Baked Beans

From the book "A Light Shines Forth" 
These beans are taken on the picnic at the stream under the old oak tree. 

Inspired by the recipe found on the back of the jars of beans and the memory of my own Grandma Shea's baked beans.

1 48-ounce jar Randall Great Northern Beans drained
1/2 pound of bacon
1 large onion, choppped
4 tablespoons butter
2 large apples, shredded
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup catsup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 Tablespoon Mrs. Dash
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Chicken broth

Make the bacon, take out of the pan and discard the drippings.  Add the butter into the pan and cook the onion. Add everything except the beans to the pan and cook until the sugar is melted and everything is coated with it. Add in the beans and the cut up the bacon and add that.  Put it in a 9 x 13 pan and drizzle chicken broth over the top.  Don't make it too wet with puddles of liquid - just wet enough to keep the beans moist.

Bake in 350 degree oven for about an hour.  If heating up the leftover beans add a little more broth to them before heating up.  However, I don't know why anyone would ever heat up leftover beans.  Instead spread some on bread that has a generous topping of peanut butter!  The most delicious cold baked bean and peanut butter sandwhich ever!  My Dad even added mustard - not me - just the beans and peanut butter.   MMMMMmmm.

Using Webber House in a Classroom - Guest Blogger Theresa Bills

Theresa Bills teaches the 9-12 age girl's group at Hillside Bible Church in Ortonville, Michigan.  I asked her to write about her experience using my book in her class.  Here is her response:

What young girl hasn't had secrets to share or secrets to keep?  What does God say about secrets?    The girls in the book, Webber House, provided a great platform in which to discuss ways that we should handle secrets in our own lives.  With the enthusiasm of a bunch of girls and a great book to read, this combination had all the makings of great teaching!

Oatmeal Cookies

Sometimes you just want an old fashioned oatmeal cookie. No nuts, no raisins, just lots of oatmeal chewy goodness. In A Light Shines Forth, Nana sends cookies to Noah in Okinawa.

Oatmeal Cookies

½ cup butter, softened 
Almost 1 cup sugar 
½ cup brown sugar 
2 eggs 
2 tsp vanilla 
1 TBS water 
1 tsp salt 
1 tsp baking soda 
1 TBS cinnamon 
3 cup flour 
5½ cups oats

Mix everything together and scoop onto lined cookie sheet. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Just until light brown. This makes 40 cookies. 

Study Inspiration

In "A Light Shines Forth," the book Mary Ellen Shea Clifford is currently writing, Isabella was having a hard time concentrating on what Sr. Carmelita was saying.  The tenth grader was attending a meeting with four other students.

Isabella's stomach was rolling.  Her head was pounding.  Her eyes kept darting towards the door.  All she could think about was getting back to study hour.  Sr. Carmelita was suggesting the five students meet every school day to work on study habits.  Isabella is positive that she doesn't want anything to do with this.  But then Sister says something that changes everything.  She tells the students she chose them because they are class leaders, smart, hard workers and all five of them have said they want to go to college.  Sr. Carmelita ends with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, a spiritual leader of India from many years ago.  "You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result."

Isabella thought about how she had lost weight over the summer.  How if she had done nothing, she would be right where she was last school year.  Overweight and unhappy.  It seemed that Sr. Carmelita was offering her a solution to her school problems.

Whether you are just stopping by to read about my books. Or to find a link to Bishop Ken's homilies. Or if you are a close friend or family member, you have all enriched my life so much.

When you leave this site to go to Amazon to purchase my EBooks it makes me hope you will love my characters as much as I do.

It has been heart warming to see so many people leave this site to read Bishop Ken's words. It makes me smile. May each of you find what you need most in his words.

To my visitors and my family and friends God bless you during this holiday season.

Thankful for You

I am thankful for the stories that come from my heart and for those who read them. 

Inspiration from the Past

Several years ago at St. Mary Cathedral, Sr. Nancy came to choir and told us about St. Michael's Christmas worship space.  My husband and I drove to St. Michael's in Oakley, Michigan.  They had beautiful stars hanging from the ceiling.  Right then I knew we had to find a way to do that the next year at the Cathedral.

I set about searching the internet. I found a site that explained how to cut several stars at once with a band-saw.  This is not the same site but it does show how we cut so many stars.  The one thing we did differently is drilling through to hold the plywood and the posterboard.  We drilled right through the top part of the star, thereby creating a hole to hang the star.

Then we folded the stars - like this site shows - then we spray painted them gold and added gold glitter.  We put up signs at the entrances to church that said, "The stars are coming, the stars are coming..."  Then had a sign up sheet for people to come help tie the stars to fishing line.

On a Saturday in early December about 25 people helped tie the stars.  There were 1,700 stars to attach!  We carefully gathered the string and clipped them with a clothespin to keep them from getting tangled.  Then when we decorated we crisscrossed the lines all over the church.  It looked like we brought the heavens inside the Cathedral.

In the book, A Light Shines Forth, the stars have been used a few times and it is time to retire them. The sisters, Sarah and Julie, from Four Season Friends that are on the Art and Environment Committee ask to reuse them at the Homecoming dance.

I certainly hope you are looking forward to July 2015 when A Light Shines Forth is published.

We are enjoying the crisp cold evenings and some of the days have been sunny. Yesterday was a bit cold. But we drove around a bit on the two tracks and when we got back we had a big fire.

We are camping at the lighthouse at the Tawas  Point State Park.  The light keeper gave me some information to put in the next book. I can't wait to weave his stories with mine.

It has to do with this door leading to the staircase to the tower. He promised me it really happened just a few nights ago and it gave me shivers when he recounted what happened!

I hope you are looking forward to
"A Light Shines Forth"
coming in July 2015.


The name my niece added when she professed her vows 

to become a 

Daughter of St. Paul

Sr. Theresa Aletheia

How blessed were we to be a part of this beautiful ceremony.

It will find a way to be in the next book.

A Light Shines Forth

The most difficult chapter for me to write is the first chapter in each book. "A Light Shines Forth" was no exception. I have worked on this for two days. It may change as I write the other chapters but the basics are there. I already love Ellie and Isabella.

Chapter 1

With eyes filled with wonder, best friends Ellie Emerson and Isabella Miller peered through the window. Several feet below the frothy white waves curled through the icy blue waters of the Great Lake Huron. It didn't matter that they had looked out this window hundreds of times, the majestic view took their breath away each time they stopped at the window.

Their heads close together Ellie whispered, "Do you think she looks out this window at night after everyone leaves?" Her best friend answered with a silent nod.

They pulled away from the window and continued their trek up the last of the eighty five steps twisting toward the sky.

After they reached the top of the winding staircase they entered the glass enclosed tower. Both of them broke into smiles a mile wide. As always they felt as if they could reach out and touch the clear blue skies.

April was their favorite time of year to camp at the Tawas State Park in East Tawas, Michigan.   Even though it could be chilly, their families usually had the campground to themselves. Ellie and Isabella pretended the vast park was their kingdom; the lighthouse their castle. They may be eighth graders, but years ago they pinky promised never to grow up too much for their shared kingdom.

Ever since Ellie was two years old her parents had taken her camping at Tawas Point State Park during spring break. That was twelve years ago after a Christmas potluck at their church, St. Mary Cathedral. The Miller and Emerson families sat by each other for dinner. By the end of the night Mr. and Mrs. Miller had convinced the Emerson's to come camping with them.

Isabella's father, Jerry, started volunteering as a lighthouse keeper every spring break, as soon as he turned eighteen. After college he married Kay and they continued the tradition.  When Noah, Isabella's big brother was born, Kay and Jerry pulled grandpa's trailer up for the family to camp in while volunteering. Only adults could be  lighthouse keepers. Jerry slept in the lighthouse each night while the rest of the family camped in the trailer.

Each year since that potluck the families camped all week.  They made minor repairs, painted and landscaped around the lighthouse in preparation for the first visitors.  They always came back for the Point Celebration Days, held annually on the second weekend in June. The celebration was filled with fun events offered for the entire family.

All these years Ellie and Isabella had been best friends. They looked like they were complete opposites. Ellie never had to think about how much she ate while Isabella thought about food a lot.  Ellie had long blonde hair braided down to the middle of her back.  Her mother agreed to let her keep her hair long with only a trim twice a year to keep the ends nice, under one condition. Ellie was not supposed to fuss about getting her hair fixed each morning. No crying or whining that her mother was hurting her with the hairbrush as it worked its way through the snarls. It had been a small price to pay to be able to keep her long hair all her life. Now she brushed her own hair of course.

Isabella on the other hand had short black curls that framed her face. That is to say that today she had short curls. Her Aunt Susie was taking classes to become a hair stylist and whenever she learned something new she tried it out on her niece. Isabella's mother put her foot down and refused to let her sister, Susie color the 9th grader's hair. Isabella's mother had told her daughter several times, "Until you are out of high school there will be no hair dying."

But when it came to the important things in life Ellie and Isabella could have been twins. They both loved being outdoors, especially camping. They loved writing and reading. But most of all they loved to spend long summer days riding their bikes together. They hated doing dishes, folding laundry and history class.

This spring break was going to be extra special. Mr. Miller had received permission to have Isabella and Ellie spend the last night in the lighthouse. The girls were so excited, but very scared. What if they saw her?


I have been praying for inspiration for a new book.  Nothing was coming to me.  I just knew I needed to be patient about an answer.  So this morning - IT HIT ME IN MY HEART! I melted when I saw this post on Facebook.

Inspiration from Lost in Michigan - photographer, Mike Sonnenberg. This morning he posted this picture on Facebook.  I immediately contacted him to purchase it for my next eBook cover - I have been frantically searching for lighthouse information all morning.

Not sure which direction the book will take, but I am having fun.  Did you know the Tawas Point Lighthouse is reported to be haunted by a little girl?  OOOOhh - if there isn't a story there for this author I should quit writing!!!!  Here is a recreation of what people reported seeing at the lighthouse.

I can't wait to start writing.  Thank you Mike Sonnenberg!

Four Season Friends is Now Available

I am pleased to announce that Four Season Friends - my first novel - is available on Amazon.

Four Season Friends begins with moving day and all the stress and anxiety of seven people relocating to a new home in a new city.   Each of them quickly becomes friends with the family of eight next door and the fun begins.  A few of the children  are homeschooled while others attend St. Mary Cathedral, just three blocks away.  There are vacations, a first job away from home and even a wedding reception in a Montana barn in the middle of winter!  You will come to love the Castors and the Maxums, possibly even wishing you could live next door to them.

I know you will like this book as much as the Saginaw Series and the Holiday Series.  Click the book.

Address Label Tip for Military Mail

I thought I would share a tip.  I use Avery 6461 address labels for my letters to my grandson. They are actually removable multipurpose labels.  They stay on the envelopes AND he can peel the label off and use it for his return address.  That saves him a lot of time that he could use for writing letters.  If you have ever seen a military address you will know what a great tip this is!  

I don't use one for my return address though because I'm not sure it would always stay on for the return trip.  But after it leaves the base it doesn't really matter if his return address stays on or not (but it has always arrived with the label on.) We can't send him anything but he can recycle!