Mixed-Bag Sun Tea

“Here in the South, we don’t hide crazy. We put it on the front porch and give it a sweet tea.” unknown author

Forget the sweet tea, actually. You won’t need sugar if you try this Mixed-Bag Sun Tea. As easy as a summer afternoon, the sun does all the work and creates a mellow tea that’s even better than the kind brewed on the stove top. Enjoy!

Fill a large glass pitcher (like a half gallon or so) with room-temperature water. Filtered tastes better. Add seven bags of tea — four real tea (black or green) and three herbal tea (chai, berry, citrus, peppermint, etc. or throw in some herbs from the garden if you like.)

Rubber band a dish cloth over the top to keep the bugs out and set the whole thing in the sun. Whenever the tea looks the right color to you — brewing speed depends on how sunny and warm the day is — taste a sip. If it’s strong enough for your liking, remove the bags and refrigerate the pitcher. Serve in tall glasses, with lots of ice, on a porch near you.

P.S. “Dune Girl,” my e-book beach read, contains several more recipes from the South. That “Aunt Naomi” makes a killer chess pie… Want to know more and pay less? “Dune Girl” is on an Amazon Countdown Deal that begins 8 a.m. PDT (California time) Sunday, Aug. 12. The price drops to 99 cents that first day and goes up $1 a day until normal prices resume on Wednesday, Aug. 15. Find out more at



spiritual life, women

The cure for fretting

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” Corrie ten Boom, Dutch writer and Nazi-resisting firebrand

It’s not so much that life comes at you fast, it’s that it comes in bursts. That’s what happened over the weekend — a sudden storm of quiet desperation that came from just everywhere.

There were three ladies at the farmer’s market. All mid-life. All at the point of tight-lipped, wrinkled-brow anxiety. There were the magazine articles. So many articles and all about the same thing. American women — the younger and the richer, the more so — are apparently drinking themselves into zombie states to simply cope.

There was the letter. Not that big of a deal, but enough to make me a bit fearful. I fretted about it through a lunch outing with my mom. I fretted about it on the road home. I fretted about it past the parking lot of yet another restaurant, until I saw yet another woman. This one was so burdened with food addiction that her feet couldn’t get close enough to each other to walk properly.

“What are you seeing?” I immediately heard in my heart. My response and a supernatural calm was just as immediate. “I am seeing the absence of hope,” I thought back. And, I kept thinking about it all the way home.

It’s true. Those who hope in government are disappointed and then some. Those who hope in religious organizations are disappointed or worse. Hope placed elsewhere is just as iffy. Careers can fail us. Parents can fail us. Spouses can fail us. Children can fail us. Our strength can fail us. Even the weather cannot be relied upon.

Hopeless? A lot of people must think so. That is surely what is at the root of most of humanity’s problems. Opioid addiction. Gun violence. Alcoholism. Eating disorders. Suicide. It all goes back to an absence of hope.

So, what do we do? Worry? Numb our despair with something? Make a better picket sign? Or, throw ourselves into the arms of a savior the Apostle Paul called, “the God of all hope?”

I vote for the latter. The cure for fretting isn’t a different world or different circumstances. It’s the One who can make us shimmer with hope and joy smack in the middle of right here, right now.

P.S. Dune Girl, my first e-book, is a romance on the surface, but the root story is about the God of all hope. If you enjoy uplifting fiction, it is on an Amazon Countdown Deal that begins 8 a.m. PDT (California time) Sunday, Aug. 12. The price drops to 99 cents that first day and goes up $1 a day until normal prices resume on Wednesday, Aug. 15. Details are under BOOKS on my menu bar. 🙂


Still time for a beach read…

“In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth.” Rachel Carson, American writer and environmentalist

The end of summer vacation is closing in fast, but there is still time for a beach read even if you can’t make it to the surf and sand. And, one beach read is going on sale this weekend! Wink. Wink.

Dune Girl, my beach-frothy version of the Old Testament story of Ruth and Boaz, is in an Amazon Countdown sale beginning Sunday, Aug. 12 at 8 a.m. PDT (California time). On Sunday — in celebration of our wedding anniversary — the e-book price will drop down to 99 cents for a full 24 hours. The price will increase to $1.99 on Monday, $2.99 on Tuesday and back to its original price of $3.99 on Wednesday.

A quick look: If Michael Alton’s hair is full of wood chips from a wild furniture-carving session, who cares? It’s not like he’s a CEO anymore. It’s not like his wife is still alive to notice. Life is simple. He’s got his art, his family, some great friends and a shield around his heart that is nearly as big as his dog. And, that’s just fine until the day TV journalist Maggie Brady explodes into his beach-side workshop wearing a wedding dress intended for another man and trailing a change of circumstances sure to rip apart her big-city, big-money world in a single day.

Interested? Dune Girl is live on Amazon at Amazon e-books like Dune Girl can be downloaded onto Kindles, smart phones and tablets. Or, if you select the cloud feature when making the purchase, you can access the title on a laptop or other type of computer if that is where you read.

If you like Dune Girl, watch this site for September release details on A Kiss Is But A Kiss, book two in my Match Made in Almost Heaven series. 🙂



Confetti Comfort Bread

“All food is comfort food. Maybe I just like to chew.” Lewis Black, American comedian
The days until school starts again can almost be counted on fingers. There’s some excitement in the air, some annoyance and that vague, unsettled feeling that always comes with a beginning. It’s surely time to bake up some comfort food that can be easily packed into school lunches.
Baking for school lunches?! I know. It’s work. In truth, I’m not a bento box kind of mom. Our daughters are able to make their own lunches and sometimes prefer to eat what the cafeteria is serving. But, it’s kind of nice to have something from home in the middle of the day — whether you’re a tot, a teen or a grown-up worker who’s simply feeling harried.
Here’s one of my favorite recipes for a lunch-time treat.
Confetti Comfort Bread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Butter a loaf pan. In large bowl, combine 1 carrot (peeled and grated), 1 cup raisins, 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce, 1/2 cup water and one banana (mashed). Add three eggs and mix well.
Add two cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking soda and blend well. Put the batter in the prepared pan and bake one hour or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool on rack. When ready to pack lunches, either wrap up a single, thick slice or slice thinly and make sandwiches with a cream cheese filling. Mmmm.
This recipe doubles well. Bake one for now and freeze one, double bagged, for later.
family life

Our dog is a bossy boot

“A dog reflects the family life. Whoever saw a frisky dog in a gloomy family, or a sad dog in a happy one? Snarling people have snarling dogs, dangerous people have dangerous ones.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

If the above quote is true, I’m not sure what that says about our family. Miles, who can best be described as an Appalachian porch dog with attitude, goes about the neighborhood like a celebrity with a posse. We being the posse.

He struts more than walks, his great plume of tail held high, his ears on alert. If anyone says, “hello,” he assumes it’s a greeting meant for him alone and tugs whoever happens to be on leash over for a more thorough interchange. As it is a friendly neighborhood, he generally gets a pet. Frequently, he gets a treat. We have a few neighbors who actually stop, lean out their car windows and hand over a nibble of something or another.

Is it any wonder he solicits car rides from the postman and anyone else who looks like she is going somewhere interesting? Or that he sits at the garden gate during times of high walker traffic to say, “hey?”

Such out-of-the-house exuberance is well and good, but, lately, he’s become a bit of a terror in the house. He’s always left his bones and toys wherever he likes, a habit our daughters claim is proof we like him best. But, now, he’s starting to complain about the service.

If someone doesn’t open a door that he wants to go through quickly enough, he does a quick ear flap, the canine equivalent of, “Come on!” For several days after our last trip, which he was not a part of as it was church camp, he gave me a full body shake every time I left the house, the canine equivalent of, “COME ON!”

Last night, my mother sat in the kitchen rocking chair while I was preparing dinner and Miles sidled up to his bowls, which were conveniently adjacent. He looked up at her with sad brown eyes, all the while lapping water with an astonishing amount of noise. His food bowl was empty and he wanted to make sure someone would correct this sad state of affairs.

It’s true. Our dog has become a bossy boot.

My husband, a behavioral ecologist who is generally not the one being ear flapped, thinks this is a charming development. What remarkable inter-species communication we have, says he, the husband, not the dog.

Remarkable, indeed. We’re all opening doors a little more quickly. We never leave without a reassuring word of our return. The grammy of the house is filling kibble bowls on demand and I’m topping them off with savory bits of people food. We step on the same kibble with bare feet most mornings and rarely complain.

That’s what our family is, well trained.


gardening, spiritual life

Listening to the season

“Summertime is always the best of what might be.” Charles Bowden, American writer

Some people keep elaborate sports rosters in their head. Some know all the words to Broadway tunes or whom various Kardashians are dating. I know seasons.

It’s an internal game that started the year I was 22 and a brush with bad water nearly killed me. The very day I was released from the hospital, a job dropped into my lap that was too perfect to be anything less than God. Among many other qualities, it required me to be outdoors for long stretches, soaking in sun and especially lovely air that swirled from the beach to the dunes to the forest and back again.

A slow job, it allowed me the time to not only recover from the upheaval of illness, but to discover that God is never out of sync. Ever. I saw this in the change of seasons — 10 whisper-holy months of watching fiddle heads turn into proud fern fronds, summer-blue seas turn into cool steel come winter, lemon-yellow goldfinches fade into near invisibility to match the russets and grays of fall.

There was no randomness here. There was beauty. There was order. There was a resolute progression so breathtaking I fell in love with the God who would make such a world. That near-year, so set apart from the rest of my life, was the closest I have ever come to understanding the essence of God. And, it stuck with me.

To this day, I watch. So closely, I could probably narrow the time of year in my corner of Appalachia down to a window of two weeks or so without a calendar. Within my own garden, I might be able to get even closer. I have learned what a morning glory vine looks like from day to day to day. It’s true. The switch from high summer to late summer is settling in as I write. Glorious in its inevitability.

Homer Hickam, aerospace engineer and author of Rocket Boys, says he views math as one of God’s languages. I am a writer. That is not a language that I speak. But, that year in the dunes, God spoke clearly and distinctly and I liked what I heard.

If you listen closely, I imagine you can hear Him, too.