Monthly Archives: August 2009

You Deserve it!

I was thinking about this statement some this week as often when someone gets treated well or  takes time to relax we use this phrase "You deserve it!!" We usually mean that they have had a hard time and we are so glad they are having a good time now, but  I started thinking about it a bit more….I know, tearing apart people’s words, how novel! But does that mean people going through a rough time, deserve that as well?  I started thinking about it as I was reading some verses in the bible about trials. Sometimes I think we think they should be abnormal, we don’t really want to hear about them, it is scary as it could happen to us…..or it is hard to share with others as we don’t want to be viewed as "one of those people who complains about their life all the time." So, I was looking at what the bible says…Do we "deserve" a good time? <p>
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:2-4, KJV.<p>
This one speaks of how through trials we can perfect and lacking nothing!! That sounds pretty good, but through trials? Count it all joy? That is so hard!!! <p>
 “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” 1 Peter 1:7, KJV.<p>
If we are tried in the fire, which is not nice, not comfortable, we will be found to praise, honor and glory when Jesus comes back! That sounds nice, but not being in the fire…..<p>
“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” James 1:12, KJV.<p>
This one promises the crown of life when we endure being tried….and the verses go on. <p>
So, I guess I stopped to think, yes, we are happy for friends when they have wonderful things, but I think we need to be praying for one another as it seems like it more expected to go through trials and if we can go through them with joy, maybe on the other side we will reap the rewards and not because we deserve them, but because He has loved us and sacrificed for us!

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Yummy chicken and pilaf recipe


I had ripped this recipe out of a magazine a long time ago thinking it sounded really good, but have never made it.  This week when I was throwing away papers, I decided to try it. Of course, with me, I could not just follow the recipe, but it was good. The Rice pilaf was just something I put together, but it turned out so good, I have to write it down so I can make it again! I am going to write the chicken recipe down the way I did it though.
<p> Citrus Chicken
7-8 chicken legs
3-4 cloves of garlic sliced thinly
2 T. butter
1 t. finely shredded orange peel
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. water
1/4 t. ground ginger
2-3 dashes cayenne pepper
1 orange<p>
In heavy skillet melt butter and add garlic slices. Add chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat about 10-12 minutes. (I think I did it a bit longer than this). I covered the pan, turning the chicken when brown, so it gets evenly browned.  Meanwhile in small bowl combine orange peel, lemon juice, water and spices. Peel orange over bowl with this in it, so the juice goes into the bowl. Cut oranges up into wedges and slices. When chicken juices run clear, pour over mixture in bowl and top with oranges. Cover and cook for 1-2 minutes until oranges are heated through.
You could also use chicken breasts or thighs, really whatever you wanted. I used legs as I got a large tray for $2.68.
<p>
Rice pilaf
<p>

In large dutch oven pan heat 2 T. oil
Add: 2 cloves of garlic finely minced (I use my press.
2 T. finely minced green pepper, 2 T. finely minced red pepper, and 2 T. finely grated carrot, 1 T. finely minced celery leaves. <p>
Cook until limp. <p>
Add: 1/4 t. onion powder, 1 t. curry powder (not real spicy stuff), couple dashes black pepper, 2 T. chicken broth powder. Stir around.<p>
 Add: 1 1/3 c. long grain rice. Cook until browned, for several minutes on medium heat
Add: 2 2/3 c. hot water. Bring to a boil.
When boiling, cover tightly and turn down to a simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is tender. <p>
Yummy! It was a very good meal! We served it with sliced green and red peppers

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Updated 52 things to do this year

I need to get busy, I have slacked off and I think I am behind on these things!! I did go camping of a sort with my boys at family camp, a friend and I started having dinner together weekly, nothing fancy, just leftovers or whatever we were having. I also checked all the batteries and updated them. I have only seen one homeless person and I was  at the wrong time and lane in traffic to get to him. I am working on the de-cluttering, it is not done by any means! I have 35 more things to do before April of next year….that should still be doable, right?
<p>

52 Things to do this year- Every Monday I am supposed to do one of these things…..

1. Plant Seeds in the house
2. See a homeless person and give him/her some hot food
3. Smile all day at everyone you see
4. Find two out of the ordinary things you can do for two people
5. Read an entire book out loud to your children in one day (more than 3 chapters)
6. Eat something you have never eaten before
7. Invite a friend to lunch
8. Go swimming
9. Ride bike to a friends house
10. Bake cookies to give away
11. Call three people to see how they are doing
12. Write three real letters and mail them
13. Volunteer at the Battered Women’s shelter
14. Decorate a cake
15. Read an old classic book
16. Invite someone over for dinner
17. Make an emergency kit for the house
18. Check all safety devices in house for good batteries etc. Smoke alarms, CO detectors etc.
19. Buy a bag of food for a family in need
20. Send off a box of cheer to someone who needs it
21. Invite a single mom over for tea
22. Spend a day fasting, use the time to do something for someone else
23. Share my testimony of how God worked in my life
24. Make a de-clutter inventory list- 70% of our time can be spent on clutter
25. Plan a day to raise money for missions
26. Plan a mini retreat and go on it
27. Go camping
28. Volunteer on a Habitat for humanity project
29. Sew a blanket, an apron or something and give it away
30.  Take part in a community church outreach event
31. Visit a church you have never been to before
32. Write 3 birthday cards and send them to people
33.  Visit three people who have not had visitors at a nursing home
34. Visit a friend you have not visited in awhile
35. Invite someone over for tea or coffee
36. Take your children swimming
37. Take your children to the park
38. Think of a person who looked discouraged last week, and do something you think will encourage them 
39. Buy flowers and enjoy them
40. Give a plant to a friend
41. Be Brave, call someone and ask if they want to share a meal with you. If they cannot, call someone else until you find someone. Don’t be hurt if they cannot, keep trying.
42. Get my passport
43. Pick up a plastic bag of garbage outside, on the side of the road etc.
44. Start a compost pile
45.  Shovel someone’s sidewalk
46.  Give a jar of jam to a neighbor
47.  Send out three thinking of you cards
48.  Visit someone who is ill
49.  Donate a bag of diapers to the pregnancy center
50.  Check and see if there is a community event you can attend  that the money you spend goes to a good cause
51. Read a book about missions with your family
52. Bring a box of stuff you are getting rid of to the second hand store or Freecycle

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Menu for the Week

Wednesday: Tacos
Thursday:  Citrus chicken with rice pilaf and steamed vegetables
Friday: Pizza, Salad
Saturday: Potato soup in crockpot , bread in bread machine – My sister’s baby shower is that day
Sunday: Zucchini soup and Broccoli soup if there is broccoli in the freezer, otherwise just zucchini soup. Homemade croutons on top or these biscuits I made last week that were really good with sharp cheddar cheese added and black pepper.
Monday: Enchiladas, dessert (eat at friend house for book discussion)
Tuesday: Roast Chicken, with baked rice pilaf, green beans

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My adventure

I hate to drive. I always have, but there are rare occasions where I want something bad enough to overcome the hate of driving to do something! Monday was one of those days. A long time ago, I joined an online group of women for fellowship as I was very isolated and really needed some friends. I have been blessed by their friendships over email through the years and every so often I have had the pleasure of meeting some of them in person. It has always been really fun! One of the ladies was from Alaska and we met about 5 years ago and had a wonderful time. Yesterday we got to see each other again. She has had 3 children since I have seen her last and I had one. We also got to meet several other women from the group as well as another friend from there, I had met a couple times before as well.
Here is a picture of all of us together……
<p> I was just so amazed as not only did I drive 8 hours (4 hours there + an extra half hour to where we spent the night, so I guess it was more like 9) all alone, I did it without a CD/Tape recorder and we all did really well. The car did okay, we spent not much money and we had a wonderful time. The boys had the time of their life playing with the other children and kept asking when we would see them again.  It was alot of fun to see Grace and her boys and one girl again! <p> We were at this beautiful park with a wonderful huge playground too. <p> I came home with the wonderful blessing of a bunch of pears, so I think I will be working on those tomorrow! The boys ate pears all the way home. Then tonight we went to the park with some families from the church and had a nice picnic together. It was really peaceful and nice! <p> My husband goes back to work as school starts tomorrow. He is really excited to be busy again, but as always I pray for everything involved! Back to  early mornings!! My school year is getting all laid out and we almost have everything. Hopefully I get the last book tomorrow and then we can start!

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Honor in the Dust by Gilbert Morris

My Review: I hesitated to request this book for review as I hate posting reviews about books I do not like alot, and when I saw it was about the Winslows and by Gilbert Morris, I wondered if I would be able to like it! But since I know that some of Gilbert Morris books I have loved as well as hated some, I got it and I am glad I did. It may be a precursor to the long House of Winslow series, but you do not see it in this book. I loved the story! (Another reason I hesitated to request it,  is I remember well when my sister sent a critcal letter to Gilbert Morris and the reply she got back from him. We were so shocked that authors actually respond to your letters! She treasured the letter though and may even still have it, even though he did not agree with her critisism)
 It really wound alot of history through it with King Henry lllV, Anne Boleyn, William Tyndale, and other well known characters in history through it. If these were the ancestors of the House of Winslow, he did an excellent job of telling a good story of their history. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the House of Winslow series, the first several that is…. Anyhow, if you enjoy a good historical fictional story, you will enjoy this one. True to Gilbert Morris fashion, the young man in the story is somewhat wild though before coming to Christ, but there is a conversion and change in him that is obvious and not a overnight switch. But because of some of the things mentioned in his wild part of his life, I would recommend this for older readers- Martha

 It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Honor in the Dust

Howard Books (August 25, 2009)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Gilbert Morris is the bestselling author of more than 200 novels, several of which won Christy and Silver Angel Awards. He is a retired English professor, who lives in Gulf Shores, AL, with his family.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (August 25, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416587462
ISBN-13: 978-1416587460

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

May 1497

Sussex County, England-

Claiborn Winslow leaned forward and patted his horse’s sweaty neck. “Well done, Ned.” He had pushed the stallion harder than he liked, but after so many months away he was hungry for home. He straightened in the saddle and gazed in pleasure at Stoneybrook, the Winslows’s ancestral castle. It had withstood seige and battle, and bore all the marks that time made upon structure——as well as upon men. There was nothing particularly beautiful about Stoneybrook. There were many castles in England that had more pleasing aspects, designed more for looks than for utility. But Claiborn loved it more than any other.

The spring had brought a rich emerald green growth to all the countryside, and verdant fields nuzzled up against the very walls of Stoneybrook. If they were any indication, the summer’s harvest would be good, indeed. The castle itself rose out of a hillside, and was dominated by an impenetrable wall, on the other side of which a small village thrived. Even now, late in the day, people and carts and horses moved in and out of the central gate, and from the battlements he saw the banner of Winslow fluttering in the late afternoon breeze, as if beckoning to him.

“My heaven it’s good to be home!”

He laughed at himself adding, “Well, I guess the next thing they’ll put me in Bedlam with the other crazy ones talking to myself. I must be worse off than I thought.” His mind cascaded back to the battles he had seen, rare but fierce, and the men he had encountered. Some dreaded battle, feared it, and could not force themselves forward. Others found joy in the clash of weapons and the shouts of victory when the battle was over. Claiborn was one of these, finding a natural rhythm to battle, a path from start to finish as if preordained for him. When the trumpets sounded, and the drums rolled, his heart burned with excitement. God help him, he loved it. Loved being a soldier. But this, returning to Stoneybrook, had its own charm.

“Come on, Ned.” Kicking his horse’s side Claiborn guided the animal toward the gate, and as he passed through, he ran across an old acquaintance, Ryland Tolliver, one of the blacksmiths who served Sir Edmund Winslow and the others of the family as well.

“Well, bless my soul,” Ryland boomed, “if it’s not the soldier home from the wars!” He was a bulky man, his shoulders broad, and his hands like steel hooks from his years at the forge. He laughed as Claiborn slipped off his horse and came forward, and he shook his hand. “Good to see you, man. You’re just getting home. All in one piece, I see.”

“All in one piece.” The two man shook hands, and Claiborn had to squeeze hard to keep his hand from being crushed by the burly blacksmith. “How are things here? My mother and my brother?”

“The same as they were when you left. What did you expect? We’d fall to pieces without you to keep us straight?”

“No, I’m not as vain as that. I’m sure the world would jog on pretty well without me.”

“Tell me about the wars, man.”

“Not now. I need to go see my family, but I’ll come back later. We’ll have enough ale to float a ship. I’ll tell you lies about how I won the battles. You can tell lies about how you’ve won over the virtue of poor Sally McFarland.”

“Sally McFarland? Why, she left here half a year ago.”

“I thought you were going to marry that girl.”

“She had other ideas. A blacksmith wasn’t good enough for her.” He looked at Ned and said, “Not much of a horse.”

“He’s a stayer. That’s what I like. He needs shoeing though. I’ll leave him with you and feed him something good. He’s had a hard journey.”

“That I’ll do.” He took the reins from Claiborn. “What about you, Master? What brings you home at long last?”

Claiborn glanced back at him, and a smile touched his broad lips. “Well, I’m thinking about taking a wife.”

“A wife? You? Why, you were made to be a bachelor man! Half the women in this village stare at you when you walk down the street.”

“You boast on my behalf, but even if it was God’s own truth, I’ll not have just any woman.”

“Ahh, I see. So have you got one picked out?”

“Of course! Grace Barclay had my heart when we courted and never let it go.”

“Oh, yes, Grace Barclay.” There was a slight hesitation in the blacksmith’s speech, and he opened his lips to speak, but then something came over him, and he clamped them together for a moment.

“Ryland, what is it? Grace is well?” Claiborn said, his heart seizing at the look on the blacksmith’s face.

“She is well. Still pretty as ever.” Ryland had ceased smiling, and he lifted the reins in his hand. “I best go and take care of the horse. He must have a thirst.”

“As do I. I’ll return on the morrow. Give him a good feed too. He’s earned it.”

. . . . . . . . . . . .

The servants were busy putting the evening meal together, and as he passed into the great hall Claiborn spoke to many of them. He was smiling and remembering their names, and they responded to him well. He had always been a favorite with the servants, far more than his brother Edmund, the master of Stoneybrook, and enjoyed his special status. He paused beside one large woman who was pushing out of her clothing and said, “Martha, your shape is more…womanly than when I departed.”

The cook giggled and said, “Away with you now, m’lord. None of your soldier’s ways around here.”

He grinned. “You are expecting a little one. It is nothing shameful, I assume.”

“Shush! Mind that we’re in public, Sir. Such conversation is unseemly!” Her face softened and she leaned closer. “I married George, you know. A summer past.”

“Well, good for George. With a good woman and a babe on the way; he must be content, indeed. What’s for supper?”

“Nothing special, but likely better than some of the meals you’ve had.”

“You’re right about that. Soldier’s fare is pretty rough stuff.”

Passing on, Claiborn felt a lightness in his spirit. There was something about coming home that did something inside a man. He thought of the many campfires he had huddled next to out in the fields, sometimes in drizzling rain and bitter cold weather— dreaming of the smells and the sounds of Stoneybrook, wishing he was back. And now, at last, he was.

“Edmund!” He turned to see his brother, emerging from one of the inner passages.

Claiborn hurried forward to meet him and said, “It’s good to see you, brother.”

“And you,” Edmund said, holding him at arm’s length again to get a good look. “No wounds, this round?”

“Nothing that hasn’t healed,” Claiborn returned.

“Good, good. Mother will be so relieved.”

The two turned to walk together, down a passageway that would lead to their mother’s apartments. Claiborn restrained his pace, accommodating his smaller older brother’s shorter stride. “All is well here, brother? You are well?”

“Never better. There is much to tell you. But it can wait until we sup.”

A servant had just departed, after breathlessly telling Lady Leah Winslow that her son had returned. She wished she had a moment to run a brush through her gray hair, but she could already hear her sons, making their way down the corridor. She rose, straightening her skirts. How many nights had she prayed for Claiborn’s return, feared for his very life? And here he was at last!

The two paused at her door, and Leah’s hand went to her chest as her eyes moved between her sons. Claiborn’s rich auburn hair with just a trace of gold; Edmund’s dull brown. Claiborn’s broad forehead, sparkling blue eyes, high cheekbones, generous lips that so easily curved into a smile, determined chin. Here, here was the true Lord Winslow, a far more striking figure than his sallow, flabby brother. Her eyes flitted guiltily toward her eldest, wondering if she read her traitorous thoughts within.

But Claiborn was already moving forward, arms out, and she rushed to him. He lifted her and twirled around, making her giggle and then flush with embarrassment. “Claiborn, Claiborn!”

He laughed, the sound warm and welcoming and then gently set her to her feet. “You are still lovely, Mother.”

“You are kind to an old woman,” she said. She reached up and cradled his cheek. “The wars…you return to us unhurt?”

“Only aching for home,” he returned.

He took the horsehide-covered seat she offered and Edmund took another. A servant arrived with tea and quickly poured.

“Are you hungry, Son?”

“Starved, but the tea will tide me over until we sup.”

“Well, tell us about the wars,” Edmund said.

“Like all wars—bloody and uncomfortable. I lost some good friends. God be praised, I came through all right.”

Edmund let out a scoffing sound. “Don’t tell me you turned religious!”

“Religious enough to seek my Maker when facing death.”

Edmund laughed and Leah frowned. He had a high-pitched laugh that sounded like the whinnying of a horse. “Not very religious when you were growing up. I had to thrash you for chasing the maids.”

Claiborn reddened and guiltily glanced at Leah. “I suppose I was a terrible.”

“You were young,” Leah put in. “Now you are a man.”

“She forgets just how troublesome you were,” Edmund said.

“You might have been the same, had you faced manhood and the loss of your father in the same year. You were fortunate, Edmund, to be a man full grown before you became Lord Winslow.”

Edmund pursed his narrow lips and considered her words. “Yes. I suppose there is a certain wisdom in that, Mother. A thousand apologies, Claiborn,” he said, with no true apology in his tone.

“None offense taken. So tell me, what’s the feeling here about the king?”

“Most are for Henry. He’s a strong man—but it troubles all that he seems to have a ghost haunting him.”

“A real ghost?”

“No, but it might be better if it were,” Edmund grinned. “Henry defeated Richard III at Bosworth, and he claimed the crown. But he’s always thinking that someone with a better claim to the crown will lead a rebellion and cut his head off.”

“Do you think that could happen?”

“No. Henry’s too clever to let that happen.”

Leah fidgeted in her seat, wondering when Edmund would tell his brother what he must. Would it be up to her? She kept silent for ten long minutes as the men continued to speak of Henry VII and his various campaigns. When it was silent, she blurted, “Has Edmund told you of his plans?”

Edmund shot her a quick, narrowed glance, but then turned to engage his brother again.

“Plans?” Claiborn’s bright, blue eyes lit up. “What is it?”

“I’m to be married,” he said, uncrossing his legs and crossing them again in a studied, casual way.

“Well, I assumed you already long married. Alice Williams is your intended bride, I suppose.”

Edmund’s face darkened, and he took two quick swallows of tea and then shook his head. “No,” he said in a spare tone. “That didn’t come to fruition. She married Sir Giles Mackson.”

“Why, he’s an old man!”

“I expect that’s why Alice married him. She expects to wear him out, then she’ll be in control of everything.”

“I didn’t think Alice was that kind of a woman.”

“Come now, most women are that kind of woman. Apart from our dear mother, of course.” He reached out a hand to Leah and she took it. He held it too tightly, as if warning her. “You truly haven’t learned more of women as you’ve traveled?”

“Not of what you speak.” His eyes moved to his brother’s hand, still holding their mother’s. “Well, who is it then? Who is the future Lady Winslow?”

Leah couldn’t bear it then, watching her handsome son’s face. She stared studiously at her tea, waiting for the words to come.

“Obviously, I’ve considered it for some time,” Edmund said, releasing their mother’s hand, setting down his cup and rising to stand behind her chair.

Claiborn frowned but forced a curious smile. Why was he hesitating? “Cease toying with me, Edmund. Who is she?”

“I have selected Grace Barclay.”

Claiborn’s fingers grew white as he gripped the tea cup. With a shaking hand, he set it down before he crushed it. “Grace Barclay,” he whispered.

“Yes. She’s comely enough, and I’ve come to a fine arrangement with her father. We shall obtain all the land that borders our own to the east. That’ll be her dowry. We’ll be able to put in new rye fields and carry more cattle. It’ll add a quarter to the size of Stoneybrook. You know how hard I tried to buy that land from her father, years ago. Well, he wouldn’t sell, never would I don’t think, but when he mentioned the match I thought, well, why not? It’s time I married and produced an heir for all of this. I’ll show you around the property tomorrow.”

Claiborn said nothing further, and felt frozen in place. Edmund prattled on about the new land that would soon be added, how it would benefit them all, and finally turned toward the door and said, “Come along, you two. They ought to have something to eat on the table by now. You can tell us about the wars in more detail, Claiborn, now that you know all that’s new here.”

“Edmund, may I have a word with your brother?” Leah said quietly.

Edmund stared, as if having forgotten she was there. After a moment’s hesitation, he said, “Certainly, Mother. I shall see you both in the dining hall.” Then straightening his coat, he exited the room.

Claiborn struggled to speak. At last he asked, “When will the marriage take place?”

“The date has not been set, but it will be soon.” Leah turned warm eyes on her son. She reached out to touch his arm, but he flinched. She had stood idly by! Watched this transgression unfold! “Claiborn, it is a business arrangement. Nothing more.”

“But she was mine. He knew I courted her.”

“And then you left her. She has been of marriable age for some time, now. For all we knew, you could have already died on foreign soil, never to return. Like it or not, life continues, for those of us left behind. Grace needed a husband; Edmund needed a wife. It was a natural choice.”

Claiborn rose. “What of love? What of passion? Grace and I shared those things.”

“Years ago, you shared those things. Now you must forget them. Your brother, Lord Winslow, has chosen.”

“Chosen my intended!” Claiborn thundered, rising.

“You did not make your intentions clear,” Leah said quietly, pain in every word.

“I could not leave Grace, with a promise to marry. It was a promise I could not be sure I could keep. Too many die on the battlefield…” He turned away to the window, running a hand through his hair, anguished at the thought of never holding Grace in his arms, never declaring his love, enduring the sight of her, with him. His brother. His betrayer.

His mother came up behind him, and this time, he allowed her touch on his arm. Slowly, quietly, she leaned her temple against his shoulder, simply standing beside him for time in solidarity. “I’m sorry, Son. But you are too late. You cannot stop what is to come, only make your peace with it. It will be well in time. But you must stand aside.”

Claiborn went through the motions of the returned soldier through the rest of the evening. He was not a particularly good actor, and many of the servants noticed how quiet he was. Edmund did not, however, continuing to fill the silence with endless chatter. After the meal was over Claiborn said, “I think I’ll go to bed. My journey was long today.”

“Yes, you’d better,” Edmund said, mopping the gravy from the trencher with a chunk of bread “Tomorrow we’ll look things over, find something for you to do while you are home. Will you return to the army?”

“I’m not quite sure, Edmund.”

“Bad business being a soldier! Out in the weather, always the danger of some Spaniard or Frenchman taking your head off. We’ll find something for you around here. Time you got a profession. Maybe you’d make a lawyer or even go into the church.” He laughed then and said, “No, not the church. Too much mischief in you for that! Go along then. Sleep well and we’ll discuss it further on the morrow.”

. . . . . . . . . . . .

As Claiborn rode up to the property owned by John Barclay, he felt as if he were coming down with some sort of illness. He had slept not at all, but had paced the floor until his mother sent a servant with a vessel of wine, which he downed quickly, and soon afterward, fell into a dream-laden sleep. As soon as the sun had come up, he had departed, only leaving word for Edmund that he had an errand to run.

Now as he pulled up in front of the large house where Barclay lived with his family, he dismounted, and a smiling servant came out. “Greetings, m’lord, shall I grain your horse?”

“No, just walk him until he cools.”

He walked up to the door, his eyes troubled and his lips in a tight line. He was shown in by a house servant, and five minutes later John Barclay, Grace’s father, came in. “Well, Claiborn, you’re back. All safe and sound, I trust?”

“Yes, Sir. Safe and sound.”

“How did the wars go? Here, let’s have a little wine.”

Claiborn’s head was splitting already from the hangover, but he took the mulled wine so that he might have something to do with his hands.

John Barclay was a small man, handsome in his youth, but now at the age of forty he was beginning to show his age poorly. He pumped Claiborn for news of the wars, customarily passed along the gossips of the court and of the neighborhood. Finally he got to what Claiborn had come to address. “I assume your brother has told you that he and my girl Grace are to be married?”

“Yes, Sir, he did.”

“Well, it’s a good match,” he rushed on. “She’s a good girl and your brother is a good man. Good blood on both sides! They’ll be providing me with some fine grandchildren. A future.”

Claiborn did not know exactly how to proceed. He had hoped to find Grace alone, but Barclay did not mention her, so finally he said, “I wonder if I might see Miss Grace? Offer my future sister-in-law my thoughts on her impending nuptials?”

“Certainly! She’s up out in the garden. Let her welcome you home. She’ll tell you all about the wedding plans, I’m sure.”

“Thank you, Sir.” Getting up, Claiborn walked out of the castle. He knew where the garden was, for he had visited Grace more than once in this place. He turned the corner, and his first sight of her seemed to stop him in his tracks. She was even more beautiful than he remembered. A tall woman with blonde hair and well-shaped green eyes, with a beautiful smile. He stood there looking at her, and finally she turned and saw him. She was holding a pair of shears in her hands, and she dropped them and cried out, “Claiborn—!”

Moving forward, Claiborn felt as if he were in some sort of dream world. He came to stand in front of her and could not think of what to say. It was so different from what he had imagained it would be like when he first saw her after his long absence. How many times had he imagined taking her into his arms, turning her face up, kissing her and whispering his love, and her own whispered declarations…

But that was not happening. Grace had good color in her cheeks as a rule, but now they were pale, and he could see her lips were trembling. “Claiborn, you’re—you’re home.”

“Aye, I am.”

A silence seemed to build a wall between them, and it was broken only when she whispered, “You know? About Edmund and me?”

“I knew nothing until yesterday when Edmund told me.”

“I thought he might send you word.”

“He’s not much of a one for writing.” Claiborn suddenly reached out and took her by the upper arm. He squeezed too hard and saw pain rise and released his grip. “I can’t believe it, Grace! I thought we had an understanding.”

Grace turned her shoulders more toward him. “An understanding, of sorts,” she said quietly. “But that was a long time ago, Claiborn. Much has transpired since you left.”

He couldn’t stop himself. He reached out his hand to take her own, gently. “I’m sorry. I was a fool.”

“You were young. We both were. Perhaps it is best that we leave it as that.” She turned her wide, green eyes up to meet his.

He frowned. “Is that all it was to you? The passion of youth? Frivolity? Foolishness?”

“Nay,” she sais softly, so softly he wondered if he had misheard her. But then she repeated it, squeezing his hand. His heart surged to doubletime. Her voice was unsteady as she said, “I did everything I could to get out of the marriage, Claiborn. I begged my father, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. He’s determined…and so is your brother.”

“I know Edmund is stubborn, but there must have been some way, Grace.”

“No, both your brother and my father see a woman as something to be traded. I don’t think my father ever once thought of what I wanted, of what you and I once shared, of would make me happy. Nor Edmund. He’s never courted me. It is purely an arrangement that suits well…on the surface.”

Suddenly Claiborn asked, “Do you think you might come to love him, Grace?”

Tears came into Grace’s eyes. “No,” she whispered. “Of course not! I love you, Claiborn. You must know that.”

Then suddenly a great determination came to Claiborn. He could not see the end of what he planned to do, but he could see the beginning—which would undoubtedly bring a period of strife. And yet any great battle worth fighting began the same way. “We’ll have to go to them both, your father and my brother,” he said. “We’ll explain that we love each other, and we will have to make them understand.”

Grace shook her head. “It won’t do any good, Claiborn. Neither of them will listen. Their minds are made up.”

“They’ll have to listen!” Claiborn’s voice was fierce. “Come. We’ll talk to your father right now—and then I’ll go try to reason with Edmund. My mother will come to my aid, I am certain.”

“I fear it will do no good—”

“But we must try.”

She accepted his other hand and met his gaze again. “Yes,” she said with a nod, “we must try.”

“Grace Barclay, if we manage this feat, would you honor me by becoming my bride?”

“Indeed,” she said, smiling with fear and hope in her beautiful eyes.

“Come, then,” he said, tucking her hand into the crook of his arm. “Let us see to it then.”

The two of them went inside, and found Grace’s father eating grapes. Claiborn knew there was no simple manner to enter the discussion at hand so he said, “Mr. Barclay, forgive me for going against you and your arrangement with my brother, but I must tell you that Grace and I love each other. We want your permission to marry.”

John Barclay stared at the two, then hastily swallowed a mouthful of grapes. The juice ran down his chin, and his face was scarlet. “What are you talking about, man? I’ve told you, she’s to marry your brother!”

“Father, I never cared for Edmund,” Grace said at once. She held her head up high, and added, “I’ve loved Claiborn for a long time.”

“Have you lost your senses, girl? Sir Edmund is the lord of Stoneybrook. He has the money and the title. What does this man have? A sword and the clothes he has on his back!”

“But father—!”

“Not another word, Grace! You’re marrying Edmund Winslow, and I’ll hear no more about it!” Barclay turned to Claiborn, and his face was contorted with rage. “And you! What sort of brother are you? Coming between your brother and the woman he’s sought for his wife! You’re a sorry excuse for a man! Get out of here, and never come back, you understand me?” He turned to Grace and shouted, “As for you, girl, go to your room! I’ll have more words for you later…!”

. . . . . . . . . . . .

As Claiborn rode out of the environs of Barclay Castle, he felt as if he had been in a major battle. He loitered on the way home, trying to put together a speech that might move Edmund after so utterly failing with John Barclay. When he reached the castle he saw his brother out in the field with one of the hired hands. He was pointing out some fences, no doubt, that needed to be built, and he turned as Claiborn rode up and dismounted.

“Well, you ran off early this morning. What was so pressing that you could not even stop to break your fast?.”

“I must have a word with you, Edmund.”

His brother said something else to the field hand and then turned to walk beside him. “Well, what is it? Have you given thought to your profession?”

“No, no, it’s about Grace.”

Edmund’s eyes narrowed. “Grace? What about her?”

Claiborn faced his brother and said, “Grace and I love each other. We have for a long time. Forgive me for this, but we wish to be married, Edmund.”

Edmund’s face contorted into a look of confusion. “Have you lost your mind, Claiborn? She’s engaged to me! Everyone knows about it.”

Claiborn began to try to explain, to reason, and even to plead with Edmund, but Edmund scoffed, “You were always a romantic dreamer, boy. But you are a man grown now. You must embrace life and all its practicalities, as I have. Think if it. The woman is handsome, yes, but what she brings to this estate is even more attractive. There will be another girl for you.”

“Perhaps Barclay will still give the land as Grace’s dowry if she marries me.”

“Of course he won’t! Are you daft? I’m the master here! Now don’t be difficult about this, Claiborn. It’s for the good of the House of Winslow. Let’s hear no more about it.”

. . . . . . . . . . . .

The thing could not be kept a secret, and soon everyone at both houses knew what had happened. Edmund made no secret of his displeasure, and finally, after three days, he found Claiborn, and his anger had hardened, but he gave Claiborn one more chance to change his mind. “Look you now, Claiborn,” he said. “You know you have no way to provide for a wife, without me. And if you stubbornly pursue this one as your wife, I shall turn you out. What kind of a life would a woman have with you then? You know as well as I she’d be miserable. Grace has always the best of everything. What would she have with you, outside of the House of Winslow? Dirt, poverty, sickness, misery, that’s what she’d have. You must see that.”

“But Edmund, we love each other. If you’d help me fit myself for a profession—”

“I will help you! I’ve said so already—but I’d be made to look ridiculous if my own brother took my choice for a wife from me. A lord cannot be made to look the fool. It will bind me in every future arrangement I make. No, the die has been cast. You must live with what has transpired in your absence.”

Claiborn had never asked his brother for anything, and he hated to beg, but he pleaded with Edmund until he saw that it was useless.

“You cannot remain here,” Edmund said flatly. “Not feeling the way you do about my intended. Refusing to act as a man. Refusing the way of honor.”

“I cannot be the man God made me, honor what he has placed on my heart, and do anything but this!” Claiborn cried, arms out, fingers splayed.

Edmund stared at him for a moment and said coldly, “I never want to see you again, Claiborn. You have betrayed me, turned away from all I’ve given you!”

“And you did not betray me? You knew I courted Grace!”

“Once upon a time, as a young whelp! How was I to know you fancied a grand return, a romantic reunion? No, I deal with a man’s responsibilities, and I shall move forward as that, as a man.”

Claiborn stared hard at him. “Mother will—”

“Mother will side with me. With the Lord of Winslow. She knows her place.”

“Just as Grace will know it, right? Pretty, and placed in a corner, until you have need of her in your bed.”

“Get out. My bride is my family, my business. And you, you are no longer kin to me.”

. . . . . . . . . . . .

“Grace, I’ve hoped you’d show more sense,” her father said. “You don’t see life the way it is, so I can’t let you make such a terrible mistake.”

“It would be a terrible mistake if I married a man I didn’t love.”

“Nonsense! You’ve been unfairly influenced by those French romances. I knew I should not have allowed them in my house!”

Grace sighed. To be fair, she had placed him in a terrible position, and never challenged him on anything of note. Up until now. “Father, I believe in love. Did you not once love my mother?”

“There was no nonsense. She understood how things progress, between a man and a woman. She…” He colored, growing so frustrated in choosing his words that he shook his finger in her face. “My father and her father saw that there were advantages to our marriage, and we were obedient. We had a good life.”

Grace lost her mother to the fevers when she was fourteen, just as Claiborn had lost his father at the same age—but she well remembered how unhappy she had been, how she longed for affection, but got very little from her husband. John had loved her mother, just as she knew he loved her, but he seemed incapacitated when it came to showing it. “I love Claiborn, Father,” she repeated. “I beg you, don’t force me to marry a man I don’t love.”

John opened his mouth as if to say something in fury, then abruptly closed it, turning away from her. He took a step toward the fire, burning in the hearth, and ran a hand through his thinning hair. “We shall discuss it no further. You are marrying Sir Edmund Winslow. I shall see to it myself.”

. . . . . .

“We’ll have to leave here, Grace.” Claiborn had come under cover of darkeness to meet with her in the garden. The air was heavy for the rain had come earlier and soaked the earth.

“Yes, we will.”

“I have nothing to offer you.”

Grace looked up. “But I have something to offer you. You remember my Aunt Adella?”

“She married an Irishman when we were but children, didn’t she?”

“Yes, and he died, and now she’s dead. She left the farm in Ireland to me. That’s where we must go and make our lives.”

It sounded like a dream—an unfavorable dream since Claiborn had no good opinion of Ireland. But it seemed they had little choice. Perhaps it was of God, this provision.

“This asks much of you, Grace. You’d have the life you were born to, here, if you married Edmund.”

“No, my life would be tragic, living with a man I didn’t love and never again seeing the man I do. There is no choice. Come for me, in two days’ time. I shall meet you by the side gate, when all are deeply asleep.

.. . . . . .

Two days later, Claiborn waited outside the Barclay estate in the dark, nervously shifting from foot to foot. He had stolen away from Stoneybrook as soon as even the lightest sleeper was deep into his dreams. But if she didn’t emerge soon…if Edmund discovered he was gone, and here, or if Grace’s father came upon them…his hand went to his sword. He would do what it took to get his intended away from here. But if anyone died as they departed, it would haunt them forever. “Please Lord,” he muttered under his breath. “Make a way for us. Help us depart in peace.”

Two men approached and Claiborn narrowly ducked around a copse of trees in time. But the lads had been too deep into the ale to notice him—-nor Ned’s soft whinny in greeting to their own horses. They trotted past, laughing so giddily Claiborn wondered how they stayed astride their mounts. His eyes moved back to the side door, where he had sent word for her to meet him. “Make haste, Grace,” he begged through gritted teeth. “Make haste!”

Edmund was not a fool. He was certain to have encouraged servants to keep an eye out for him and any suspicious actions within Stoneybrook. With each minute that ticked by, their risk of exposure increased. Claiborn’s eyes traced the outline of the side door, willing it to open. Had she changed her mind? Or been intercepted? His mind leapt through different options, should she not emerge within a few minutes. Steal inside? Summon a servant and demand he see her? Or walk away?

But then, there she was. He hesitated for a moment, wondering if his mind was playing tricks upon him. No, it was her. She had come! He hurried forward, wincing as the cart behind Ned creaked in protest. Her head swung toward the sound and she hurriedly shut the door behind her, turning a key in the lock and pocketing it.

He took her hands in his. “All right, sweetheart. We’ll find someone to marry us straight away, and then we’ll make a life together in Ireland. Thank you for this honor. Thank you for trusting me.”

“I’m trusting you and God, Claiborn.”

Claiborn was well aware that he did not really know God in the way that Grace did She had a firm faith in the Lord, and his religion had been more of a formality, but now he put his arms around her and kissed her. “I hope you’re right, Grace. At least we’ll have each other.”

“Yes,” Grace smiled up, tears in her eyes. “We’ll have each other.”

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Lazy Housewife Dills

(Not my jar of pickles, but it is awfully dull with no pictures!  I need you all to pray I find my charger for my camera!)

Looking for a super easy and wonderful dill pickle recipe? This one is so easy and simple, it almost should not be so good! I have been making these pickles for about three years now and every year we love them! I  found I like the little pickles, so I pick the tiny ones and stuff the jars with them! I only make as many as I know we will eat in a year and last year it was about a dozen jars or so….I have made 5 jars I think this year so far, so I will have to see if I can get more!

Lazy Housewife Pickles.

4T salt

4C water

2C white vinegar

Bring to a boil.

1 clove garlic per qt jar

1 sprig fresh dill per qt jar OR 1 tsp dill seed per jar

Put cukes, garlic and dill in jar, pour boiling brine over the top, seal. Do not process. Let cure for a month.

If you double the brine, it will do about 5 qts.

I got the recipe from a friend, Tracy Dole! I turn mine upside down and leave them upside down.

If you have a jar or two that doesn’t seal (check after a week). I will boiling water bath them, for about 5-10 minutes.

 

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Snow Melts in the Spring By Deborah Vogts

Snow Melts in the Spring
By Deborah Vogts

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko<p>

From the Back Cover:
She loves the land.

Mattie Evans grew up in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Although her family has lost their ranch, she still calls this land home. A skilled young veterinarian, she struggles to gain the confidence of the local ranchers. Fortunately, her best friend and staunchest supporter is John McCray, owner of the Lightning M Ranch. They both love the ranch, and can’t imagine living anywhere but in the Flint Hills.

He’s haunted by it.

Gil McCray, John’s estranged son, is a pro football player living in California. The ranch is where his mother died and where every aspect of the tallgrass prairie stirs unwanted memories of his older brother’s fatal accident. Gil decides leaving the ranch is the best solution for his ailing father and his own ailing heart. But he doesn’t count on falling in love.

Falling in love isn’t an option. Or is it?

When Mattie is called in to save a horse injured in a terrible accident, she finds herself unwillingly tossed into the middle of a family conflict. Secret pain, secret passions, and secret agendas play out against the beautiful landscapes as love leads to some unexpected conclusions about forgiveness and renewal.
<p>

This story involves a mystery, romance, family conflict and a wonderful story of animals you won’t want to miss!  In the beginning a horse in seriously injured and instead of putting it down, the local vet is called in to perform a miracle.  As the story  moves on with mystery surrounding the horse’s owner who  happens to be  John McCray’s son, the vet’s best friend. The problem is   the two do not get along terribly well! <p>
I enjoyed the interaction between Mattie and animals as well as her clients!  The secret pains that  wound around both hers, Gil’s and John’s life were  told in a wonderful way where you felt   their pain in each way.
The sports part of the story is only lightly touched on, which I appreciated as I am not a huge football fan. It was written really well.
 You will enjoy this beautiful story!

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Zucchini Recipe-

I decided to  try a Zucchini crisp recipe after reading about it online and finding a recipe in one of my cookbooks that sounded easy. I cut the sugar down a bit, but I did not want to change it too much as I did not know how it would taste. I was amazed!! The zucchini did not taste like zucchini anymore. It  has the texture of apples! I think I am going to be able to get my boys to eat zucchini this way no problem, as long I as I do not tell them….
Zucchini Crisp
8 cups peeled, cubed zucchini
3/4 c. lemon juice (I found this odd at first, but it gives it a great flavor)
1/2 c. sugar
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
Topping:
1 1/3 c. brown sugar (I cut it down to a cup..I think it could have been a bit more)
1 c. oatmeal
1 c. flour
2/3 c. butter
(I added some cinnamon  to the topping)

Mix the cubed, peeled zucchini with the  lemon juice, sugar, and spices. Put in a greased 9×13 pan. Combine topping ingredients, except for butter. Cut in the butter until crumbs.
Sprinkle over Zucchini….Bake at 375 for 45-50 minutes or until zucchini is tender and the mixture is bubbly. I baked mine a bit longer as I wanted the topping for crunchy.

Yield 12-15 servings

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A bit of summer….

decided to come back and I got the brunt of it yesterday. I think after that cool weather I was not used to it or something and I collapsed in a sort of heat stroke of some kind at the fair yesterday. It really was a helpless feeling, not being able to talk or walk without blacking out. I am still feeling off today!

I am trying to plan my menu for the week still, it has been hard. I bought some food, but I missed a few things!
Wednesday: Homemade mac and cheese, tomatoes, zucchini

Thursday: Pizza, tomato salad

Friday: Hot dogs, watermelon, salad

Saturday: Chicken soup, rolls, pie

Sunday: Leftovers, pie, zucchini bread, popcorn

Monday: Gone for the day- Need to bake snacks to bring along on Sunday

Tuesday: Picnic in evening- Pack picnic lunch, sandwiches, cookies, fruit

We will see if I can get this done!

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