Category Archives: Reading

Wacky Cake & Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast

2017-01-24-chocolatecake-5-600x400Wacky Cake is one of the first recipes I remember my mom teaching me to make.  I had forgotten all about baking Wacky Cake until I read Twice Loved by Wanda & Brunstetter that mentioned the recipe.  The story is set in 1945 and celebrates Christmas.  At the end of the novel, there is a section on Wartime Recipes.  I had no idea two of my favorite comfort foods actually were aimed to stretch food rations.  Though I didn’t have to worry about rations when I was growing up, I’m glad these recipes stood the test of time!

WACKY  CAKE (My Mom’s recipe)

1 C Sugar

3 TBS Cocoa

1 1/2 C Flour

1 tsp Baking Soda

1 pinch Salt

1 C Cold Water

6 TBS Vegetable Oil (original recipe says “Salad Oil”)

1 TBS Vinegar

1 TBS Vanilla

Sift dry ingredients together into an ungreased 8×8 baking pan. Make 3 holes in dry ingredients. Put Vinegar in one hole; Oil in one and Vanilla in one. (Mom thinks this might have been just to keep kids busy when they were helping.) Pour cold water over all and stir until moist. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Leave in pan & frost.

FROSTING

1 C Powdered Sugar

2 TBS Cocoa

2 TBS Melted Butter

2 T Cream or Evaporated Milk

1 pinch Salt

 

CREAMED CHIPPED BEEF ON TOAST (from Twice Loved by Wanda & Brunstetter)

2 TB S Butter

1 (4 oz) package of chipped beef (can be rinsed to reduce the salt), chopped or shredded.

2 TBS Flour

2 C Milk

Pepper

Melt butter in A saucepan over medium heat. Add beef, stirring to coat in butter. Add flour, stirring to coat beef, and cook for about 5 minutes. Slowly add milk, stirring continuously as it comes to a boil and thickens. Pepper to taste. Serve over toast.

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Proverbs

stock-photo-the-word-proverbs-one-of-the-books-of-the-holy-bible-in-cut-out-magazine-letters-pinned-to-a-cork-167707772Many of us are not Bible scholars and we even struggle with what to read in the Bible when we do get the notion that we should.  Where do we start?  Many people suggest reading the gospel of John where you’ll find the message of salvation. Others suggest Genesis.  It’s at the beginning which is usually a really good place to start & many of the beloved Bible Stories from your childhood are there.  Very interesting.  So, no matter what else you may want to start to read, I’d like to suggest the book of Proverbs as a way to get yourself into the Bible.  This book is unique in that it has 21 chapters of useful information.  One chapter for each day.  So, simply put, you can read Chapter 1 on the first day of each month.  If you skip your Bible reading for a few days, just pick up on the chapter that corresponds with the date.  Easy.

These wise sayings that help us in everyday life, offering us advice on how to behave in various situations.

  • A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. 17:22
  • There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking. 29:20
  • Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife. 21:19
  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. 3:5
  • As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly. 26:11
  • Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. 22:6
  • A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day; 27:15
  • He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe. 28:27

Solomon gave us these proverbs and many wise suggestions for our daily living.  May I suggest we read them and heed them?  Let me know how you make out.

 

Proverbs 27:15-16 (New Living Translation)
A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping on a rainy day. Stopping her complaints is like trying to stop the wind or trying to hold something with greased hands.

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Book Club Cancelled

book club imageSnow has cancelled our monthly book club today but that doesn’t mean I won’t take some time to reflect on reading and the books I am enjoying.  I thought that perhaps you might be somewhere where the snow has changed your plans a bit and you have a minute to enjoy a virtual book club moment in Blog Form.  So, Welcome!
A friend and I both report that we enjoyed The Christmas Thief by Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark.  A fun, easy read mixing mystery and humor.  Mystery is something neither of us tend to read, so this was a fun and simple introduction.  I admit I had read it before and wondered of course, if the rest of the group were enjoying it.  Have you ever done that?  Recommended a book to someone and then been on pins and needles waiting for their response once it was read?  A book you loved with characters you enjoyed might just annoy another reader.  Oh, the pressure of being the one who makes the selection!
Our next selection is The Memory of Old Jack by Wendell Berry.  The back cover says, “In a rural Kentucky river town, “Old Jack” Beechum, a retired farmer, sees his life again through the shades of one burnished day in September 1952.  Bringing the earthiness of America’s past to mind, “The Memory of Old Jack” conveys the truth and integrity of the land and the people who live from it.  Through the eyes of one man can be seen the values Americans strive to recapture as we arrive at the next century.  I am looking forward to reading this American tale.
I also thought I’d share what I’ve been reading.  First off, I read Belles on Their Toes by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. It was a companion to Cheaper by the Dozen by the same authors.  This family and their stories are fascinating.  Published in 1950, the family antics are even more interesting as you recognize the signs of the times.
I am currently reading The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer.  A group of Christian friends and I are reading this book and plan to discuss it soon.  I must admit that this book was recommended to me by a friend a few years ago and it has sat on my shelf waiting for me to open it.  Once I opened it I recognized that this is not a book to take lightly.  It is rather convicting at times and may need to be taken in and absorbed in small parts.  I am excited to hear which chapters struck a nerve with my friends. This group of friends are not a book club, but we are just a group that gets together for some “godly gabbing.”  This is only the second book we’ve done.  (The first one was my all time favorite, Loving God with All Your Mind by my “friend” Elizabeth George.  I don’t know her but I quote her so often that people think I do!)
I am also 308 pages into Jan Karon’s 511 page Mitford book, Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good.  A gift I received last year for Christmas.  I can’t tell you how happy I am to get reacquainted with these Mitford folks.  Love, Love, Love them!  And, Father Tim gives some great quotes and scriptures that are entertaining and informative.  Like I have called it before, “Fluff with Stuff.”  Really enjoying this read.
Well, my tea has gotten cold and book club is ending.  I’m glad you’ve joined me here for a bit so I could reflect.  Now it is time for me to switch a load of laundry and read a few more chapters!  Til next time!

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I Read the Bible!

I read the Bible.  No, I mean, I read the Bible.  Not just the little snippets that went along with my devotional for the day.  Not the ten minutes that I usually spend, I read the Bible.  Start to finish in only 88 days!  I feel like I’ve climbed Mount Everest.  I set out on a journey and I completed it.  I honestly can’t believe I did it, but I did!

I bought myself a new Bible, “Read the Bible in 90 days.”  It sat in my closet for a while and then I gave it to my husband to wrap and to give it to me as a Christmas gift.  So, I received it on December 25, 2014 and I began my 90 day plan on January 1, 2015.  I read it every. single. day.  Starting in Genesis and ending in Revelation.  And, I did it in only 88 days!  The Bible stated on the cover that it was a 90 day plan, but it gave you 2 days off.  I can sincerely say it was a great 88 days.  It took about 45 minutes a day to complete and some days I was a bit behind, so i had to spend a little longer, but I did it!

When I would share with people that I was reading the Bible, I would emphasize that I was “reading” it and not studying it.  By completing this, I found that it has only brought me to an understanding of how little I truly know. Though I have always said “I read the Bible,” I started reading my Bible daily in August of 2003.  I attended a small country church service in Lawsonham, PA and the lay speaker challenged us to read the Bible every day, so I did.  I would read a passage from here and then jump to another part and I would circle in pencil the selections I chose.  I didn’t get the whole Bible circled because quite honestly, who wants to read Numbers?  And, who’s even heard of Habakkuk?

I, like many people, have a variety of Bibles in my home.  Different versions, some with notes, some with pictures, some with leather covers.  I don’t know how many I even own and each individual in my home has their own copies.  So, with a book so present in our home, why haven’t I read the entire thing sooner?  I guess for me it took a plan and a decision.

My kindle version of the Bible says, “Holy Bible, New International Version, is the world’s best-selling modern translation, with over 150 million copies in print since its first full publication in 1978.This highly accurate and smooth-reading version of the Bible in modern English has the largest library of printed and electronic support material of any modern translation.”  Now….wait for it…1,152 Pages.  OK, so there’s one reason I never planned to read the whole thing.  Most of the books I choose to read are 300 pages or less.  And, here’s another Kindle fact for you.  Typical time to read?  64 hours and 46 minutes.  What does that number mean to you?  If you want to, you can read the entire Bible on your next vacation…7 days, read for 9 hours/day, not your typical vacation read.  However, you can read the entire Bible in a year by investing only 10.65 minutes a day.  Do we spend 10.65 minutes per day doing something else?  Do we spend it doing nothing?  I’m sure I spend more time than that looking for my half empty cup of cold tea or the TV remote. Sadly, we Americans just don’t read it.  A 2013 study showed that 88% of respondents owned a Bible, 80% think it is sacred and 61% wish they read it more.

It’s really pretty simple.  You own a Bible, you have 10.65 minutes, you can read it or take 5.325 minutes a day and complete it in 2 years.  NOW, to be honest, I began reading the Bible daily in 2003, and I finished reading the entire thing in 2015.  It took me 12 years to read the whole thing, but it only took 88 days when I committed to do it.  How long will it take you?  Regardless of how long it takes, I pray that you will attempt it. It’s on the best sellers list with an estimated 5 Billion copies sold. The various authors of it have something specific to share with you.  Let them share.

So, what did I learn?  That I knew a LOT of scripture because I know a lot of hymns.  Did you know some of them were word for word from scripture?  That the majority of the Bible Stories that I learned as a kid were found in Genesis!  Who knew?  That book is chock full of drama!  That there is a LOT of violence.  Lots of beheading and gnashing of teeth.  That there is some really silly stuff, dogs returning to their vomit, ________

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I Just Finished A Book

I just finished a book!  Not writing one, just reading one, but I still feel a true sense of accomplishment.  I love finishing a book. I write it down in my “Books I’ve Read” journal & then I pin it in Pinterest.  I’ve kept track of every book I’ve read since 1993.  What a fun way to review the years.  1993 found me reading 26 books, 10 of them on audio.  I remember listening to those ones while I walked a fussy baby at night.  The titles included Siblings Without Rivalry, The New Dare to Discipline, Is There Life After Housework & What Kids Need Most in a Mom.  I read a few Danielle Steele novels for fun.  But, I think you can see what my life looked like then.  I had two children and was pregnant with the third.  My focus was on my kids and my home with a little escapism thrown in!

1994 I read 15 books, 5 of them audio.   Enough said about that year.  Too busy to read in any way, shape or form!

1997 – 29 books read, a few audio at the beginning of the year, but I must have lost my Walkman cassette player!  (Anyone remember those?)  Fun titles of that year were:  Mom on the Run, Kids Who Do Too Little, PMS – What It Is & What You Can Do About It & Helping Your Child Succeed in Public School.  Being back in college made Deaf Like Me, Deaf Culture: Our Way, & What’s That Pig Outdoors – A Memoir of Deafness required reading.

I can see the seasons of my life by the books I’ve read.  The Difficult Child by Stanley Turecki, MD was read when I thought I had a difficult child before I met and began to raise my actual difficult child! (I wonder if there is a sequel?) I became an Independent Consultant for Usborne Books at Home so 1996 is full of motivational and goal setting books…yes, I had to read those more than once!  In 1998, I met my friends from Mitford thanks to Jan Karon who made that small fictional community part of my life for a couple of years. Fostering and Adoption became major themes in my reading in the 00’s.  In 2003, I read only 12 books and wrote “Is this all I read?  Probably So…Newborns lived in our home!” – I didn’t read much but I fostered 4 different newborns straight from the hospital.  Ann B. Ross introduced me to Miss Julia in 2009 and I’ve enjoyed that series ever since.  You can also see that in certain years I had more time for reading as I recovered from various surgeries.  So, it’s a reading log, but it’s also a life log.  A journal written in book titles.

Though many are reluctant to journal because of the time and discipline to keep at it, I urge you to start today logging the books you read one book at a time.  Right now, it will only be one book, but some day down the road you will be excited to see your life unfold in fiction and non fiction ways.  My “Books I’ve Read” journal is simple.  I document the title, author and if it was given to me by someone.  I include a few words, “great fast read,” or “perfect beach read.”  But every now and then, I’ll find a gem like a quote from the book.

6-21-01 The Rescue – Nicholas Sparks – “Romance about a boy with speech problems, his Mom and a fireman.  Good Book – Interesting thought – People come, people go – They’ll drift in and out of your life, almost like characters in a  favorite book.  When you finally close the cover, the characters have told their story & you start up again with another book, complete with new characters & adventures.(page 89) – To expand – My Thoughts:  Some are keepers to be saved, re-read, some bring comfort by just being on the shelf, etc.”

I am so grateful for books, for people and for journals that can revive all those feelings as you flip through those pages.  I hope you’ll consider joining me on this journey.

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Books & Bonding

“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift.”

— Kate DiCamillo

Today when the bus arrived Kaylee said she wanted to take the book with her to school.  No Way!  I am NOT letting her read on….  We are reading this book together and loving every minute of it.  It was tempting to not just finish the chapter while the bus pulled away, but I resisted.  It will be much more fun to finish the chapter when she returns.  As much as I love to read and as much as I want my kids to love reading, reading to them is still something that I have to be very intentional about. Sharing a book together and reading aloud doesn’t just happen, It takes two parties agreeing on the same activity at the same time.  However, it is definitely worth the effort.

A study once found that if you ask a kindergartener if they like to read books outside of school, 100% of the students will say they do.  But, if you ask a fourth grader that same question, only 54% agree.  What changes in that student?  By the time a child reaches fourth grade, they can read independently so instead of a parent grabbing a book and inviting the child to read with them, the parent hands a book to the child and tells them to go and enjoy it…..alone.  Reading stops being a shared activity and may become a chore.  Reading aloud to your children is the single most important contributing factor to their success in school in ALL subjects.

In addition to the academic benefits to reading aloud to your child, you will also find many other perks.  Any time spent with your child is an opportunity for bonding, but time spent reading is a guarantee for quality time.  While reading, you are focusing on your child and one book.  You can not multitask, you can not entertain other distractions.  This will show your child that reading is important and even better, time with them is important.

Reading together also gives you the opportunity for many discussions.  Characters in your book may or may not be like your child, you may or may not agree with their choices and you can discuss these things with your child in a non-threatening way.  What easier way to talk about a school bully than by reading a story about one?  You can then share your experiences and maybe how you would handle the situation differently than the character. Also, your child may open up to an experience they are currently going through.

I don’t like to fish so putting on my boots and heading to the pond with my son is not a way I want to spend my afternoon, but sitting on the couch under an afghan with a book about fishing is definitely something I’m willing to do.  Books allow us to experience activities, hobbies and interests with our children that would otherwise not occur.  I have no intentions of swimming with the sharks….but I can read about it!

Most parents know and recognize the importance of reading to children & do it naturally with their young ones, but I find that even the most attentive parents need a little nudge to keep reading aloud to their children as the children get older. Kids are never too old to be read to and they will begin to read to you too.  It happens often in my home…I read an article in the newspaper out loud, my son shares something he’s reading on his phone.  We DO read aloud to each other, we just need to be more intentional about it.

And, parents of adopted children have to make reading together even more of a priority in their homes.  Many adopted children come from less than stellar backgrounds.  The children may be behind academically and reading will help them improve their vocabulary and comprehension skills.  In addition to that, reading together is a non-threatening way to have a child sit on your lap or near to you and for a child to share stories & experiences and ask questions.  Sometimes it’s easier for a child to initiate conversation when their eyes are diverted to illustrations on a page.

I hope after you read this you will find a child and share a book with them.  I have to go now.  The bus will be here soon and I can’t wait to see how Mallory and Mary Ann will be able to keep their pinkie promise!

Mallory and Mary Ann Take New Yorkwww.LoveKidsLoveBooks.com

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Anne of Green Gables – A Foster/Adoption Story?

book tree

Well, I finally did it.  I read Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.  I really enjoyed it.  I must admit that a boxed set of Anne of Green Gables books has sat on my daughters’ book shelf for years.  I never touched them.  (I’m not sure they did either until recently!)  However, in June, after my son shot part of his thumb off & I was as traumatized as he was, my friend, Judy, mailed me a copy of this book and thought I should read it.  I loved the sentiment, but must admit that when I started it, I found it too wordy to read aloud to my 8 year old daughter and not quite “intriguing” enough to read it for myself.

This Christmas, I asked my adult children to simply gift me a with a book of their choice for me to read in the new year.  My daughter, Lori, chose to give me Anne of Green Gables.  OK, I get it.  I needed to read this book.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I’m not sure if I would’ve if it hadn’t come so highly recommended, but I trust Lori and Judy and I read in earnest.

Amazing!  Anne of Green Gables is full of intrigue.  Why did Judy choose it for me when I was going through an extremely difficult time with my adoptive son?  Was it because Anne has the ability to look at every situation with rose colored glasses on?  She is extremely grateful and uses her imagination to dream away any sorrow.  Was that what I was supposed to do?  It certainly would’ve helped. Or did Judy think I should read about how Anne of Green Gables became part of a family because in addition to Anne’s sunny disposition, there is some real foster/adopt stuff going on that I could relate to.  This book was written in 1908 and much of it applies today. On page 7, Marilla gets to hear what many of us get to hear when we hint that we may be fostering or adopting.  Mrs. Rachel, the “well meaning” neighbor, speaks her mind:  “Well, Marilla, I’ll just tell you plain that I think you’re doing a mighty foolish thing – a risky thing, that’s what.  You don’t know what you’re getting.  You’re bringing a strange child into your house and home and you don’t know a single thing about him nor what his disposition is like nor what sort of parents he had nor how he’s likely to turn out.  Why, it was only last week I read in the paper how a man and his wife up west of the Island took a boy out of an orphan asylum and he set fire to the house at night–set it on purpose, Marilla –and nearly burnt them to a crisp in their beds.  And I know another case where an adopted boy used to suck the eggs — they couldn’t break him of it.  If you had asked my advise in the matter–which you didn’t do, Marilla –I’d have said for mercy’s sake not to think of such a thing, that’s what.”  Some of us have heard very similar versions of that story when we made our intentions known.  And, some of us live and struggle with those stated behaviors!

By page 12 most people would start to diagnose Anne with ADHD.  Oh the chattering about anything and nothing!  Words, words, words.  Was she trying to block out her reality as she drives to a new place with a strange man?  Can you imagine how she must’ve felt heading to an unknown place with only the clothes on her back?  There are about 400,000 Americans in foster care now who know.

Now I’m not going to tell you the rest of the story…this isn’t a book report, but I do want to challenge you to read this book. Anne is a child who is charming, annoying, quirky, and comes to her new family with a lot of baggage.  She is a survivor and so are her foster/adoptive parents.  She can teach us a lot.  Now, if you don’t have any interest in the foster/adoption part of the story, I think you will benefit to possibly trying to think like Anne a bit.  She is inspiring with her imaginings and there are timeless quotes that we should all take to heart.

“Tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it.”

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think.  It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”

Thanks Judy!  Thanks Lori!  True kindred spirits!

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