Friday, September 30, 2011

Pumpkin Schmumkin!

Generally speaking, Fall is my favorite season. But this year, one thing is really bothering me. Everybody is fixated on pumpkins.

Pumpkins at the farmers market
Pumpkin soup at the deli
Pumpkin loaf at Caribou
Pumpkin recipes handed out at my BANK!!!

But my biggest pet peeve of all is all the talk about PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE!


I've heard more about this one drink, than all of the world's beverages combined! Futhermore, if one more friend posts about this on Facebook, I'm going to have a meltdown!

So, to counteract this is my first official version of:

"Drink This...Not That!"

Drink This...

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

Not That...

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Trust'll be alot happier. I know I am. :)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

If it doesn't look good, frost it

Recipe blogs are all well and good for those among us who can cook.
Or can at  least make pretty food.
The Prude doesn't do pretty food.
Any recipe blog she published would be categorized 'bloopers'.

Below is the proof.

The Prude's mother made something called 'apple slices'
Like apple pie, but bigger, more in the parallelogram family, and capable
of feeding more people.

The Prude, having many people to feed recently, decided to give it a try.
The immediate problem stemmed from The Prude's resistance to making homemade pie crusts.
Why bother when the rotund little doughy guy in the tall white hat makes those clever  rolls of  crust?

The Prude decided to stick with what she knows.
Inserting round shapes into rectangular containers takes some ingenuity.
But she persisted.

Something was clearly wrong.
The Prude decided to mush up the seams a bit
and hope that the baking process would add beauty.

It didn't.

But Prudes never give into despair. This one applied the panacea
used by cooks of ugly baked goods through the ages.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Roundabout or Turning Point

"Life is always at some turning point."
Irwin Edman

Twelve Parisian streets converge at an intersection called La Place Charles de Gaulle. The twelve avenues feed into a ten lane traffic circle that rings the Arc de Triomphe. The American version of this is a roundabout or rotary. Summer road construction has added two of these roundabouts to our rural area and has reminded me of some amusing experiences in France.

From the top of the Eiffel Tower, tourists admired the star like pattern created by the converging streets and speeding cars. All day and most of the night, cars raced around L'Etoile (the Star) at break neck speed trying to exit on the desired street. Sometimes, it was necessary for our family to drive around and around wondering if we would ever be able to exit.

Just when there seemed to be a break in the traffic, a small voice from the back seat of our Peugeot (you know who you are) would shout, "One more time, Dad! Go around one more time!"

It was as if we were going in the right direction and the wrong direction all at the same time.

Sometimes, my life feels like a roundabout - as if I am going in the right direction and the wrong direction at the same time. Like everyone else, I am working hard, trying to love my family and be helpful to others.

It just seems that life is racing by so quickly that I am not sure if I am always going in the right direction. I need to slow down. I need some time to reorient myself.

It must be time for a "turning point" instead of a roundabout. I think I'll pull off the road for a bit, check the GPS and choose a new direction. I want to make sure the direction I am headed will get me where I need to go.

What are you doing to get off the roundabout of life? Can you find a "turning point" that will allow you to redirect your energies. Do you have any suggestions for slowing down and heading in the right direction?


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Baggage Drop--Baggage Claim

I leave with more weight than I came with.

Not just because of all the great food they served at the ACFW Conference in St. Louis, but also because of all the free books and those I bought after I resolved not to.

I've already paid for the airline to relieve me of my baggage, but now it's so heavy I fear the cost might climb.

I stagger up to the baggage drop, and heave the biggest suitcase on the scale. I hold my breath as the meter thingie wavers between 47 and 51 pounds. It finally settles at 49. Whew! One pound saves the day.

I wind my way through the security line where I strip myself of almost everything. I deposit computer and camera and purse and shoes into bins and place my computer bag (stuffed with files and notes and more books and Kashi dark chocolate coconut fruit and grain bars) on the belt.

Lights flash and bells ring as I step through the metal detector. I'm a winner! I win a random "modified" pat-down. They want to make sure that even though I look innocent enough I don't carry any hidden baggage.

I pass, so I claim all my belongings. I slip shoes back on. I hang straps over shoulders and list to the left. I crank up the handle of my computer bag to pull behind me with my right.

I enter the flow of travelers, eyes focused on signs above, as I head for my gate--feeling like one small fish in one large school of several schools. I swim with the current.

I pass a large Delta plane, nose pointed at the concourse window. I must be really tired, because I swear I'm staring at an albino Dory.

There's a delay at the gate. The flight attendant hasn't yet arrived.

I sink to the floor next to an outlet, plug in my phone, gather my stuff around me, lean against the wall and watch the people.

A baby dangles from a green sling on his mom's chest while she rolls her bag along.

A small dark-haired girl bearing a stuffed purple backpack almost as big as she is struggles to keep up with her dad who totes his own weight.

A blond-haired woman clicks black boot heels along the concourse. She totes a large pink canvas bag and black leather purse from one shoulder and pulls a bag that surely won't fit in an overhead compartment.


Lots of baggage everywhere.

We board late. Some of us relinquish our carry-ons to the small plane's belly--only to reclaim them when we disembark.

Once down the ramp, I enter the the stream that flows to baggage claim where I wait for my checked luggage to reappear on the rotating carousel. When my own bag appears, I use two hands to drag it off and drop it on my toe.

It's been a successful trip. The airline hasn't lost anything. They've returned what I've given up. And I take it all back again.

I stack bags on top of each other, pull handles, sling straps over shoulders.

Once again I bear my own burden.

Monday, September 26, 2011

What a Mom is Really Thinking...

       -   What my kids say to people on the other end when they get to the phone and answer (and hang up) before I do?

-         Why my kids put 81 bottles of red food coloring in the pancakes that they made for my Valentines’ Day Breakfast in Bed?

-         What was my sister thinking when she made a full-size macramé refrigerator for my birthday gift?

-         What was my neighbor thinking when he attached the baby stroller with a rope to his bicycle?

-         What was my husband thinking when he planted 1,700 watermelon seeds in our 4 inch x 4 inch garden plot?

-         Why the mayor won’t let me have goats in my city yard so I don’t have to mow the lawn?

-         Where are the tiny little green army men who are willing to scrub my dirty bathroom while I sleep?

-         Why the number of Bazooka Jo Bubblegum wrappers is over 1,000,000 just to get a free whistle?

-         Why the most wanted Christmas toy is always in big supply in a city 12,000 miles from me?
-         Why my kids put purple koolaid in the piñata hanging in the living room over the beige couch?
Are you a mom or dad?  What you are really thinking?  Please leave a comment here below so it looks like people are reading this...

                                                By Cheryl Moeller (Made in the Midwest :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Goodbye Green

Goodbye picnics and beaches and lazy summer hikes. Say hello to cold and black...bone chilling temperatures and mornings so dark they might as well be called night, with frost so thick that the coming snow won't be a surprise.

Not that I'm opposed to autumn, mind you. It's what follows that I'm not thrilled about. So for the moment, I'm choosing to live in denial and revel in the glories of fall.

And what better way than with food? I'm starting to get sick of salads and grilled chicken, anyway. So bring on the soups, the pot roasts and the ultimate of autumnal bliss... Apples!

What's not to love about a crunchy, juicy, sweet combination of yumminess that's good for your pocketbook and your waistline? Win, win, win. Here's my all-time favorite super easy Apple Crisp recipe that'll banish any thoughts of the coming winter.


3 pounds apples
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter

1. Peel, core and chop apples. Place in a greased
8 x 8 pan.
2. Mix flour, sugar and butter, then crumble over the top of the apple mixture.
3. Bake at 350 until browned (approximately 45 minutes)

Dollop on a big spoonful of whipped cream, add in a mug of java or tea, then settle into a cozy chair near the fire. And while you're relaxing, don't forget to enjoy a good book. Might I suggest a rousing Viking adventure?

Yes, Vikings and apples go together. They did eat apples, usually of the crab apple variety, along with plums, wild strawberries, and cherries. Tropical fruit, however, was unknown to them.

Find out more about these pillaging plunderers in UNDERCURRENT, a time travel to the age of intrigue, honor, and ruthlessness.

Visit my website to find out more: or check out

Saturday, September 24, 2011

You Can Take the Girl out of Wisconsin But You Can’t Take Wisconsin out of The Girl

Welcome to guest Pam Meyers this month to the Barn Door.

I turned onto Baker Street and pointed at the Italianate white mansion, “That’s where I lived when I was a kid.”
My friend stared at me, then back at the large building and laughed. “Yeah right. Next you’re going to tell me you had to fashion a dress out of the drapes to save the home from destruction.”
I grinned. “I am not Scarlett O’Hara, but I did live there.”
It’s a hoot seeing peoples’ reactions when I take them to my hometown of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and show them where I lived from age two until I was almost six. Of course, I eventually explain that we lived in a compact one-bedroom apartment carved out of the mansion’s second floor.
My fragmented memories of living in the mansion, which is now a bed and breakfast, include a fenced yard the size of a city block, visiting Ruby, the mansion’s owner, in a room decorated in red velvet, and the pull chain toilet with its wood tank affixed to the ceiling. At my tender age, that we only lived in a small part of the large home didn’t matter.

We eventually moved into a house, and I never looked back. I was too busy with summers spent at the beach, slathering on baby oil tinted with iodine to promote faster tanning, plugging pennies into the machines at the penny arcade, and being able to play after supper until dark. In winter, the city plowed snow from the ice, and we kids would skate from dawn to dusk if our parents let us. High school brought school dances, summer jobs, and a driver’s license. I often passed by the big white mansion, but other than noting how the grounds had shrunk as tourist motels gobbled up the land, I rarely gave the place another thought.
I left Lake Geneva for good in my mid-twenties to chase a dream in New York City and eventually Los Angeles. The dream never materialized, and the more I hankered for autumn leaves rather than palm trees, Friday night fish fries instead of Mexican buffets, and the sweetness that explodes from the kernels of Midwestern corn on the cob, I knew I had to come home. An opportunity to transfer with my company to the Chicago suburbs gave me that chance and I grabbed it. It wasn’t Wisconsin, but I was only an hour’s drive away from my hometown.
A few years after moving back to the Midwest, I returned to the large white mansion on Baker Street and parked in the bed and breakfast’s circular driveway. Moments after I knocked the owner answered the door, and when I told him I’d lived there as a child, he immediately led me up a winding staircase I vaguely remembered then down a narrow hall.
He pushed a door open and my jaw dropped. The space I remembered as a spacious living room, a nice sized bedroom, a bathroom and a small kitchen had morphed into a single bedroom suite.
How had we existed for four years in such minuscule space?
Some years later, I started writing novels, setting many of my stories in Wisconsin’s small towns, including a romantic mystery set in a fictional village just east of Lake Geneva. It was a blast bringing my characters into town for a meal or two as my heroine and her long-lost love searched for a killer. My debut novel, Thyme for Love, will be out in December 2011 from OakTara Publishing.
Still, I yearned to write a novel that focused specifically on my hometown. Two years ago, I began a story set in 1933 Lake Geneva—not about the mansion I once called home, but about another building named the Riviera that has become an icon.
During the summer of 2009, almost every week I made the drive over the state line to the Lake Geneva library where I poured over microfilm from the Lake Geneva News Tribune, and fell in love with my hometown all over again. This past month I was thrilled to learn that Summerside Press will publish my novel, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, in June 2012.
I am blessed to come full circle and embrace the town and my home state once again through my stories. Wisconsin, and Lake Geneva in particular, remain in my heart and I pray they always will.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Exact Center

From the "betcha didn't know" archives:

Wisconsin is really it.

I mean, the Midwest is groovy and all, all together, but if you want to get to the exact center of the northern half of the western hemisphere, you gotta come here.

To the Town of Rietbrock, that is. Section 14.

Marathon County.


Not that I'm biased, or anything.

Where the 45° 0′ N, meets th 90° 0′ W

This picture and notes were placed on the Historic Marker Database ( by September 14, 2007, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.

From an article in the Wausau Daily Herald that is no longer available on the web: “...if you wanted to visit the spot’s counterpart in the southern half of the western hemisphere, you’ll be in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. You’ll be in the middle of the Indian Ocean if you visit the exact center of the southeast hemisphere. And the geographic cousin in the northeast hemisphere is located in northern China near Mongolia.”

Directions if you come to visit:
The Geological Marker is near Poniatowski, Wisconsin, in Marathon County, on Meridian Road 0.3 miles north of County R, about a twenty-minute drive west of Wausau, Wisconsin.

Now...I don't know about you, but as an author, my mind immediately sinks into crimes and misdemeanors that could take place here - the stuff of great novels. Tony Hillerman's got nuthin' on the Four Corners area. That's just the connection of four states. We got a quarter of the planet here.

What's happening in your neighborhood?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fall Means

Fall means winter is coming.

A couple of weeks ago, I looked out the window and saw my youngest skiing down a "hill" on one of our "sleds." I couldn't pass up the picture! The land around here is pretty flat, so the kids make use of any incline they can, especially the slope going up to the fence row behind the barn.

They also use anything as a sled since we don't get enough snow to warrant buying real sleds. The favorite is an old aluminum baking tray that they curled the front edge so it glides better. This one works great on ice, and surprisingly well on this fall's brown grass.

Fall means the Indians are coming!

Every October is the Ft. Masaac Encampment, a French and Indian War reenactment.

The Encampment is something our family has been attending for almost ten years and is easily one of our favorite events here in southern Illinois.

We love to sit in the music tent and listen to The Peacocks.

History in action.
So tell me, what's your favorite fall event?

Finding the Extraordinary God in our Ordinary Lives

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thinking, Praying and Remembering 9-11

This month marked the tenth anniversary of the attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.

This is not news to anyone in this country with access to a radio, TV, or social media. You cannot avoid it. I know because I've tried.

(Credit: Free images from

Every generation seems to have at least one defining event. Some happening that alters the thinking of an entire nation. For my parents, it was Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. For me, it was the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy along with Martin Luther King, Jr. For my children, it was planes flying into the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.

In each of these events, gallant men and women have risked their lives to help those in harm's way. Many gave their lives to save the lives of others. These heroes deserve our gratitude and admiration. They were God's hands of love in dangerous times. And so are the men and women who follow in their footsteps today.

But we must be honest about our responses to these history shaping events. We have also acted out of fear and hatred. Internment camps for Japanese American citizens. Dropping atomic bombs. Riots and looting. Burning crosses. Church bombings. Wars.

What can we do as we reflect on 9-11 ten years later?

  • We can pray for those who still have an empty chair at the dinner table because a loved one died in the attacks.

  • We can pray for our leaders who must make morally difficult and perplexing decisions every day.

  • We can pray for God's love to flow through us to those in need.

  • We can pray for those who plot to kill us and to destroy our nation.

  • We can pray that God will drive fear and hatred from our hearts.

The best thing we can do as we reflect on 9-11 this year is to pray.

That's what I've been doing. What about you doing as you remember that historic day? Let me know in the comments below.

If this post has been helpful to you, you may also enjoy Remembering 9/11: What Pastors Should and Shouldn't Do and this painting by my friend Seal Seal.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Happy Monday!

Monday begins the work week. And some people dread it. But I've always loved Monday.

My guilt ridden Pennsylvania Dutch heritage is still relaxed from a wonderful Lord's Day peace from the day before. Hearing a message from God's word is always uplifting.

And so I enter the work week refreshed. And even though I have so many projects to start, to continue, and to finish, that I don't even know where to start. . .  still the whole week stretches before me.

Beginning with Monday, I have six days to do my work. Now on Tuesday I will have on less day, so the tension might begin to build a bit.

But Monday is a fresh slate. The whole week stretches before me. And with six whole days I have choices. I might even um. . . read. Or take a nap.

So many choices I hardly know which to do first.

However this particular Monday eeek. I don't have a relaxed Monday today. Getting ready for the ACFW conference. Getting all the loose ends tied up.

Do I have all the bid sheets printed for the Silent Auction? Where did I store all that stuff I brought home last year? Where are the holders for certificates for edits,  and other writing services being offered this year? Where is the money box? Will this little bank do?

I'd really like to stay and chat awhile, but I better start searching and packing.

Q4U: Will I see you in St. Lewis this year?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fabulous Fall Finds

Fall, my favorite time of the year.
Farmer’s Market, what better place to shop?  As the seasons change, so does the market. It is sensory overload.

In spring the market is in full bloom. Flowers galore and vegetable plants are the main stay early in the growing season.  As spring changes to summer, so too the market. More and more fresh veggies and fruit become available. Sweet tomatoes, juicy corn on the cob, crisp onions, peas, green beans, peppers and cantaloupe.

Fall ushers in pumpkins, squash, berries, mums, and the last of the summer produce. The smell of the market changes with the seasons.

At our local market in Holland, MI there are booths that sell honey, breads, sweets, and even smoked fish.
I fell in love with this market when I had my cookie company a few years ago. For several months the market and the internet were the only places I retailed the cookies. Every Wednesday and Saturday mornings I would arrive before 7:00 to have my named dropped into a hat. There are a number of vendors that have a permanent space. But for the rest of us we were at the mercy of the draw. At 7:00 sharp the names were drawn and given slots. The earlier your name was pulled, the better the spot. If you were drawn early you would be under the canopy and more centrally located.

Then the work began. We had a canopy that was erected with a sign incorporated with weights to keep the canopy from blowing away. Two eight foot tables and a 6 foot table were placed inside the canopy. We wanted our booth to stand out, so we had a green table cloth with eight to ten glass covered pedestal cake plates that displayed the cookies. We also sold dog cookies, pies, muffins, coffee drink mix, hot cocoa mix, milk and bottled water.
All the goodies were made the day before, packed, hauled out of the basement licensed kitchen we used, and into what we affectionately called the cookie tank (a really old and ugly van). I also sold wholesale to coffee shops in a thirty mile radius and they were delivered the day we baked.
A lot of hard work went into Country House Cookies.
The best part of the business was the people at the market. We gave out samples and time and time again people would take a sample as passing by, stop, turn around and purchase what they had just tested. We had our regulars that came every week. We got to know their kids and heard about their weekend plans.
The hard part was deciding on the amount of cookies to make, not knowing how many people would show up. The weather was a determining factor too.  Sunny weather = more people, rain = less. The problem was trusting the weather man the day before on baking day.
Our first holiday weekend we sold out by 10:30 AM. Once in a while we would have cookies left over and we would deliver the extra to the police station up the road from the market.
On our best Saturday we sold just shy of 1,000 cookies. It was great.
There was live music and dancing at St. Pete's market.
When my sister and I were visiting our parents in Florida this past year we could not pass up the local market there. There’s just a great spirit there.
I don’t know if you have ever explored your local Farmer’s markets or not. I would encourage you to support your local farmers and enjoy the goodness of their labors.
Here are a few treasures from our market. If you are anywhere near Holland, MI you will miss a great experience if you don’t take the time to stroll the market.

Some cool yard art.
On a good day 3,000 and up visit Holland's Farmer's Market.
They are open Wednesdays and Saturdays at the West end of 8th St. You can't miss it.
Ray's Tamale King - the best kept secret of the market.

You can keep up with the everyday happenings of farm life by following .


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