Happy Independence Day

Yankee Doodle by A.M. Willard aka The Spirit of '76Greetings and Happy Independence Day from Down In The Hollow.  As you may have noticed I have been taking a break this summer from blogging about books, food, and life’s experiences…and just enjoying LIFE!

Independence Day has become a day full of cooking out, fireworks, and celebrating.  Too often Americans forget the devastating war that took place to bring this day of remembrance, the lives that were lost, the destruction that occurred.  Today, I encourage you to study the history that makes this day special and remember the men and women who sacrificed so much to give us this day of FREEDOM.

I would also like to share words of encouragement from the Book of Galatians 5:13 which says, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”

Wishing all fellow bloggers and my followers freedom and peace today!



Photo Credit:  “Yankee Doodle” by A.M.Willard; later called, “The Spirit of ’76”

Review Time: The Longing by Tamara Leigh

The Longing by Tamara LeighOne of the things I like about this series is the flawed characters and their courage to overcome the challenges they face whether internal, external, or both! Everard has been a minor character in the previous books, but The Longing reveals his depth, his sorrow, his failure, as well as his courage and strength. I believe this may be my favorite Wulfrith knight of all! Susanna has her own strength, courage, and yes, shame, as she does all in her power to protect her brother’s son and heir to the Balliol Barony. Appearances are deceiving and both have a great deal to learn about themselves, one another, and God’s greater plan. Woven into the romance is Judas’s coming of age story which I would love to see turned into a book of his own if this series continues. Visits from past characters add to the rich family feel of this series and for those who love and hate the errant knight, Sir Durand, there is a brief appearance that will set up his story in book six. Who needs television when you have good reading like this?!  Visit www.tamaraleigh.com for a full listing of books including the Age of Faith series!

Psst…check these books out in audio editions too.  The reader, Mary Sarah Agliotta, has a wonderful voice and creates great character personalities in this series.

Psst!  Book 6, The Vexing, comes out May 12th! I think this is my favorite cover of the series!

The Vexing by Tamara Leigh

Review Time: Love at First Laugh

Book sets are a great way to read a favorite author’s story while discovering new authors! In this case, I purchased Love at First Laugh for Pepper Basham’s, Second Impressions, and Heather Gray’s, An Informal Affair. Both were delightful and yes, had me laughing and smiling till the end. What I was pleased to discover was Christina Coryell’s, Mowed Over, and Marion Ueckermann’s, A Time to Laugh, both touching my heartstrings in unique and tender ways as well as making me smile till my face hurt. All of the author’s stories are good, Elizabeth Maddrey, Laurie Tomlinson, Jessica Patch, and Krista Phillips round out the set with solid, fun, and heartwarming stories. If you want light-hearted, fun stories that have sweet sparks of romance and happily-ever-afters, then be sure to pick up this 8-book set. It’s a keeper!

Love at First LaughHere is a list of the books offered in this set.  Pick up your copy at www.amazon.com.

Second Impressions by award-winning author Pepper Basham
He likes streamline. She prefers embellishments. His forte is business. Hers is atmosphere. Will they realize each has what the other needs most to create the perfect romance with a touch of Jane Austin flair?

Mowed Over by USA Today bestselling author Christina Coryell
A tiny, chatty fairy artist with multicolored pastel hair. A burly, bearded landscaper who can’t get a word in edgewise. They have nothing in common, but is that enough to keep them apart?

An Informal Affair by award-winning author Heather Gray
She’s tired of waiting for happily-ever-after, so she takes matters into her own hands…with online dating. He has the worst bad-date streak ever. How will God show two people who are determined to do things their own way that He’s had a perfect plan all along?

A Heart Restored by Elizabeth Maddrey
She renovates old houses. Can he restore her heart?

Unleashing Love by Jessica R. Patch
She’s a dog walker who agrees to a full-time position caring for a puppy. In total shock, she’s handed a precious baby girl. He’s a construction mogul who’s taken his infant niece into temporary relative placement — keyword: temporary. Unless the sassy southern nanny can change his mind…and his heart.

A (nearly) Normal Nanny by Krista Phillips
Normal is highly overrated…

That’s When I Knew by award-winning author Laurie Tomlinson
When two childhood sweethearts find themselves thrown together on the road to a trade show that could save her career, past mistakes threaten to ruin her chances—and the possibility of rekindling a romance. Will the end of the summer find them apart once again?

A Time to Laugh by USA Today bestselling author Marion Ueckermann
When an unexpected inheritance and a lung disease diagnosis coincide, a missionary couple realizes God is telling them it’s time to retire. But sometimes retirement comes with strings attached. Will their life-long dream be a blessing or a curse?

The Goodbye Girl: A Serial Novel – The Prequel to the Pemberton Manor series by Becky Doughty

Pemberton-The Goodbye Girl by Becky DoughtyStuck in an elevator on Christmas Eve, Grace, August, Lucy and Itsy overcome fear, learn not to judge by appearances, and share a fellowship wrapped in the sweet meaning of grace. The subtle references to the biblical Christmas story add richness without being preachy. The characters are quirky and delightful, especially Itsy, who is all heart! Add a touch of romance and this book is a winner! (Note: this story is part of a serial novel set so there are some unanswered questions at the end that hopefully will be answered in future stories.)  Check out author Becky Doughty and her books at http://beckydoughty.com/.

If you enjoy this story be sure to pick up The Moon Mother which tells the history about Lucy and Itsy and how they ended up at Pemberton Manor.  Pemberton-The Moon Mother by Becky Doughty


Recipe Time: Sausage Bake by Kroger

While clipping coupons I found this tasty ‘Spring Meets Summer’ recipe in a Kroger coupon flyer.   As a fan of fresh vegetables, herbs, polska kielbasa, and something easy to fix, this recipe definitely made it to the “let’s try it tonight” stack!

Kroger’s flyer states, “Capture the garden-fresh taste of spring and the meaty, grilled notes of summer with this sausage bake.  Cut Kroger Polska Kielbasa into coins and chop up select vegetables.  Toss with olive oil, garlic, rosemary parsley, salt and pepper.  Spread onto a foil-lined baking sheet; bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through and ensuring sausage reaches a safe internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.  Refrigerate any leftovers.”

recipe 4Hmmm…there are no specific measurements so my first offering was a “trial and error” in taste, and thankfully I hit the right notes with my family.  Thank goodness I had enough vegetables for two pans full!

My Ingredients:

  • 1, 16 ounce package Polska Kielbasa, sliced
  • Small Red Potatoes, halved or quartered
  • Sweet Green Pepper, cored and sliced
  • Roma Tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 small zucchini, sliced
  • 2 small yellow squash, sliced
  • Portobello Mushrooms, whole and halve slices depending on size
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried Parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon minced Onion
  • ¼ heaping teaspoon dried Rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • Non-stick cooking spray


My Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place kielbasa, potatoes, green pepper, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, and mushrooms in large mixing bowl.  Pour a light coating of olive oil until all vegetables are lightly coated.  Line baking pans with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray, or use a non-stick pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  (Note I used a buttered flavored spray to add a touch of flavor).  Pour vegetables in pan creating a single layer for even baking.  Mix garlic powder, parsley, onion, rosemary, black pepper, salt in small bowl or sandwich baggie until well blended.  Gently shake or spread mixture over all vegetables as evenly as possible.  Place pans in oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until vegetables are tender and meat is cooked thoroughly.  Serve warm.

Notes:  My batch served 6-8 people.  People who like onion may want to add fresh onion as a vegetable instead of using minced onion.  All spices should be measured to personal taste.Recipe 1

Review Time: The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson

a-noble-servant-by-melanie-dickersonPre-order now! Book releases May 9, 2017!

Melanie Dickerson works her story-telling magic again with a character based in the Brothers Grimm fairy-tale, The Goose Girl. Dickerson fans first meet Magdalen of Mallin in The Beautiful Pretender.  She is a true friend to Avelina, who ends up marrying the Margrave of Thornbeck.  But, two years have past and Magdalen struggles in an unwelcoming home and suffers to watch the people of her land battle poverty.  An unexpected invitation to marry the Duke of Wolfberg offers Magdalan a chance to improve the state of her home and people.  She also hopes the the Duke will remember her from her brief time at Thornbeck and perhaps may come to feel a fondness for her as she has felt for him over the last two years.  However, all is not as it would seem in Wolfberg.  Magadalen loses her identity, and while caring for some testy geese discovers nothing is as it would seem!  This is a delightful young adult tale about identity, faith, self-control, and finding the courage to face the challenges of life even when the outcome may be difficult and painful.  Beautiful cover and well written tale – Another good story in the Thornbeck series!

Check out other stories in the Thornbeck series as well as Melanie’s Regency and Medieval story collection:

Book Spotlight: Sit Stay Love by Dana Mentink

Sit Stay Love by Dana MentinkDog lovers will appreciate this touching story of an elderly, overweight dog named Tippy, and the lives she transforms through her mischief making antics and her sweet, loyal gaze.  From pro baseball pitcher, Cal Crawford, to out-of-work teacher, Gina Palmer, and adoring baseball fans in between, Tippy softens hearts and awakens the senses to God’s blessings that make life meaningful and rich.  The back cover says, “I’ve asked everyone from the shortstop to the hot dog vendors, and no one wants a thirteen year-old mutt,” but I’m telling you by the end of the story you’ll wish you had a Tippy of your own.  Great story, tender romance, and one very special dog – You can’t go wrong with this book by Dana Mentink!

Check out other books in the Love Unleashed series:

I would like to thank the author for the opportunity to read this book through a newsletter subscriber contest.