Monday, November 21, 2011

Blogging Hiatus

I'll be on a blogging hiatus this week (and possibly next) as I scramble to get more words added to my WIP and get the turkey cookin' and eatin' done.

I hope you and yours have a safe and happy Thanksgiving Week, that you get lots of turkey, laughter, and that whoever you are rooting for in football wins (except the Packers.)

Marji Laine was kind enough to host me for an interview on her uber-cool blog today, so I hope you can click on the link and go see her cool bloggosphere digs.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Friday Five - Log Cabin Blog Hop

As part of the ongoing Log Cabin Christmas Blog Hop, this week's Friday Five is:

Five Minnesota Christmas Recipes.

1. Gingerbread Cookies (as made by my heroine, Beth Sorensen, in Christmas Service)


  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup shortening, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the shortening, molasses, brown sugar, water, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients, until they are completely absorbed. Divide dough into 3 pieces, pat down to 1 1/2 inch thickness, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies 1 inch apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. When the cookies are done, they will look dry, but still be soft to the touch. Remove from the baking sheet to cool on wire racks. When cool, the cookies can be frosted with the icing of your choice.

2. Krumkake - A Norwegian Cookie - You need a special Krumkake iron to make these.


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring, optional


  1. Heat krumkake iron on stove over medium heat. You can also use an electric krumkake or pizzelle iron.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar in a bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix well using a spoon. Pour in the milk, flour, vanilla, and butter flavoring; mix well.
  3. Place a teaspoon of the batter on the preheated iron, and press together. Cook until browned, about 30 seconds per side, depending on the heat. Remove from the iron and quickly roll up around a stick or around a cone before they harden.

3. Lefse - Norwegian Potato Pancake that is soooo Yummy! (Note, this recipe calls for a potato ricer. You can also use a Lefse rolling pin, pictured on the left here.)


  • 10 pounds potatoes, peeled
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour


  1. Cover potatoes with water and cook until tender. Run hot potatoes through a potato ricer. Place into a large bowl. Beat butter, cream, salt, and sugar into the hot riced potatoes. Let cool to room temperature.
  2. Stir flour into the potato mixture. Pull off pieces of the dough and form into walnut size balls. Lightly flour a pastry cloth and roll out lefse balls to 1/8 inch thickness.
  3. Cook on a hot (400 degree F/200 C) griddle until bubbles form and each side has browned. Place on a damp towel to cool slightly and then cover with damp towel until ready to serve.

4. Fruit Cake It CAN be yummy, if done right.


  • 1 1/2 cups candied pineapple chunks
  • 3 cups golden raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups candied cherries
  • 1 cup dried currants
  • 2 ounces candied orange peel
  • 2 ounces candied citron peel
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 cups butter
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 8 eggs, separated
  • 4 cups pecans, chopped
  • 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour


  1. Chop pineapple, raisins, and cherries. Combine chopped fruit with currants, orange peel, and citron; soak in orange juice overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C). Place a small pan of water in the oven. Line one 5x9 inch loaf pan and two 3x8 inch loaf pans with parchment or doubled waxed paper.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and confectioner's sugar. Stir in beaten egg yolks. Stir in fruit, juice, and pecans. Mix in sifted flour.
  4. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites to peaks. Fold into batter. Fill pans 2/3 full.
  5. Bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours until golden brown, or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

5. Wassail I love this hot, spicy drink on a cold December evening.


  • 2 quarts apple cider
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 pinch ground ginger
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg


  1. In a slow-cooker or a large pot over low heat, combine apple cider, orange juice and lemon juice. Season with cloves, ginger and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer. If using a slow cooker, allow to simmer all day. Serve hot.
  2. I like to mellow this out by adding a dollop of vanilla ice cream. :)

Please join the Blog Tour Hop for Log Cabin Christmas with Kelly Eileen Hake tomorrow. Remember, comments enter you to win a copy of Log Cabin Christmas, autographed by all NINE of the contributing authors. Details about the contest can be found HERE. There are only a couple of days left to the blog tour, so don't delay if you want to be entered in the drawing!

Do you have a favorite Christmas recipe or food tradition?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Blog Award!!

So, earlier this month, I was blessed to receive the above award from Faye at her blog Labor Not In Vain.

Thank you so much, Faye! I've gotten to meet Faye in person twice, I believe. She has been sweet enough to come to Crossroads bookstore in Sioux Falls, South Dakota when Mary, Rose, Lorna, and I have been signing books there. Faye's an avid reader of Christian fiction, a blogger, and a really sweetie. She's also a fan of the AWANA program, which holds a special place in Vetsch Family hearts. :)

So, the rules of the award are:

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Give the award to 15 other bloggers.

Seven things about me:

1. I have a pair of red and black striped socks that I call my OompaLoompa Socks.
2. I sometimes find my life portrayed all too accurately in the comic strips Baby Blues, Zits, and Pickles.
3. My parents have been married for 45 years, and next month my husband and I will celebrate 22 years of marriage.
4. I love to chew gum, and my current favorite flavor is mint chocolate chip ice cream.
5. I like to have a hymnal to myself when I sing in church. Mostly because I like to make up my own parts. :)
6. I've been to the football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio twice.
7. I tell myself every year that I'm going to get a new artificial Christmas tree, but I never seem to do it. Still have the same tree we bought in 1990. It's looking a little--stressed. 

I'm going to tag all the bloggers in my blog roll to the right. These are the blogs I read the most often, so, I think their blogs are great! :)

Today's Log Cabin Christmas blog tour stop is
And the party is rolling on over at Casey's place, so I hope you'll stop by.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Microsoft Publisher Adventures

This just in! Thanks to the help of editor and friend Rachel Overton, I now have a .jpg of my Basketball advertisement for the Defender's Program.  Thank you, Rachel, you ROCK!

Earlier this week, I spent some time wandering around in Microsoft Publisher trying to put together an advertisement page for my books. My son plays basketball for the Rochester Area Home School Defenders. Each year, they sell advertising space in the game programs to help pay for things like referee fees, court costs, and uniforms.

Last year I purchased an advertisement, and the amazing Connie Weiss took my cover art and text and turned it into a nice little ad.

This year, the advertisers needed to put together their own ads. Enter my fumble-fingered attempts at photo, color, and text manipulations. (*facepalm*)

After much tweaking, moving, editing, sizing, and the occasional desire to smack my head into the keyboard, I finally came up with a design that I like.

Of course, since I'm me, and every computer activity seems to be a grand adventure, I couldn't figure out how to save my Word Document as a .jpg or .gif so I could put it here on the blog. Guess you'll have to come to a Defenders game. Our first game is Nov. 29th.

Today's stop on the Log Cabin Christmas Collection blog tour is And the blog birthday party is still going on over at

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Log Cabin Christmas Blog Hop

The bunkhouse at the Forest History Center

My Trip To The Forest History Center - Grand Rapids, MN

Two summers ago, my family and I visited the Forest History Center, one of the many stellar sites operated by the Minnesota Historical Society. I was fascinated by the lumber camp, the bunkhouse, the cookhouse, the wanigan (a floating cookhouse used in the spring when the lumberjacks floated their logs downriver to the sawmills) and more. I knew I wanted to set at least one story in the MN Northwoods, where Pine was King and legends like Paul Bunyan were born. (Contrary to what some folks in Wisconsin or Oregon or Northern California might say, Paul Bunyan was born and raised in MN.  *wink*)

Our family has a lumber business. We don't cut down and saw up trees. We purchase finish lumber from sawmills and then wholesale it to cabinet and furniture makers. Because of this tie-in with the lumber industry, I was particularly fascinated to learn the history of tree-cutting in MN. I learned so much on this trip, and I'd like to share a few fun facts I gleaned.

Did you know that the bunkhouse had skylights and vents in the gable ends? Not to help with bringing more light into the room, but to let out the smell! Our tour guide pointed out that dozens of men shared the long room, bathing rarely and eating a diet that often included beans. Oh my! 

One of the most important men in the camp was the saw sharpener. He had his own workshop, and he was referred to as The Dentist because he worked on teeth most of the night. His day started in the evening when the lumberjacks returned from the forest and handed over their saws. For about 12 hrs every night, he filed saw teeth.

A water wagon laid down two streams of water on the snowy road to make ice tracks so loads of logs could be pulled to the riverbanks and piled up more easily. Horses had special ice shoes to give them extra traction.

The camp foreman was called The Push because he was constantly pushing his men to fulfill the contracts by cutting more and more wood.

There was no talking at dinner. Eat and get out. And no spitting on the floor. 

The lumberjacks had nicknames for everything. Their bag of personal possessions was called A Turkey. Lice was known as Walking Dandruff. Cutting logs on section 37 mean stealing logs of someone else's land. (There are 36 sections in a township, so cutting logs on the mythical section 37 meant swiping someone else's property.) Butter was called Axle Grease, and a Bean Burner was a bad cook. 

There are so many amazing things I learned, I can't possibly include them all here. Some information made it into Christmas Service in A Log Cabin Christmas Collection, and I'm hoping to have the opportunity to write another story set in the Minnesota Northwoods sometime so I can revisit the Forest History Center and learn even more about MN lumbermen. 

The Ann River Load; 31,480 board feet of pine logs hauled one mile by a four-horse hitch, Ann River Logging Company, February 1892

Photo of Ann River Load, 1892.
Picture loads were constructed by logging camps in informal contests to see which camp could load and haul the largest load. These loads were usually constructed annually in the late winter at the end of the logging season when the ice roads were at their slickest. Records were kept informally each year and were a source of pride for logging companies and lumberjacks alike. Called "picture loads" photographers were called to document the loads. Normal sleigh loads were about 5,000 board feet.

From the Minnesota Historical Society: Forest History Center in Grand Rapids MN

Tomorrow's destination for the Log Cabin Christmas Collection Blog Hop is Debra Ullrick's Blog

Those who leave a comment are entered to win a copy of Log Cabin Christmas Collection autographed by all NINE authors. More information on the contest can be found at:

Question for you: Do you typically have snow for Christmas where you live?

Also, don't forget that today is the first day of Casey Herringshaw's Blog Birthday Bash, and Ruthy Herne and I are tearing it up over there! Come join the party!

Monday, November 14, 2011

News Of The Week

It's a busy week of blogging, interviews, and connecting with readers. The Log Cabin Christmas Collection Blog Tour is in full swing. I'll be guest blogging on the tour tomorrow and Friday. I hope you've had a chance to visit some of the blog tour stops. It's not too late to backtrack and enter to win the prize for the blog tour, so hop on over to Jane Kirkpatrick's blog and fill out the contest entry form to get started.

Today's stop on the blog tour is a post by Margaret Brownley.

In other news, Marji Laine has a new review up for A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas on her blog today. Please go check it out.

Also, It's Almost Time To Party!!!!! Tomorrow begins Casey Harringshaw's Blog Birthday Bash. And would you believe it? I get to join in the party tomorrow along with my co-conspirator Ruthy Logan Herne. Do you know Ruthy? She's amazing, hilarious, adorable, sweet, funny, truthful, and so much more. Stop by the party tomorrow at to have some birthday cake, some fiction talk, and a whole lotta fun! You can click on the cool button in the upper right to get to the party too.

Quick NaNoWriMo update. I'm currently about 2 days behind schedule due to the fact that galley proofs for Stars In Her Eyes landed in my inbox on Friday afternoon. I spent all of Friday and Saturday working on them, and they are now back in the hands of my editor. While that is a good thing to have done, it did put me a bit behind on NaNo. Time to play catch-up.

So, How are you doing on your November goals? Have you joined in on the Log Cabin Blog hop?

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Log Cabin Friday Five

Today's stop on the Log Cabin Christmas Collection blog hop is:

11/11: Michelle Ule: Finding God’s Fingerprints in Everyday Life

Be sure to stop by Jane Kirkpatrick's blog to see the contest rules and tour stops.

So, this week's Friday Five is:

Five log cabin words.

Puncheon: A split log or heavy slap with the face smoothed. Used in making floors and tabletops.

Cant: A log with one or more squared sides. Also the curved bark and outer edge that is cut off. Sawmills often sell cants for firewood. They square up the log so they can cut flat boards on the saw.

Chinking: The space between the logs, also the plaster/mud used to fill the spaces.

Adze: A cutting tool with a thin, arched blade that is set at a right angle to the handle. Used for shaping logs.

Peavy: A lumberman's tool. A long pole with a pivoting hooked arm and spike at the end. Also called a Cant Dog. Similar to a cant hook, but a peavy is spiked at the end, where a cant hook is blunt.

Question for you: Thanksgiving is coming up in a couple of weeks. Are you traveling for Thanksgiving? How are you doing on your NaNo goals? Was week two a success for you?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Log Cabin Blog Hop

This is a picture of the log cabin church I used in my novella, Christmas Service, the ninth story in the Log Cabin Christmas Collection.

Today is day four of the blog hop, and if you haven't joined in yet, please do! The winner will get TWO signed copies of A Log Cabin Christmas Collection, signed by all nine of the authors.

You'll also get a closer look at some of the research that went into these stories, as well as getting to know the authors better.

Today's stop is: 11/10: Liz Tolsma: Heart, Soul & Splash of Sass,

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Log Cabin Christmas Blog Hop

It's Day Three of the Log Cabin Christmas Blog Hop. Head on over to Jane Kirkpatrick's blog for a guest blog by Wanda Brunstetter.

11/9: Wanda Brunstetter (Guest on Jane’s blog): Words of Encouragement

Did you know you could take a peek inside Log Cabin Christmas Collection and read the first few pages of each story?

Check out the Look Inside feature on by clicking HERE.

Check out the Blog Hop Contest Rules HERE. 

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Log Cabin Christmas Collection Blog Hop - Day 2

Today is day Two of The Log Cabin Christmas Collection Blog Hop.

Remember, we're giving away TWO signed copies of A Log Cabin Christmas Collection - signed by all NINE authors! One copy for the winner to keep and one for the winner to give as a Christmas gift.

Today's stop is 11/8: Liz Johnson: I write about love and such,

You can read all about the contest rules and enter to win HERE. 

Also, if you'd like to find and follow the authors in this novella collection, here are their Facebook and Twitter info (for those on facebook and Twitter)

Jane Kirkpatrick: & @janekirkpatrick
Margaret Brownley:  & @margaretbrownley
Liz Johnson: & @lizjohnsonbooks
Michelle Ule: & @michelleule

AND>>>>>>>>>>>> I'm blogging over at the WordServe Water Cooler today about The Plot Board and My Plotting Process. I hope you'll go check it out. :)

Monday, November 07, 2011

NaNo Week Two Realities

First, Jeannie Campbell has a new review of A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas up on her blog, Thank You, Jeannie!!!!

Second, the entire NaNo world was on fire this week. Great word counts, enthusiasm, write-ins, totems, word wars, #1k1hr and more. Riding the crest of this wave, I put almost 12K words on my novel. The little red wordcount bar slid to the right. Yay!

Now we enter week two. And it's hard. The euphoria of the first few days has evaporated, and the realization hits. This. Is. Hard. Work.

The plot you were so in love with develops snarls. The characters you thought you knew inside and out suddenly develop personality quirks hitherto unforeseen. And don't even mention the serious cloud of writer's doubt that hovers over your head.

So what's a girl to do?

The same as always. Sit in the chair, get the document open, and power through. When not writing, ruminate on the plot and unkink the kinks. Explore the new-found complexities of your characters and find a way to weave them into the story. Oh, and put on your blinders, muffle the internal editor and the doubt monkeys who are eating away at your confidence, and plow on.

By the time you get to week three and you're on the downhill side of of 50K, you'll have momentum, and things that were a problem in week two cease to matter.

So, how'd you do in week one, and what are your plans for having a successful week two?

And third, on another really fun note, this week is the kickoff to a really fun blog hop for the authors of A Log Cabin Christmas Collection.

We're giving away two copies of A Log Cabin Christmas SIGNED BY ALL 9 AUTHORS, one for the winner to keep and one for the winner to give as a Christmas gift.  You can read all about the contest rules and information by clicking HERE.

Here's the lineup for the next couple of weeks:

11/7: Jane Kirkpatrick: Words of Encouragement, Introduction of contest

11/8: Liz Johnson: I write about love and such, topic unknown

11/9: Wanda Brunstetter (Guest on Jane’s blog): Words of Encouragement

11/10: Liz Tolsma: Heart, Soul & Splash of Sass, “How I decorate for Christmas & maybe recipe that is mentioned in story”

11/11: Michelle Ule: Finding God’s Fingerprints in Everyday Life, real Rev Thomas Hanks and how my family history figured in the writing of the story

11/12 & 11/13: weekend break

11/14: Margaret Brownley (Guest on Jane’s blog): Words of Encouragement, topic Unknown

11/15: Erica Vetsch: Erica Vetsch: On the Write Path My research trip to a logging camp in the MN North Woods

11/16: Debra Ullrick: Debra Ullrick

11/17: Jane Kirkpatrick: Words of Encouragement, Bible quilt blocks in my Courting Quilt story and a little of how the idea came about

11/18: Erica Vetsch: Erica Vetsch: On the Write Path The Friday Five, Five Christmas Recipes

11/19: Kelly Eileen Hake

11/21: Jane Kirkpatrick: Words of Encouragement, Contest Winner announcement

You must go to the contest page to enter to win, then comment on each stop on the blog hop. It doesn't matter when you join the hop, you can backtrack, but it will be easiest to join right now and follow it every day.

Happy NaNo-ing, and I hope you enjoy the blog tour.

Friday, November 04, 2011

The Friday Five

This week's Friday Five my five favorite breakfast cereals. :)

1. Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch

2. Post Raisin Bran. Kellogg's is okay, but I like Post best.

3. Grape Nuts. Really. I love Grape Nuts...which are neither nuts nor grapes. At least with this one, I am guaranteed that no one else in the house will eat my cereal, since no one else likes it. :)

4. CoCo Puffs. Great by themselves, but really great when you mix them with the Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch.

5. Cookie Crisp. Gotta love cookies for breakfast.

What about you? What's your favorite breakfast cereal?

There's a new review of A Bride's Portrait up on Jaime Wright's blog today. I hope you'll take a look at it.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

November Goals

November 2nd.

Where has this year gone? It's time to evaluate those goals again. 

First, let's check in on those October goals.

1. Turn in novella collection Sagebrush Knights. (Yay! I turned in this project, due 11/1 yesterday.) Turned in! Yay!

2. Plot out and begin work on A Bride Sews With Love in Needles, CA. There are 120 days until this ms is due, so I can't waste much time. The story needs to come in at about 80K words. I've got a good synopsis that just needs some fine tuning before I can dive into the story. I only got about 10K words written on this in October. Must do much better in November. 

3. Re-purpose a synopsis I wrote awhile back for submitting to a different house. Didn't get to this yet.

4. Read. My TBR stack is getting tall. I did make progress here. Read several books for endorsement and review.

5. Four book signings. Yay! Got four book signings done in October.

6. Finish up the thank you notes I need to write from the ACFW Conference. Hanging head here. I wrote several, but still have more to write.

Not so good.

November will have to be better.

Goals for November:

1. Shadow NaNoWriMo and put at least 50K words on my WIP.

2. Repurpose the synopsis.

3. Finish thank you notes.

4. Dig out old story from the files and take a look at putting together a synopsis.

5. Copy edits on Stars in Her Eyes. (Should be arriving any day now.)

Question for you: Are you setting goals for November? 

Also, I'm doing some more blog hopping today thanks to the generous help of writing buddies. Love you guys!

At Keli Gwyn's Blog discover some fun facts about photography in the 19th century. She's giving away a copy of A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas

At Jaime Wright's blog we're talking tips for including historical figures in your fiction. 

At Sherri Wilson Johnson's blog we're talking about how faith influences writing.

And lest I forget! I'm blogging over at the Pentalk Community about The Iceberg Principle, How not to overwhelm you reader with historical information.

As a bonus, here's some information about Sherri Johnson's new release To Dance Once More from OakTara Publishing. 

Sherri Wilson Johnson is a former homeschooling mom, a writer and a speaker. Writing has been a hobby of hers since she was a little girl. As a young adult, Sherri began writing Inspirational Romances, which quickly became her favorite pastime and grew into a calling. Her debut novel, To Dance Once More (OakTara), is a special project originating from her love of pure romance. It is set in Victorian-era Florida, bringing the romance of the beach and debutante balls together. Sherri hopes to prove that true love still exists and that it is worth the wait. She speaks candidly of the purity of not only her heroine but of her hero, as well, and desires to point others to Jesus through her words.

To Dance Once More
April 1886 -- Debutante Lydia Jane Barrington lives a carefree, protected existence on Live Oaks Plantation in Florida. But while her sisters happily learn the traditional tasks of women and talk of courting, Lydia dreams of adventure and independence. Even her friendship with handsome Hamilton Scarbrough isn’t enough to hold her back.

Then one day Hamilton opens Lydia’s eyes and her heart to love. But before they can receive permission to court, Lydia overhears a secret conversation about an unscrupulous business deal. Worse, it has everything to do with her and her future. Now she’s faced with the biggest decision of her life—to concede or to fight. Either choice will require great sacrifice…and, perhaps, countless rewards.

Watch the trailer!

Please stop by these lovely ladies' online homes. I know they will appreciate it, and I sure will too!