Saginaw Series Published on Amazon
I met with Hope Sweigart this afternoon. My daughter Joanna suggested I may want to use her photos for the Holiday Series covers. She was right!
After seeing just a few of her pictures I could tell she has a discerning eye for art in nature. Hope is a delightful young woman and I look forward to working with her.
One more step forward to the Holiday Series being published on Amazon this summer! Keep saying prayers for inspiration!
I was so pleased to be asked to speak to the middle school girls of Hillside Bible Church in Ortonville, Michigan.
Every week they were read a couple chapters of Webber House then they discussed those chapters. They have started writing journals, too. They even drew pictures of Katy and Jen and the detective with the mustache.
Tonight they asked me questions and told me they loved Webber House. Thank you Mrs. Bills for choosing Webber House and sharing it with the girls. Thank you girls for the wonderful evening.
Last week I was on Pinterest looking at pins of people I follow. One of my favorites is Donna at Funky Junk Interiors. She finds ordinary junk at a flea market and turns the pieces into works of art.
I clicked on the picture and read about how picking up a blue drill changed her life. I wrote to Donna and asked her if I could put her and her blog about the drill in my book. They fit perfectly in one of the storylines. Thankfully, she agreed. She will be included in the fourth book of the Holiday Series, A Very Thankful Thanksgiving.
I love including real people in my books. For your own inspiration - Click on the "Funky Junk Intereriors" or "read about how picking up a blue drill changed her life" links above.
Truthfully, I never thought Katy, Jen and Colleen from the Saginaw Series would make room for anyone else. They occupied every part of my thoughts for a whole year. I just hadn't met Kyla and Liv yet!
This morning my husband, Pat, and I watched Freedom Writers starring Hilary Swank. I love that movie. I told him that Liv was reading The Diary of a Young Girl. That book changes the students lives in Freedom Writers. I decided to put the movie in my first book in the series, too. So, one hour later, Freedom Writers made its way into No Christmas for Olivia! One of the things I love about writing is how ordinary everyday living inspires my work.
I hope right after the holidays that I can send my cousin, Mary Lynn, the first book to edit. The Holiday Series should be on Amazon by the end of the summer.
Webber House is going to be used in a middle school age church group of girls and their mothers. I think every week they are going to read a few chapters aloud and then discuss those chapters.
I have asked the teacher to write a syllabus to be available on this blog after the series of classes is done. I hope she has time to do that for me.
This is an answer to my prayers, to reach as many readers as possible. Only one book needs to be purchased for many to participate. In any group of people someone knows someone who has a computer.
This is such good news.
It’s the summer before ninth grade and best friends Katy and Jen are intrigued by a mansion in their neighborhood. Soon after they have a frightening encounter with a man at the house, one of them mysteriously vanishes. Where is she? Who is involved? Should secrets be told or kept?
Jen ran as fast as she could through the winding park walkway, but it wasn't fast enough. The echoing footsteps behind sounded so much closer. She focused on Katy's long auburn hair flying behind her in the wind. Suddenly, Katy slowed in front of her, stretched her hand behind her back and grabbed Jen's hand. Thankfully, they both took off faster than she could have running on her own.
They each silently prayed they would make it to the street so they could melt into the crowd that had been watching the parade earlier. With a burst of energy they turned the corner and sprinted the last few feet, pushing their way through the spectators. Without looking back, they entered the crowded coffee shop and quickly moved away from the window. Jen bent over trying to catch her breath; she was sure her pounding heart would explode!
Katy pulled Jen and they tumbled into a booth, where a young couple barely had time to gather their packages. The man scowled at them while leaving a generous tip for the waitress. Jen whispered urgently, "That was too close, we almost got caught this time!" Katy nodded while cautiously watching the door.
Jen told her “No way can we tell anyone we were chased. We would have to stay close to home for the rest of the summer! Not to mention how much trouble we would be in with our parents!” She made Katy promise never to tell anyone. After ten minutes they began to feel safe. When the waitress came to take their order Katy stood up and said, "We're not staying, family emergency, sorry." The waitress shrugged as she picked up the tip from the tabletop. She knew she would make more money from the nice couple coming in the front door and heading over to sit at the booth.
Jen and Katy walked outside where people were still gathering their children and carrying lawn chairs and blankets to their cars. After a quick look around, Katy and Jen hurried down the block. Twenty minutes later they stopped to buy glazed donuts at Bertie's Bakery on the corner of Hoyt and Sheridan. The aroma of fresh baked breads and pastries filled the room and made their mouths water. Kathy, the high school student behind the sales counter, looked at the girls in amusement as they emptied their pockets. They only had enough money between them for one donut! One donut was better than none! Kathy gave them the biggest donut from the display case.
They sat on the steps outside of the bakery and split the soft pillow of dough. They followed their tradition of both waiting for ten seconds in anticipation before taking a bite. A glazed donut from Bertie’s Bakery was something you just had to look forward to! Then they both laughed and took the first bite. They couldn't help it, they had to smile; surely it was the best donut ever made. Of course every single time they ate one they each had the same thought. When they were done both girls licked their fingers clean. They made plans to meet at Hoyt Park in the morning. After warning each other to keep the secret, they said goodbye and ran home.
Follow the adventures of best friends, Katy, Jen and Colleen as they enjoy the summer before tenth grade. Volunteering at the soup kitchen, camping in the Upper Peninsula and helping Colleen’s Aunt Sarah start her new bakery are all part of the fun. However, it isn’t all fun. Will they be able to help a new friend as he faces difficult challenges?
The girls let out a collective scream, “AAAAHHHHH!!!!!” Colleen yelled, “I don’t know why you make me do this!” Jen agreed, “Katy, this is not acceptable, I want you to turn the movie off, now!” Katy grabbed a hand on each side of her and laughed as she screamed, “My Aunt Jane told me we had to watch the classic original “The House on Haunted Hill” together, and she kept saying something about having to hold hands through it!” Then they understood why you had to hold hands. They closed their eyes until they could only see through little slits while watching the end of the scary movie.
It was sleepover night at Colleen’s apartment which was above their family grocery store, Martha Street Market. When the movie was finally done and their hearts were pounding, they all agreed it had been a good scary movie! Katy pulled out her phone and texted her Aunt Jane, ur right, scary! A moment later her phone chimed and she saw her aunt's answer, lol told u!
Katy said it was time to bake. They got up and walked down the stairs into the small kitchen. Jen pulled their favorite cookbooks from the shelves in the Hoosier cabinet. The cabinet belonged originally to Colleen’s great, great grandmother. She told Colleen that back in the 1920’s kitchens didn’t have enough cupboard space built in them. The Hoosier Manufacturing Company in Indiana came up with a cabinet that was compact to fit in the small kitchens. The work area where she rolled out raviolis and pie crusts could pull out if she needed extra room. When grandma moved to an apartment she gave Colleen’s mother the cabinet. It was the best piece of furniture they owned because in the small kitchen behind the store they needed all the extra cupboard space they could get.
All three girls knew the drill. Each opened a book to desserts and cookies. They tried to find something they never made before. Katy said, “Ooh, how about chocolate mint cupcakes with mint green frosting?” Colleen said, “No, we don't have any mint flavoring, even in the store. How about making chocolate brownies?” Then she hit her head with her hand and said, “I’ve got it, we can make Aunt Sarah’s peanut butter chocolate cupcakes.”
Colleen missed her Aunt Sarah. She hadn’t seen her since moving to Saginaw, Michigan from Tulsa, Oklahoma the previous year. I can call her for the recipe, I don’t have it. Colleen pulled her cell phone out of her jean pocket and clicked till she found Aunt Sarah’s number.
The phone rang and rang and just when she thought Aunt Sarah wouldn’t answer she heard, “Hello, hello, I’m here, don’t hang up!” Colleen smiled, and said, “Hi Aunt Sarah, Jen, Katy and I want to make your chocolate peanut butter cupcakes, but we need your recipe.” Aunt Sarah laughed into the phone and said, “Well then, girly girl, you should wait until Saturday when I can make them with you. I'm coming for a visit!”
Jen and Katy were startled when Colleen screamed. They watched in amusement as she started to dance around the tiny kitchen. Colleen’s mom came downstairs from the living area to see what was causing all the commotion. Her daughter smiled and handed her the phone. She went over to her friends and told Jen and Katy, “We can make the chocolate brownies, Aunt Sarah is coming to visit next week and she wants to make the cupcakes with us.”
Colleen said, “I love my Aunt Sarah, she is so cool.” She continued, “I bet she will even take us to Goodwill to shop!” Jen and Katy looked at Colleen like she was from another planet. Jen said, “Colleen, seriously, Goodwill?” Colleen answered, “Just you wait till she gets here. You will both be amazed at what she finds for just a couple dollars. We'll all have new outfits to start high school next month.” Jen and Katy were skeptical. Colleen knew how to stretch a dollar because her family needed to be very careful with their money. She also knew that shopping with Aunt Sarah would make them the best dressed girls in tenth grade!
As they made the brownies Colleen told her friends all about spending hours with Aunt Sarah before they moved to Michigan. How she taught Colleen to bake scrumptious desserts, shopped til they dropped, took awesome pictures, wrote fun short stories and well, did just about everything that was important in life!
When Colleen’s mom hung up the phone she had a huge smile on her face and said, “Girls, how would you like to make some extra money this week so you will be able to afford all the shopping that Sarah has in mind for the three of you?” They said they would like to make some money. They knew that meant hard work because Mrs. O’Callahan expected to get her money’s worth when she hired them. Then she told them what needed to be done. They all looked at each other with wide eyes knowing that tomorrow they would be in the store all day long.
The oven timer went off and the girls took the brownies out, made the frosting by melting butter and chocolate chips, stirring in powdered sugar, milk and vanilla and pouring it over them. They cut generous pieces and topped them with ice cream. The dark chocolate was thick and chewy and the frosting was smooth and creamy, so rich that the vanilla ice cream actually tempered the sweetness blending the flavors perfectly. The girls loved spending time together - these evenings of fun were the best of times. Baking together and then talking about summer plans over the scrumptious dessert was a great way to end the evening!
Best friends, Jen, Katy and Colleen get jobs at the local pool the summer before eleventh grade. Lots of excitement, but also challenges await them as they take on new responsibilities. One of the girls can’t help feeling all alone as she watches the other two enter the dating scene and Aunt Sarah plan for her wedding. Will the girl’s bond be broken by jealousy?
"Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!" exclaimed Tommy Blackburn shivering at the top of the high diving board at Andersen Pool. He wasn’t cold, he was terrified! He had never jumped off the high dive before. And like usual, when he wanted to do something he knew he might not get to do, he lied to his grandfather. Tommy told him that he had jumped off a million times.
Andersen Pool measured everything in meters. The low dive was one meter; the high dive was three meters high. Today, Jen was working in the lifeguard crow’s nest which was ten meters high with the watchtower about half way up the pole. It had ropes attached from the top of the pole to the ground with multi-colored pennants flying every few inches. The crow’s nest was a circular platform with railings around it. By being so far above everyone, she could watch the people swimming, diving, as well as everyone walking around the pool.
Many times throughout the summer, some of the children were so excited about swimming they would start running on the wet concrete surround. Inevitably, with all the splashing and dripping wet suits the concrete became slippery and someone would fall and get hurt. It was Jen’s job to blow her whistle and motion to the child to stop running before that could happen. She also was responsible for the safety of the people swimming and diving in the deep end.
Today, she could see from the crow’s nest that little Tommy Blackburn was really scared. She looked below for his parents or his grandfather; but she didn't see them. When she looked across again at Tommy, he was looking over the side of the railing. He looked like he might be sick. There was a long line forming at the bottom of the high dive ladder. She was about to blow her whistle to have Tommy climb back down the ladder. In the next moment she saw the boy gather his courage, run to the end of the board and try to dive. Unfortunately, it turned into a big belly smacker! When he hit the surface of the water, it created huge waves that splashed all over the cement surrounding the pool.
She made sure that he was okay as she watched him climb out of the pool. Then she went back to keeping a watchful eye on the rest of the kids in the deep end. Tommy walked in a daze to the changing room. He was dizzy and a little sick to his stomach from the crash onto the surface of the water. As he entered the dressing room he jumped when he heard several girls screaming and yelling at him. Unknowingly, he had walked into the girls’ changing room! He ran back out with a girl chasing after him screaming in an alarming manner, "He was in the girls' changing room!" He could feel his face turn as red as a traffic stop sign.
Tommy heard the lifeguard whistle and looked up to see Jen Kent giving him a disgusted look and pointing him in the direction of the boys’ changing room. Now he would be in for it! Ever since that summer two years ago when Jen was stupid enough to get hurt at the Webber house, she and his grandfather had become very good friends. When he looked over at his grandfather by the fence sure enough he had seen Jen admonishing him. However, when he walked over to Tommy he wasn't angry at all. He even made a joke of Tommy wanting to see the girls "nekkid" and they both laughed, which made it all okay.
Jen’s sister, Katy blew her whistle several times. In the shallow end there was a concrete fountain that looked like a huge aqua tiered wedding cake. Water erupted out of the top and then cascaded down over the tiers. Right next to it, a man was picking his kids up and throwing them in the water. They were hanging all over him, laughing and having a great time, not realizing they were breaking the safety rules of the pool.
When they heard her whistle they looked up at the lifeguard and were surprised to see that she was blowing it at them. So they stopped rough housing and looked at her as if she had sprouted horns. The youngest child wondered how some teenager could have the gall to yell at her father! Katy saw the looks, however, she knew that rules were rules and they were in place for the safety of all.
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter or margarine
1 16oz can Hershey Syrup
1 cup flour
Chocolate Frosting for Brownies
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
7 TBS butter or margarine
6 tsp milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Mix butter, sugar and eggs. Alternately add syrup and flour. Grease and flour bottom of 9x13 pan. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350.
After the brownies cool. Bring sugar, butter and milk to a boil - boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add the chocolate chips - QUICKLY beat until chips are melted. IMMEDIATELY pour over the brownies and spread to edges. If you wait too long the topping will crack - it won't hurt the taste but won't look as pretty!
HORS D’ OEUVRES
Available at the center table before dinner
Fresh Fruit Selections
Gourmet Cheeses with Crackers
Tomato/Herb Bruschetta on Toast
A BERRY GOOD SALAD
Sliced Michigan strawberries,
Romano cheese and sunflower seeds
Served on a bed of organic gourmet greens
with Fandangles’ signature dressing
WILD CHERRY SORBET
Michigan Wild Cherry creamy sorbet
Boneless Breast of Chicken
Rubbed in a bouquet of fresh herbs
Sautéed in a Michigan Grand Traverse Chardonnay,
with fresh lemon, chopped parsley and capers
ROASTED RED POTATOES
Michigan baby red skinned potatoes
Roasted with olive oil, fresh cracked pepper and sea salt
Tossed with fresh chopped parsley
GRILLED FRENCH CUT GREEN BEANS
Fresh Michigan green beans
Marinated in olive oil, lemon juice and fresh dill
Grilled to perfection
BERTIE'S BAKERY HEAVEN SCENT
Lovingly Baked by the Bride
Sarah's Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Cake
with Butter Cream Icing
In the final book of the Saginaw Series, best friends, Jen, Katy and Colleen are enjoying their summer before senior year. They must work out some differences that threaten their special friendship. Is it jealousy or good common sense as two of them try to change the direction Katy begins to take towards stardom?
The music was blaring from the large speakers behind them on the stage. The dance floor was alive with gyrating teens all laughing and flirting while moving to the rhythm and beat of the original rock and roll song. It was another exciting Friday night at the teen night club, Daniel's Den. Katy’s friends, James and Colleen were by the stage with her sister, Jen and her boyfriend Adam. They were looking up at her as she was singing like there was no tomorrow.
The band, The Lifeguards, was the opening act for a popular group from Chicago and this was their big break. They won the battle of the bands contest the previous week which gave them each $100 and this gig tonight. The song she was singing was written by Patrick, the lead guitar player in the band. It was the first time they were performing it live on stage. The Lifeguards was made up of four high school students going into their senior year at St. Mary Cathedral in Saginaw, Michigan. As well as Patrick and Katy, there was Josh who played the drums. Bill played the bass guitar and sometimes when they tried some jazz, he played the saxophone.
They also worked at Andersen Pool as lifeguards, they loved their summer jobs. That is why they named their band after their work. They knew this engagement could lead to parties, school dances, and maybe even wedding receptions. The four band members were hoping to make and save enough money to help pay for the first year of college.
Katy was asked to be the lead singer for the group because of her church solos. However, Mr. Clyde, the new owner of Daniel's Den, told his wife as he pointed to the stage, "That's as far from church singing as we can get!" His wife laughed and said, "You have to admit, she has a great voice."
The nightclub was an old movie theater. The bands played at the front of the theater where the films used to show on the big screen. The big room where the audience used to sit had all the seats removed. It was always dark with the lights from the stage creating shadows on the sunken dance floor.
Officer Ed was at the front entrance looking at photo ID's - either from the teen's school or a drivers license before anyone entered the club. The age group allowed to attend was sixteen to nineteen. Officer Ed, an off duty Saginaw Police Officer, knew every kid in town, especially those that caused problems. They all knew they had to leave their bad attitudes outside or they would never be allowed in again. He made sure that the Den was a safe place to be. Everyone respected Officer Ed. There were five rules posted by the front door.
Anyone under the influence of alcohol will not be admitted
You must be 16 yrs. old or in the 10th grade
Dress - casual but neat and clean
Absolutely no pass outs
No beards, sun glasses
Video (shot by Ryan Bengtson) from ArtPrize entry "Lights in the Night" on September 28, 2012 - shot from the pedestrian bridge looking back towards the Ford Museum and then toward the Amway Grand Hotel. (Used with permission)
No Christmas for Olivia
Spring Break in Florida
A Very Thankful Thanksgiving
All of the books are in rough draft form. So I go back and forth between them adding and editing. I've been working on the last book for a couple of weeks. I asked my niece to take a picture of their Thanksgiving table to use on my Pinterest Board.
When my Mom died we all knew that Kim should have her wedding china. She entertains like Grandma Shea.
This is a lovely setting made in California by Franciscan in the DEL MONTE pattern. I am happy to have it in the book.
"Are you finished packing your suitcase, Liv?" Mom yelled up the stairs. "Almost," answered her daughter as she stared unhappily at the empty suitcase open on her bed. She was thinking about how she didn't want to go to Aunt Fran's for Christmas. Olivia didn't like their family traditions thrown to the side, as if they didn't matter. Each Christmas had always been filled with rich family traditions. Until this year!
Her Grandma Dade's nativity set, with the beautiful stable her grandma's uncle had painted, was always tucked under the center bottom branches of the fresh cut Christmas tree. The statues of Mary, Joseph and the little baby Jesus were always surrounded by angels, animals, shepherds and kings. Her sister Kyla even painted a ceramic camel for one of the kings that perfectly matched the antique statues.
Liv would spend hours on the floor, on her stomach, staring into the crèche. She liked to imagine what each person was thinking, while the tiny baby slept in the manger. Was Mary relieved her baby was healthy with ten little fingers and toes all lovingly cleaned, counted and kissed before she wrapped him in the swaddling clothes? Was Joseph overwhelmed with the shepherds and kings paying homage to the baby? Were the Shepherds intimidated by the Kings? Did they see the angels? Were the angels singing and dancing for joy at the long awaited event?
Then she frowned as she thought about the shiny gold star made for the top of a tree. A tree she should have found with Kyla and her mom and dad. Every year they trudged through the tree farm looking for just the right one for her dad to cut down. Then they would wait for the hay wagon to stop to give them a ride back to the barn. Inside there was always a roaring fire in the little pot belly stove. Hot chocolate and homemade cookies, made by the owner of the tree farm, were offered to the customers free of charge. Liv loved sitting by the fire munching a cutout sugar cookie in between sips of the rich chocolaty hot drink.
Olivia did not like change. It was two days until Christmas and surely some other family had purchased the tree that should have been her first choice. Everything else connected to the holiday was still wrapped in newspaper, tucked away in the basement, under the stairs.
Every year when they finished decorating the tree, Olivia and Kyla took turns with their cherished traditions. One would put the star on top of the tree and then would read the story of the first Christmas from Grandma Dade's bible. The other sister would nestle Jesus between Mary and Joseph during the reading. This year it was Liv's turn to read and she had worked since Thanksgiving memorizing the passages from the second chapter of Luke. She had planned the surprise as a Christmas gift for her parents. Now that was ruined. No stable, no tree, no bible verses needed!
Her mom yelled again, this time in her no nonsense tone of voice, "Olivia Maureen, we have five minutes before we need to be on our way to the airport!" She demanded, "Get down here, now!" Liv yelled, "Coming!" as she ran to her dresser. She opened the top drawer, grabbed a ton of underwear and socks. Then she opened the bottom drawer to gather all her shorts, two pair of jeans, several tank tops and t-shirts. Next, she went to the closet and pulled a sweatshirt, a sweater and a few sun dresses off the hangers. Olivia threw everything in the suitcase and almost closed it when she remembered she needed shoes! She ran back to the closet and found her sandals, flip flops and a pair of tennis shoes. She had to sit on the suitcase to line the edges together, so she could zip it closed.
Christmas in Arizona was not her idea of an ideal Christmas. As she walked down the hall she wished she could just skip Christmas this year. It was as if a light bulb went off in her head! That's it, she thought, that's exactly what she would do, just not have Christmas this year! She would go with her family, but they couldn't make her enjoy this stupid Arizona Christmas. She would ignore anything to do with it!
Liv didn't know that sometimes Christmas comes on its own terms, in its own time, whether you want it or not!
In the Holiday Series Mary tells Sgt. Davidson to go online to read Bishop Ken's wise words. You can, too!
CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW
Bishop Ken Untener's Year C - Luke Gospels -Homilies
Bishop Ken Untener's Year A - Matthew Gospels - Homilies
The picture on the bottom is one taken by Dennis Keyes - I found it on Pinterest - Choosing Chihuly Board - the quilt above is one that my cousin, Mary Andrews from Grand Blanc, MI made after being inspired by a trip to the Botanical Gardens in Phoenix when a Chihuly exhibit was showing.
Mary made that masterpiece and several others after that show inspired by Chihuly. That beautiful quilt art is hanging in my kitchen and it brings me inspiration on a daily basis.
In the book, Holiday Series: No Christmas for Olivia, Mary makes this quilt for Robbie's nursery as a rememberence that life is filled with beauty and that he should always look for it in his every day world or even in unexpected places.
The picture below is also from the book: "One hill had hundreds of smooth, bright red-colored glass rods that reached to the sky."
Kyla walked up the staircase to finish homework due on Monday. She needed to write a report about dissecting the frog in Biology class yesterday.
She paused when she saw the sunshine streaming through the window on the landing between the first and second floors of her family home in Saginaw, Michigan. She couldn't resist. She climbed into the window seat making herself comfortable, plumping the pillows and pulling the handmade quilt over her legs. Her mom made a yellow curtain to pull across the front of the opening and when Kyla pulled it closed she was in a sunshine cocoon.
She turned on her tablet and signed on to Facebook where she had 821 close friends! She groaned when she saw that her friend Matthew posted another stupid list. “The Top Ten List of the Best Looking Girls in My Class.” Kyla was number nine. She hated being humiliated by Matthew and she blasted him for posting it on his page. Matthew posted back that she was nine out of forty two, so what was her problem? Sometimes she hated FB.
The sun was warming her and she could feel herself getting sleepy. She gave in, closed her eyes and took a short nap. She had a dream about a beauty contest. When she went on stage to perform the talent part of the contest, she was supposed to sing, but when she opened her mouth she croaked like a frog! She awoke with a start and went up to her bedroom to finish her homework. She flopped on her bed and looked at her Facebook page again. She saw there were twenty comments to Matthew's list, all giving him a hard time for acting so shallow! Sometimes she loved FB
My friend Ruth Eggerd gave me the original white chili recipe. We had it for a soup supper at St. Mary Cathedral during Lent. It was so delicious. Over the years I have added and changed a few things and it is one of my favorite recipes.
Fran makes it for dinner when Dennis comes over the first night he meets Ayva in the 2nd book of the Holiday Series, Easter Break in Florida. The secret ingredient to Fran's white chili is Charras tostadas. If you cannot find them in the Mexican food section of your grocery store you could replace it with tostada chips.
1 large onion chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
1 small can chopped green chilis
1 box or three small cans chicken broth, light
3 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized chunks
1 jar or three cans northern beans
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
1 jar any kind of salsa
1 can Campbell's bean and bacon soup
1 package of Charras tostada shells crushed (see note above)
Saute onions, garlic, add chilis. Add chicken pieces. Cook for 5 minutes.
Add cumin, oregano and beans. Mix well. Add salsa, soup and broth.
Crush the package of Charras into tiny pieces. Add to chili. Taste the chili and add salt and pepper to taste.
Cook for 20 minutes on low.
This tends to thicken when leftover, add broth as needed.
The delicious coffee cake that is in the 2nd book of the Holiday Series, Easter Break in Florida. The St. Mary Cathedral youth group makes them to sell at a bake sale after Mass. After a sleep over at the church they bake 100 of these delicious coffee cakes.
In my real life my sister was in Campfire Girls. Her group made these to sell at church one year as a fundraiser and ever since this has been a favorite recipe in our family.
This is the recipe for one.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour round cakepans.
Ingredients for cake:
1 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Soft Butter or Margarine
2 Eggs, Separated
1/2 Cup Milk
1 1/2 Cups Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
Ingredients for the top:
Mix 2 Tablespoons of sugar and 1 tsp of cinnamon - set aside to use on top of the coffee cake.
Beat egg whites until stiff, set aside.
Cream butter and sugar, beaten yolks, milk, flour and baking powder just until mixed.
Gently fold beaten egg whites into the batter and pour into prepared cake pans.
Sprinkle with the reserved cinnamon sugar and slivered almonds.
Bake 30 minutes.
Click above to hear the real Charles Shea (The author's father) sing Rosalie
In the book, Independence Day - Fran opens a surprise box from her sister Mary. A memory box of Great, Great, Grandpa Charles Shea performing at the Elks Club. (Actually my sister, Kathy said it was more like 1937 and that the record was a 33 not a 45.)
Fran shares with her daughter Sheala about Family History.
Kyla's phone chimed. Even though she didn't know the sender, she looked at the new message, "New exciting blog! Click link below!" She clicked the link.
"Oh no, Kyla!" screamed Liv, as she ran up the stairs two at a time to their room. "KyKy, don't open the link!" Liv's warning was too late. Kyla opened the bedroom door. She had tears streaming down her cheeks. Liv ran to give her sister a hug. Sadly, Liv whispered, "Where's Mom?" Liv answered, "Sewing.
Kyla and Liv walked slowly down the stairs, through the kitchen and then into the sewing room. Their mom was working on a new full size quilt. Last spring she won first place at the Phoenix Museum in Arizona with her small art quilts. She looked up with a smile. She heard the girl's approaching footsteps coming from the kitchen. She loved it when her beautiful daughters shared her quilting time with her. When she looked up from her sewing she was alarmed when she saw their faces. She asked, "What's the matter, girls?" Liv handed her the tablet. Mrs. Rodriguez gasped and tears filled her eyes. She turned to her oldest daughter, "What is this?" Kyla answered, "I received a message about a new blog and when I clicked the link, this site came up." Liv pointed to the tablet and said, "Look, I have several texts from friends that received it." Kyla moaned, "I think everyone we know was on the address list!" Her mom wanted answers, she asked, "Who sent this?" Kyla shrugged and told her they didn't know.
Mrs. Rodriguez picked up her phone to call the school office. She talked to the secretary, Mrs. Conklin, who explained that phone calls had been coming in nonstop for the past ten minutes. Sr. Barb, the principal, decided to address it head on at the monthly parent meeting scheduled for that evening. A text message and email would be going out inviting parents to bring their high school-aged children to the meeting.
Mr. Dontay walked in the office in the middle of the conversation. He was holding his tablet and when he heard Kyla's mom on the speaker phone he said, "Mary, this is Peter, don’t worry about this. We will get to the bottom of it. Tell Kyla I'm thinking only good thoughts about her."
This past year Kyla had acted in a disrespectful way, which had hurt Mr. Dontay's feelings. Her parents had been very disappointed in her behavior. Afterwards she had to work hard to repair the damage she had caused in the relationship. The time they spent together on the mission trip, over spring break, had been a healing time. They had even been able to build a mutual respect for each other. He was very upset that someone would target Kyla and Matthew like this.
Kyla and Liv were busy texting. Kyla tried contacting her friend, Matt, but his phone was turned off. Their friends were all texting each other, asking if anyone had talked with Matt or Kyla. Everyone wondered who could have been so mean to send the link. Many of them wondered if the picture was real. A few people even thought that Kyla and Matt had actually done this. One person, however, was watching the blog track the number of readers and he was enjoying all the drama he created.
Mr. Dontay put his thumb and forefinger in his mouth and blew out a shrill ear bursting whistle. Then he yelled, "Okay everyone, settle down! Settle down." When it finally quieted down, he said, "Welcome back to the first gathering of the school year of the most fabulous teens in Saginaw, Michigan!" The hooting, hollering and clapping teens turned the room back into chaos. Miss Montalvo smiled as she watched Mr. Dontay join in the pandemonium. She could tell he loved it as much as they did.
As she looked over the room full of high school students she couldn't help but focus on one very small girl. She was watching everything with wide-eyed wonder. She had dark circles under her eyes, and very little hair peeking out of a close fitting crocheted hat. It made her look fragile and actually quite ill.
As the students settled down again, Miss Montalvo observed quietly trying to figure out who was with her. Liv Rodriguez sat down next to the waiflike girl and whispered something in her ear. They both covered their mouth and giggled and turned to look at Liv's sister, Kyla, sitting close to Javier.
When she saw they were looking at Kyla and Javier, Miss Montalvo was distracted from her original idea about wanting to help the young girl. Instead, her thoughts turned to young love. It really was true that girls in high school could change boyfriends as often as they changed their clothes. She could never keep current about who was dating whom!
There were so many new teens tonight. Many of them didn't belong to the parish. They came with their friends, members of St. Mary Cathedral. The staff believed it was vital to reach out to every person, parishioner or not. Bringing the love of God to these students would have an everlasting effect on them. Miss Montalvo was always happy when the students practiced evangelization by extending an invitation to their friends.
When everyone quieted down again Mr. Dontay began the night with a prayer, "Lord Jesus, we gather in your name, to do your will. Thank you God for filling this room to overflowing! Holy Spirit, we ask that you fill us with your gifts this brand new school year. First and foremost, fill us with your wisdom to see the good choices available to us, and then give us your counsel to follow them." Everyone said, "Amen."
Amanda yelled down the staircase, "Mom, where are the boxes from my bedroom?" Her mom was in kitchen, in the back of the house, with the dishwasher running. She couldn't hear her daughter. Amanda screamed louder, "Mom!" Still no answer. Amanda stomped down the stairs. She randomly started opening boxes. Her mom walked in and yelled, "What are you doing, Amanda? Don't start pulling things out of boxes, right here in the front hall!"
Tempers were short. Moving day was taking its toll. Amanda started crying as she said, "I need the boxes for my room. I have to find my journal." The baby started crying upstairs in the nursery. Her mom was tired and cranky and just didn't have time for drama. She said, "Please Amanda, go get Timmy, change his diaper and then feed him some cereal." Amanda stomped back up the stairs grumbling to herself, "Oh sure, Timmy, Timmy, Timmy, it is always Timmy." He was the stupid reason they had to move. When he was born that meant there weren't enough bedrooms in their house.
The front door slammed behind six year old Frannie. She ran in the house, out of breath. Frannie took a deep gulp of air and excitedly said, "Mom, we're here with more boxes." She loved moving day! It was such an exciting time! However, her mom's voice sounded like she was going to cry when she said, "Go tell Daddy, I need help in here before he brings another box into this house." Then without even realizing it, she added her own touch of drama, "I am about to have a nervous breakdown!" Frannie ran back out onto the porch yelling loudly, "Daddy come quick, Mommy is having another nervous breakdown."
Amanda put Timmy in his high chair, tossing Cheerios on his tray. She felt something wet on her toes! She looked over by the sink and screamed, "Aaahhh! Mom, the dishwasher's leaking!" Her Mom ran past her to go down the stairs to the basement to turn off the water supply. She ran back up the stairs yelling, "Amanda, don't just stand there grab some towels and help!" There was an angry yell from the bathroom, next to the kitchen. The oldest boy, Larry, came out of the bathroom with shampoo dripping from his hair with just a towel around his waist. He exclaimed, "What kind of house did you buy? The water just stopped coming out of the faucet!"
A pretty lady, Frannie didn't know, was walking up the stairs to the front porch. She had a big plate of chocolate chip cookies in her hands. She laughed as she said, "Well Little Miss, I think you better take me to your mother so I can give her chocolate. That cures a nervous breakdown every time!" As she eyed the plate of cookies Franny asked the stranger, "Can I have a nervous breakdown, too?"
"Frannie, who is your new friend?" her daddy asked as he carried a box to the porch. The lady introduced herself, " I'm Sissy Castor, I live next door. He said, "Glad to meet you, I'm Sean Maxum. Come in and meet my wife." They walked through the house into the kitchen. He said, "Noreen, we have a visitor, this is Sissy Castor. She lives next door. She brought us cookies!"
Noreen was mortified. The woman coming into the kitchen with her husband was perfect. Perfect hair. Perfect nails. Even perfect chocolate chip cookies. Frannie saw the big cardboard box in her dad's hands and said, "Ooh Daddy, Mama is having a nervous breakdown, no more boxes allowed!" Her mom self conciously patted her hair as she stood up. She wiped her sopping wet hands on her jeans and said, "Oh my goodness, those look wonderful. I'm Noreen Maxum and I really am having a nervous breakdown!" Sissy took in the wet floor, the four children, which included the dripping teenager, and boxes piled high on every flat surface. She said, "Of course you are, it's moving day!"
Martha was eating her lunch in the cafeteria with her friends, Joan and Jane. They were at St. Mary Cathedral High School in Saginaw, Michigan. Miss Floeter, the head cook at the school, made their favorite cherry cobbler for dessert. They were eating it as they were making plans to go downtown, after school. They each wanted to buy a new outfit to wear to the YMCA dance the next day. The girls loved going downtown after school, it was only a few blocks from their homes. They always enjoyed window shopping, but today they could actually shop to buy!
Biology class was right after lunch and today they were going to dissect a grasshopper. When they filed into the classroom, everyone sat at their assigned lab desks. Martha was lab partner with John, a member of the basketball team. Yesterday he told everyone that he wasn't touching the grasshopper. Mr. Kraemer walked into the classroom and yelled, "Hey John, catch!" The basketball star had very fast reactions. He threw his hand up in the air and caught the grasshopper that Mr. Kraemer threw to him. His classmates burst out laughing, knowing their favorite teacher had put one over on the unsuspecting star. John was a good sport about the trick played on him and he laughed, too. As he dropped the insect into the tray he told Martha, "You're still dissecting the bug."
Suddenly, there was an announcement made by Sr. Agatha on the public address system. "Attention, this announcement is to ask the teachers to turn on the televisions in each classroom." The principal continued, "There is sad news from Dallas, Texas. President Kennedy has been shot!" There were gasps and many students started to cry. The principal asked everyone to pray for the President and for the United States of America.
Televisions around the world were turned on. It was the first time in history that the news would be broadcast for a straight twenty four hours. It was the first time, that for days, everyone would be riveted to their televisions. The same footage was played over and over as everyone relived the horror of that moment. It was the first time that Martha, and her friends, felt uncertain and nervous about something outside of the realm of their neighborhood. The world was forever changed, and even though she didn't know it, this was just the beginning of a very bad year for Martha.
It is about a family going through severe changes in their lives. Many of the events in the book happened to our family. I have changed how the events happened in some instances, and even though one of my brothers was home during this year I put him in the Air Force because of the storyline. Actually, I was in sixth grade in 1963-1964 but I combined my age with my brother's in the story and unfortunately for my younger sister she ended up having to do any of the bad things I did during that year! I'll say it right here and now - my sweet sister never even thought of doing or saying the things I put in the book - they were all my sins! I'm sure she will forgive me.
This was a time of great change in our history. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a name, someone whom a white student in Saginaw had just begun to hear about - the "I have a dream" speech was given in August of 1963. The African Americans were called "colored" in the late 50's, then Negro in the early 60's, then Blacks in the late 60's. Our lives were separate, none attended my school until the late 60's.
Mr. Kraemer shows up in the story, he was a favorite science teacher. Sr. Yvonne who actually was my first grade teacher shows up as a high school Current Events Teacher and Sr. Agatha, a principal is in there and Miss Floeter the head cook makes cherry cobbler. The lay teachers and the Dominican Nuns were a dedicated group of teachers at St. Mary Cathedral. They taught us to be respectful, peaceful and tolerant to change. A few of the events happened, like the grasshopper, but most were just made up to give a sense of different people reacting to the same situations. There was no field trip and the school in Detroit doesn't exist and never did.
Mr. and Mrs.Roennecke, the owners of Bertie's Bakery make another appearance. Those glazed donuts again!!!
My aunts and uncles whom I loved very much and who helped form who I am today, are here in a not so pleasant light. They were brought up to be separate; like many Americans at that time thought that the different races should stay apart. I am glad to say that I saw them change over the years to be more accepting than they were in the 60's. Do not judge them by this story, they were wonderful, loving people.
My mother was a strong faith-filled woman. I marvel when I think of how blessed our family was to have her as the head of our household. My father was a good Christian man and I put much of what Monsignor Forbes actually said in his homily at his funeral in this book.
The friends in my neighborhood, I changed all their names, were the best friends anyone could ask for anywhere. Before 1963 it was a simpler more peaceful time and when President Kennedy was assassinated and my life became a roller coaster of changes, my friends remained constant in my life. The Novaks, the Shaltry's the Slaggerts, the Kochans - you all were an important part of my growing up in Saginaw and I thank each and every one of you.
I hope in the new book "Saginaw: A very difficult year, 1963-1964" I have given you a small idea of a turbulent time of the 60's. Following is the first chapter of the book.
The first young lady to read a draft of Webber House sent a card to congratulate me for publishing my first book. She wrote inside, "I'm so happy for you!"
After she read the draft she gave me good constructive criticism. She told me the parts that she really liked. It was a turning point in my writing. Knowing that someone the age I was writing for liked my book gave me great encouragement.
Now to be the first to send me a note means so much to me. Soon I hope the second book will be published, I am just waiting for the cover art. In that book, Colleen's mom knows how important connections are and tells her daughter to make them in her life. Obviously, your parents have taught you the same.
Rachael, I am so happy you are my friend.