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Monday, December 5, 2022

Memories of Fudge ~ Sherri Easley

 

This week on social media, there was a recipe for Hershey’s Fudge. This is not the fluffy type with marshmallow cream, but a dense hard type of fudge of my childhood.

When I was a kid, my mother often made fudge from the recipe on the side of the Hershey’s Cocoa can. I can still see her sitting on the old wooden porch swing, beating the fudge until it was creamy. One side of chain holding the old swing broke, and Mom never missed a beat as she slid down to the opposite side of the swing.

She often made this as icing on a yellow cake, and it was so yummy we kids would eat the icing off and she would have to make a second batch for the cake. This happened so often that finally Mom started poking holes in the cake so the icing would not be so easy to steal.

Over the years, I have made this many times, occasionally overcooking it to sugar and just as often, not cooking long enough and having chocolate syrup. Either way, the evidence was yummy.

Below is the recipe- Enjoy!

Hershey’s Fudge Recipe

Ingredients

3 cups sugar

2/3 cup cocoa powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Directions

Line an 8 or 9-inch square pan with foil. Generously grease the foil with butter. (We never used foil, we just buttered a plate)

Combine the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Mix well. Using a wooden spoon (do not use a whisk), stir in the milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until the milk comes to a full, rolling boil. Let it boil without stirring until it reaches 234 degrees F on a candy thermometer (soft ball stage, drop a small amount in very cold water to test it - it should form a soft ball that flattens when removed from the water).

Remove the pan from the heat. Add the butter and vanilla to the saucepan but DO NOT STIR. Just let the mixture sit until it has reached 110-120 degrees F.

Once cooled, beat the fudge with the wooden spoon until it thickens and has lost some of its glossiness. Quickly spread the fudge in the greased pan. Let cool slowly (do not rush the cooling process or it may not set up) then cut into squares when completely cooled. Store the fudge wrapped loosely in foil in the refrigerator.

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Holiday Season Already! #Books Are Great #Gifts by @JacquieRogers

 

 December? Christmas? Already?

Life and Times of a Country Gal

Here on Windy Hill Farm, we're working on Christmas preparations.  I'm hammering my credit card and cooking while Mr R is working on decorations inside the house and outside.  So far, he has lights on the back patio and, in front of the house, lighted candy canes and a snowflake.  He also bought a blowup Mickey Mouse but I have no idea what he's going to do with that.   

He did put up our small fake tree.



Our tree is kind of pathetic but we don't have room to put up a big one.  And someone needs to neaten up that bookcase.  Isn't it strange that we notice these things in photos but we can walk right by them a dozen times a day and never see them?  Well, I see it now. Hahaha.  Also looks like I better get to wrapping gifts.

Which reminds me of a story--a friend of mine who's a procrastinator (as am I) spent all Christmas Eve wrapping presents she'd purchased throughout the year.  When I saw her next, she had bandaids on all her fingers because she'd taped so much that it ripped the outer skin off her fingertips.  Don't do that!!!  Not a good idea.

We are getting in the spirit.  Mr R bought all the makin's for Christmas cookies.  I'll make a boatload of them and we'll take them to our local friends that we don't see very often.

I'll be making traditional cookies and a few keto cookies for diabetic friends.

Speaking of gifts, books are always a good suggestions, plus a Christmas story is a good way to destress from the holiday bustle.


This story works in with my Hearts of Owyhee series, and is set in Owyhee County, Idaho, where I grew up.  You can purchase it at Amazon.

Here's another story that's been popular with my readers:


I set this story where my aunt and uncle live in Garden Valley, Idaho.  It's a really beautiful area and they have  a gorgeous house made of square logs.  Needless to say, the cabin Rhoda is staying in is not nearly as nice.  You can buy this story at Amazon, too.




Until next month, Happy Reading!



If you're on TikTok, friend me!  My handle is @jacquierogersbooks.  
You can get videos of Honey Beaulieu and Sassy's latest updates there.  And goofy videos of her scribe.  Heck, we even do a few cooking videos.

Friday, December 2, 2022

THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR!

By Caroline Clemmons

The holiday season is officially here! 


I confess to being a Christmas enthusiast. Yes, I know the reason for the season. That fact does not keep me from thinking of gifts I can give and decorations I can use. I’ve been a Christmas nut fan as long as I can remember.

Although when I was a small child, the thoughts of what Santa would bring filled my mind. Since then, I’ve been consumed with the excitement of what I could give, display, and see. Darling Daughter 2 and I enjoy adopting an angel or two from an angel tree. Choosing gifts for others is fun.

She and I love to drive through neighborhoods with a lot of lights and other displays. One neighborhood nearby has a contest, and almost every home in the large neighborhood has elaborate decorations. A couple of policemen keep traffic flowing. There’s a special lane for residents to use so they don’t get stuck in traffic with looky-lous like us. We go every year to admire the Christmas and Hanukkah displays. This year, Hero has decided to go with us and see what the attraction is.


At home, we’ve our own outdoor display—a big deal for us, but modest in comparison to that mentioned above. This year, Darling Daughter 2 bought me a nutcracker to go on the front porch. I’ve wanted one for years, but never got around to purchasing one. This one is perfect in size, and is brightly colored. Of course I love it. We also have a couple of lighted deer forms, an angel, and candy canes for the front lawn. A large door wreath and garland completes or decorations.


One year (when we lived in a different town), our wreath was stolen. What a surprise that was. Hopefully, our current neighborhood won’t be bothered by such things. So far, we’ve not had a problem from petty theft. Our next-door neighbor doesn’t decorate, but is excited that we are.

Are you decorating for the season?


 

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Our Christmas Feast by Kara O'Neal

I'm so excited to finally share this! I've been waiting for this final day in November to tell y'all all about our Christmas feast.

It's a wonderful Christmas tradition. The first weekend in December we pull out the Christmas decorations -- we have A LOT -- so we can trim the tree and the house.

While the kids and my Prince Charming put everything out, I cook. I make all kinds of appetizers and finger foods. I use all my best and cute party platters, and our table is FULL of food. We eat for days after, which is just another great thing about it.

We listen to Christmas music, and the kids get all excited about each ornament they pull out and hang up. It's wonderful.

Y'all should know that I spend about 5 hours in the kitchen. My feet and back kill me by the time I'm done, but it's soooo worth it. I wouldn't trade it at all. The menu consists of:

1) Deviled eggs -- a riot ensues if I don't make these
2) Pigs in a blanket
3) Cheese tray
4) Cream cheese with jalapeno jelly
5) Jalapeno poppers
6) Pizza rolls
7) Parmesan crusted chicken tenders
8) Stuffed mushrooms
9) Veggies and dip
10) Egg rolls
11) Cookies galore
12) Taco sticks
13) Apples and a fruit dip
14) Pot stickers
15) Queso
16) Salsa

It's a lot. But it's sooooo great.

Once everything is done, we fill our plates and watch Home Alone. And the kids still giggle. They're 22, 20 and 16 now, but it doesn't matter. They love every bit of this day, and we have every intention of continuing it even after they're grown and gone. My daughter has started to help me with cooking, and she does a great job. When she helps, it only takes three hours. I sure wish I had two ovens, though. That's for the next house, I guess.

Here's a little look into what it's like for us. The kids are younger in this video.

It's traditions like these that make it easy for me to write like I do. The best thing about my books is the family feel in them. I think it's become a trademark for me, because my readers remark on it often.


I'm glad I can evoke homey feelings in my stories. Hopefully it shows the love I have for my family and friends, and gives readers a sense of what life is all about.

What reminds you of family? What do you look forward to -- it doesn't have to be a Christmas tradition. Let us know!



Monday, November 28, 2022

Vintage Christmas Cards/Ornaments

A busy elf am I.

Joan Walsh Anglund image from her books


Once upon a time, I was Miss Crafty, making everything from decoupaged goose eggs (how we wound up with the geese) to vintage Santas and herbal wreaths, and have renewed my hands-on creativity with Christmas card/tree ornaments. I first gained inspiration for this project from a talented lady on YouTube, Lisa, with Our Shabby Cottage. Her Shabby Chic style appeals to me, and I’m naturally shabby. The vintage images I’ve used include Joan Walsh Anglund from her little books I’ve loved since the 1970’s, though her work goes farther back, and old-fashioned Christmas images wherever I can find them. The local thrift store is a trove of goodies. My four-year-old grandson, Charlie, loves to treasure hunt there with his mom, great grandmom, and me. Amazon (of course) has many image choices in their craft section, and Bl├╝mchen, a German styled company, carries a wide variety of Christmas ornament making supplies–not to forget Dollar Tree and Walmart for general crafting. I’m sure there are many more stores, but these are the ones I’ve found.


For the background/card paper, I searched the house to find the Medieval sheet music from my old recorder days and used that until I ran out. I like the worn look achieved from using older music and further aging the paper with distress oxide. I also employ eye shadow to give an antique appearance. Our local thrift store has used sheet music that’s perfect for my needs. I’ve lost track of how many card/ornaments I’ve made thus far but discovered mailing them in bubble wrap envelopes is pricey because the post office considers them parcels. I’m not officially in the card crafting business, as I’m making these for gifts, but if I were to create card ornaments for sale, postage would take a big bite. Mailing is a major consideration for any online sales.

I allow my creativity to flow freely, and every card is different. That makes each one original, and if there’s something I dislike I dive in and disguise the error or remake the card.

Writing is a very different kind of self-expression from crafting, and I do love both. Gardening is also a hands-on form of inner expression, partly why I love it too. That, and the sights, sounds, scents… All the feels. No one said I can’t do them all, just not at the same time. I’ve been sick a lot this fall, and these card ornaments are easier for me to work on when I’m only half decent. Imagine what I could achieve if I were really well. Here’s hoping.

It takes me several hours (more or less) to craft each card, but it easily takes me that long to comprise a sentence. I’m still working on the opening line to my never-ending WIP. My inner editor is too loud. I need to ignore her and move along.

Meanwhile, these card ornaments are fun and make me feel like I’m accomplishing something. Before the craft bug hit, I was planting crocus like a mad woman, but then I used up the bulbs and the weather grew too cold. It’s wise to have varied interests.

For those of you who are interested, the online bulb sites are having mega sales now. Not that I’ve noticed. It’s this dream I have of planting my entire yard in crocus…

And God Bless Us Everyone.

I'm scoping out online used book sites for Joan Walsh Anglund books to rebuild my library. They're out of print.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Free Book! Highland Eclipse by Laura Hunsaker

I hope my American friends enjoyed their Thanksgiving! We've had a day to recover, and with all the time spent with my family these past couple of weeks, I've realized I'm incredibly grateful to them for being in my life, and to all of you! Yes you all! You all have touched my life in some small way and I appreciate it a lot. I know that while Thanksgiving is an American holiday, one thing seems to be creeping it's way to a universal day: Black Friday. 

Some of my favorite German youtubers will be speaking fully in German and then bam. The phrase in English: Black Friday. This cracked me up and first, but after thinking I guess it makes sense. So I double checked some other non-English speaking youtubers, and yep, same thing. The term Black Friday but used in English. Since this seems to be a world-wide event now, I set one of my books for free this week. It will continue on until Cyber Monday for you all, so I hope you know that while Black Friday is slowly becoming universal, one thing always has been: gratitude. I am grateful for all you readers, writers, friends...and hopefully you can all have an enjoyable weekend and relax with a good book.

HIGHLAND ECLIPSE


Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo  |  Google Play  |  Smashwords  |  iTunes


A member of an elite Time Ops team called the Eclipse Agents, Declan Wallace’s job is to jump through time. He maintains order in the timeline, he hunts down those who would time jump for their own purposes. But sometimes Fate intervenes.

After a lifetime of living with illness, Lady Fiona McClure is proving to herself that she is finally healthy in an attempt to swim across the loch. If she makes it, maybe then her overprotective father won’t treat her as a child anymore. When she is snatched and dragged ashore by a man who thought she was drowning, her heart races for reasons that have nothing to do with the swim and everything to do with the man standing before her.

With a mission to finish, Declan can’t allow distractions, and Lady Fiona is definitely a distraction. But he’s discovering that living for the next mission isn’t as exciting as it used to be. Staying in the past is forbidden, but Fiona McClure is his destiny.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

NOVEMBER - Transitioning to Winter

 by Judy Ann Davis

                                          HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

It’s Novemberour transition into winter. Bare tree limbs shiver in stiff winds. Wayward leaves scurry across the chilly ground, and clouds gather in gray skies. Inside, people search closets and drawers for wool and flannel clothing, and warm shoes and boots.

It’s the time when everyone dashes outside to get their homes battened down and ready for the first snows to fly. The bushes and trees have been trimmed, and perennial plants are leveled to the ground for a spring rebirth. Leaves from trees, now drab brown, wet, or maybe crispy and dry, have been raked or swept up in lawn mowers. In our small development here in Central Pennsylvania, when one mower roared to life, another followed shortly, and the race was on to see which house finished first.

November brings back many memories from childhood in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I remember school days when we watched out the windows in our classrooms to look for the first snowflakes. For farm kids, snow meant outside fun as we rode sleds, shovels or saucers down a slippery slope. There were outside chores, too. Clearing snow from the front porch, sidewalk, back steps and entrance were unspoken activities after every storm. Almost daily, we hauled stacks of wood from outside into our cellar to dry and feed our hungry, wood-fired furnace.                                     

I loved our cellar furnace. The light sweet smoky smell of wood still reminds me of a toasty warmed-by-air ducts ending at metal floor registers above. In high school and before bedtime, I would find a register, grab a blanket and wrap it tent-like around me to trap the heat while I did my homework.

And I’ll never forget the tasty winter foods of November. Falling temperatures brought warmer hearty dishes to our table—roasts, ham, meatloaf, stuffed cabbage, and stews, to name a few. Delicious scents from homemade soups like chicken noodle, beet, creamy potato, or vegetable beef wafted through the rooms. Hot chocolate, cider, tea, and coffee made winter meals even more savory and inviting. Thanksgiving was a feast. If we didn’t have a turkey, we enjoyed a chicken or roast. Mother froze or canned every imaginable vegetable, so cranberries were our only purchased item for the holidays.

As the eleventh month of the year, November can rightfully boast it’s the transition from fall to winter. It also announces we are approaching the end of the year. For children who love and wait for winter, it's so much more as they ask the curious and often blissful question swirling in their heads and hearts—will it snow today?  

JUNE ~ The Pianist

(Book 1 of the Musical Christmas Series)
NOW ON SALE $0.99