Oregano

I add oregano to vegetable soup and cabbage soup. I love the aroma, which is enough to pique my appetite!

Of course, this is a popular seasoning in pasta dishes as well as pizza. Oregano can be chopped and added to pizza dough or bread dough.

This versatile seasoning may be used on fish, meat, sausages, in salads, marinades, and a variety of other dishes.

Dried oregano usually has more flavor but can grow stale if kept too long.

I was surprised to learn that the name is Greek and means “joy of the mountain.” Though the United States is now one of the leading producers of oregano, it was little-known until World War II soldiers, who had been stationed in Italy, returned home and talked about the herb.

Historically, both the Greeks and Chines used oregano for medicinal purposes.

It contains an antioxidant. It’s been used to treat colds, indigestion, diarrhea, and asthma.

Researchers are studying oregano for anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial benefits. There is also some evidence that it may help fight some forms of cancer. Also, oregano may help those with Type 2 Diabetes to improve insulin resistance.

Of course, always consult your doctor before trying any of these as treatments.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

Brazier, Yvette. “What are the health benefits of oregano?” Medical News Today, 2020/07/19 https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266259#nutrition.

“Oregano,” New World Encyclopedia, 2020/07/19 https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Oregano.

The Story of Rose Haven

I am so excited that friend and fellow author, Debra DuPree Williams, is sharing a bit of background for her debut novel with us today. Welcome back, Debra!

By Debra DuPree Williams

One of the main characters in my debut novel, Grave Consequences, is Rose Haven, the estate of Miss Marge Mayhew. It is situated out in the countryside near the fictitious town of Loblolly, Alabama.

Rose Haven was built prior to 1819 when Alabama became a state. At that time, Rose Haven was a simple four-room square home. Over time, it became the estate it is in 1968, the year in which the novel takes place.

Many people pass through Rose Haven’s doors. Secrets were overheard here. Lives began and ended here. Hearts found their way home and hearts were broken within her walls.

In all those years, Rose Haven has housed her share of stories, family members, and a few mysteries along the way. One big mystery that develops in Grace Consequences is that of a long-lost grave. Add to that a murder mystery.

Rose Haven is patterned after a home called Rose Hill, built by my brother-in-law’s Great-grandfather, David Jefferson Foshee, born about 1864. This home is quite lovely and is still standing in Red Level, Alabama.

My sister and her husband have never been inside as it slipped out of family ownership many years ago. I’ve seen the grounds and it is in a very pretty setting. Of course, I’ve taken poetic license to change its size and its surroundings. But, in my mind, I always think of Rose Hill. Sitting there in all her glory, on the outskirts of lovely little Loblolly.

Back Cover Blurb

Sometimes finding the living is more difficult than searching for the dead. 

In 1968, twenty-six-year-old Charlotte Graves wrestles with more than just her decision to return to her hometown, Loblolly, Alabama—she is also fleeing a broken heart, colliding headlong into a second one, and about to stumble onto a deadly secret.

Now settled back in Loblolly, Charlotte is hired to oversee the Woodville County Historical Society, a job she was born for. But no sooner has she banged the gavel to bring order to the first meeting than she is accused of being incompetent to lead the group by her old nemesis, Boopsie Sweets. Later that night, she finds herself arrested by her old beau, the current deputy sheriff, Roan Steele, for killing Boopsie.

After being released on bail, Charlotte uses her skills as a genealogist to leap into the investigation. And when Charlotte goes digging up dirt, she unearths a long-kept family secret. Will it lead to Boopsie’s murderer … or to grave consequences for Charlotte and her family?

About Debra

Debra DuPree Williams is an award-winning author whose work has appeared in Yvonne Lehman’s Stupid Moments, Additional Christmas Moments, Selah Award finalist, Moments with Billy Graham, and Michelle Medlock Adams’s Love and Care for the One and Only You, expanded edition, in addition to other publications. When she isn’t busy writing, you will likely find Debbie chasing an elusive ancestor, either through online sources or in rural graveyards. Debbie is a classically-trained lyric coloratura soprano whose first love is Southern Gospel. She’s been married forever to the best man on earth, is the mother of four sons, mother-in-law of one extraordinary daughter-of-her-heart, and DD to the two most intelligent, talented, and beautiful young ladies ever. Debbie and her husband live in the majestic mountains of North Carolina.

Connect with Debra on her blog.

Amazon

 

In the Shadow of Salem by Donna Gawell

This book is based on the life of Mehitabel Braybrooke Downing. The author’s note reveals that few facts are known about her. A story was crafted using many actual historical figures and what is known of their lives.

Readers first meet Mehitabel as a prisoner in 1692. She’s been accused of witchcraft in her hometown of Ipswich, Massachusetts, during the Salem Witch Trials. Joan, the woman she has always referred to as Mother, is then arrested. Lifelong resentments invade the prison cell with her.

The author then goes back in time to show what soured their relationship from the very beginning.

Told in first person, the story gripped me from the beginning. I couldn’t put it down for long as I had to know what happened to a mistreated young girl who made unwise choices.

Recommend!

-Sandra Merville Hart

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

 

Never the Same by Steven James

Stories of those who encountered Jesus

What an amazing book!

Readers will meet a few of the people who interacted Jesus during his thirty-three years on this earth. And, as the author demonstrates so beautifully, you can’t meet Jesus and remain unchanged.

Unexpected folks tell events of Jesus’s life are told by unexpected people who were there, allowing readers a fresh look into stories they may have read in the past.

Each chapter, written in first person, reveals the reactions of those who were there—with plenty of surprising emotions. Readers may find a piece of themselves within the pages.

Insightful.

Thought-provoking.

Inspiring.

A must-read.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Amazon

 

Bubble Solution

This pandemic has made us scramble to find items that used to be in ready supply. One of them—at least for my family—has been bubble solution.

My grandchildren are the perfect age to love chasing bubbles around my yard. Current conditions have curtailed activities for all of us. Because we have been staying at home more than usual, our bubble machine has gone through over two gallons of bubble solution this summer.

Here’s a simple recipe that mostly fills a standard large bottle of bubble solution. Save those old bottles and make your own.

 

Use a medium-sized bowl.

1 ½ cups dish soap

4 ½ cups water

2 tablespoons sugar

 

Combine these together gently or you’ll have lots of bubbles in the bowl. Mine turned out a little sudsy and I set it aside for a few minutes. 😊

Store in a bottle until ready to use.

We’ve already tested this recipe and it works great. Enjoy!

-Sandra Merville Hart

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

by Sandra Merville Hart

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, established in 2000, is one of our newest national parks. It’s just a short drive from Akron or Cleveland in Ohio, and about 2,500,000 people visit each year.

The winding Cuyahoga River is a U-shaped river. Cuyahoga means “crooked” in the Iroquois language. The unique part about this river is that, for twenty-two miles, it flows both north and south. The river winds past farmland, forests, and rolling hills.

Over 50 square miles of forest, deep gorges, waterfalls, and wetlands can be seen in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Rangers are available at the Boston Mill Visitor Center so it’s suggested that tourists begin their visit there.

Take a 2.2-mile hike to see the Ledges, which is located along sandstone cliffs. Our family enjoyed the surprising thin sheets of rock found at the Ledges. These is also an overlook on the trail with a view of the valley.

Brandywine Falls is a popular destination in the park. The 60-foot waterfall is well worth the hike, which varies in length depending on where you park.

Beaver Marsh is a great place for bird watching.

Another tourist attraction at the park is the Ohio & Erie Canal that runs through it. Built in the early 1800s by German and Irish immigrants, twenty miles of the canal is within the park. Hike or bike along the Towpath Trail that mules used to pull the canal boats over century ago. Parts of the trail are open for horseback riders.

Though the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is currently closed due to Covid-19, it’s another wonderful way to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Fish in the Cuyahoga River, the lakes, and the ponds inside the park. Canoeing and kayaking are other activities.

There are many hikes in the park of various lengths and difficulty. For hikes to waterfalls, take the Brandywine Falls Trail or the Blue Hen Falls Trail.

Bring a picnic lunch. There’s a great shelter at the Ledges where our family ate the picnic we had packed. Bring plenty of water because it’s not available at all locations.

Families may camp at the park and there is also a bed and breakfast for those who prefer to sleep indoors.

Some wildlife living in Cuyahoga Valley are beavers, bald eagles, yellow warbler, raccoons, belted kingfisher, great blue heron, and the red-winged blackbird.

Sources:

“Cuyahoga Valley: National Park, Ohio,” National Park Service, 2020/07/19 http://www.nps.gov/cuva/index.htm.

Flynn, Sarah Wassner. National Geographic Kids: National Parks Guide U.S.A., National Geographic Society, 2012.

McHugh, Erin. National Parks: A Kid’s Guide to America’s Parks, Monuments, and Landmarks, Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc., 2012.

Palmerlee, Danny; Bendure, Glenda; Friary, Ned; Karlin, Adam; Matchar, Emily; Sainsbury, Brendan. Discover USA’s Best National Parks, Lonely Planet Publications, 2012.

The Valley Guide: Summer/Fall 2020/June 1 – November 30, National Park Service.

 

 

Good Night, Fireflies

Rachel Pellegrino, founder and publisher of Little Lamb Books, highlights one of their books for us today. Welcome back, Rachel!

by Rachel Pellegrino

Based in Texas, Little Lamb Books is a premiere children’s publishing company striving to shepherd the next generation of faithful readers by encouraging their faith in God, inspiring their love of reading, and delighting their imagination through colorful and creative literary works.

Launched in 2015, Little Lamb Books has two main goals: 1) to create literary content from a biblical worldview for elementary, middle grade and young adult readers and 2) we want to invigorate the lives of young readers by creating a catalog filled with a variety of titles that mix friendship, family, and faith with biblical parallels, everyday lessons, and strong characters and storylines.

We know that every child struggles to face some type of fear, whether it’s the fear of the dark, being alone, thunderstorms, or just being in front of a crowd. We partnered with author Janet L. Christensen to produce Good Night, Fireflies and tell the story of a young boy named Landon and how he conquers his fear. Good Night, Fireflies was just recently named a finalist in the 2020 International Book Awards.

Landon can’t sleep when the shadows turn ordinary things in his room into spookies and creepies! His fears are put to rest one memorable summer evening when his daddy teaches him an important lesson about God’s everlasting, ever-present love: just like the fireflies, God doesn’t disappear when the lights go out.

Through the power of prayer, Landon learns that he can call on God whenever he’s scared and find comfort in the love of his Father.

Beautifully illustrated by Francesca Pesci, Good Night, Fireflies helps answer the question even adults have: How do we know God’s always with us?

We enjoy producing books like Good Night, Fireflies because at Little Lamb Books we believe that reading is important and families should have choices for wholesome, clean, AND entertaining stories to read together. Be sure to request a copy at your local library and order a hard cover or paperback from our online shop, BookshopBarnes and NobleAmazon, and wherever children’s books are sold.

Bio: Rachel Pellegrino is the owner and publisher of Little Lamb Books, an award-winning publisher of children’s books. Launched in 2015, Little Lamb Books has produced almost a dozen titles, all of which have won national awards, including two golds in the Benjamin Franklin Awards. Rachel is passionate about collaborating with fellow publishers as well as empowering authors to be successful. Based in Texas, Rachel talks with her hands, offers individual author coaching, prefers Pepsi to coffee, and has a growing plush lamb collection much to her daughter’s delight.

 

Gracie Lou Wants a Zoo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

Rachel Pellegrino, founder and publisher of Little Lamb Books, highlights one of their books for us today. Welcome, Rachel!

By Rachel Pellegrino

Little Lamb Books is a premiere children’s publishing company striving to shepherd the next generation of faithful readers by encouraging their faith in God, inspiring their love of reading, and delighting their imagination through colorful and creative literary works.

Based in Texas, Little Lamb Books has two main goals: 1) to create literary content from a biblical worldview for elementary, middle grade and young adult readers and 2) we want to invigorate the lives of young readers by creating a catalog filled with a variety of titles that mix friendship, family, and faith with biblical parallels, everyday lessons, and strong characters and storylines.

We especially love creating brightly illustrated picture books. One of our most recent additions is Gracie Lou Wants A Zoo by award-winning author Shelly Roark.

Gracie Lou wants nothing more for her pet turtle, George, than for him to have friends. But her Mom and Dad insist that their city apartment is too small to house a monkey or a duck, a giraffe or an elephant. They say she needs to be patient and trust in God’s plan, except Gracie Lou’s not sure she can wait that long.

After a wild night spent with a house full of rowdy zoo animals gives her a lesson in the value of patience and God’s perfect timing, Gracie Lou learns that God has a great plan for her . . . if she can just wait for it!

Gracie Lou Wants A Zoo is colorful and captures the attention of young readers everywhere while sharing a delightful message of God’s love for all of His children, especially those who have ever wondered about His plan for them.

As the publisher of Little Lamb Books, I’m a bit biased, but I believe the young readers in your home will love our books. So, be sure to request a copy at your local library and order a hard cover or paperback from our online shop, BookshopBarnes and NobleAmazon, and wherever children’s books are sold.

 

Charlotte Russe

I’ve been watching The Great British Baking Show and learning a lot about dishes that are new to me. Even more helpful is The Great British Baking Show Masterclass, where talented bakers Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry demonstrate their own recipes.

Paul Hollywood shared his recipe for Charlotte Russe on one of the episodes. I’d never made one so I watched carefully and wrote down all the instructions.

To say that I appreciate his skill even more now is an understatement. 😊

He made lady fingers for his dessert. So did I. Mine turned out delicious yet too thin to line the dish. I made an emergency run to the grocery store for lady fingers.

The actual custard or Bavarian cream was deliciously thick and creamy. The problem came when I tried to lined the dish with lady fingers. I didn’t know the trick to make them stand and keep them upright after pouring in the custard. A few popped up about an inch. I weighted them down with a dish and then chilled the dessert in the fridge for 3 hours. When I checked on it, 3 or 4 of the lady finger sponges were on top while the rest stayed securely at the side.

The recipe called for a lime jelly on top. I was so disappointed that a few of the lady fingers had shifted out of place that I didn’t make the jelly for the top layer. Even so, it really did taste delicious.

I found a recipe for Charlotte Russe in an 1870s cookbook. Bakers preparing this dessert in 1877 went to far more trouble than I did. They had to chill the dessert with “snow or pounded ice.”

Whipping the cream was another challenge for early bakers. They used a whip-churn if available to whip the cream into a froth. Then they had to skim off the top froth to find the unwhipped cream underneath. Then they went through the process all over again. (I used a stand mixer, which was a lot easier. 😊)

I made a strawberry Charlotte Russe. Everyone who ate it really liked it, even without the lime jelly on top.

I guess I didn’t do too badly. Have you ever made this dessert?

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.