Nourish Cookbook Winner

I numbered all the shares and comments, then used a random number generator and the winner is…. Anna Huss! Congratulations, Anna! You had a 1 in 104 chance. I hope you enjoy the book. 🙂

For those of you who commented on how helpful this book would be for your family, I wish I could give you all one. Hopefully the links and information I provided will set you on the path to owning one for yourself. Thank you so much, all of you, for participating.

Nourish Cookbook Give-Away

This morning I am having a piece of mocha cheesecake for breakfast, along with my cup of coffee. What a way to start a Monday! I recommend it. At 330 calories a slice, this is actually doable, a recipe from my friend’s cookbook. This is what I am giving away. Let me tell you a bit more about it.

Nourish Cookbook Cover

Here is a link to the book, along with resource lists, some recipes, and words from the author.

A few years ago, Esther and her husband started a long, grueling journey to find solutions for their little daughter who had been diagnosed with absence seizures. During a period of trying one medication after another, they were discouraged to see no real progress and the side effects of the drugs had changed their little girl into someone they scarcely recognized.

Around that time their doctor broached the subject of trying a radical diet change to see whether it would improve her quality of life. He explained to them that some epilepsy sufferers have seen significant improvement when they eat a low glycemic index diet, which is a carbohydrate-controlled diet, using only low glycemic carbs with an emphasis on fats and proteins. The glycemic index ranks foods and beverages based on how they affect your blood sugar level. It was a huge, scary shift for the Yoders, but they were willing to do anything to help their daughter.

Esther has described to me how her life was completely overwhelmed with the need to figure out foods that her little girl could eat and actually enjoy. She worked carefully with the doctor and a dietician, spending entire days developing recipes and tweaking them until they were delicious. I can personally attest to this, as I have been using recipes from her cookbook this past week. My friend knows how to cook!

All the hard work paid off when they found that after only three months, the seizures were gone and the medications were being slowly tapered off by the doctor. They became committed to the diet for the long haul, and Andria is now seizure free, off all meds. Nutritious food became her medicine.

The cookbook is beautifully done, with serving sizes and nutrition information included in every recipe. I enjoy just paging through and looking at the gorgeous photos. This book is a labor of love and encouragement to anyone who faces the gigantic shift of a lifestyle change with their eating habits, especially the low glycemic index diet. This is typically recommended for folks with diabetes as well as a sustainable weight loss plan. For the Trim Healthy Mama crowd, these recipes are actually quite similar to THM.

I am giving this book away for the specific purpose of spreading the word. Everybody knows somebody and word of mouth is a great way to share exciting ideas and products. You can download a free preview  here, which is the website for her bookseller. Maybe you know someone who would love to have this book, or maybe you are a collector of recipes. There are no requirements to qualify for the giveaway  except this:

Simply leave a comment here on the blog. To give the book more publicity, I have decided to give an additional chance to anyone who shares on Facebook. A comment or “like” on Facebook does not count, because it would be much too hard for me to tally. (EDIT: I am having trouble with keeping up with the shares. I thought facebook would tally them for me, which they do, but they don’t give me a list of the names, so just mention it here in the comments that you shared. I think I got all of them from the first 24 hours. Thanks. )I am pretty green on the matter of give aways, but I plan to leave it open until March 31. You have one week. Don’t be shy. 🙂


If you ever were a little girl with an autograph book in a Mennonite school, you may recognize the acronym for A Friend Always. Let me tell you, we really meant it, right up there with “Snow on the mountain top, The sun can’t melt it. I love you and I can’t help it.” Now I have gone and gotten all nostalgic.

My dearest childhood friend has accomplished a very big thing- She has written a book, a very special cookbook, no less! That is what I want to give away, one of her cookbooks, because I feel like a sort of honorary aunt, and I want to spread the word. 🙂

Esther became my bosom friend after my parents moved us from Kentucky to Pennsylvania. I still remember vividly the displaced feelings that went through my nine-year-old head. There were mountains on the horizon instead of flat farmland, our family bought a car, and I didn’t have to wear a black bonnet to church anymore. Everybody spoke English: Dutch was just for joking or for the occasions when you couldn’t think of the correct word. Then up stepped Esther and introduced herself and we found that we would be in the same grade, us two and a whole bunch of boys. We simultaneously fell in love with our genteel third grade teacher, worked hard to keep our grades up there with the boys, and wore matching dresses at the school picnics. After church we would play word guessing games (Really. How could I make that up?) and tell each other our tenderest secrets.

I loved to go to her family’s farm, help milk the cows, chuck the hay down the hay-holes, slide down the mountain of cobs in the corn crib. I said I wanted to marry a farmer, but she said no way! What are you thinking? When I think back now, it seems astonishing that we only lived in the same area for 4 or 5 years. Esther’s family moved to New York on a church planting assignment, and our sorrow was very great. I was now sole girl in a grade of eight boys. And they were naughty boys, or so I thought at the time. I think they have all turned out quite well. 🙂

At any rate, we decided that nothing would ever separate this pair of friends, and thus began the weekly letter exchange. Every Monday we would post our missives and by Thursday there would be a fat envelope in the mailbox. I remember proudly telling my family that I had written 13 pages one weekend. No doubt the boys in my class were especially irritating the week prior. 😉  I inflicted my longest strings of adjectives on her, sending her the overly descriptive missives of a wannabe author. She is a very talented writer, so I think we sharpened each other, because we tried so hard to make our letters engaging.

Occasionally we got to spend time together. There was a week in eighth grade when I took my books and assignments and went to school with her in New York. The farm there was even more exciting than the one in Pennsylvania. We had a glorious time, doing chores together and just cramming the days full.

The letters slowed down a bit, especially after we got married. I was astounded when she told me she was dating a guy who actually went to school with me in Kentucky. Small world. 🙂 Then the babies started coming, and we really slacked off, although her updates still totally make my day.

All that to say, she wrote a book, and I am so pleased for her, even though I had nothing to do with it. I will post links for that later, as well as how you can enter the give-away for it.


The sun is nervous

As a kite

That can’t quite keep

Its own string tight.

Some days are fair,

And some are raw.

The timid earth

Decides to thaw.

Shy budlets peep

From twigs on trees,

And robins join

The chickadees.

Pale crocuses

Poke through the ground

Like noses come

To sniff around.

The mud smells happy

On our shoes.

We still wear mittens,

Which we lose.

-John Updike in The 20th Century Children’s Poetry Treasury

I like this, because when I look out the window, I can see an abandoned coat under the monkey tree, a pair of cast away mittens on the neighbor lady’s lawn, a broken toboggan by the garden’s edge and a bike cart with assorted bikes in the lean-to of the garden shed.

I see bits of fly away pampas grass, dead lavender stalks, detritus that the snowplows threw into our lawn, and daffodils shooting up in the sheltered spots.

Some days I step out the door and rush back inside for my insulated coat, and other days the sun really is as benevolent as it looks, and that is just how it is in March.

In March we rake the gravels back out of the lawn onto the lane and severely prune the grapevine and sweep out the accumulation of junk in the playhouse because you never know. We put the skates back into the attic and order seeds and clean up the game closet from the winter’s depredations. In March we feel as though we may need therapy. But in March there is always the possibility that Tomorrow May Be Fine!


You know what that title means, don’t you? Here she comes with a bunch of trivia. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

We are experiencing a little difficulty with our hot water heater, hence the need to wait a bit between showers so that it can gather itself together and feebly offer a few more minutes’ worth of hot water. (The man of the house is on it, replacing this and that, hoping that we will not need to replace the whole thing. The solution remains elusive.) Therefore I will sit and sort out a few spaghetti-strands of thought while I wait for my hot water.

This morning I was hanging out towels in the sunshine when I heard the cardinal trilling his spring song. There he sat, a red blaze in the tip-top of the walnut tree, whistling with abandon in the sunshine. I thought that I must be a little like him. I have my song in the winter, but it just bubbles out so much more spontaneously in the warmth of springtime.

Laundry brings up the matter of clothespins. I detest wimpy clothespins, and the last ones I bought at my least favorite but unfortunately prolific store are the worst. One playful puff of a March breeze and the pants are on the ground instead of in the air. It would have been better to wait until the order from the Amish catalog finally comes. I am assuming that the Amish would have no truck with pathetic pins, but just in case, does anyone have a fail proof source?

And then there is March. She is one fickle dame! One day she is all delighted smiles and the next she is coldly remote, spitting snow and sleet as though she never heard of sunshine. But we forgive her all, because she is bringing forth spring and we will make it after all.

The few days of brilliance we experienced last week had us scrambling to bring out the lightweight jackets and sandals. I had a startling moment of clarity yesterday when I ran outside in my son’s flip-flops. I can wear my child’s footwear. What? He and I both would live in flip-flops year round if it were practical.

I wish to launder all the heavy nasty-weather gear and attic it. (I just made a verb out of “attic”. I hope that is okay.) But I know better, so I restrain myself. The result is hooks that were already strained with their loads, now doubling up with all the jackets as well. Anytime someone needs a coat, it is on the bottom of a bunch of jackets, which need to be stripped to the floor so the coat can come off the hook.  The carpet runner in the basement has a row of (muddy) snowboots on it and another of rubber puddle boots. Sometimes I think clothes will be the death of me, but of course, they won’t. And, Oh! the glories of spring! I assure you, I forgive you all the inconvenience. Just please don’t snow tomorrow.

I have concluded that people who are kind to cats, who feed cats outdoors, will never lack for cats. Last summer’s overload of 25 kittens  taught us a lesson. We got our lady cats spayed. About a month ago a sleek grey tabby showed up, purring and rubbing and happily eating Kit and Kaboodle with our calico girls. She looks and acts exactly like the good-natured tabby we gave to our farmer friend. It is six miles over the Brumbaugh Mountain to that farm… could it be? She is very, very pregnant. I don’t think I have ever seen a chubbier cat, and I have seen quite a few of them. Our little girlies are ecstatic. Me, not so much, but we will deal with it as it comes. My guess is a litter of nine coming up. Maybe I should take her back to the farm before she pops. The last time I did that she got very nervous in the van, jumping out of the little girl’s lap with unpleasant consequences that included needing to borrow a roll of paper towels from the farmer’s wife. And my little girls are so tickled… well, I guess we will keep her for them.  We are suckers, I know. But National Spay Day is coming up next February. (Not kidding.)

I have a very neat giveaway coming up next week. Get ready!

I am sure the water is plenty hot now. May your Sunday be restful…

A True Tale

Once upon a time there was a young lady called Holly. She fell in love with a young man named Douglas Hobbie, and they got married. Douglas and Holly were still in school, so money was always a little tight.  They didn’t have a car or a couch or fancy China, but they did have a cat, a kitchen table and a lovely baby girl.

Holly loved to paint with watercolors at that table, especially she liked to draw little girls: happy, modest, spunky, small people with personalities that oozed out of them. When a friend suggested that she send some of her drawings to a card company, she gave it a shot. Two days later their art director called with a deal… money for paintings.

Holly was a little surprised but she decided to go for it. It seemed like a good way to make some welcome cash. Some days she could turn out two  designs for the card company and some days she didn’t get anything done. It was a bit of a shock when her work became wildly popular. About that time there was another new little daughter, which required a lot of extra time and energy. A few years later, a fine baby boy was born.

Holly was a mother first. She delighted in observing the details in her children, watching their personalities develop and cultivating their gifts. She taught them “to feel reverence when face to face with something as common as a buttercup”.  Always she found time to sketch them, their friends, their special toys, even their bedtime blankies. Her children were normal, but to her they were extraordinary. Home had a shining quality, the moments stacked on moments, celebrated by noticing what was really happening. 

Being so absorbed in the busyness of family didn’t cramp her style, but rather enhanced it. It made her paintings iconic. Something about the way she invested herself into her real work spilled over in the energy of her paintings. Eventually someone said, “There needs to be a doll.” When nobody listened, he went home and stitched one up himself to show to the toymakers. That is how it happened that when I was a little girl, I had a beloved floppy ragdoll in blue patchwork clothes, and so did pretty much every other little girl in the early eighties. 🙂

I have been so fascinated in reading Holly Hobbie’s memoirs. As a mother, her story takes on a different aspect than it did when I was a small bonneted girl myself. 🙂

clip-art-holly-hobby-598981(image source)

I still really like you, Holly Hobbie. (I like your Toot and Puddle books too.)

(Book Review: The Art of Holly Hobbie, Drawing on Affection)

The Goings On

It is a good day to spread joy! The sun has actual heat in its goodnatured rays. There is only a little snow and ice in the backyard, which is easily navigated in puddle boots. This is a good thing, since one of the children lost the felt liner for one of my trusty Sorels. I hung out laundry without snow boots on my feet for the first time in months. We are going to have a picnic at lunchtime, the birds are singing, and we are happy!

Since I packed February so full of activity, I have been doing catch-up in March. I have a teeny weeny little goal of clearing out all closets this month. One is done. About seven to go. I know…It’s probably not going to happen. The problem is an 832 page book that I am hopelessly stuck in as soon as the daily needs are met, and sometimes before. Admittedly, I need help with that.

Last week I got to spend 2 days with my sister in Ohio. I took only the biggest boy along to help with painting her little cubby hole storage closets in their new house. The thing about spending time with your sister is you don’t really have to do anything to have a good time. We did, however, paint the stripes in her crafting room. It took me an hour of figuring with graph paper to mark and mask the first half of the stripes wrong. The problem was a window that broke up the continuity of the wall and complicated the process. In the end, she figured it out with a cell phone calculator and I erased my marks and remasked. All was well, with beautiful fresh stripes of aqua and grey that will inspire creativity for years, I hope.

In the evening we hastily washed off the paint from our arms and left the children with my brother-in-law so that we could attend a Pride and Prejudice play at a nearby high school. It was really well done, and doubly amusing because I kept imagining all the dramas within  the drama. I mean, this is a modern group of teenagers with attempted British accents, dressed in Victorian Era costumes. It was rich. The folks sitting directly in front of us seemed to be related to young Mr. Darcy. In the very end, during the quietness of a tender proposal scene, there was a literal snort of hilarity from the gentleman in front of us. I could only imagine how much joshing young Mr.Darcy had to endure later because of his excellent performance.

We lost our painting urge on the second day, and went shopping a bit instead. Of course. I like going to the Amish stores out there with all those rows of solid colored fabrics and practical household items. I like to watch the Amish, too, and eavesdrop on their conversations. I can’t quite fathom how they manage to live so well in such a limited way. It fascinates me, just like a tourist.

My sister took me to a basket shop in a Swartzentruber Amish home. It was scrupulously clean and neat, lighted only by the sunlit windows when she pulled back the navy blue curtains. The lady of the house was frying some lunch on the cookstove in the kitchen, so I frankly stared. This was a flavor of Amish I had never seen. Any surface that required paint was blue, colonial blue. Apparently that is the only color sanctioned by the church for inside use, although their barns are sometimes red. All chairs were wooden, no soft couches, but there was a sort of cot in the living room with a navy blue spread on it. The house had a Shaker feel in its stark simplicity. The only evidence of vanity I could see was a shelf in the kitchen with three colored-glass candy dishes arranged on it.

The baskets they make are Longaberger quality, for about half the price. They are durable and useful, yes, but they are also beautiful, with colorful reeds woven in patterns along with the tans and browns. I wished to visit with this lady, to hear what goes on in her mind, to get to know how she thinks. But I just politely made small talk and paid for my basket.

We had about four hours left in the day before I needed to start home. It was just enough time for me to sew a dress for my sister for her seventh anniversary. I did it in three hours, and it was fun, and the whole trip was fun.

Then I drove home in freezing rain and that was not fun, but it sure was nice to have a place to go and people who were happy to see me again.

I have been writing this post in spurts all day. Now it is nearly bedtime and the children are muddy and exhausted from all the unaccustomed tree climbing and bike riding they did today. Already we found a tick on Olivia, which is disgusting when you consider all the frigidity we have endured this winter. I thought those guys should all be dead.

Anyway, there you have it. It’s what’s been going on, minus a few details. 🙂

This Side of Thirty

Am I same

or am I different?

It used to be so important to the girl in the mirror:

Same enough that my prickles were not too obvious,

Different enough to be acknowledged as unique me.

It was such a crucial balance.

That girl used to look at the women who just “let themselves go”,

(Whatever that meant?) and feel sorry for them.

Now I find, to my relief, that

Same or different do not matter so much

After thirty.

“Did that fabric fade, or was it always so ugly?” my brother teased.

I was incensed.

Now I laugh and wear the dress anyway.

It is comfortable and I like it.

I can change the way I comb my hair and no one says a word.

My identity is no longer tangled in my hair.

I like this side of thirty.

I like having accepted who I am,

Letting go of who I cannot be.

I am not same

or different.

I am more than the sum of what is seen in the mirror.

I have settled it in my soul:

I am a Beloved Daughter.

The rest doesn’t matter so much.