Pinwheel Appetizers

by Sandra Merville Hart

When trying to decide which appetizer to take to a holiday party, I thought about pinwheels. It had been several years since I made them and didn’t recall the ingredients so I made up my own.

I decided to make two different types, both using flour tortillas as the base.

The first one was a pizza pinwheel.

Pizza Pinwheel

Large flour tortillas

Sliced Pepperoni

Pizza sauce

1 tomato, diced small

Mozzarella Cheese, shredded

Bacon, cooked and crumbled

Heat pizza sauce. Spoon a thin layer of sauce over the tortilla. Arrange pepperoni slices over the sauce.

Sprinkle crumbled bacon and diced tomatoes over the top. Then add a thin layer of cheese.

Fold over the sides and begin rolling from the bottom to the top until ends meet.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Repeat the process to make as many pinwheels as needed.

If serving this appetizer as hot, heat it in the microwave for 30 – 45 seconds before slicing it.

It also tastes good cold. No need to heat before slicing.

For my second one, I decided to make a pinwheel using veggies from a veggie tray. Chopping/preparing the vegetables was the only time-consuming part of this.

Veggie Pinwheel

Large flour tortillas

Broccoli, chopped small

Cauliflower, chopped small

Celery, sliced thin

Carrots, diced small

Tomato, diced small

Ranch dressing

Cheddar cheese, shredded

Combine the broccoli, cauliflower, celery, and carrots in a bowl.

Spoon a thin layer of Ranch dressing over the tortilla. Arrange a small amount of the veggie mixture from above over the dressing.

Sprinkle diced tomatoes over the top. Then add a thin layer of cheese.

Fold over the sides and begin rolling from the bottom to the top until ends meet.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to slice and serve.

Repeat the process to make as many pinwheels as needed.

Both of these were a hit with the guests. 😊

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Illustrated Cincinnati by Daniel J. Kenny

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

Pictorial Hand-book of the Queen City

I love this book!

Published in 1875, the author jam-packed this book with descriptions and sketches of hotels, places of entertainment, public buildings, schools, colleges, banks, parks, and churches. It gives details about transportation, club houses, boat clubs, and charities.

The sketches of early buildings include the people and modes of transportation on the streets. Perhaps the author did not realize that such sketches would provide details about clothing, omnibuses, railcars, and landaus pulled by horse teams to readers long after such things were not even a memory for those still living.

A sketch of the Burnet House shows what an impressive hotel it was—and Abraham Lincoln is on its register!

I read this book during my research for my book set in Cincinnati, A Not So Persistent Suitor. I used some wonderful information from the book about the Tyler Davidson Fountain on Fifth Street in my story. I referred to the book time and again while writing my story set in 1883-84.

Recommended for readers who love the history of Cincinnati and Ohio.

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Historic Downtown Cincinnati

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

Written by Steven J. Rolfes and Kent Jones

Images of America

This book begins with sketches in 1788, when Cincinnati (originally named Losantiville) began. The early sketches included one of Fort Washington, the city’s first fort. It illustrates how much the city has grown!

The author includes some history of the Civil War as well as a section of the city’s famous businesses. Photos for early clothing stores paint a picture of what it must have been like to shop in those early days.

Books in this series are always very well done. They have old photographs and sketches that are so helpful in my historical research for my novels.

I read this book during my research for my book set in Cincinnati, A Not So Persistent Suitor in 1883-84. Studying old photographs often brings a sense of what it must have been like in those bygone days.

Recommended for readers who love the history of Cincinnati and Ohio.

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Marshmallow Snowmen – Fun for the Family

by Sandra Merville Hart

I made Rick Krispie Treats over the holidays and had leftover marshmallows that I decided would make a fun treat for our young grandchildren.

There were plenty of the larger marshmallows for the 3 sections. I made a batch of icing, thinking that icing would be necessary as edible “glue” to stick the sections together.

Either the icing doesn’t work well, or the young artists require more patience than ours possess to allow it to dry. 😊

Anyway, we discovered that pressing the marshmallows together without icing actually bonded the sections quite well.

Next, I set out bowls with candy eyes, pretzels, chocolate chips, and pink, green, and white icing to decorate. A potato chip became a snowman hat. Icing worked well to glue the candy to the marshmallow creation.

Even Grandpa got in in the fun!

When the children are decoratimg, their imaginations go wild so that no two snowmen look exactly alike.

This is a fun winter activity for the family.

Coming Soon! Book 2 in Second Chances Novel Series!

by Sandra Merville Hart

I wanted to share some exciting news with you!  A Not So Persistent Suitor, Book 2 of my “Second Chances” series, will release February 14, 2023!

This series begins a dozen years after the end of the Civil War. The first book, A Not So Convenient Marriage, is set in 1877 in three Ohio locations: Hamilton, Harrison, and the train town of Bradford Junction.

The second book, A Not So Persistent Suitor, is set in Cincinnati in 1883—84. It was fun to share a few recognizable locations in this novel. 😊

Book 3, A Not So Peaceful Journey, takes place on a train journey from Ohio to San Francisco in 1884.  

Here’s a bit about A Not So Persistent Suitor:

He’s fighting for his career…She’s bent on achieving her own goals…Will their love survive a second chance at happily ever after?

Cora Welch dreams of a future teaching kindergarten, which is in its infancy, and marriage to Ben Findlay, her beau and her twin brother’s best friend. But she returns to college from summer break to learn of Ben’s unwise choices in pursuit of his career—choices that destroy her trust in the man she thought she knew and loved.

Ben is working hard toward his dream to become the best reporter in the city. He’s no stranger to fighting for a goal against all odds, ever since he was orphaned at age thirteen. Even though Cora has captured his heart, he makes the mistake of escorting the boss’s daughter to a fancy banquet to further his career—with far-reaching repercussions. Now he’s hurt Cora and botched his career goals.

Winning Cora’s trust again proves harder than Ben expects, especially as they both face struggles of their own. When events spiral out of their control, catapulting them into hardship and even danger, only God can restore their dreams—though the outcome may look far different than either of them planned.

Available on Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, and Books 2 Read.

A bit about Sandra

Sandra Merville Hart, award-winning and Amazon bestselling author of inspirational historical romances, loves to discover little-known facts from American history to include in her novels. In fact, many of her stories are inspired by visits to historical sites such as battlefields. Sandra treats all her vacations with her husband as an adventure for she never knows where inspiration for a story willarise. Her desire is to transport her readers back in time. Sandra is also a blogger, speaker, and conference teacher.

Cincinnati on the Go by Allen J. Singer

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

Images of America

History of Mass Transit

This book is packed with old photographs and sketches to illustrate various periods of how Cincinnatians got around.

Singer discusses steamboat travel and commerce in the 1800s. The Ohio River flooded city streets at various times in its history. The author shares interesting photos of folks getting around flooded streets by rowboat.

Carriages, canals, and inclines were also modes of transportation in the city.

Trains became an important way to travel in the 1800s and into the 1900s. An old menu for a 1950s dining car fascinated me.

Books in this series always have old photographs and sketches that are so helpful in my historical research for my novels.

I read this book during my research for my book set in Cincinnati in 1883-84, A Not So Persistent Suitor. One of my characters often rides the incline to get to her college in the suburbs. She most often rides rail cars, which were horse-drawn cars that followed a raised rail in the streets.

Recommended for readers who love the history of Cincinnati and Ohio.

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The Inclines of Cincinnati by Melissa Kramer

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

Images of Rail

This book is packed with old photographs and sketches of Cincinnati’s five inclines. Once a popular way to get to the suburbs of Cincinnati, the last one closed in 1948.

The city’s first incline opened in 1872. It was known as the Main Street Incline and also the Mount Auburn Incline. The Lookout House was built at the top of the incline. The entertainment complex drew up to 10,000 guests on a regular basis.

Mount Adams Incline opened in 1876 and closed in 1948. Highland House was the name of this incline’s resort where about 8,000 guests regularly enjoyed concerts, such as those by the city’s symphony orchestra.

The author did a good job finding old photographs and sketches and her descriptions further explained the photos.

I love books in this series and look for them in my historical research for my novels.

I read this book during my research for my book set in Cincinnati, A Not So Persistent Suitor in 1883-84. One my characters often rides the incline to get to her college in the suburbs.

Recommended for readers who love sweet treats and those who love the history of Cincinnati and Ohio.

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A New Year’s Tradition

by Sandra Merville Hart

I didn’t like black-eyed peas as a child. My dad didn’t seem especially fond of them either since my mom only served them once a year.

Yet my dad insisted that everyone at the table eat at least one bite of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. It had been more than a tradition when my dad was growing up. He’d been taught to believe that eating this side dish at the New Year’s supper brought good luck.

While he may not have believed it totally, the tradition had been ingrained in him. He made certain that someone remembered to buy a bag of the dried beans or a can to serve each year.

Every year, that is, until what was to be the final Christmas for him and mom.

That year, he seemed to sense that my mother would not see another Christmas. He called his two children that lived hundreds of miles away and told them to come home for Christmas. His other children were already in the area.

That Christmas, the weather cooperated with mild temperatures. We were all together for about a week. My mom hadn’t been going out for much more than doctor appointments for months, but we managed to get her out for the daily festivities.

With all the grandchildren and in-laws gathered, it felt like a gift to celebrate the holidays together. At one point, my parents and all four of their children found themselves sitting around the dining room table together. It had been many years since that happened. No one wanted to move. It was such a gift, one that never happened again.

No one remembered to buy black-eyed peas for the New Year’s meal. My dad seemed a bit concerned but took it in stride.

The following year ushered in one nightmare after another. There were several deaths in the family, including both my parents.

Do I believe those tragic events had anything to do with not eating that traditional dish? Not at all.

Still, in honor of my dad, I serve black-eyed peas to all who eat at my table on New Year’s Day.

Bradford Junction, A Railroad Town

by Sandra Merville Hart

In 1870, the Ohio railroad town of Bradford Junction (now known as Bradford) had a population around 400.

Trains stopped at specific depots for meal stops. These were called eating stations. General S.E. Ogden took over Hoover House and renamed it Ogden Hotel and Restaurant and was one of the eating stations in Bradford Junction. Louie’s Place was another spot where train passengers obtained hot meals.

Farmers or widows often sold fruit or cakes on the platform to passengers not desiring a big, hot meal as a cheaper alternative.

A child or teenager sometimes boarded the train to sell candy, cold drinks, or newspapers. Bradford’s first newspaper, the Railroad Gazette, was no doubt sold to people passing through.

Meal stops were generally twenty minutes only. The conductor entered the eating stations and announced how long diners had before the train departed. If they weren’t on the train, they were left.

In the 1880s, the Miami Hotel charged $1 a day for first-class accommodations.

Private boarding houses offered housing to railroad men. Widows of railroad workers also rented rooms as a way to make income. Men who rented from these families were expected to maintain a respectful manner. He enjoyed clean bed linens and meals with the family. In return, he should maintain cleanliness.

Some men lived in the same boarding house for years, helping to raise the widow’s children. Sometimes boarders attended functions with the landlady and her family. He might purchase a chair for the parlor for his own use.

Bradford Junction is a setting in A Not So Convenient Marriage, Book 1 in my “Second Chances” series, where the heroine works with orphaned twins at the fictitious meal stop, Mrs. Saunders’ Eatery. I invite you to pick up a copy and read it!

Cincinnati Candy by Dann Woellert

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

A Sweet History

This book about the early history of confectioners in Cincinnati is a fun and easy read.

Readers may recognize early candy makers like Goelitz and Mullane. I’m uncertain how to spell the Doscher’s family name—Doscher’s Candies is painted on its storefront and a photo of an invoice says A.&J. Doescher, Wholesale Confectioners.

Regardless, there’s lots of fun historical tidbits about the candy industry in Cincinnati—even the surprising role the city’s candy makers played in Sweetest Day.

I read this book during my research for my book set in Cincinnati, A Not So Persistent Suitor. My heroine works in a soda and candy store where the shop is set up in a similar manner to Mullane’s.    

Recommended for readers who love sweet treats and those who love the history of Ohio.