Saturday, December 8, 2018

A Cowboy Christmas Novella

This Christmas trip home will be different from all the rest. 
She has the cents, he the horse sense. Can they put aside their differences
long enough to save the ranch? And will her fiancé let her stay in the Hill Country or drag her back to society Dallas?
Check out this quick read novella from an award-winning author. 99 cents on Amazon.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

A Sharecropper Christmas

Author Carlene Havel grew up in Texas and married a military man.  Courtesy of the US Air Force, she has since lived in seven US states, the Republic of the Philippines, and Turkey.  Her husband loves to travel, and the two of them have had lots of fun satisfying his wanderlust.  Although Carlene prefers peaceful mountain forests, her husband enjoys big cities, exotic locales, and archeological sites. They still laugh about an adventure in a Parisian coin operated laundry, and most likely some French housewives do, too. 

The Havels now live in Texas, in the midst of a big, extended family.  Carlene had no interest in writing until 2005, when she became a believer in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world.  Along with everything else that changed, she developed a passion for writing.  Carlene loves Bible study, normally devoting most of one day each week delving into the scriptures with a small focus group.  She also enjoys sewing, knitting, crochet and embroidery.

Here’s what Carlene has to say about her Christmas book, “A Sharecropper Christmas”: As a child, I loved to nestle in someone’s lap after dinner while one storyteller after another spun yarns. At various times, relatives spoke of life on the farm, the great flu epidemic, D-Day, and World War II ration cards.  Uncle Bob didn’t talk much about his service, but once in a great while he would share a tidbit from his time as a soldier in North Africa, Normandy, France, and central Europe.  He was a medic at the US Forces hospital in Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, and quite a guy.

My grandparents’ generation drew their inspiration from the Great Depression. “I tell you now, Boats, back in 1933, times was hard,” signaled the telling—or retelling—of an adventure softened by subsequent years of prosperity. (Great-uncle Boats got his nickname from the impressive size and shape of his shoes. Enormous feet are a family trait I had the misfortune to inherit, but that is another story for another day.) Stolen watermelons, hopping rides on freight trains, and hanging out with hobos fired my imagination.

"A Sharecropper Christmas” is my salute to the people who faced the difficult years of the Great Depression, working hard to survive and provide for their families. I admire their faith, courage, and perseverance. 

Here's the official description of “A Sharecropper Christmas”: The Great Depression left the Shoemaker family hungry and homeless. Their desperate prayers are finally answered when Herbert Shoemaker finds work as a sharecropper. Alice makes the best of the hard times without complaint, though she dreams of giving her little family a special Christmas.

And in case you are wondering--yes, my grandparents were named Alice and Herbert.

It's a quick read, and bargain priced at only 99 Cents during Pelican Book Group’s Christmas Extravaganza. Happy reading!  You can find “A Sharecropper Christmas” on Amazon here.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

December Days to Note

December is full of noteworthy days. Here are a few to put on your calendar.

December 2 – Advent begins
December 3 – Chanukah begins
December 7 – Pearl Harbor Day
December 12 – Poinsettia Day
December 21 – Winter Solstice (the shortest day of the year)
December 25 – Christmas
December 26 – Boxing Day and Kwanzaa
December 27 – National Fruitcake Day
December 31 – New Year’s Eve

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Adventure Scrapbook – Halifax, Nova Scotia, #Canada

I don’t know why this was such a surprise, but it was. There is a significant wine industry outside of Halifax in the Annapolis Valley. They grow their own grapes and produce fine wines. I guess I always assumed Nova Scotia was too far north for such an enterprise, but the moderating effect of the ocean has made it possible. The countryside was a peaceful place of quaint towns, farmers markets, and of course vineyards. As with most places I visit, I only wish I had had more time to explore.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Happy #Thanksgiving

Best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving! I hope you have the opportunity to share this holiday with family and friends. For a twist on the traditional Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, I often make pumpkin cheesecake. If you want to give it a whirl this year, here’s my favorite recipe. Enjoy and have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

Crust: Crush 10 whole graham crackers and mix with 3 tablespoons of sugar and 3 tablespoons of butter. Press into a 10 inch cheesecake spring pan (bottom and 2 inches up the sides). Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove.

Filling: Beat together until smooth, 2 (8-oz) packages of cream cheese (works best if softened), 1 cup of light cream, 1 cup of canned pumpkin, ¾ cup of sugar, 4 egg yolks (save whites in a separate bowl), 3 tablespoons of flour, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, ½ teaspoon each of ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Beat egg whites until stiff and gently fold into the pumpkin mixture. Pour over prepared crust and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Baking times vary, so make sure the center is set. I’ve found it often takes longer than the 1 hour noted in the recipe.

Topping: Gently mix 2 cups of sour cream, 4 tablespoons of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until well blended. Spread topping evenly over cheesecake and bake another 5 minutes. Refrigerate and serve cold.