Life Changing Moments

In the book, New Beginnings, Miss Robinson talks about this Steve Jobs quote during a counseling session.  She points to a picture on the wall.  However, the quote is actually longer than the text on the picture.

"For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."

Miss Robinson explained each day was a chance to make changes in our lives.  Mr. Jobs died before he was done making enormous technological changes that would affect their lives.  Much like when Riley's father died, way before he was done making enormous changes to Riley's life.  But, and this was very important, Riley now had the chance to make her own enormous changes in her life. 

Makes M.E. Happy

When I saw this on my blog this morning I jumped for joy!
Six out of Seven people entered my blog to find Bishop Ken's homilies.
It makes my heart fill with hope that these people read his wise words.

Working on the New Beginnings Cover

I like this - the color of the words are the same as her top.

I think it is a simple cover that enhances the artwork.

New Beginnings - Chapter One Preview

New Beginnings

an eBook to be published on Amazon in 2016

Chapter 1 preview

Sr. Barb sat at her desk looking over the scholarship applications for the coming school year. Most of the recipients had been chosen in the spring, but an anonymous donor just provided funding for one additional student. Each scholarship provided four full years of high school. Mrs. Conklin, the school secretary, heard a heavy sigh coming from the principal's office. She called through the door, "Sr. Barb, what are you stressing about in there?"

The principal slowly pushed away from the desk and walked to the doorway separating the two offices. In a concerned voice she answered,  "There are so many people with limited incomes. If we could only double the number of scholarships. I know I should be happy with one extra, but there are so many pupils who could do so well here if given the opportunity."

As if on cue the phone rang. Mrs. Conklin talked into the phone explaining the deadline for applying for a scholarship had passed. Listening to Mrs. Conklin explaining to yet another mother about the application deadlines, Sr. Barb threw her arms into the air as she returned to her desk. She picked up another form and began reading. She became so engrossed in the answer everything else faded into the background.

Question 1 - Why do you want your child to attend St. Mary Cathedral?

We moved to Saginaw a few months ago from Houston, Texas. My cousin called to tell me there was a job waiting for me to clean homes with her if I wanted it. She also offered to have us live with her and her daughter.

I never married Annie's father. I was just 18 when I told him I was pregnant. His reaction was to hit me across the mouth. I couldn't believe I had ever wanted to be with him and for sure knew I could never trust him with my baby. That night I walked out of his front door and never looked back. It was a new beginning.  We have been on our own since.

Annie and I had been struggling to make ends meet since I lost my job when the clothing factory closed last year. Actually, the economy has been so poor that we moved every year or so. Always finding work, just to be looking for another job a year later. I have been taking college classes all through the years to become a teacher. However, every new college I attended took only some of my college credits.

This opportunity to have Annie's tuition paid for four years and to be able to stay in one high school is a miracle for her, but a second miracle would be to stay in one place for me to get my degree.
When my cousin called, Annie and I prayed, asking God for a way to get from Texas to Michigan. The following Sunday a couple sat behind us at church. I didn't know them so I introduced Annie and myself to them and welcomed them to our church. They told us they were visiting from Saginaw. Annie and I looked at each other in amazement as I asked, "Saginaw, Texas or Saginaw, Michigan?" The woman smiled as she proclaimed, "Michigan and proud of it."

The music began and I prayed harder than ever. Was this couple an answer to our prayers? What could I possibly say to them? Was all of this just a coincidence or a sign from God? I am ashamed to say I didn't hear one thing during that Mass. All I could do was pray and ask our good Lord for guidance. When the last word of the last song was sung I turned around and asked the woman if I could speak to her. She told me they were going to breakfast and asked us to join them. I must have shown my unease with my lack of finances. When I tried to refuse she immediately told me we were to be their guests because we made them feel so welcome at our church.

We talked for two hours at the restaurant.  Mr. and Mrs. Fordney were so interested in us. By the end of breakfast they insisted we should travel to Michigan with them. Looking back on it, I still cannot believe we packed our few belongings and left the next morning with total strangers. However, looking back on it, indeed they were a gift from God.

Annie and I now live with my cousin, Brianna Steffan and her daughter, Riley. It would mean the world to us if Riley and Annie could attend the same school.

Sr. Barb set the papers on her desk. Looking out her office window she thought about the Steffan family. Brianna and Riley had been through a terrible tragedy. A construction accident had caused the death of Brianna's husband a few years ago. After the accident, she started a small cleaning business with some insurance money. Last year Brianna confided to Sr. Barb that she was lonely and raising Riley on her own was very difficult. Sr. Barb knew Riley could be a handful; she had almost been expelled from 8th grade last year.

Sr. Barb put the application in the accepted basket. She hoped Annie would make a huge impression on Riley. Maybe it would be a turning point in all of their lives.

Fall Fun - New Beginnings

A day filled with brilliant leaves of orange, yellow, gold and red
Spending the weekend at the Fordney's raking leaves, drinking cider
The work and play that happens automatically when all friends get together.
Little did they know what was about to happen.

New Beginnings - Aubrey's Recipes

Christmas Morning Quiche

Aubrey is an excellent cook.  As I write the book I will add recipes to this post.

Crust for one quiche

1 heaping cup of flour
1 stick of unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
ice water

Put the flour and salt in the food processor. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to processor. Pulse until crumbled. Add water a little at a time while the food processor is on. As soon as it begins to gather together it is done. If you do not have a food processor you can use two forks in a cutting motion through the flour/salt/butter mixture until it starts to come together.

Put the mixture on a piece of plastic wrap and push it together to make a circle. With the edge of your hand make two indents on top of the circle, turn the dough and make two more indents on top of the circle. It will look like a tic tac toe grid. This will help you roll out a circle when it comes out of the refrigerator.

Put the dough in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.

3 - 5 Eggs
1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 box frozen broccoli and cheese, cooked and strained to get rid of any water and most of the cheese
1/2 cup milk
Salt, Pepper, Mrs. Dash, Dill
2 cups longhorn colby cheese (or any cheese you want)
1 TBS Flour

Cook bacon, crumble and set aside.

Cook broccoli, strain and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400

Mix together in a bowl. Depending on the size of your pie dish 3-5 eggs, 1/2 cup milk, salt and pepper (I always pretend I am putting the spice on one egg and count for the number of eggs I have in the bowl. So, if I usually turn the pepper grind two times for one egg then I would turn it six times for three eggs.) 1 TBS Mrs. Dash and 1 TBS dill.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator. Turn a cookie sheet over on the counter and put a little flour on it. Unwrap your dough. Roll your dough out on the cookie sheet. When it is bigger than your pie pan, dust off any extra flour with a pastry brush. Then slide the crust onto the pie pan and carefully push it into the bottom of the pie pan and on the sides. Trim any excess crust and crimp the edges.

Put the bacon in the bottom of the crust. Arrange it so it is even over the whole bottom. Then add the broccoli on top and arrange that evenly over the bacon. Carefully pour the egg mixture over it. Sprinkle the flour over the egg mixture - this is the secret to the cheese staying on the top of the quiche. Sprinkle the cheese over the flour. Sprinkle the top with a little nutmeg.

Bake for about 40 minutes - when you stick a knife into the middle it should not ooze out egg mixture. Cook it for another ten minutes if it is not done in the middle. Then it needs to sit after it comes out of the oven for about 15 minutes to set up.

Chicken Thighs and Smashed Potatoes

Riley and Annie are trying to make amends.  They decide to make dinner before their punishment is doled out when Brianna and Aubrey return from work.

Click on pictures to go to my New Beginnings Pinterest board.

Parmesan Yogurt Chicken picture and recipe from

Picture and Recipe of Smashed Potatoes from American Test Kitchen

Picture and Recipe of Bread Crumbs from

New Beginnings

Clarence Lum, a Saginaw resident, is the featured artist at Fandangles' in Flushing for the month of August.  When I saw his painting, Prada Girl, my heart started to pound, my mind began to race, a story began to tumble out of my heart.  

I am happy to announce that I have purchased the rights to use his painting as the cover of my next book, "New Beginnings." Since seeing this painting at the end of July, I have been so inspired.  I already have a draft of the first nine chapters finished.

It is a story of a mother and her daughter, Aubrey and Annie, moving to Saginaw from Texas.  They are invited to live with a cousin and her daughter, Brianna and Riley.  The story will follow where they have been and where they are headed after many "New Beginnings."  As a matter of fact, Annie is tired of "New Beginnings" she just wants life to stay the same for awhile.

This eBook will be published sometime in 2016.  I am thankful for the inspiration that Clarence has provided.  To see more of his paintings click this link.

To see all of my published eBooks click the link below:


Exciting News
The Newest Book
Mary Ellen Shea Clifford

Click on book

Elise Remembers The Wedding Song

When Elise and Everett were married a song from the trio 

Peter, Paul and Mary
The Wedding Song 

was included in their wedding ceremony. It was inspired by a verse in Genesis 2:24. 
The words from the song she remembered were,

A man shall leave his mother and a woman leave her home. 

They shall travel on to where the two shall be as one. 

Mrs. Emerson realizes at the Thanksgiving meal that she is filled to the brim 
with love from her husband and children.

Getting Excited

I am starting to get excited about the new book, A Light Shines Forth, almost being done. I can actually see the end of the editing. We stopped by the lighthouse in Tawas, Michigan today to snap a few pictures.  The book takes place in Saginaw and Tawas, Michigan and Okinawa, Japan.

Today is D-Day.  A day when so many lives were sacrificed for our freedom.  I am proud to include in the book a rich sense of military pride with Noah joining the Air Force.  I watched my grandson graduate and be assigned to Okinawa.  I have taken great liberties writing about his basic training and how our family felt during the graduation and his assignment.  Much of it is from my heart, but truly inspired by our experiences with Robin.

Trying out new book covers

This is the part I HATE.  Making the bookcover for a new book.  I don't have any trouble finding a great picture, but the font and the layout - gggggrrrrr.....

I am leaning toward #1 maybe with my name in white too. The title pops out at me.

So - If you like any of these let me know - comments - suggestions - thanks, ME







On to the Second Editor

YEAH - A Light Shines Forth returned from Mary Lynn and now is in the hands of Kay.  I love my editors.  I cannot say it enough.  Here is one addition from Mary Lynn that I added into the story.  My Mom's Aunt Lena worked at Seitner's in downtown Saginaw.  She was an Icon.  No one knew how old she was, but no one cared.  She was the best salesperson in downtown Saginaw at any store.  She really did work into her 90's.

This picture is of Aunt Lena in the 1940's.  She was always the best dressed and most stylish.

Here is the addition that Mary Lynn wrote when she edited the book.

Here is how the paragraph was changed by me.

When they arrived at Seitner's they ran into Isabella's Aunt Lena selling coats.  They had climbed the stairs to the second floor to see the formal clothes. Aunt Lena was at the top of the stairs with a customer.  She waved at the girls, but they knew from past experience not to interrupt Aunt Lena when she was with a customer.  Isabella's grandmother had told her many times, "My sister, Lena, can sell a coat better than any other salesperson."  Isabella knew that her Aunt Lena had worked at Seitner's forever.  None of the sales clerks at the store knew that her Aunt Lena was ninety years old!  The store owner wasn't even sure how old his best sales person was, because she had been hired by his father.  They all guessed that she was in her seventies. All he knew for sure was that she could outsell every other sales clerk on the floor.

A Light Shines Forth

Last year in August I was inspired by the photo below taken by Mike Sonnenberg of the Tawas Lighthouse.

I immediately contacted him to purchase the picture for my next book. I had no idea what that book would be about.

This has been a tough year. It didn't help when two of my characters hijacked the story!

I thought that Ellie and Isabella were the main characters, but Emma and Noah stole the story.

A Light Shines Forth, is finally ready to go to my first editor, Mary Lynn.  She will edit it and then I will make her corrections. She makes my sentences shorter and changes my punctuation. Then it goes to Kay my, second editor. She looks at the storyline, watches that the correct character is named and sometimes changes my corrections I made! Then I make more corrections.  My sister, Jane is my third and last editor. She has a critical eye for the whole story. And again sometimes corrections I made go back to what was originally written. Each of them do some of what the other editor does, but my stories are so much better because of all of them.  They are tough taskmasters.

Hopefully Kay's husband will find some places to add in some of his great puns.

So there is hope that this book will be on Amazon before the end of the year.

Military Time

Sometimes in my books the time used is Military Time.  Instead of two twelve hour sets of numbers the numbers go from 0000 - 2400.  Because the military has to work on a 24 hour schedule it makes sense to use 24 hours instead of 12 twice.  No one gets confused as to day or night hours.

So in the book, A Light Shines Forth, when Stephanie leaves a note for Noah to meet her for root beer in the middle of the afternoon can you guess what time she writes on the note?