With the help of talented author and graphic designer Victorine Lieske, I have a new cover for Calming the Storm! I absolutely love how it came out and I'm so excited to see it go live on the Kindle version in the next week or two.
I admit that it was a little difficult to let go of the first cover. Mostly because I took the photographs and designed the cover myself. I still like it and think it turned out beautifully, but I don't believe it's the best choice for a romance novel.
It it my hope that this new cover will better express what the novel is about.
I still plan to use the sunflowers both here on my website and on Facebook. So they won't disappear entirely. ;-)
I had been planning to release Love's Compass: Finding Peace in November. These last two weeks, I've been trying to decide whether to push that plan or not.
I have decided that I am going delay the release a couple of months, aiming for January 2015. There are a few details I want to work out with the series as a whole, and some more editing work I want to do with this first title.
What does this mean? Hopefully other books in the series will be available relatively quickly after this first book is. I hate making everyone wait, but I would much rather make sure this book is what I want it to be than rush it.
I appreciate your patience!
I wanted to share one of my favorite recipes - homemade refried beans. Now, let me start out by saying that this is NOT my recipe. I found it online, jotted it down, and then could never find it again. If someone does know of the original recipe, please tell me. I want to give that person credit here for some amazing refried beans.
I originally searched for a homemade refried bean recipe because I wanted to reduce both the salt and the fat content for our family. This recipe is perfect! If you prefer more salt, you can always add some.
You can do these two different ways: Slow cooker and canning. The recipe I originally found is for the slow cooker.
Crock Pot Refried Beans
3 cups of dry pinto beans (rinsed)
9 cups of water
1 3/4 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/8 tsp. ground cumin
This makes a lot of refried beans. They freeze wonderfully and my family prefers them to any canned or restaurant refried beans now.
Canning Refried Beans
We have very limited freezer space and we started canning this year. I wanted to find out if I could can refried beans. Everything I've read said that they don't can well. Instead, you would fix the beans like you would for the slow cooker and can them at that point. Then, when you want refried beans, open a jar and mash them.
I have canned beans like this once so far. I did have to add more than the 9 cups of water, but I used the same amount of seasonings. Next time I will probably try being a little more specific with my water to seasoning ratio. Even still, they taste really good, just not quite as seasoned.
Up until last night, we typically open a jar of those beans that I canned and eat them that way. But last night, we were in the mood for refried beans. I poured them into a bowl and mashed them like I would right out of the slow cooker. They turned out perfectly! I will probably do this from now on as opposed to the slow cooker just because it frees up some of my freezer space.
Either way - slow cooker or canning - you can't go wrong with this recipe. If you decide to give it a try, come back and let me know what you think!
Our almost nine-year-old son has autism. He has a huge vocabulary, but is non-conversational. What that means is that he has a very difficult time expressing himself. He can use sentences - which is huge considering he used only single words at the age of five - but they are still very limited when it comes to trying to explain something.
The most recent example - M&M balls. He has been telling us for three weeks about M&M balls. The conversation usually starts with him asking, "You would like the M&M balls?" To which we would reply either "We don't have any M&M balls" or "I'm not sure what M&M balls you're talking about." He would come back with, "Sure! You can have the M&M balls."
Truthfully, we thought maybe he had seen an M&M commercial where either one of the cartoon M&Ms had a ball or were pretending to be a ball. We wracked our brains and couldn't think of anything he would be referring to.
Most of the time, our conversations are very similar to the above. And one of the things we love about him is his sense of humor. He absolutely loves to take something, give it an opposite spin, and wait for a response before laughing. For example, today he would refer to a local fast food restaurant's paint color by saying, "Taco Villa is red!" Then he watches us, a huge grin on his face, and waits for us to respond, "No! Taco Villa is green!" He laughs, which is incredibly contagious. :-)
We had begun to think maybe that's what was going on with the M&M balls, too. Maybe he was making a joke about them.
Until today. We stopped at Academy and as soon as we got there, he was very excited about the M&M balls. Thinking we may finally get some answers, we all went up and down the aisles with all different kinds of sports balls. He was starting to get frustrated when he finally saw them.
Proudly, he plucked a package of Wilson foam tennis balls, the W on each one, and held them up. "M&M balls!" He quickly read the logo and corrected himself, saying, "Wilson W balls!" He was happy to have finally found them, and even more excited that we now understood what he had been talking about. Yes, you bet we bought them for him. Not only that, but my husband created a makeshift basket for his room so he could throw the foam balls through it.
It takes a lot of effort and thought for him to try and express himself. But you know what? He never gives up. Never. How many of us could go through three weeks of trying to explain something you had seen without wanting to put our fist through a wall? I bet not too many of us. I'm pretty certain I couldn't.
Our son is a hero to me and an inspiration. I admire his perseverance, his honesty, his ability to be himself, and his outlook on life. I am truly blessed to be his mom.
Our family homeschools. Our son (almost 9) has been very interested in human anatomy lately, so that's where our focus has been in science so far this year. This week and next, we are studying blood (his favorite part of anatomy, next to the skeleton). Our daughter (3 1/2) comes running when we pull out the human anatomy textbook.
Today, to help illustrate the main components of blood, we made our own! I was looking forward to this project and even wrote up a sheet of paper with facts for each component. I have to say, it came out even better than I expected.
We used Karo syrup for the plasma, Red Hots for the red blood cells, a Smartie for a white blood cell, and then sprinkles for platelets. The kids had a blast, Xander was responding to questions about each of them, and I thought they turned out really neat looking.
I love hands-on learning!
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Description of Be Thou My Vision (Hymns of the West Book 2)
The church was empty when I dragged myself out of the pew and headed out the door. As I opened the door, the corner of my eye caught a flicker of movement which I chose to ignore. I walked down the steps and was nearly bowled over by two wild boys. With arms grown strong and quick from man-handling two brothers growing up, I grabbed the two boys before they had a chance to escape me.
Anna Stuart is comfortable with her life. She may be a 30 year old spinster, but she has her routine and enjoys taking care of her father and older brother. One letter shatters all her routines, comfort, and enjoyment. After learning of her brother’s death, Anna feels like her life will never be the same again.
Then she meets two motherless boys. Did God place them in her life to lead her to a new vision of life? Can she trust God to give her the desires of her heart before she even knows what they are?
You can pre-order Be Thou My Vision by Faith Blum now through October 25th for only $0.99!
About Faith Blum
An avid reader, Faith Blum started writing at an early age. Whether it was a story about the camping trip that summer or a more creative story about fictional characters, she has always enjoyed writing. When not writing, Miss Blum enjoys reading, crafting, playing piano, moderating on the Holy Worlds Historical Fiction Forum and playing games with her family (canasta, anyone?).
As a history enthusiast who has been fascinated for years with the Old West, Faith has endeavored to create a clean, fun, and challenging Western story. Faith lives with her family on a hobby farm in the Northern Midwest, where she enjoys the many cats they have.
You can find Faith on her Website, Blog, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter
Q1: Where are you from?
I come from the lovely state of Wisconsin where the leaves are turning colors and falling off the trees and the snow has already fallen this year (only once and barely a dusting, but there was some snow on the ground).
Q2: Tell us your latest news?
Besides publishing my second book? Let’s see, I’ll be 24 at the end of October. Other than that, not a whole lot is happening that is new.
Follow the Blog Tour
Please continue to follow the blog tour to get to know Faith as well as her works. The tour started yesterday at Prairie Dust Trail. You can head over there to see the complete schedule of future stops over the course of the next ten days.
Facebook Launch Party
Faith Blum is having a Facebook Launch Party that will take place November 1, 2014 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. You won't want to miss it. There's going to be a lot of fun and door prizes! So head over to the Facebook event page now and let her know that you plan to attend!
Check out the first book in Faith Blum's Hymns of the West series. A Mighty Fortress is available both on Kindle and in paperback.
I just have to say that I'm thoroughly enjoying the cooler weather we've been experiencing lately. The highs are supposed to be in the 76-82'F range for highs and I'm most certainly not going to complain! Of course, now the reality of how close Halloween is getting has set in - and that only means that November and the rest of the holidays are hot on its heels.
Even though it's not cold here yet, I'm already looking forward to making soups this fall and winter. I love making big batches of soup either on the stove or in the crock pot. This last year, I've been learning how to can. My goal is to make big batches of soup, eat them for that meal, and can the rest. That way we can just open up a jar and have homemade soup whenever we're in the mood.
This time of year also makes me think of a couple of recipes that I make - at most - once a year around this time. The first is a dessert - pumpkin bars with cream cheese icing. The other is dinner in a pumpkin.
I thought I would share both recipes with all of you :-)
Cream Cheese Frosting
Dinner in a Pumpkin
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Hi Everyone! I have some paperback copies of Calming the Storm available. If you're interested in an autographed copy, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm happy to personalize each one. You let me know who you want me to sign it to and/or if you have a specific message you would like me to add. :-)
$7.99 + Shipping & Handling
Shipping is $3.00 within the USA. If you live outside the USA, please let me know and I'll find out how much shipping will be. :-) If you're local to me, there is no shipping charge, of course. :-)
Payments: I accept payments through PayPal only at this time.
Can I just say, seeing this stack of books on my desk, makes me smile? :-) :-)
Thank you all!
Yes, I do! I enjoy baking a lot. I regularly make cookies and breads from scratch.
I've had several comments from readers about a part in Calming the Storm where Rachel is making an apple crisp. People have told me that it sounds like I bake in real life. One reader even suggested that I include a recipe in my books. I thought this was a really neat idea, and I have decided to do just that.
I did go back and add Rachel's Apple Crisp recipe to the Kindle version of Calming the Storm. But I wanted to post that recipe for those of you who already have copies of the book, just in case you want to try it out for yourselves.
I make this apple crisp regularly and it is so yummy! You can also follow this recipe and substitute peaches, pears, and berries. If you use any canned fruit, drain it, pour it in, and directly stir the cinnamon into that rather than add any water. That extra juice will compensate and you don't want the dessert to get too soggy!
I originally got this recipe from my sweet mom, who received the recipe from her mom. Without them, we would not have apple crisp at our home and I'm pretty sure it would be missed terribly!
Calming the Storm
Rachel’s Apple Crisp Recipe
I live in West Texas so we aren't seeing falling leaves or changing colors, but the weather has gotten cooler. Lately, the temperatures have been between 85 and 90, which compared to this summer, seems wonderful. I'm especially enjoying the early mornings, when the air has a chill to it.
Falling Leaves, Falling Prices
To celebrate the fall season, the amazing Clean Indie Reads group has a sale going on. If you haven't checked the Clean Indie Reads Fall Sale out, you need to! I'm planning on going shopping later today - it's taken me this long to narrow down what I'm going to purchase because there truly are so many wonderful books available.
I'm so excited to not only be a part of the sale, but to participate in this Blog Hop as well. I hope those of you who have been following the blog hop are having fun! I know I've enjoyed learning more about my fellow authors. Please make sure you check out all of the blogs participating as many are doing a giveaway and the deadlines aren't until the sale is over!
Mary Ellen Bramwell
Barbara A. Martin
Sally Sue Fleischmann Ember
Chrystal Lynn Miles Gauthier
Blog Hop Question
Do the changing seasons influence your writing and/or the choice of books you read?
This is a question that all of the bloggers participating in the blog hop have been asked. For myself, I do find that I am more inclined to write a book that takes place in colder months during the summer, and vice versa. In fact, these last two months I've worked on Finding Peace, where the story plays out during the month of January. I found myself enjoying the idea of colder weather and snow during the hot summer we've had here in West Texas. I have a feeling that the opposite may be true when I'm shivering this winter, double socks on my feet, and a mug of hot chocolate sitting on my desk. LOL
I don't know that the changing seasons really affect what books I read, save for one exception: I tend to only read Christmas or holiday novels during November and December. Otherwise, I choose novels based on the mood I'm in at the time.
I just wanted to say that, when you read a book, authors love it if you have a moment to leave a review. Reviews are a great way to provide some honest feedback and help future readers choose a book. I know I truly appreciate them, and other authors do as well.
I am so glad that you took time today to come by my blog. I would love to hear from you! What is your favorite thing about fall? Does it affect what books you enjoy reading?
Information About My Novel
My book, Calming the Storm, is on sale for $0.99 through October 11th. If you enjoy Christian romance, I hope you'll give it a try. The story itself was on my heart for several years before I wrote the book. The song, "Sometimes He Calms the Storm," performed by Scott Krippayne on his album, "Wild Imagination," inspired the book. This song has been a huge help at difficult times in my life. The words in the chorus remind me that, no matter what I'm going through, God is there with me. Even when God doesn't calm the storm that I'm struggling through, He's here holding me as I weather it. I am so incredibly thankful for His love, peace and guidance.
In Calming the Storm, Rachel had a rough childhood and continues to feel like she has no control over her life. She has always felt that she was at the mercy of life's storms. When her sister - the only immediate family she has - is killed in a car accident, Rachel finds herself caring for her young niece. Struggling to find a job and a permanent place to live, Rachel is at risk of losing custody of her niece.
Brandon teaches a class that Rachel attends, but when she has to drop out of college to take care of her niece, he becomes concerned. Learning about the difficult situation she's in, he does the only thing he can think of to help: He suggests a marriage of convenience. With that agreement, she would have a stable living situation, a new job through his parents, and health insurance. All things that would hopefully lead to Rachel being able to adopt her niece and give her the kind of childhood she never had herself.
Brandon reaches out to Rachel as he tries to break through the walls that she's built up over the years. With love and patience, he hopes to help Rachel realize that, even when she experiences storms in her life, she isn't alone.
Calming the Storm is available on Kindle as well as paperback through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and CreateSpace.
Coming in November
My next book, Finding Peace, is the first in my Love's Compass series. The book itself is done and I'm currently in the editing process. I'm so excited about this title and I can't wait for my readers to get to know these new characters.
Kentucky "Tuck" Chandler is a police officer in the small town of Kitner, Texas. When Laurie Blake walks in on a robbery at her photography studio, Tuck is assigned the case.
What seems to be a simple break-in soon becomes a string of incidents. They appear to have no connection, but with each new case, more people are in danger.
Can Tuck find the answers he needs to keep Laurie safe and bring peace back to the residents of Kitner?