Saturday, April 27, 2013

Steps to Yesteryear - Anzac Day

This week Australians and New Zealanders commemorated those who served and died in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations. 

Marked around the world by dawn services, April 25th ushers reverence and remembrance, which touches those who can only imagine the horrors of war. 

As a mother of two boys, I shudder to think of the many families who kissed their precious menfolk goodbye, fearing the worst, projecting brave faces, and promising all kinds of un-promisables. 

And I can't help think of the women who watched their families scatter to take their place in a war not of their making. Of the women who rolled bandages at home, praying their sons and husbands would not need them, praying they would get them if they did. Of the trembling fingers, knitting socks to the clack of needles, drawing breath with each new row to petition God with the same request for safety, and quick return. 

And as I donned my apron to bake this Anzac Day, I wondered about the resourcefulness of Australian and New Zealand women who raided their empty pantries for their boys on the front. Oats, a staple in most homes. Golden Syrup, for goodness. And no eggs or butter, as they were most likely not available.

Originally called Soldiers' Biscuits, their arrival at Gallipoli during WWI soon saw them known as Anzacs. Transported in tins or billies to ensure they stayed fresh, these biscuits are now sold yearlong in our supermarkets. Mums and grandmas have baked them for years, and in my home they're always welcome with a cuppa. 

On Anzac Day this year, I baked a double batch to share around. With tradesmen in the house, they didn't last long. Soft, right from the oven, then harder as the cooled, they brought a poignancy to our morning tea, as we stopped to consider the day's significance.  

How do you adequately convey thanks for those who will never age? For those who gave their lives to ensure our freedoms? To the mothers who begged God to bring their boys home? 

In part, it's with the respect of traditions. Steeped in history, we'll continue to bake our Anzac biscuits and as we pass the pretty plate around for a second and third helping, we'll share the story of how they came to be, and why they're worth remembering.

We'll tell the next generation, and then the next, the tales of war and the heros who fought. And salute the fallen with more than a minute of silence, and a sweet biscuit. 

We shall remember them... 

Blessings for a wonderful weekend,

Monday, April 22, 2013

Joan Wolf - Daughters Of Jerusalem

Joan Wolf is a New York Times, USA Today and WASHINGTON POST best-selling author. She has lived most of her adult life with her husband in Milford, Connecticut, where she raised two children and an assortment of horses, dogs, and cats. Along the way she also managed to write forty-six published novels – the writing of which profoundly enriched her life.

Daughter of Jerusalem ~ In this fictionalized story of one of the Bible’s most compelling women, best-selling author Joan Wolf beautifully recreates the history romance, and tradition of the world of Mary Magdalene. Daughter of Jerusalem follows Mary’s life from her first love, through her loveless marriage, to the moment she first hears of a miracle worker in her town by the name of Jesus of Nazareth and decides to become his disciple.

As this inspiring novel reminds us, Mary was the first to witness history’s greatest moment -the resurrection of Christ.  She was a woman who sought forgiveness for her sins, and a following of God who yearned for a deeper faith. She was Jesus’ beloved disciple. Read Mary Magdalene’s story and find yourself in this remarkable woman’s journey to discover the Kingdom of God.

Want to know more about the writer of this remarkable story? Here's a few of Joan's secrets... 

If I could go anywhere in the world tomorrow... it would be to Israel.

One thing I enjoyed today was... a wonderful ride on my beloved horse, Romeo.  We attempt dressage and today he was really terrific. 

A secret pleasure of mine is... chocolate!  A pleasure I’m sure I share with many readers. It's soooooo good. 

A moment that changed my life was... when my life-long burden of migraine headaches was lifted. I thank God every day for this miracle. 

When I was a child I... read a book about a woman married to a Canadian Mountie and that's all I wanted to be. Not the wife, of course, but the Mountie. It was my first experience of the limits of being a girl. 

I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but... my favorite book in the world is called Kristen Lavransdatter by Sugrid Undset. I know, you'll say What?????? Everybody does. It's a great book though, I promise you.  


Thanks for visiting with us this week, Joan. Daughter of Jerusalem sounds like an amazing read. I'm sorry you never got to be a Canadian Mountie because you're a girl. I'm hoping the great books you've sunk into with quality chocolate at hand have softened the blow a little. But seriously, what an inspiration to know Jesus included women among his most beloved disciples and followers. I'm so glad you've brought the story of Mary Magdalene to new readers. 


I have a copy of Joan's Daughter of Jerusalem for one Ink Dots to giveaway to one Ink Dots visitor. If you'd like to be in the running to win leave a comment below. Tell us if you ever wanted to pursue a career you weren't allowed to. 

I thought I might be a nun after watching The Sound of Music, but I was informed I was not the right religion. So I played the soundtrack and sang along to all my favourite songs instead. 

How about you? I'll announce the winner on Friday. 
Good luck and happy reading,

Monday, April 15, 2013

52 Steps to Yesteryear - Wear Vintage Pearls

For centuries mothers and grandmothers have pressed precious gems into the hands of their daughters and daughters-in-law for special days. They've promised strings and beads little girls have admired, for that one day, when clips will adorn younger necks, wrists and ears. 

My uncle and aunt on the day of their engagement - 1967
When one of my dear uncles passed away, his widow gave up wearing her jewellery. One afternoon while I visited at her kitchen table, she brought her pouch of jewels and let them spill onto the tablecloth. It still held crumbs from lunch, but we brushed them aside. From her stash, she bequeathed a gold bracelet her mother-in-law, my grandmother, had gifted her when she married my uncle. And her pearls. Her pearls. The ones her groom gave her on their engagement day. She gave them to me. 

How did she know those pearls had captivated me for years? She probably didn't, but she chose to give them to me anyway. After years of staring at the photograph of my uncle slipping the necklace on his fiance, I now had them to treasure for myself. 

And I could not cherish a string of pearls more. No siree. A beribboned set from a Tiffany's box would not thrill me the way these do. Mine have history, meaning. They're part of my story. If the photo above were clearer, you'd see my aunt's pearls around her neck, along with other engagement jewels. (I'm in the photo too, kind of. In my mum's belly. She's the tall babe, showing a little leg, and my dad's the handsome charmer, second from the right.) 

As time passes and loved ones leave us, we're often left with tokens of love and life, as it's handed to us. So I keep my pearls safe, together with other keepsakes which mark special days. Not only do I wear them in their honour, but I plan, like many women before me, to pass them onto my daughter and those who will become my daughters-in-law. 

It's one way stories travel from generation to generation. When childless aunts brush away tears as well as crumbs, tell their stories, and trust us with a small part of who they are. 

Has anyone passed on vintage jewellery to you? Did it come with a story? What family jewels did you watch closely as a little girl? 

Enter to win these pearls! 
Leave a comment below and you'll be in the running to win, yes WIN this gorgeous string of Swarovski pearls with angel wings. Isn't it beautiful? Made by my dear friend Faye at WearableArt Celtic, this necklace is designed to be worn with the clasp in the front. One lucky Ink Dots friend will win it, and you won't be disappointed if it's you. I'll announce the winner next Friday. Thanks Faye, for your beautiful craftsmanship. 

Good luck, dear friends, 
And blessings for a wonderful weekend,

Monday, April 08, 2013

Cynthia Ruchti - When the Morning Glory Blooms

It's my pleasure to welcome Cynthia Ruchti to Ink Dots this week. Cynthia tells stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through her novels and novellas, speaking for women’s events and retreats, writers’ events and retreats, nonfiction books and devotionals, drawing from 33 years of on-air radio ministry. In 2013, she will have a total of six books on the shelves, with more to come in 2014. Her latest release is the novel, When the Morning Glory Blooms, from Abingdon Press Fiction. She and her plot-tweaking husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.

When the Morning Glory Blooms ~ Becky rocks a baby that rocked her world. Sixty years earlier, with her fiancĂ© Drew in the middle of the Korean Conflict, Ivy throws herself into her work at a nursing home to keep her sanity and provide for the child Drew doesn’t know is coming. Ivy cares for Anna, an elderly patient who taxes Ivy’s listening ear until the day she suspects Anna’s tall tales are not just idle ramblings. They’re Anna’s disjointed memories of a remarkable life. Finding a faint thread of hope she can’t resist tugging, Ivy records Anna’s memoir, scribbling furiously after hours to keep up with the woman’s emotion-packed grace-hemmed stories. Is Ivy’s answer buried in Anna’s past? And what connects them to Becky?
Becky, Ivy, Anna–three women fight a tangled vine of deception in search of the blossoming simplicity of truth.
Sounds great, doesn't it? Here's more about Cynthia Ruchti...
If I could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, it would
be...give me five minutes to pack and I’ll be on a plane to the
south of France. I have a crisp, unmarked passport that keeps
telling me it wants to be stamped. And I have a love of buildings
older than America. I haven’t been to Europe, but would like to
start my journey in France, tasting everything glorious, taking
pictures, drinking in the beauty of the sea and architecture and art
and history. I have a niece in-law who was born in France and is 
the world’s best bargain-hunting tour guide for quaint B&Bs and
charming restaurants. Can we swing past Hawaii on our way home. 
With a month-long layover in Australia? Absolutely. I would
insist. My passport is yearning for a US stamp. One I hope I'll 
add later this year when I swing across for the ACFW

One thing I enjoyed today is...watching a crow and squirrel 
duking it out over some tasty nugget that emerged as the snow
melted. Noisy crow. Noisy squirrel. Hopping mad at each other.
Above the scene soared a bald eagle without a care in the world. I 
knew as I watched that I was observing not just a scene but a life
lesson. I want to be the eagle at times like that. Unruffled. Soaring.

A secret pleasure of mine is... dreaming about restoring old
homes…with someone else’s money. Oh, and someone
else’s sweat labor. I want to be the one to walk through and
imagine it restored, then say, “Look what we did!” when it’s

A moment that changed my life is...when my first grandchild
was placed in my arms, because I understood grace far
better at that moment than I had before. My life is peppered
with defining moments—marrying my husband, the births of
our children, the birth of the daughter who first made me a
mother, faith moments that changed life and eternity… But
the redemptive, emotion-rich, grace-defining birth of my
granddaughter Grace set me on a path of living that out in a
far more intentional way than ever before. Being present in
the birthing room for two other grandchildren can’t be
topped for joy. Loving on all the grandchildren who live
within 20 minutes of us is inexpressibly wonderful. Calling
the same man mine for more than 40 years…oh! You asked
for one moment, right? Right, but I'm glad you shared your best

When I was a child I wanted to... be an Olympic gymnast
or a synchronized swimmer. If you knew my body type,
you’d know why this did not come to pass. In my mind, I
move like the gymnasts do. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need
help getting out of this chair.

I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but... I was so excited about
being invited to sign my book that released last fall—Cedar
Creek Seasons—that I couldn’t bear to cancel just because
of a little gall bladder surgery. Surgery on Thursday.
Recuperate on Friday. Attend the book signing on Saturday.
I look a little “serene” in the pictures from that day. But it was
pure joy to meet the readers and give them a sneak peek at
When the Morning Glory Blooms.


Thanks so much for joining us, Cynthia. I can't wait to read When
the Morning Glory Blooms and get to know Becky, Ivy and Anna.


If you'd like more than a sneak peek at When the Morning Glory
Blooms, please leave a comment below to be in runnig to
win your very own copy. Tell us which stamp you'd most like to
see in your passport. I'll announce the winner here in the comment
thread on Friday. 

Good luck, and happy reading

Saturday, April 06, 2013

52 Steps to Yesteryear - Bake with Apples

We live in a house surrounded by apple trees. Seven crabapples give name to our home, Crabapple House, and three more varieties add to the abundance. But I'm never one to turn away a bucket of apples when good hearted friends share their harvest. 

And this is the month for apples. So with a bench-top littered with fruit, I set about creating a quick apple treat ~ in and out of the oven in less than an hour. If you're feeding men, as I do...  there's nothing better than a hot apple anything. 

Apple Bumble ~ Crabapple House

This week, we're enjoying Apple Bumble. Named in honour of the bumbling which occurred when I combined the best of apple crumble and the base of a brownie mixture (without the chocolate), messed with it a little, waited for more eggs to arrive when my hens' supply was low... and ended up with a new and favourite delight. 

Apple Bumble ~ Crabapple House
I hope you get a chance to play with this recipe and taste my Apple Bumble. 

Apple Bumble 

Preheat oven to 180C (medium oven, where you'd normally bake a cake)

2 cups SR flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 cup melted butter

Mix well and let this crumbly base sit while you peel, core and slice 5 apples. Set your apples aside and beat up 4 eggs. Add to crumble mixture. This will make your base a little runnier but it will be thick.

Apple Bumble ~ Crabapple House
Spoon into a lined 30x20cm baking pan. Add sliced apples on top. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 30 minutes. Cover with aluminium foil for another 10 minutes, or until your cake base is cooked right through. Be careful to keep those apple slices from burning in the last ten minutes. 

And there you have it. Apple Bumble. Be lavish in your addition of powered sugar once it's out of the oven. The best way to remember anyone's grandma who cooked with apples, cinnamon and cloves. 

What's your favourite apple treat? Are you a fan of cinnamon and cloves? 

Blessings for a wonderful weekend,