. First place takes $50,000 {no small amount for college!}, but the eternal prize is the knowledge of God’s Word.

It wasn’t difficult to know which held more value.

So she posed a solution. “If I can take Test 12 (the last test of the year) and pass it, can I just skip all of Grammar this year?”

“Is it comprehensive?”

“Yes, just like the other years.”

I consulted with my husband, our school principal J, and we quickly decided that if she could get an A, she could test out of that subject. If she already knew the material, why waste time on a year of review? Also, colleges allow students to test out of basic subjects all the time.

An afternoon of study later, she passed with a 99.5%, gleefully put the Grammar book back on the shelf, and began memorizing more Bible passages.

Have I mentioned recently how much I love homeschooling? J

How is your homeschool year going so far? Have you allowed your child to test out of any subjects?

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Back to Homeschool

It's one of my favorite times of year...back to homeschool!

Notebooks full of fresh, blank pages waiting for ideas and inspiration.

Textbooks filled to overflowing with information about interesting things from around the world and about the world.

Classics of literature with casts of characters waiting to be met and befriended.

Pens of all colors, paperclips the same, freshly-sharpened pencils.

Late night conversations about politics, philosophy, faith, and what it means to be a human being.

Family field trips with lunch in the cooler and a dozen questions in each child's mind.

"Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school." ~ Albert Einstein

What is your favorite part of back-to-homeschool?

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Deadly Disclosure is here…and the inspiration behind it

My second book is available today!

What is it about? I’m glad you asked!


Getting shot at on her way to work is only the first shock of law student Hannah McClarnon’s day. The second is when FBI agent Derek Chambers—her first love—reveals the truth about Hannah’s family. Though Hannah was raised by a wealthy Indianapolis couple, her birth father was with the Chicago mafia. And now, convinced she has information against them, they’re hunting her down. Derek’s first big assignment is to protect Hannah, and it’s becoming more personal every minute. He’s never revealed why he left long ago, and he still believes Hannah deserves someone better. But with the enemy in relentless pursuit, he’ll risk his life to be the man she needs—and loves—again.

You've read in the back cover description that the heroine is adopted. This story is near and dear to me for one big reason: I'm adopted. I got the idea for the story when I was gathering my family's birth certificates to apply for passports. When I have anything written in my hands, I read it word for word. You can blame my love of reading as well as a legal education for that. 😊 That day, I thoroughly read each birth certificate, and I quickly noticed that there was a huge discrepancy between my date of birth and the date of issue of the birth certificate. I have always known I was adopted, so this didn't surprise me like it surprises Hannah McClarnon. That difference is the time it took for my adoption to be finalized and a new birth certificate with the names of my adoptive parents to be issued. As I examined my birth certificate, an idea began to form. What if someone discovered as an adult that she was adopted? What if there was danger in her birth family that found her even before she discovered she was adopted? From there, my imagination took off. Let me reassure you, then, that the similarities between me and Hannah are few. We are both adopted, and we both went to law school. The end. 😊

You can find it in stores near you or online. If you enjoy it, would you think about leaving a review on Amazon or posting on social media? It doesn’t even have to be more than one sentence, but it means so much to an author.

Thank you for joining me here. I appreciate you and your support of my writing. You are what makes the writing worthwhile!

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Lemonade Stand Lessons for Little Entrepreneurs

When I was about eight years old, I set up a lemonade stand in my front yard. I pulled down the large pitcher from the cupboard, retrieved the tin of lemonade mix from the pantry, measured and poured and stirred. I roped my brother into setting a table up for me and then painstakingly penned a poster to advertise my offering. One cup cost five cents, and I knew I was going to be rich by the end of the day.

An hour later, I had made two sales. (Did I mention that we lived on a quiet, circular street that didn’t get much traffic?) I quickly tired of the boredom, heat, and relentless sunshine. I was done.

A few decades later, I am now the mother of some enterprising young people who decided to sell lemonade.

If you’ve been following this blog for long, you know that my 84yo mother decided over the winter to sell her condominium and move into an independent-living apartment in a retirement village. It was a wise decision for her, but it involved the selling of many, many items.

For the second weekend of her estate sale, my children set up an old-fashioned lemonade stand, including cookies.

Whether the year is 1977 or 2017, many of the lessons remain the same, and it was a tremendous opportunity to talk with all six children about a few of the many, many things to consider when running a business.

Cost of materials. We figured out the cost of the lemonade, the water, the ice, the ingredients for the cookies, the poster board for the sign.

Cost of employees. The Littles thought they were running the lemonade stand and bringing home all the profits. But they needed the help of the big sisters who supervised the baking of the cookies and brownies. The Littles learned that saying, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Employees cost money as well as other benefits, like taste tests. J

Cost of rent and utilities. They were quite appreciative that Grandma didn't charge anything for the use of a corner of her garage…but they learned that she had that right. J

Price of goods offered. Many considerations were necessary to decide what they would charge for lemonade and cookies: the cost of their materials, who their customer base might be, the location of the stand, and what the market determines to be appropriate for the goods offered.

Profit. Of course, this would have to be divided between the three entrepreneurs.

Taxes. This was a most interesting discussion of how taxes are figured, how they are paid, who determines the tax rate, and why we pay taxes.

Customer service.  The Littles learned that excellent customer service is of utmost importance. ~ Smile. Serve them promptly. Say thank you.

Keep your workstation clean and tidy. No one wants to buy lemonade or cookies from a messy table.

Keep your money safe. Because you just never know.

Politeness and common courtesy in the work environment. Yes, politeness is necessary with customers, but it’s also vital among the employees. No one wants to work in a hostile environment.

Marketing. How do you make potential customers aware of your business? In their situation, marketing consisted of a sign to make their goods attractive. {Mom marketed her estate sale.}

Tithe. The Littles gave ten percent of their profit to the church the next day.

At the end of the day, they came away with a number of lessons as well as a tidy profit of over $20. Perhaps I should resurrect my own childhood stand? 😊

Have you or your children had a lemonade stand? Any other lessons I need to impart to my little entrepreneurs?

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